Want to know how Australian singer Iggy Azalea came out of nowhere to score a massive hit with her song “Fancy?”
Clear Channel, the largest radio group in the US, has a program called “On the Verge” that works like this. Program directors across the chain submit songs that they think that have a chance of making it big. Those choices are sent to format brand managers who then whittle everything down. The songs on this new list are then sent back to the program directors who then vote on the song they think has the best chance of hitting it big. Once a winner has been determined, the Clear Channel stations in that format are expected to play the track at least 150 times.
That’s hundreds of stations across the US, all mandated to play a song 150 times. Talk about a powerful promotional pitch.
There is nothing wrong with this. Plenty of large radio companies have group PDs that dictate music policy for multiple stations. It’s the job of program directors and music directors to sit in judgement over music in the hopes that they can play nothing but the best for their audiences. Keep the audiences happy and ratings go up. When ratings go up, more revenue comes in from commercial revenue. This is how commercial radio works. And it’s totally legit.
But what of the temptation for corruption? US radio has shown itself to be susceptible to payola scandals time and time again. I’m not accusing Clear Channel of anything. They maintain that despite any lobbying that may happen, the programmers have the final decisions. But given the history of payola in American radio, how long will it be before some indie promoter tries to game the system? Just askin’.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.