The Music Scout (Alternative), Programming, Alternative, Broadcasting

The Music Scout (Alternative) - February 2023

Author: Jay Goldberg

Here is my first column on a specific marketing program for radio stations. Using this strategy will result in your station having a song (or songs) for a year that cannot be heard anywhere else (including YouTube) and provide you with up to 99 items to give away in listener contests; as incentives to participate in market research surveys to provide you with valuable information; or for any other creative outlet you can think of. Best of all, after the 30% discount on admin fees I negotiated for Live365 radio stations, you can do this for less than $25. As mentioned last month, it involves working with an indie or small label artist (or artists).

One of the things I love about being a member of the Live365 broadcaster community is that station owners respect the artists whose music they play on their stations by being legal stations that pay artist royalties. That is not the case for all internet radio stations. So the process and source I recommend here keeps in mind both respect for artists and using a source that ensures artist royalties are paid.

The strategy is to pick a song that is popular on your station, find an indie artist to cover and record the song, pay for the mechanical license for the cover song, and ask the artist for a one year exclusive on the song. After a year the artist can get their own mechanical license and distribute and/or sell the cover if they want to go that route. Using a cover song instead of an original song is the way to go because the process is straight forward and you are not asking the artist to withhold any original material. Keep in mind, many of these artists make their own recordings at home on their computers so they will only be investing time, not money, to make the cover.

Why would the indie artist do this? First of all I did this releasing an Al Stewart cover album with 11 cover songs from 11 different artists from 6 different countries. While money is everyone's prime motivator, for indie artists, airplay and exposure are up there too. I would feature the cover song on the station and play it back to back with one of their original songs. Using playlists or live shows is straight-forward for this strategy, next month I'll describe how that can be achieved with clockwheels.

Now for the specific details. The cover song should be less than 5 minutes long and you should purchase a mechanical license for 100 digital downloads. The royalties for the songwriter(s) would be $12. The admin fee from reputable companies is around $17. I have arranged a 30% discount on the admin fee at Easy Song using the code "musicscout365" (which is good for one year, expiring in February 2024). That makes the price around $24 for the 100 digital downloads, which you can distribute as mp3s. You keep one mp3 for the station, and can use 99 mp3s (just copy the original file) as giveaways however you like. The process is simple. You need to know the length of the cover and either the songwriter(s) or artist who recorded the original. Easy Song has great customer service if you need them. And Easy Song is the service recommended by CD Baby to their recording artists for mechanical licenses.

Now onto the music. What follows are five cover songs. When you choose your song (or songs) for artists to cover, you can look for a straight cover or for the artist to put their own spin on it.

“Ordinary World” by Pplrs

This is a cover of a Duran Duran song and Pplrs slows it down and make it their own. Consider requesting this type of treatment from an indie artist to get a unique cover of a song for your station. Pplrs music has been featured in television shows and movies.

“Is It Like Today?” by Eliza Gilkyson

This is a cover of one of my favorite songs. The original was by World Party. This cover is more faithful to the original than the above song. The original was released in 1993 and the cover in 2006. Eliza's brother Tony played with Lone Justice and X.

“It Don't Come Easy” by The Smithereens

An excellent cover of Ringo Starr's song. The song was first only available on the CD single for their song “Too Much Passion.” Later it was included on their compilation album Attack of the Smithereens. And you have to love a band that takes its name from Yosemite Sam's catchphrase.

“Eleanor Rigby” by Anything But Human

This cover of a Beatles' song has the same feel to me that Disturbed's cover of “The Sound of Silence” (which if you are unfamiliar with is a must listen) has. Anything But Human – from Dallas, Texas – also did a great job with “Someone You Loved,” a Lewis Calpaldi song.

“What's Goin' On” by Remerge Band

This is a cover of a lesser known Al Stewart song “What's Going On” that was included on the Al Stewart cover album released by my radio station (I had the correct title when I released it). Remerge Band later included it on their album Connect the Dots.

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