A look at The Orchard’s radio promotion team for independent music

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(Hypebot) – Radio remains a critical factor in the success of many artists, and Vice President of Promotion Billie Jean Sarullo and her team at independent distributor The Orchard are at the forefront of this effort.

Guest post by Shannon Silver of The daily crust of the orchard

Radio is another important piece of the puzzle when it comes to bringing an artist to the masses. For many artists, success on the radio translates directly into the overall success of their song’s performance. Although the field has evolved over the years, its importance in propelling artists to the top of the charts remains the same.

In honor of National Radio Day on August 20, we spoke with Billie Jean Sarullo, Vice President of Promotion at The Orchard, about how The Orchard’s promotion team works with our artists and distributed labels to bring their songs to the stations, how our promotion team differs from the traditional label structure and the structure and evolution of radio within the music industry.


Tell us about the make-up and structure of The Orchard Radio team. Do people cover certain genres, regions?

The Orchard promotion team is expert in the following American radio formats: Pop, Alternative, R&B, Urban, Rhythm, Adult Top 40, Rock, AAA and Non-Comm. Our priority is to have a unique structure for our department in order to be able to best accommodate the artists and labels distributed by The Orchard.

We have a more non-traditional structure for our radio team. For example, in a traditional structure, national representatives are adapted to a specific format and regional representatives only focus on specific territories. Instead, our entire team has national responsibilities and everyone has special relationships with stations in multiple territories and across a variety of formats. This type of structure allows us to move quickly on the radio on disks that raise their hands.

How do you work with the labels and artists distributed by The Orchard to bring their music to radio stations?

It is important that we have a full story on record when we go on the radio. We work closely with all departments of a label, which include A&R first, followed by sales, marketing, advertising and public relations to create an unmistakable story on Why a radio must play the song! We also work directly with artists to create meaningful promotions with radio stations that include interviews, contests with radio listeners, special VIP meetings and experiences, performances at radio festivals, as well as campaigns. creative on social networks between the artist and our stations.

Returning to our unique structure, it is very important that we provide a more beginner way for our artists and labels distributed at The Orchard to work with radio. Recently we have created “Taste Maker Campaigns” which allow us to create an intro for new artists on the radio. This approach is more targeted and allows new artists to familiarize themselves with radio. We focus on artist feature films and radio flagship programs across a hybrid of formats that include AAA, Non-Comm and Alt specialty shows.

Without going into details, what does a typical radio campaign look like?

A typical radio campaign is an intense chore and can take months to a year to see results! Once a radio campaign begins, it is imperative that you get new on-air stations and radio rotations every week in order to move up the charts. Therefore, it takes passion and focus of our team to serve our relationships with the over 300 radio stations that make up the published radio charts.


What’s your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of the job is to collaborate directly with the artists we work with on their records. When you bring a record to the radio, you really need the artist to be involved in the process. We are currently working with the artist from Black River Kelsea Ballerina on her bachelor “I stop drinking” with LANY on the Top 40 radio for adults. Kelsea’s dedication to his career is inspiring. She really gets to work and has made several Zoom calls with our staff and over 50 radio programmers.

There is nothing like being able to create this individual relationship between artist and curator. It creates an authentic connection, which is what the music industry is all about: to create a relationship between music and listeners. Recently one of our main radio partners Jayn, running KLLC San Francisco, used his important radio platform to engage with Kelsea and his radio listeners in a very unique way; Check it out here!

What is it about radio that most people might not be familiar with?

A typical radio campaign for us looks like a lot of… DATA! (I hope I surprised a few with this answer!) The Orchard Promotion Team uses all the research tools provided to us; The mobile analytics app from Orchard, OrchardGo, Apollo, MRC, Spotify For Artists, and Apple For Artists, which include Shazam, as well as Custom Looker Reports that pull in detailed US DMA data. All of this data helps us map out where the market broadcast can begin, assess whether the broadcast is connected, and helps us differentiate our record from others competing for the same broadcast slot.

How has the field of radio evolved over the years?

Overall, radio has evolved into a platform for spreading successes rather than developing them. Research shows that the average radio listener is a casual listener who enjoys songs that are already familiar to them. This makes the slots available for new songs on the radio few. Nowadays, a new record must have an incredible history such as: a collaboration with an already well-known artist, a high consumption and collection rate, a credible press, significant synchronizations and engaging social media campaigns on TikTok, Instagram and more to surrender familiarity!

Where do you see the future of radio?

Radio remains the most accessible medium in the world. Billboard reports that American radio is increasingly a tool to slow the decline of a single stream, rather than propelling it to its peak. We’ve seen radio help maintain streaming levels by reminding consumers of a track, bringing them back to it to stream, while reaching a new, more laid-back audience – AKA a radio listener!

Finally, there will always be a demand for terrestrial radio, and it will continue to evolve into different ways of reaching and targeting audiences with music like podcasts, DSP playlists, radio streaming platforms, etc. Most importantly, our job is to be “buzzmakers” for our artists. The Orchard promotion team will continue to do so and build new relationships as the media landscape changes.



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