Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This week in College Radio. CMJ issue 1297 Week 20

Before we get into the week 20 action I wanted to talk about a few things. First Week 19. Last week we saw Phoenix take the #1 spot, it was a lot closer than I had anticipated but they still pulled it out.  #1 most added last week was Vampire Weekend.  We saw the number of reporters drop again as more people packed their bags for the nearest waterpark or rooftop bar.  

Last week I was away at the AAA Noncommvention. Hung out with a lot of great people. Did some Karaoke, had a fun run, went to some panels, saw the rocky statue. It was a bast of a time.

(graham and I at the museum) 

There were also some panels and my favorite the Music Meeting where we get to rate unreleased songs.  The one thing I wanted to talk about though was the panel " The new Art of the Add, as I have brought up before was the important of ADDS. Everyone has a different ideas as to what they are for and if they should be paid attention to.  There are arguments for ignoring them and for sticking by them.  I want to address it from the promoter side of things.

First off it sounded to me like the reason for ignoring an ADD week for a lot of these stations was because there was not enough going on yet, no tour, appearances ect. What they fail to fully realize though is that they could be the ones driving the story instead of being a footnote of progress.  I know radio has a LOT of competition but I think if more stations took a song they liked and played it they could help make more stars than they realize.   The other thing with an ADD date is that it usually thought out to help make maximum impact for tour dates and appearances.  It is also designed to help get a record another bullet point so that the story can be driven even further.  Last year we worked a small band called the Lumineers. They did OK, we did have a lot of stations get on board early and play the record. The record has since gone platinum!  But
the record only peaked in the 30s on CMJ but was on the charts for over 30 weeks!  Why? Because stations kept on jumping on the bandwagon liked Lebron James had joined the band.  Had these stations been leaders and now followers the record surely would of been a top 10 if not a top 5 success and perhaps it would of gotten them even bigger. They could of had the chance to say we ( college radio ) helped create this huge success and now.. now they will say this band is too big for college radio.

And now to week 20 in college radio. And really I am amazed at what went down this week.  First off the number of stations went down to 234 I would like to think this is the bottom but looking back to last year we got down to 219 ( on the Memorial day weekend) That just happens to be next week so I expect us to hit somewhere around 210-220 next week. That, combined with the fact that a lot of stations are going to be re-reporting last weeks chart, will make it difficult for there to be any real movement on the charts. I saw a lot of that this week on the charts where records in PRIME movement weeks ( weeks 3 and 4 ) went up only a few or down a few, a running in place if you will.

So if I were to of made a prediction last week I would of said that Vampire Weekend will be your new #1 this week. Huge add week and a nice debut and Phoenix barely getting in there last week. Seemed like an easy call.  This week was anything but easy, time of year, many promoters pushing huge records just leads to a lot of the same looking charts out there and makes it a very tight top 200.  The major players this week were Junip, Iron and Wine, Phoenix and Vampire Weekend ( I also kept an eye on She and Him, Yeah yeah yeahs, !!! and Flaming lips but the others separated themselves from the pack pretty early on)   Early on I thought for sure Vampire Weekend had it locked up as they had some of the biggest stations in college radio at #1 or in the top 5.  However Iron and Wine made it really close down the stretch had they not been missing one of the bigger stations I think they could pulled off the rare, return to #1 trick.  In talking to some other promoters Vampire Weekend seemed to be the overwhelming pick for #1. Then the results came out.


I was shocked.

Just when you think you understand the charting system it throws you a curve ball like this.  Vampire Weekend had more big stations on board than Phoenix. More #1 spots than Phoenix 30-22. ..
When you are looking to predict how a record will do for yourself each week it is nearly impossible to keep track of every factor. So the factors I look at are the size of the station on board each record and how many #1's they have in comparison.  10 times out of 10 this is a better predictor than number of stations on a record overall.   I have looked over the numbers and I really am still at a loss as to how Phoenix is the number one record at college radio still.  If I were working this record I would be least a little more shocked than I am right now.  In my opinion when the charts are this close I would love to thee the formula behind it all to know how a record got the position they did.  Really goes to show how every station matters. This week there were 7 reporters who's chart did not count because the repeated a band on the chart. I am not sure to this day why a station can even submit the chart when it is going to be invalid or why they don't reach out to the station to get them to change it.  I would gladly wait another hour for charts to come up right instead of having them come up fast.

On to the rest of the charts. As I mentioned we saw a lot of stagnation. The top debut on the chart does not come in until 46 with Baptist Generals and the biggest move comes from BIBIO jumping from 158 to #20.  In looking at the top 10 or even the top 20 I don't see anything new challenging for the #1 spot next week. I think we will see the same thing we saw this week, it coming down to Vampire Weekend and Phoenix. I don't see how She and Him, Mikal Cronnin, !!!, Yeah Yeah Yeahs make a move, and I thought at one time they could all press for #1.  The number one add of the week was The National blowing everyone out of the water. They come in at #82 whereas  last week Vampire Weekend came in at #41. So I think they will jump into the top 10 but wont be a major contender for #1 for another few weeks.

This weekend I head to Las Vegas for the 15th annual Punk Rock Bowling Tournament and Festival 
Pirate! has been going for years now and we compete in the Bowling tournament. 3 years ago we came in 9th place out of 250 teams and this year we will look to take the crown. Wish us luck! With it being Memorial day as well next week might not see a recap we shall see how badly vegas treats me.

                                                   Here is our trophy from that year.

Be sure to hit me up if you have any questions or want me to look into something involving college radio.  And be sure to follow me on twitter @theanimalarrg

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


I knew it was coming. You can try and prepare as much as you can but really what can you do? I have mentioned for the last few weeks that the drop off was coming and I pointed to this week as the week to watch.
If you remember last week there were 314 stations that reported to CMJ this week we drop all the way down to 268 stations! A drop of almost 50 stations! We knew it was coming but you can never know what stations are not going to report the same as we don't know what stations will come back next week. These transition weeks are certainly hard to deal with and they make the ever elusive window for a record to go #1 even harder to gauge.  The end of spring is always hard not only because of the exams, and people leaving for break or graduating but also because record labels tend to try and get the bigger records out before summertime. ( the same thing happens in October when the bigger profile records come out to impact at Christmas)  With all of this happening at the same time you get a lot of big records that won't get the number one spot.

Last week we saw Thee Oh Sees take it for the 2nd week in a row and early on there was a real shot they could make it 3. At certain points this week Iron and Wine, Thee Oh Sees, The Knife, Phoenix, Junip, Kurt Vile and Flaming Lips all looked like they were in striking distance of the #1 spot. In the end Iron and Wine won out with Thee Oh sees in 2nd, The Knife in 3rd and Phoenix in 4th.
So going forward, knowing everything I mentioned above, it becomes harder to know what really will happen on the charts. I doubt we will get back up to 300 until Fall and if the last few years are any indication we should see another big drop next week. The last few years it has bottomed out around 220 reporters with it usually coming in anywhere from 260-240 but we will have no idea which 200+ will be reporting.   I thought going into this week that it would come down to Iron and Wine, The Knife or Phoenix and was a little surprised to see Thee oh Sees only fall to 2 and Phoenix only Jump to 4.  What happens next not only depends on how people view their chances.

I think the only records in the top 10 you really take out of the running completely are Thee Oh sees, as records don't fall to #2 and jump back to #1 very often. Kurt Vile, James Blake and Black Angels as you don't see records that have been out for 5 or more weeks make a real run at the top spot.
If this were 3 weeks ago I would have no doubt in my mind in declaring that Phoenix would be your next #1, the same way I thought Thee Oh sees would take it a few weeks ago.   So that leaves The Flaming Lips,  Junip,  The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Knife as the remaining records that have a shot, along with Iron and Wine of course retaining the spot. But I don't think they will but it all depends on if the priority shifts to Yeah Yeah Yeahs.   The Flaming lips a perennial #1 band you can't really count out made some big moves this week in terms of # of stations and is in a good position with who is working it to continue making a move.  Junip and The Knife I sort of view as an either or proposition. You have gone so far with The Knife and things are so close that how could you not continue to push for the top spot on the other hand if you do that do you miss your window on Junip? While the records are VERY different, every station matters and when every station matters for your record can you afford to have a station saying they only have room for one mute band? It sounds absurd but it does happen.   So yeah I have no idea really as to what will happen this week but my guess would be Phoenix for #1 next week.

This week on ADDS we saw She and Him come in at #1 most added with 105 adds. They won by almost 20 adds and as we see summer start to creep in I think we will see more runaway ADD weeks as there will be less huge records to deal with. Or perhaps that will lead to closer ADD charts. I think most weeks will have an Alpha type add that gets most of the love and then everything else will be close but it will be interesting to see. Also what about She and Him? Is that a #1 contender or does !!! have more of a shot having been last weeks #1 most added.  Its hard to tell and I think it depends on what comes out next week. In 3 weeks when She and Him would be in a position to make a move Phoenix, Junip and Yeah Yeah Yeahs will be out there for 6 weeks and will be falling.

In other charting news !!! had a great week and comes in with the biggest move of the week from #190 to #15!  Daughter comes in at #29 as the biggest debut of the week.  There are currently 11 former #1 records on the chart and 6 #2 records.  The oldest of the #1s still on there is Tame Impala with an impressive 28 weeks, that is actually the longest tenured record currently on the chart.  This week we had 32 debuts back to what our average had been before last week.

The next few weeks are also crazy for me as I head to Philadelphia for the AAA Non-commention  So if you are going hit me up. Then the next week I will be in Vegas for PUNKROCKBOWLING  So I cannot promise there will be recaps over the next few weeks but I will try to post something here for those of you that like it. To those people I also say thanks for reading!  If you have any questions or comments or want to talk about the world of college radio please hit me up on twitter @theanimalarrg 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

This week in College Radio! CMJ issue 1294.

Welcome to This week in college radio, it is a weird time of year. Its a sad time as I learn some of my favorite Music Directors are moving on to  Program Director or Station Manager ( I promise you will be bored Sara/KLSU) or even graduating. It is always a bummer to lose some really fun people. When I was Music Director of my station I once left to become Station Manager. I HATED it so much that I eventually switched back to Music Director. A word of advice. It is the BEST JOB at the station
It is also an exciting time of year because that Music  Director that never had time to return an email and only reported 2 over the course of 12 weeks is GONE!!! OUT OF HERE!!!! A new person that might actually like music and talking to people will be taking over and breathe some fresh air into the college radio world. So its a weird time.  Sad to see some of you go and excited for the chance that some stations might improve.  The Music Director has so much impact on what a station gets from us as promoters. If you report every week and communicate with me I could care less if you love or hate my records. My job is to get feedback and if you give it to me I am pretty happy. Of course I want my records to do well and I strive to that to happen but if you don't report and don't communicate you don't even get the chance to love or hate my records!
 A good example is from WUNH. For a long time they had been passed around Pirate with no luck so we stopped sending records.  Then one day a new MD came in. Decided he wanted more records and started talking to people and the perception of that station has changed completely at least for us.

Ok on to the charts this week. It seems like forever since we have had a repeat #1 and Thee Oh Sees do just that this week! Remember last week when it seemed like they just snuck in there... well they absolutely dominated this week with 56% of the stations up from 51% last week.  When last week was such a squeaker I thought this week would be too but Thee Oh Sees look to be rolling. #2 this week is The Knife comes in at 52% of the stations so within striking distance of that #1 spot.  A big surprise this week are The Strokes hanging out at #3, I expect them to fall fast, well I expected them to this past week too so what do I know.  Also within striking distance of #1 are Iron and Wine at #4, Kurt Vile continues to push ahead coming in at #5. Phoenix making the big move from 70 and last weeks add week to #6. The Flaming lips make a big move from #20 to #9 and Junip comes in at #12 from #62.  James Blake also went up but with all of these other records and only a 2 spot jump this week they are sure to be passed next week.

So what happens now? With so much change over at radio via stations shutting down, new MDs, and just general excitement over it being summer time it is so hard to predict. I could make an argument for The Knife, Iron and Wine or Phoenix being next weeks #1. I don't think it will be Thee Oh see's            ( although I thought that last week)  and here is why.  You have the same company working both Thee Oh Sees and Iron and wine. They see Phoenix there charging ahead really fast. so the idea is to get Iron and wine to #1 before they do and to do that you have to slow down your own record somehow. Then again you could be happy just keeping Thee Oh sees at #1 for a while knowing how hard it is to switch them over. I can tell you I would try to get more #1's If that is the case that leaves the door open for The Knife.  I do have a feeling though these next few weeks it is going to be harder to get ahold of stations and get rotation moving around so perhaps that favors a long run where we have the same stations in the top 5 for weeks.  This is the most unpredictable it has been in some time.  

In ADDS this week !!! takes the #1 spot by ONE over Sub Pop band Still Corners.  The biggest move of the week comes from THERMALS jumping an impressive 120 spots! The highest debut comes from Major Lazer at #34. The #1 debut used to mean a lot more to me but now it seems that the bigger artists all debut on the add week instead of the next week. I often wonder how this happens since most of these stations only have the record for few days ( not all but most)  I can see it happening when there is a single out there or the record gets mailed really early but it happens almost every week. This weeks #1 most added !!! debuted at #190, giving them a shot at the biggest move of the week I suppose but the debut just sounds more impressive to me.  Only 24 debuts this week a pretty big drop from our

Thanks for reading. If you have any insight you would like to add please hit me up I would love to share other opinions on what is going on at College radio in addition to my own.


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