The Link Between the Artists, the Labels and the Consumers (Fans)
Part 1: Introduction
So many times these industry people are left out, forgotten and or never mentioned....The Men and Women on the Wheels of Steel. The awards are always given to the Producers, the Artists and the Writers. But what about the on-air personalities (be the station terrestrial or internet), the club and mobile jocks? Have you ever stopped and thought...WHAT IF? What if there were no radio stations or clubs to hire the DJ’s. What if there was no DJ’s spinning the music? I'm sure someone is saying, “We don’t need a DJ to get our music out, because most stations are automated". But in all actuality, you still need a programmer who’s usually an experienced DJ. Yes, it's true that your music can be added into the playlist to play automatically but what’s going to happen to you the artists, the labels and the promoters? What good is it to make music and put out a song and no one knows the name of the song or the artist(s) who is singing it? How are your fans/consumers going to know who and what to buy?
I hear someone else saying, “My fans know my voice-They know my music!" Well, what are you really saying? Are you indicating that all your music sounds the same? (If so, it's pointless to release new material!) At one time, the artist's style and tones were so very distinct that one could easily identify the voices. But today, it seems as though many artists are busy trying to emulate others instead of establishing their own unique sound. Not only are they copying the styles of other artists, in some cases, they are actually "borrowing" lyrics and production. Ladies and gentlemen, if you can’t show originality in your music then your music is only as good as the producer! To reach the upper levels of stardom, an artist must create and carry his/her own vocal uniqueness. And consumers must be able to identify the artists - Just as easily as one can distinguish the difference between a Poodle and a Great Dane. You must establish yours...Vocal Pedigree!
Having said that and coming back to my point: “The Men & Women on the Wheels of Steel” The Link between the Artists, Labels and the Consumers (Fans). Radio (terrestrial or internet) and DJs are truly your link to the people who matter most and that’s the Fans. It is of the utmost importance to acknowledge this sector of the music industry. It was not until I became one of them that I realized how much time is invested into giving each song an objective listen, to producing a show, to the overall operation of running a station. I can truly say there is a new found RESPECT that I have for DJ’s, Program & Music Directors and Station Owners who rarely get the credit and/or respect they deserve. I will hold interviews with a number of these professionals over the next few weeks to follow-up with Part 2 of this article.
These interviews will comprise a variety of Station Owners, Program Directors and DJs, (Club, Mobile and On-air) from small to major markets. When this subject first came to mind, I really, really just didn’t know how bad it is in the market and how so many unhappy people share the same questions and concerns that I have. Even down to the little comments that our fans make and how the general population perceive us (the Artists, DJ’s, Labels, Managers and Agents) to be successful with our finances. But the truth of the matter is most of the artists that die on the Southern Soul and Blues Circuit die BROKE. And let me say it is not because they squandered their money away, the money that the general population thought that these artists had earned from record sales based on charts like those listed below, just did not happen.
The one thing that disturbs my soul is the fact that I receive so many calls & emails from Artists, Labels, Managers, alone with seeing so many posting and viewing so many sites like the SoulandBluesReport.com, The American Blues Network or ABN - Americanbluesnetwork.com- , The Boogie Report or the Boogie Music Report and Soul Blues Music - Soulbluesmusic.com just to name a few and not singling anyone out but the above mentioned are highly favorite when it comes to knowing who is hot and who have a new song out and what most DJ’s are favoring on their playlist. I have also received calls, emails and notifications asking for money, my help to support a fund raiser and benefits for artists because they are broke. Now please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here, I am not saying that we don’t run out of money, I am not saying that most artists don’t have insurance,
I am not saying that we all don’t run into a bind at some point and time in our lives, I am not saying that I am above maybe needing help one day, I am not saying that today you may have a fat bank account and because of whatever reason tomorrow you need a little or some help. All I am saying is that if an Artist has a #1 song on the chart(s) where is his/her money? Why doesn’t their bank account reflect that profit from that #1 hit? Why are there so many artists struggling to make it from one show to the next show? Why are there so many artists begging for the total amount due them before they even do the gig? Why are these artists only known regional or selectively? Why don’t you hear these artists’ songs on every radio dial you turn to that play our music or in today’s time every station that you stream? Why, why, why, why are these pipe dreams being sold? I am still trying to learn how these charts are compiled and who’s compiling them. Yes, as DJ’s and radio stations we send in our playlist to these different charts, but now that we have sent them in to the reporters, what? What are they going to do with this information? Who are they going to send it to? Is Billboard on the list that they will send it to? Is Billboard ignoring the information that they (the reporters) are sending in regarding these artists radio play, downloads and record sells? My reason for asking this is because I don’t understand, with as many DJ’s and Stations playing Southern Soul Music why are these artists rarely to never appearing on the Billboard Charts?
I feel that it is part of my duty to help enlighten those that are misinformed as how the industry work, the dirt that goes on in the industry. I feel so sorry for how the young, up and coming artists believe the pipe dreams that the industry sells them. At one time I too was one of them, when my artist used to call me and ask me if I had seen xyz chart and I say no, they would say “I’m #1”. We got the number one song….then one day it hit me and I asked what? We are number one on xyz chart we should have a fat royalty check, man we are going to be working out the frame now, we are hot. But the fact of the matter is, when the royalty check came it was not a fat one, the shows was not doubled stacked and we were not known around the world. Pipe Dreams are all we had. I had to come to term that these charts was not going to put more money in my bank account, these charts did not drastically change our record sells, Billboard was not paying any attention to these charts, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. aka the Recording Academy was not going to be notifying me to inform me that I had been nominated or our artists had been nominated for a Grammy.
So, I had to ask myself at what point was I going to get off of the band wagon of Bullsh$t. I see so many artists walking around with their chest all stuck out and their nose all turned up so much that arrogant is not the word and all for what? I must say I can’t just blame it on the young ones because there are some old heads that are just as bad. But, my granddaddy used to say “ain’t not fool like an old fool” and that is so true. The Late Bill Coday had a song out talking about ‘If You Find A Fool, Bump His Head Twice’. Well, I guess that’s what they are doing with the fairytales of the charts. Do the charts work? Yes they do for certain instances such as: know who is hot, who have a new song out, what the other DJ’s and stations are playing and inform the labels, artists and agencies of radio stations & DJ’s they may not know about or have a contact for. Maybe the charts should be labeled/called Station’s Playlist or something on that line.
Now, this has brought me to the end of this setup story, I wonder if this has done to you what it has done to me and that is, raise one eye or as some of us say ‘the things that makes you say hummmm’. The answers from my study will follow in the upcoming issue ‘The Men & Women on the Wheels of Steel’ The Link Between the Artists, the Labels and the Consumers (Fans) Part 2
Jazzii and Roscoe Miller from THE BIG STATION WKXN/WKXK-FM in Greenville Alabama