Why Indie Musicians and Indie Radio Stations Should Work Together


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In the fall Paul Riismandel wrote an “immodest proposal" in the hopes of encouraging indie radio stations and indie musicians to work together. He points to a natural fit between non-commercial radio and indie artists and proposes at least one possibility for connecting the two. The larger point is that indie radio and indie musicians could be supporting each other in ways that would benefit both sectors as long as everyone is willing to cooperate.

With radio still a dominant means of streaming and discovery and the number of non-commercial stations increasing, trying to get airplay on college, community and LPFM stations should be an obvious move for emerging musicians.

Paul Riismandel points out:

“In my experience noncommercial radio–especially college and community radio–has been very much about indie rock, under-represented genres and local artists. It seems like most of these stations make an effort to play some portion of this broad spectrum of music not heard on most commercial radio. Many also play host to local and touring artists to play live on air, promote their shows and discuss their art."

And, with the continued narrowing of commercial playlists, indie stations remain open to outsiders.

Yet Riismandel feels there's a “growing impression amongst musicians of many stripes that all radio is declining in value." He suggests that it might be a misconception that all radio is closed to newcomers but I would conjecture that it has more to do with the misperception that terrestrial radio is dying in the face of new channels.

Then again, most of these stations are online as well these days and some college stations are going totally online.

Whatever the cause for the gap, Riismandel suggests a rather ambitious proposal that would require all parties to work together:

“Imagine small package tours crossing regions, states or the country, going from station to station–LPFM, college or community–making enough money to support the musicians and give something to the stations. They could leverage Kickstarters in each community to seed the money in advance, reducing the risk. And I’d think that the publicity for such a larger, but not enormous, enterprise could be greater than any one benefit show for one station."

Certainly finding ways to connect not just local stations and musicians but larger networks of stations as well as musicians would be beneficial to all.

As Paul Riismandel notes, “this is just one idea out of many possible thousands for how stations and musicians can work together in new ways."

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