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Radio Tracking is a Waste of Money?

January 3, 2012

Is investing in radio tracking a waste of money?  Bobby Gale, a 30-year veteran of the music industry, says yes. He started off as a radio personality at stations such as Chum in Winnipeg, L’Espirit in Montreal and Q107 in Toronto. He went on to work in promotions and publicity at Polygram for over a decade after which he launched his own company plug (Music) Inc., specializing in radio, video and tour promotions. For the past 20 years, his company has promoted the talents of artists such as 54-40, Bruce Cockburn, Matthew Good Band, City and Colour, Luke Doucet, Emm Gryner, Andy Kim, Melissa McClelland, Danny Michel and a slew of other staples of the Canadian Music scene.  Bobby will be at Songposium 2012 to share his many years of wisdom.  Here’s a preview of what he has to say…

HEYYY!  Bobby “the Pitbull aka GaleForce” Gale here!  lol
‘Really looking forward & honored to address the varied questions & concerns of the modern day songwriter January 28th @ the Songposium!  (Click Here for details).
One naturally imagines that today’s songwriter is fretfully looking to monetize artistry & craft, and what better way to do it than via radio play.
Easier said than done, right?
Yepper.
And its waaaay more difficult than ever before.
How does one ever expect to garner airplay, you ask, particularly as a virtual unknown, when radio tells you they need to see chart activity, or market buzzz, or ticket sales, or iTunes sales, or social networking metrics, & the like?
Well, honestly, that can only be achieved by knowing what truly matters to the multitasking radio VIP/programmer; and it requires someone quarterbacking your branding objective who fully knows what & how to present to the radio gatekeeper what can arguably influence & make the difference.
In a nutshell, it comes from the veteran expertise of an industry person, who for many years has dealt with all facets of both the radio & recording industry side of the music biz.
Someone dealing with it day in, day out, in the ever evolving current landscape.
Which you may be surprised to learn a so-called “tracker” can never provide.
Tracking is for kids/neophytes, and ends up wasting money and jeopardizing careers.
I’ve always stepped up and flatly said to a prospective or existing client … “if you’re looking for a tracker” please look elsewhere” … You’ll quickly realize you’re wasting your money or that of an investor.   And you’re likely also wasting valuable shelf life or window of opportunity in artistry & production.
“Tracking” or following a records progress is something anyone can now do with appropriate electronic tools.  However, “breaking” records and strategizing to create the BRAND via radio, the essence of what really should unfold in a promotional campaign, is something few can truly offer the critical path to, let alone accomplish on a consistent basis.
Sure, there are no guarantees, but there are proven ways to success that more often deliver tangible results.
I will address several of those pathways at the Symposium.
But don’t be thinking I’ll be giving it all away.  Haha
In any case, there are certain songs that one may “think” radio wants to play, or could, or should … this is too often coming from an unrealistic/uninformed perspective and could be further maligned thanks to the novice judgement of the so called “tracker”.  Be forewarned.
It’s why I’ve staked my entire career (spanning 4 decades) & that of my clientele, on emphasizing that the artist or songwriter REQUIRES sage advice to succeed, and why a significant, if not bonafide history of promoting to radio (more than 30 years in my case) is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL.  However, it has also proven to be a pivotal prerequisite to achieving greater airplay results, by having a record promo veteran with a broadcast acumen in several (major) markets leading the charge.”  ~Bobby Gale

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2012 6:43 pm

    Before the collapse of the industry model, trackers played a role, especially for the labels who could afford to pay that person, but for years now their ability to BREAK new artists has vanished. First understand that radio is about ratings and advertising, making it virtually impossible to get added unless you’re on a major label or a reality show. Yes you might get added to your local station and they’ll put you in less than ‘light rotation’ aired in the middle of the night when no one’s listening, get it. Historically trackers/radio promoters built their wall of fame on the relationships they had with the station music directors or program directors, since the downsizing of the broadcast world many of those MDs and PDs have been replaced with new gatekeepers. It real depends on what you’re expecting out of your radio campaign, if you’re trying to get your name in front of radio personnel in hopes they might remember you in the future, then pickup the phone and make the introduction your self, actually most prefer email these days. They will reply back to you. If your time is limited then a radio promoter can make those calls or sends those emails on your behalf but shop around because they all have different rates. Even the most experienced or hardest working tracker cannot GUARANTEE airplay so do your homework before deciding how to spend your marketing dollars.

  2. January 21, 2012 7:42 pm

    Bobby tells it like it is!

  3. June 8, 2013 7:39 pm

    I feel like there could be more to this argument, I am not fully convinced.

  4. March 18, 2014 7:40 pm

    As an artist who is preparing to release new music once again across Canada.. This is very interesting & I believe from past experience very accurate .

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