WASHINGTON, DC – The promotional value of free radio airplay received yet another endorsement today when country music star Jewel told NBC's 'The Today Show' that free radio airplay was responsible for her big break.
"I was homeless for about a year and I went back to singing, 'cause that's what I grew up doing with my dad as a child. We made our money by bar-singing. So I was looking for a place to sing, and it was my own material. And after about a year of being homeless and doing that, a radio station played one of my songs on the air -- a bootleg. I didn't have any demos. I wasn't trying to get signed. But a record label heard it, and all the sudden it was like being Cinderella. Limousines started showing up," Jewel said.
Jewel's affirmation today for the power of radio airplay wasn't her first. Last July, the Grammy-nominated artist offered up some career advice to contestants of NBC's 'Nashville Star' music competition.
"I love a strong radio hit. All of us. That's what our job is, to have a radio hit. Without radio, we couldn't do what we do, but the job is to have a radio hit that sounds unique, and like you," Jewel said at the time.
Jewel's testimonial for the promotional power of free radio airplay comes at a time when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade group that represents the major record label conglomerates, is seeking legislation to charge America's hometown radio stations for playing music.
"Jewel joins a chorus of entertainers who recognize the value of radio airplay in boosting their careers," said NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton. "That's a point that should not go unnoticed as RIAA wages its war against the number one promotional platform for musicians."
Countering the RIAA-backed legislation is the Local Radio Freedom Act, which has been co-sponsored by a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives who oppose an RIAA tax on local radio stations. To date, 225 House members and 14 U.S. senators are on record in opposition to the label-led effort.
"Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over the air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings," reads the Local Radio Freedom Act.
On numerous occasions, both record label executives and artists have recognized
the promotional value of free radio airplay. Such statements include:
"Alright, let's talk about the nuts and bolts. If you win 'Nashville Star', you have to get on 200 major market radio stations.
-- John Rich, Big and Rich, 'Nashville Star,' July 2008
"I have to thank... every DJ, every radio guy, every promotions guy, everybody who ever put up a poster for me and spread the word."
-- Alicia Keys, recording artist and Grammy winner, 2008 Grammy Awards, February 2008
"[R]adio remains the best way to get new music into the listeners' lives."
--Sony BMG Executive VP Butch Waugh as quoted in Radio & Records, January 11
"[R]adio is the conduit to the people, the voice of the format and the lifestyle's soundtrack."
--Sony BMG Nashville VP of Marketing Tom Baldrica, as quoted in Radio & Records, January 11
"Obviously, radio is probably the most important thing for a new rock band coming out. If you don't get yourself on the radio, then you won't draw bodies at the clubs and you won't sell records."
-- 'Another Animal' drummer Shannon Larkin, Drum Magazine, 2008
"Country radio, thank you so much for being our mouthpiece. You know what we do means nothing if it never gets played, and no one gets to hear it."
-- 'Rascal Flatts,' Vocal Group of the Year, Country Music Awards, 2007
"I can't even believe that this is real... I want to thank country radio. I'll never forget the chance you took on me."
-- Taylor Swift, Horizon Award (for best new artist), Country Music Awards, 2007
"I have yet to see the big reaction you want to see to a hit until it goes on the radio. I'm a big, big fan of radio."
-- Richard Palmese, Executive Vice President of Promotion, RCA, 2007
"Radio has proven itself time and time again to be the biggest vehicle to expose new music."
-- Ken Lane, Senior Vice President for Promotion, Island Def Jam Music Group, 2005
"It is clearly the number one way that we're getting our music exposed. Nothing else affects retail sales the way terrestrial radio does."
--Tom Biery, Senior Vice President for Promotion, Warner Bros. Records, 2005
"That's the most important thing for a label, getting your records played."
-- Eddie Daye, recording artist, 2003
"Radio helped me a lot. That's the audience. I can't see them, but I know they're there. I can't reach out and touch them with my hand, but I know they're there."
-- B.B. King, recording artist, 2002
"If a song's not on the radio, it'll never sell."
-- Mark Wright, Senior Vice President, MCA Records, 2001
"Air play is king. They play the record, it sells. If they don't, it's dead in the water."
-- Jim Mazza, President, Dreamcatcher Entertainment, 1999
"I am so grateful to radio. Their support has truly changed my life, and I hope they know how appreciative I am for that."
-- Jo Dee Messina, recording artist, 1999
The National Association of Broadcasters is a trade association that advocates on behalf of more than 8,300 free, local radio and television stations and also broadcast networks before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the Courts. Information about NAB can be found at www.nab.org.