If you’re an indie musical artist or even one under a label and looking for exposure, you may see Radio Airplay, which powers the Jango music streaming service, as an option. Indeed, it is an option to get heard around the world by music listeners who listen to stations aligned with specific performing artists that you align your own music with.
As a legit means of service, though, you have to pay. Oh, do you have to pay…
I’ve been using Radio Airplay for two years to help gain exposure for the Pretty Voices, a Tampa Bay based indie rock band. Radio Airplay’s appeal is that it’s a just-get-it-set-up service without having to do song submissions to various streaming services time and again. It is not judgmental of content a-la Pandora which is deeply restrictive of what content it will accept (I got the Pretty Voices album, Jangular, listed on the network at no cost; the pretty voices ep was denied though).
The thing is, with Radio Airplay, if you want more than 1 song listed on the network (and more than the highly-limited 10 song play credits that come with it), you have to pay a monthly fee starting at $10 to have various numbers of songs listed, promotional content (photos, videos, data access) and have hundreds of “credits”. Credits represent individual times a song is played, or can also be used on a promotional angle (…and is paired with each time a song airs on a station).
For clarity sake, these song airings aren’t broadcast to masses at a time. One airing, one credit use, is for when a song is played for a specific user/Jango member. That’s very much not how a traditional radio station works. And credit limitations (unless you buy more) is certainly not an impairing factor on Pandora or Spotify.
As of this writing, the Pretty Voicessong catalog on Jango/Radio Airplay has had just less than 30,000 credits used. That means the songs that have been invested in with credits have reached just less than 30,000 in 24 months. Now compare that to the audience of a traditional radio station or popular music streaming broadcast… One airplay could reach 30,000 (depending on time and location, of course). That comes without a monthly fee.
On the upside of the arcane back-end (which has and no visual or operational upgrades in my time using the service), there are intricate and intimate promotions angles for music content, such as the aforementioned performers to align your artist with, geographical preference can be a factor too (choosing what states or countries you’d prefer your songs played in, though this has not seemed to truly be enabled every time I’ve set it up on my account). It all amounts to pointing your content toward potential fans.
It just doesn’t guarantee airplay after what you’ve invested. That’s the kicker. That’s the scam.
There’s more marketing by the network to entice you to buy this-and-that to get more airplay exposure toward songs you’ve given credit to (it’s a necessity: airplay will only be given to songs you give X credits to, and once they run out you have to use more credits or the song no longer will be heard on-air on any station which the band is aligned). Airplay exposure for your performer can and will deplete after one of these pay-to-play marketing tricks have come (and you didn’t buy in). It isn’t a big deal if you only have so-many songs listed on the network, but if you’re an artist looking to push more of your library than just two or three songs? It furthers the feeling of being scammed.
There are so many online music streams taking submissions – for free and at-cost, there are many terrestrial radio stations that can be approached with music for airplay (while many will lock you out too; major label artists only). There are third parties that can be paid to help gain exposure in simplicity or full PR onslaught. What you get with Radio Airplay is a place to spend money and hope things get popular. More money thrown their way does not guarantee popularity will increase with things.
To add to the fault of the network, Radio Airplay does a lot of email marketing to get users to use their partner services or to push your music in on-site contests. I’ve gotten tricked into signing up on another network that held back the paid-network angle until the end of sign-up. From my Radio Airplay use, I see no true “prize” for participating in one of their contests. Not with how the network can trick you in other areas and demand more for uses.
In my experience with the network I would not recommend investing in the service. Exposure is nice, but exposure on a fixed platform with limitations (unless you pay more and more) just doesn’t add up. It’ll always come down to the listener’s judgment, of course, but limiting listeners to make that judgment is part of the problem here.