Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This week in College radio: CMJ Issue 1307. Week 30

i can't seriously talk about this chart. There are so many things happening that would not be happening any other time of year. 

Thats how I feel about summertime charts right now. The charts are so strange this time of year.  I really thought we had leveled off, we had been getting the same amount of reporters for about the last four weeks but this week was a big drop and its understandable with everyone trying to cram in as much summer fun time in before its time to report back to school.    

Smith Westerns sticks around for another week at #1 while Hunx and His Punx jump all the way to #3.  Pity Sex make a big move up to #5 while Bass Drum of Death and Speedy Ortiz both fall.   I think Hunx and His Punx have a nice shot at #1. This time of year, just because you are top five does not mean you have a legit shot at #1. Pity sex have virtually no shot and while Gogol made a huge move up the charts to #14 they have so much ground to make up to even be considered.  

I would like to think that there will be something big going for ADDS soon that will bolt up the charts but who knows. I was surprised that last weeks #1 most added The Love Language was not a lot higher but I think some of that is due to the lack of reporting stations.  This weeks number one ADD was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic zeros. ADDS the last few weeks have been very difficult to project so we will take a wait and see approach to this one. 

Speaking of waiting for some good records what are you guys excited about for Fall?  

Anything you want to talk about?  Please let me know? 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Sorry for the delay friends, sometimes you just get caught up in that whole enjoying summer thing. While summer is fantastic I am looking forward to Fall just to see what the discussion about radio will be like then as it has been pretty great so far this summer. So thank you for reading and debating.

This week went pretty much how I thought It would last week. With Portugal. The Man squeezing into the #1 spot by a hair, it had no real strength to stay there. But really when we look back all that will matter to them is that It got to #1. This week Smith Westerns take the #1 spot.   After that though things are a little hazy.

In the summer it is difficult to tell the contenders from the pretenders.  Charging up the charts up to #3 is Bass Drum of Death. If you would of asked me 4 weeks ago if Bass Drum of Death would be a contender for #1 I would of flatly said no but anything goes in the summer.  Speedy Ortiz jolts up the chart to #7 in its 2nd week on the charts and last weeks #1 most added Hunx and His Punx comes in at #9.  So are all of these contenders for #1?

The last few weeks of summer #'1s compared to the spring or fall have been relatively weak, hovering around just over 50% of the stations. So that means it is a lot easier for a record to obtain #1 status. In Smith Westerns path to #1 as in most runs to #1 the record will debut high, then get a HUGE jump in stations the next week then level off with smaller jumps the next few weeks. Most records do not get a more than one big jump in stations in the summer.    Of those above records It looks like the highest one Bass Drum of Death has the least chance to get the #1 spot having only climbed up the chart by gaining small amounts and having older records fall down past them. Speedy Ortiz is in the same sort of boat. They had their big jump of stations this past week and while it was enough to get them into the conversation they should sputter in the top five.  Hunx and His punk though we talked about last week having the best chance for the next #1 are on the same path as Smith Westerns. They debut with just around the same amount of stations and so this next week will be important, however with the lack of high quality contenders for #1 I don't see that being a problem.  

We had another 100+ add in Love Language this week but no debut on the charts in the same week. I am not 100% positive but I think records that debut on the add week have a much better chance of making a run at #1 than those that debut the next week. Now other factors come into play such as if it was mailed on time or how many copies were sent out but in general thats my thought, so the jury is out on Love Language being a contender.

I think when summer hits I can start going more in detail on the charts in regards to lower records again but for now we will continue to focus on the top of the charts.  If you are not following me on twitter you missed out on a lovely debate with WZBT about the weight of stations. I won't rehash the whole debate but one thing every station should know is that the weight/ value of your station can change and it is up to you to change it. Just recently a highly weighted station was lowered to the 2nd lowest rank because they now have reduced impact on the community. When a station has more of an impact they tend to get bumped up. So feel free to let CMJ know when anything changes at your station so you can be reevaluated.  My twitter again is @theanimalarrg

Lastly I had a smaller debate about ADDS on twitter yesterday because a station, a station that should know how ADDS work, ADDED a record that got sent to radio 8 weeks ago.  So I wrote that it was pointless for that station to have added that record at that time because it helps no one. If you are going to add a record so late in the game you may as well not even do adds. And yes not doing ADDS is an option. I thought at one time there was a forum on CMJ that gave stations pointers on how ADDS work but apparently there is not. I would suggest anyone having questions with regards to how to do ADDS visit as there are many helpful people on the message boards.  The good news is that less stations than ever mess up ADDS so its really become less of an issue. I just hate to see only 3 adds or ADDS on the wrong week as it really helps no one.

Thanks for reading, again hit me up on the twitters if you want to continue this discussion.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I can at least say this week I was intrigued by the CMJ charts.  I had a feeling early on that Daft Punk's run was close to coming to an end. They had been up there for a while and the promoters pushing them had moved on to the next big record.  It was actually pretty interesting to watch because together AAM and The Syn had gotten Daft Punk to #1 and kept it there for over a month. Now each of them had their own new record to push. The Syn with Portugal. The Man and AAM with Smith Westerns ( albeit each of them with a different second indie on board )   I wish it was possible to say they were on equal ground but its really hard to compare records that are on different weeks of the radio cycle. Portugal. The Man has been out there 4 weeks longer.   So even though its not really fair we can say for fun that this week was AAM vs The Syn for #1 ( seen that movie way too many times)

So knowing that Portugal. The Man has been stuck at #2 for the past few weeks and Smith Westerns climbing quickly up the chart, early on I gave the edge to Smith Western as they had the momentum.  As it got later there were swings back and forth between the two records. As far as I could tell Smith Western never had a lead but they did tie quite a few times. Portugal. The Man had as large as a 6 station lead, I am sure it got to be more but  that is the highest I saw it.  When charts closed it was close.   With 241 stations reporting Portugal. The Man had the lead with 52% of the stations and Smith Westerns had 51%.  So I had to go look closer at the numbers. As many of you know every station is different in how they contribute to CMJ so the bigger stations that impact more of the community/ sell more records/ get people out to shows are weighted more at radio. So we have to break it down to see how close it really was.

With the highest ranking of 6 there were the same amount of stations.
At 5 Smith Westerns had 3 more
at 4 Portugal. The Man had 1 more
at 3 Smith Westerns had 5 more
at 2 Portugal. The man had 10 more
at 1 Smith Westerns had 1 more

Look at how close that all is!  So you could say the 6's were a wash, the 5 extra 3's cancel out the 1 extra 4 that Portugal had. That brings us to the 5's and the 2's  While we don't know the formula it is fun to speculate. Ten- 2's should be worth at most two 5's  leaving one 5 and one 1 and so I really thought Smith Westerns would be the new #1.

I was wrong. Portugal. The Man took #1 this week but It had to be close.  I had to look more closely at the numbers then. Portugal. The Man did have more #1's overall with 30 compared to 23 so that could of been enough to put it over the edge. If I had to guess though I would have to say this is one of the closest 1 and 2's of the year.    So good job The Syn! Had it been any other time of year I doubt this old of a record could of snagged the #1 spot but records tend to linger in the summer and you can push a record for a good 6 weeks before people get tired of it.

So finally some excitement in the world of college radio. Will be interesting to see if they can hold on for another week or if Smith Westerns just have too much going for them. At #3 is Boards of Canada and originally when they went for ADDs I thought they could be a contender but they have moved so slowly. I think they get to #2 next week though.   I really can't believe how well Surfer Blood is doing, #5 is a total shock based upon what my stations have been telling me about the record.  Such is the summer though where names people recognize do better.   Speaking of that. I had a station send out an email where they said they did not have a chance to check out any adds this week but added "these" because she knew the name. That is the prefect summation of what happens at radio in the summer. It happens year round but so much more in the summer.   The power of just having a name people recognize can be enough to do well on the charts regardless of how good the record in and that concept is means so much more in the summer.

There was an artist I worked with once( in a different life)  who's name I will not mention, that was just very average at best.  I remember the first record did nothing. Nothing as in maybe 2 out of 400+ stations charted and played them. But they kept going. New record EVERY year and TOUR every year and when I asked stations about this artist they said they did not care for them but every record did better than the last from 2 stations to 4 ... to 6 ... pretty soon her records were charting. They never get out of the top 100 but they chart now and I would be hard pressed to find a person that actually likes them but the power of name recognition propels the newest record higher than the last.

On the flip side there are so many artists that have a big first record that does great at radio only to be forgotten because they never follow it up.  Today I was reminded of a band that was sent to me at radio back in the day called Transistor Sound and Lighting company.  Click on the link to see what Last FM said about them.
That could read

Like most other great Canadian independent acts that have reached the same fate (think: Inbreds, Zumpano, Thrush Hermit, Super Friendz, Rheostatics), Transistor Sound & Lighting Co. were instantly forgotten by pretty much everyone except the lucky few who had picked up their album"

That could very well  read "great college acts" ....

I guess that is what is great about college radio, that these artists even get a shot. But because of the volume of records and the turnover at radio you are easily forgotten unless you have Pitchfork/ bigger press outlets, on your side or you put a record out on a regular basis.  Thats why I am never shocked when a station has not heard of a band I think is big. Just this week I have mentioned Husker Du, Islands,  Broken Social Scene, Doves,  Minus the Bear and a real shocker Modest Mouse  just to name a few and at least one music director did not know who they were. So we educate and try and help them discover these bands that are new to them.   It can be frustrating at times but it can also be fun to turn people onto bands they had never heard of.

I should of covered this earlier but could not find a good place for it but we had our first record to get to the 100 add mark in quite a few weeks with Hunx and His Punx with 102 adds! Almost half of the people that did adds went for them.   I suppose we need to take them seriously for #1 consideration. I see nothing on the horizon that I can say for certain will be a #1 contender  so when you see that many adds you need to take it seriously.  There are 7 weeks until Labor Day and I suspect those next 7 weeks or so won't have anything Major with a TON of things hitting the week of Labor Day or right after. Sorry to mention there are only 7 more weeks of summer.  Let's forget I said that and spend more time outside.

Thank's for reading. If you have any comments or anything you want to talk about please hit me up on twitter! @theanimalarrg

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I do hope everyone out there had a fantastic long weekend and celebrated independence and all of those things. I know I did. I was half expecting to get back to a college radio graveyard. I mean I did not want to get back to work I can't imagine you guys wanting to.

Shockingly we had more reporters this week than we did last week.  Of course that does not mean anything exciting happened. Daft Punk reigns supreme at college radio for the 4th week in a row! They have come a long way from struggling to get to #1 to just parking themselves there.  Portugal. The Man comes in at #2 and made a nice effort in getting close to the top spot coming up a few stations shy, but I am willing to bet the weight of stations playing Daft Punk is higher. At number 3 we have Smith Westerns. I said last week I thought they had the next best chance to come and grab that #1 spot.  If it were any other time of year I would say without a doubt they would take it next week but I have no idea if half of the stations that reported this week will take a beach day instead so who really knows but I don't see anyone else remotely close to making a move.  

It was another weak ADD week as the #1 most added record ( Robert Pollard) only received 71 adds. Pretty low. There were also a lot fewer ADD reporters than chart reporters for whatever reason. Usually there is a gap but  it is usually around 20 stations difference not the 40 it was this week. So maybe everyone came back and did not have time to check out adds.    Last weeks #1 ADD, Daughn Gibson, came in at #37 while the #2 add, Bosnian Rainbows came in as the #1 debut of the week at #34. I continue to argue that ADDS do mean something but at the same time the numbers make me believe otherwise. I am sure the truth lies somewhere in-between.

I wish I had more to talk about this week. Coming back from the break though means not much to report. Perhaps if you have any questions about the inner workings of college radio we can cover them in the near future.  Had a really good back and forth WZBT via twitter about last weeks blog so thank you all for reading.  IF there is anything  you want to talk about please do hit me up on twitter @theanimalarrg   Look forward to talking to you soon!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Happy 4th of July week and Pirate! birth-week (mine is this weekend) !  I hope everyone is planing on doing something other than work this week as I know I am!   Weeks such as this I often think ehhh maybe I will skip the blog this week but then sure enough I get a note saying, hey I really liked what you wrote last week and it keeps me going. And for that, I thank you.

Not to be a broken record here but the charts in the summer time are very slow going. Less records, means less big records means less movement. It also means, as we talked about last week, scores of stations taking weeks off, reporting the same reports.   This week we see Daft Punk holding on to the #1 spot of the charts, however with a significant drop in stations.  That could also be due to the huge drop in stations reporting.  In looking this over, Daft Punk only lost 5 more stations than the number of stations that did not report.  So about the same.  Portugal. The Man made a nice move up to #2 and Boards of Canada joined in at #5 while the National and Vampire Weekend each dropped one spot but stayed in the top 5.   Smith Westerns make HUGE debut at #7 having went for adds last week. That has to be the biggest good surprise of the week while Surfer blood, a former #1 most added record is already falling from its peak of 10 last week.  But seriously how can you predict the charts when there is a change in 30+ stations every week.   I would like to say with some confidence that either Smith Western or Portugal. The Man will take the #1 spot next week. Also making it difficult is that each of those records has 2 indies on it so It can depend on who is the better team? AAM + Neverbetter or Planetary and The Syn.   But then again maybe stations are just playing America by Neil diamond over and over again this week that they are forced to send in the same charts as last week.

For adds this week we had another Sub Pop record at the top Daughn Gibbson with Bosnian Rainbows and Owen about 15 behind.  And it was never really that close the top 4 adds on Monday night were the same 4 at the end of reporting on Tuesday.

With yet another Sub Pop record atop the adds chart it got be to thinking about the dominance of some labels at radio. It just seems that for a while over the past few years that every Sub Pop record naturally goes to the top 10.  It reminds me a lot of a label most of you have never heard of called JETSET.

In august of 2003 they were at their Peak. Pretty much EVERY record they released went top 10.
Check out this Coverstory from CMJ of that year

Then seemingly overnight they disappeared, you can check out their former roster here

I thought of Jetset because currently we are working on a 10 year anniversary comp from a Label called Arts and Crafts. And a lot like Subpop and Jetset before it Arts and Crafts had a mighty run at College radio. Check out their roster here  Of course you will recognize a lot of names on there however even though their history is current, with a current band on the charts even, many ( I would gather over half) have not heard of Arts and Crafts.

It's a shame really but there is no single thing to blame. There are tons of new labels every year and a lot fold every year and if you don't have something current and trendy you are often forgotten in a very short amount of time.  Not everyone can have the sustained success of a Sub Pop, of course they too have had their ups and downs but to sustain being a "cool" label at the college radio level for so long is very impressive.

While Sub Pop is generally regarded one of the most popular labels I went looking into what label has THE most record on the charts right now. Using only this past weeks chart. While compiling a few weeks worth would no doubt be more accurate it would also cut into my birthweek so you must forgive me this once.  For this weeks chart the #1 label is actually Self- Released, while this is not a label obviously it does show that more artists are doing it by themselves. This number should actually be a bit higher if you take into consideration the fake labels bands make up for themselves.  That Could easily add another 5-10 into that category.  Next up was Domino with 6 records on the chart.  But if you were to count label groups as a single label then Beggars with ( Matador/ XL/ Beggars/ 4aD) would have 10 records on the chart and the group of Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar, Secretly Canadian would have 8.  Sub Pop by the way is tied with Merge with 5 records on the chart.  I started to then count up Indie labels vs Major labels,  and without getting into the debate of if some of the indies really are indie labels, if they are commonly though of by stations as indie labels I counted them as such. In counting these up I found that overwhelmingly Indie Labels make up a majority of the chart. In fact there were only 25 official major label records on the chart, and not much more if you start to count some of the fake indie labels.

So that sort of makes the argument that College radio is for artists on independent labels. Until you look directly at the top of the charts where we see our friend Daft Punk. Daft Punk is one of the biggest records of the year, It has hit #1 on billboard and is currently in the top 5 so why is this a College record when college radio did not create them. The argument can be made in many cases such as well the #2 record on the chart Portugal. The Man. They are on a major label, however they were built by college radio. In much the same way Black Keys or Tegan and sara were built by college radio.  At what point does that artist stop being for college radio.   It goes into a much larger discussion of what Is college radio for?  This debate won't be decided here. I am not even going to argue it as I have to work artists on both sides often times I am just wondering what you guys think out there. I think a lot of time its made up as you go along.  I remember earlier this year we were working on The Knife and a station told me, "I'm sorry that's too big for us"  This same station is currently charting the new Sebadoh Ep, a band that has far more mainstream popularity than the Knife has had up to this point.  It is a interesting question that I hope you guys will help me talk about.    I hope everyone has a great 4th of July break. Go get some Ice cream cake.


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