You Know Radio Is Dying When Labels Cut Their Promotion Teams

Radio just isn’t what it used to be. Maybe that’s good and maybe its not, but for sure it’s changing fast. If you watch the news, you’ll get the impression that radio is still a big media player claiming a huge amount of the consumer’s attention. What isn’t indicated though is that most of the attention goes to talk radio and sports, and not music. That’s one of the reasons why the major labels are severely cutting their radio promotion teams. It’s just not a big portion of their business any more.

Radio promotion teams get cut

No one is saying that radio is no longer important, but it’s a lot less important than it ever has been. As a result, most labels have eliminated their regional promotion staffs, since most programming comes from a central office of a station group anyway. Most of the station groups have also downsized during the pandemic, which means there are fewer programmers to talk to in any case.

It’s About The Money

At one time during the 80s and 90s when radio’s influence was at its peak, radio staff members could actually make more than the head of A&R. Ironically, both positions are less important than they once were as record labels have evolved as streaming has taken over as the major music consumption vehicle.

Of course it’s all about money, and radio advertising brings in fewer dollars than ever, which means that stations must find the cheapest way to deliver programming as a result. It turns out that the one area of radio advertising that is growing is in digital sales, not traditional AM-FM broadcast.

And The Data Says. . .

Radio still has a lot of listeners, but it’s definitely taken a hit since the pandemic. According to Nielsen Media Research data, weekly listenership dropped from 89% of adult Americans in 2019 to 82% in 2022. A recent Chartmetric study shows that stations last year aired 7.4 million songs roughly 102.4 times apiece, for a total of 755 million spins.

As I stated a few paragraphs back, those sound like impressive numbers, but the fact is that radio doesn’t lead in breaking new songs anymore and relies on streaming numbers to determine airplay. As a result, those expensive label promotion teams are for the most part history.

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