A Very Personal Blog

As I sit down to write after a very long and troubling day, I wonder sometimes about my sanity in wanting to run 4 radio stations let alone one. The day-to-day operations, the music, the headaches, and after a day like today it should be a question but it really isn’t for me. I do it because I love what I do. I also work my ass off at what I do, and believe in putting the best effort in or not doing it at all.

Now when a day like today comes along and you end up dealing with someone, in this case a prima dona artist, who ends up pissing me off, I try to keep things in check and remember the lessons from my parents about letting things roll off my back. But I need to explain why once in a while you will see or read something that isn’t rolling off my back. Why a day like today bugs me to the core.

If you have read my blogs before you know that I believe when it comes to marketing in the old system used by Nielsen for their ratings, and in its simplest form to explain here, that each of us, with our opinion is likely to have a similar opinion to so many thousands of others. This is how they rated radio and tv in the past as I explained. As such when I listen to a new song coming in and think it is good and has potential I believe that if we polled a few thousand other people the consensus would agree with me on average. Now lets take this logic and work it in reverse.

Today after a long week of dealing off and on with an artist who for whatever reason, either thinks he is entitled or something. Without going into the details, lets just say it encompasses a couple of email exchanges, and twitter exchanges. In the end, he wasn’t satisfied with me, and thought I, being KB Radio wasn’t doing him any favors or supporting him, lol, and decided to end our relationship by blocking me.

This is not a problem, and I have dealt with a lot bigger stars, without saying any names of a former tv star turned musician that I refused to play or deal with.  His fan club told me they made KB Radio.  It was funny, I had 25,000 listeners before they even heard of me.   In this case the artist today went on to promote other radio stations, good for him, and in another exchange with another station mentioned that I had a mental breakdown.  That’s not good.   This is where all this blog ties itself together. I don’t really give a damn what this jerk or any critic says.  I have all of our exchanges, I would do everything exactly the same if it happened a second time. But when you start to publicly blast me, unlike having thousands of people liking music, you have people reading this post, and with the quick judgement of society anymore, deciding on that alone what an asshole I am.

Should I walk away and ignore it? Oh sure, probably, but as I said I work my butt off, and not just for me, but for the hundreds of other artists that work hard themselves and treat people decently and with respect. So to let someone tarnish my name is not something I am going to tolerate. So if you have seen online debates, like a couple I have had, if you find them offensive, than I apologize to you. However when I work at something, I don’t give it 50%. I give it what I have and I won’t allow any person to take any part of it away from me, with their whiny, pissy lies or bullshit.

This also doesn’t mean I want to drag anyone in if this happens. I just hope you understand, I am not disagreeing or fighting to be a jerk. I am standing up for myself, for my stations and for the hard work and long hours I have put in. Truthfully, if I am not allowed to do that, than I might as well shut the whole thing down.

My final thought about all of this, is that in the end, there is no winner in this. In each scenario that has gone this route I have used diplomacy, and even taken a bullet accepting potential blame that I may be in error, so that it may help to smooth things over easier. I am not perfect, but I would much rather be on good terms with an artist and be playing their music. But the final decision is theirs, not mine….

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It’s All About The Music

I have thought about sitting down to write this for a long time, and every once in a while the words are right there in the front of my brain ready to go to paper, as they say, the only problem is usually I am off doing something and not able to do that. I am sure, as many people know, I find myself getting frustrated sometimes at the lack of consideration of others and the music business is no different than any other business or industry that is in existence. But I need a place to begin so let’s start from the top and work our way through in what I hope ends up being a coherent group of sentences and not the usual jumble of shit that flows through my brain.

I won’t go back as far as the beginning with my idea for what was missing in radio, you already know about that, and if not feel free to look back or ask about that. But when I put together my podcast initially and then my 24-hour station(s) there was something I think I do differently than most, and that is I look at song rotation, the clock, how they fit together and a number of other elements. When I say a clock I don’t mean your clock hanging on the wall. I have developed a clock for each station that is based around a number of elements. This is how traditional radio was programmed, I have no idea how they do it now, but seeing as how its all run by younger know-it-alls, I’m guessing they have developed a better system. (HA!)

Now, right away, I am different from a lot of other internet broadcasters and stations in that I am not doing a “Show” that features Indie music, I program it to be mixed in 24 hours a day 7 days a week. With the exception of course of specialty shows like the 70’s and 80’s shows. I also do an Indie show that features just Indie Music on the one station, KB Radio, but that is again entirely different. So at this point in developing a rotation clock, I need to know one key factor. Who my audience is! I target specific demographics with each station, and as such, I control what music is played so that it fits and appeals to those listeners. Once again everything I am doing is how they used to program, and how I was trained oh so many years ago.

In the case of KB Radio as a working example, I am playing a mix of mainstream music and Indie Music. It is not however all lumped together. From this point when I do my music reviews every week, which I will get to later in this blog, I don’t necessarily listen for a song I like. I listen to see if it will fit with my station and my target demographic. From this point, it has to be determined how well it fits, the quality of the recording etc. There is a very noticeable difference in the recording quality that comes in from some artists, and I understand, its dollars and accessibility mostly, but it does have an effect on the final product.

The rotation clock is made up of music categories I have created. I then assign the songs into those categories which are then put into an order to make up an hour or 2 or maybe 3. For example, if you have a new hit station, the new music is playing more frequently. That category might play 5 times per hour. A category with songs that just fell off the charts would only play once per hour because you don’t want to hear them as often, as they had been playing a lot previously. Then you will have other groups depending on the music you are filling your time with. If you are a commercial station, you have to account for those commercial breaks etc, but for someone like me, with 15 songs per hour on average, I would play a new hit to start the hour, then a classic from maybe the 80s, another hit, then the just dropped track. Throw in a couple older tracks again, and it goes on like that until you have filled 60 minutes.

So why am I telling you this? As part of my programming what I try and do for the Indie artists that I add to the stations is I play one track, put them into the rotation, and leave them there to get recognized by my listeners. Back in the day, when Queen or whoever released a new album, they dropped a new single. That was it, one single and everyone played it. Maybe the odd rock station played some back tracks but the focus was to promote that track, which in turn promoted the album to get it onto the charts. When that song had run its course they would sometimes wait a couple weeks and then drop another one, and start the process over again. That is the process I am trying to duplicate on my stations. Do I have a huge Billboard chart? Nope, but I have a Top 25 that, after 6 weeks since starting back up, is getting 1000+ votes a week from listeners. That is a lot of input from listeners and fans that shouldn’t be ignored.

What does it all boil down to? I believe it comes down to consistency and promotion. When I write about working with artists, I do my best to help promote and I will work with anyone who wants to work with me. As I recently wrote on a tweet, that doesn’t mean you have to kiss my ass. I don’t ask for any money. I don’t ask for anything more than being treated the way you would like me to treat you. Remember also, I will give everyone the same kind of effort, and not play favorites to anyone. The final effort comes from the artists themselves. I can play the music, I can interview you, I can talk about you, I can put your name on my websites, etc but the rest is up to you. Unfortunately, some think all they have to do is make the music. Thankfully though, the number of people like that is very few.

A huge pet peeve of mine is artists who tag my tweets to promote their own music, especially when it is the tweets of songs of other artists that have been live-tweeted. I have seen this on other indie songs, and I know we all have to be a big happy family, but don’t do it. I guarantee if I was playing your music, and somebody tagged onto your tweet to promote something of theirs, you would be pissed off. It takes no more time to write a tweet and tag me. Of course, that’s still not how I need music submitted, and I just don’t have the time to listen. Think about this; I came home yesterday and checked my Twitter and email. In the music submission inbox there are 507 new emails and on Twitter, there were 680 new messages. I have someone helping me with a number of things, including handling the KB Indie and KB AOR Twitter accounts now. This saves me an incredible amount of time and gives those two stations a lot more personal service on Twitter and their websites.

Now, this isn’t a complaint about the number of submissions or emails, but it certainly helps streamline things if I can focus on the music from one source, like email, instead of trying to bounce around from email to Twitter etc.

I always laugh when someone says to me, “It’s only one song. All you have to do is click on the link and listen.” Well, it’s not just one song, because it’s never just one person/artist/band. I don’t even count the number anymore, but just try and guess how many were in the 680 messages. “It only takes a minute”, is the other line. So let’s think about this, I click the link, and if everything opens okay, (which 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t) sometimes it then takes me to pages where I have to register first. So now it has gone from just listening to now I have to register first, ok… LMAO Now, I have opened an email, read the email, clicked the link, registered and now clicked another link to listen. Lets say I have invested 2 minutes. At this point, I then message you back saying, “Cool track, can you email me…yadda yadda yadda.” For the sake of argument, I am going to say 3 minutes total. If I get 10 a day like that, it is now 30 minutes a day times 7 days a week, which works out to 3 1/2 hours per week and, don’t forget, I am now waiting on an email response and I am going to go through that process again because yours is just another email mixed in the bunch. Plus, others will see that I have done this which will encourage more people to do this. The final thing is, if you had emailed in the first place you would have saved yourself some time, and effort as well.

The point above works the same when I get a link for a YouTube video in the email. It is just a duplication of efforts and a waste of time. I try to explain and be polite, and have been told on more than one occasion that it is not worth the effort to send me the music. I still feel bad for all the artists represented by that promotion company.

I want to add in a funny story that may shed some light on the types of issues that I deal with on a weekly/daily basis. I have had people who hear the Live 70’s and 80’s Shows and email me wanting me to play their recording of a 70’s or 80’s song. Okay, this is not how it works. Why would I want to play a cover of a great song when I already have the real deal? I don’t go out to eat and bring my own food that I have reheated, and then go to the movies and plug in my portable DVD player and watch my burned copy of the movie. So I’m certainly not going to play a Bob and the Blueballers version of a Rolling Stones hit. It just doesn’t make sense.

I write my blogs not out of arrogance or anger, but often out of frustration. I had an artist last night think I was playing games with him on Twitter because I wouldn’t listen to the music that he had sent in a tweet. I read interviews with other radio stations, and laugh at the arrogance of some of these people. I have the listeners and as you all saw when the shit hit the fan last summer and I took a hiatus, the world kept on spinning. I am not stupid. I get that I do a good job but if I and the KB stations disappeared right now, we would be missed for a few minutes but life would just go on. I read of stations where you have to register first before you are even allowed to submit music. There was a station I wrote about in the past that used to say we don’t respond to emails, just listen and if you hear your song you will know we played it. They went under some time ago by the way.

That’s why and I say this to the artists as well, treat people how you want to be treated. I raised my kids this way. There’s another station here in Canada, they just keep making changes. They tried to copy me at one point, I know… imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, lol. Now they tell artists they shouldn’t be so upset that he doesn’t have time to answer their emails. I say once again “who the hell do these people think they are?”

People come and go from our lives for various reasons. Its funny in the music industry that often, for someone like me, I’m only good to talk to when I can be of some help. But I remain the same, doing what I love, playing music, and calling it like I see it. Being number one is great, but number one is only a matter of seconds in the big scheme of things. It’s the fight to get there, and when you lose the fight to stay on top, it’s the fight on the way down to not go easy. I don’t know if I am number 1 in this business, and don’t care. I don’t know that there is actually a legitimate way to measure that anyways. So I just keep fighting, for myself and for those who want to go along for the ride with me.

Thanks for reading. Cheers, Al

Top 25 Voting..A follow up.

To run a countdown on KB Radio I wanted to make sure of two things.

First: Fairness for everyone

Second: Be as accurate with everything as possible

I developed a system that takes into account the 25 songs that are currently on the chart, adds in the results from the fan voting, plus from the station points that are also a part of the ranking. The voting once again accounts for 80% of the total so you the fans control it almost totally.

The key is to have a system that from week to week is consistent, and if you look at each week going back and forth you can see a pattern. Too many stations have the Top 10 songs voted, which is just the 10 highest voted in the order of voting. That’s great if that is what you want, but the next week, it can be completely different. Like everything else with KB Radio I try and identify it as being done like your standard terrestrial radio station.

The tabulation of the Top 25 is the same way. If you look at Billboards hot 100 you don’t see a song at #1 this week and not on it next week. The week after that it is #16. You see that song climb to #1, hold on depending on popularity and than slowly fall off the chart. You will see the exact same process with the KB Radio chart.

Every week I review the voting with information provided by the host Poll Maker dot com and it provides me with a couple different reports. As most people know we leave an incredible footprint everywhere we go on the internet. Haven’t you ever thought what a coincidence, I was just looking at the price of floor mats for my car, and the next minute when you are checking Facebook, there is an add for Floormats. Its no coincidence.

These reports allow me to look at a number of things, and most I look to make sure everyone is playing fair. I don’t spend hours looking for cheaters, I prefer to believe people are playing by the rules, but it gives me data in such a way that some things become very obvious. It also records when you repeatedly click trying to vote, even though its not recording the vote. LOL Yes, its true it recorded your vote and that you clicked 20 more times. No those votes weren’t recorded, so its not really an issue except to know that someone attempted. So what do I do at that point where I discover someone has managed to get around the rules and how do I know that.

Which do you want answered first. People will use VPN’s or Virtual Private Networks to get a different IP address and appear to be from somewhere different, but this doesn’t change the device they are doing it on. Right now the novices are going what do you mean? I mean right down to the version number of the browser you used to log into the voting is recorded. That’s not me, that’s just the internet and it happens everywhere. So when I sort results for an artist I sort based on those devices, and when I find a device that voted in New York City, than in Dallas, than in Paris France, as an example I suspect someone is not playing by the rules. But even than I still want to believe that maybe, just maybe its legit. What if they are an airline pilot? No wait, the first vote was at 10:01am, than Dallas at 10:07 and Paris at 10:16 am. Planes don’t fly that fast.

So I am left with what do I do. I am not about to punish a band or an artist for an overzealous fan who thinks they are helping. So I disqualify those votes. That is really only logical because if they didn’t cheat the extra votes wouldn’t exist in the first place. Now generally this is only the odd vote here and there and doesn’t cause any issues. In the past couple years, it has come up a couple times, and each time I try to address it as diplomatically as possible. Yet each time it happens, fans and others get their knickers in a knot and get pissed off about things.

I have nothing to gain by one artist or band being in 1st or 25th. In some cases with large fan clubs it would be probably be advantageous for me to have that artist stay in the #1 spot, but I won’t risk my integrity for anyone.

It has come up once again, and as a reaction all mentions of KB Radio were removed from a fan club page with this explanation:

” I’m avoiding fires and negativities from the fans by removing it all today instead of all the questions. I’ve done you a favor “

As I said to this individual if you think this is a favor you are wrong. But, I am not the one who got hurt in this scenario. So a band/artist has a bunch of votes disqualified last week. Votes they wouldn’t have had anyways if the voter played by the rules. Did this affect their position on the chart? In my opinion no, because again, they didn’t have the votes but yes their position changed. Just to be clear their is no interaction with the band/artist, and I am not indicating who it is. All communication is done through a third party.

So who is the winner and loser in this. There are no winners. The honest fans who busted their asses are left in the dark wondering, and now have no idea what is going on, and not even being advised to vote. The artist/band knows nothing of this I can only assume, but the extra exposure they get by being on the Top 25, their chance at being in the running at year end for song of the year will be lost not because of the bad votes, but because of sour grapes.

The last band prior to this I dealt with, they actually were the ones stacking the vote, I believe and when I tried to be diplomatic with them, they got extremely pissy and demanded I stop playing their music. Thats okay with me, because with approximately 1000 plus songs submitted to me every month looking to get on the air, its no problem filling that space. But that was the band deciding.

Why do I write all of this? To be completely honest, I get tired of people questioning my credibility and at the expense of artists that I am busting my ass to help. Will it change, maybe not, when the next incident happens. But maybe it will make a difference.

I am attaching a screen grab of one of the pages of information I can get about voters and voting. This is from today, and the new voting. You will see that I have blacked out a portion of the IP addresses and the computer information. I do that for voters protection. This is not public information, and I will not be responsible for sharing your information with someone who could take advantage of it.

So as I always say, play fair. This was designed to be fun and to give some extra exposure to artists that get fans involved with their music. The number 1 song from 2017 on KB is still in rotation on KB Radio. It has played 5 times more than another indie track than came to KB at the same time. This other track as an example is now on KB Indie getting an occasional spin. These are not insignificant number really for either artist, but if you have an opportunity to be heard more often with a large world wide audience, why not try to take advantage of it.

The Top 25: How its Calculated

The work that goes into bringing you the Top 25 each week is more than just fan voting. It covers a significant portion of it which is what makes your participation so important for your favorite band or artist. When I first began it as a Top 10 I wanted listeners to take part, and make sure that their voices were being heard.

Like so many other things with others I wasnt happy with some of the charts others were presenting. One station on a week to week had an artist one week at #5 than the following week they weren’t on their Top 25 and two weeks later they suddenly appeared at #4. I have no idea how that one is put together.

Another national chart that I at one time took part in i discovered was operated by someone who also promotes Indie Artists. As part of his package he sells he promises to work to get you on the charts. On this particular Top 50 they averaged 40% of the songs on the chart were artists he was promoting. There was no transparency despite the fact hundreds of us submitted our charts that were than used to compile the main list.

So I created mine in such way that I can explain it and if you desire show you my spreadsheet that has all my built-in calculators etc. Every week i sit down and add the voting results in to start in a process that usually takes an hour to 90 minutes to complete.

Your voting accounts for 80 percent of the total in the points process. Lets begin with if your favorite band gets 500 votes they don’t get 500 points. In my system points are based on finishing position.

Artists that are on the chart already are assigned points in the same manner, the higher they are on the list the higher the point value. This is done to ensure consistency week to week. Without this someone could get the most votes in their first week of voting and theoretically be able to start at the number 1 position.

These points are totaled and then 80% of that total is taken. This represents the fan portion of the system, as voting does account for all positions. At this point the station portion comes into play. When I say station I of course mean myself though I am looking to hire and expand. The 20% that the station points account for include a number of items that are taken into account.

At this point I will say that I wont tell you all of them so that people don’t have the opportunity to manipulate what I am looking at. I consider 5 different items and then add my 20% to the other total.

The final numbers that come out represents when sorted highest to lowest the next Top 25. You will see the greatest movement when fans vote big one week but not the next for a song. But that is why it is in the hands of the fans. There are built-in safeguards to the voting and you can vote once a day for your favorite artist.

The biggest item in all of this is fairness and transparency. If everyone plays fair it works great. When people figure a way around the system, than we have to decide whether to.just eliminate votes or even disqualify an artist in a worst case scenario. Thankfully in the history of the chart I’ve never had to make that decision. That is because Indie music fans are the best.

I want to add that I don’t mind sharing almost everything I do.  I have shared with other radio stations because in my mind the end result is that it helps promote Independent artists.  But some things are worth protecting.  My basic design I have explained but I won’t show it in detail.  The bottom line is while I want to see artists get as much exposure as possible, the more listeners I have the better, so to help other stations too much would also harm myself and my stations.  Lets call my weekly calculations a proprietary piece of work. 

Any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

Politics, Religion and Music?

There are many people who know me be it personally or on some level that know that when it comes to these three basic subjects I have a pretty hard-lined opinion. The best thing is, of course, we are all entitled to our opinion. Unless of course, your opinion is different from outspoken minority or other groups. That is a topic for another blog and mostly I don’t care what people think. I believe we are all entitled to our own opinions. I believe we are entitled to express those opinions as we see fit within the law and as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. So let’s begin with a very basic opinion of mine.

I am not a huge fan of politics mixing with music, but it depends on how that is handled. I have had music submissions from artists that are politically based, completely ripping a current leader in one country or another. I am sure in their minds it is a great way of self-expression, but where should the line be drawn with music like this?

As a music programmer, I believe that once you open the door it’s too late to try and close it back up. If I was to program a song that is against one political party or person, then by rights I cannot refuse a song that promotes that same group or person.

As a Canadian, I often refer to the past couple of years with our neighbors to the South in the United States. In their last Presidential Election, the vote was very near a 50/50 split across the country for and against the winner. This creates a problem as an on-air host that if I were to use the President, as an example only, for comedy material or to express disdain then I can immediately offend 50% of the potential listeners in the United States. The same goes in reverse if I applaud and point out all of the great things I alienate or potentially upset the other 50%.

It doesn’t matter the country or the leaders but the result is the same. Two of the biggest hot button topics are politics and religion. Let’s face it, how many wars have been started in the name of religion?

This doesn’t mean I won’t say something controversial along the way but I will avoid those subject like the plague. You always risk alienating people when it comes to controversial subjects or even some that aren’t. I don’t worry about upsetting people in general, it’s not something I go out of my way to try to do, but apart from a couple of topics, I am not worried about discussing something.

I don’t just follow this practice with my station and on-air shows, but also with my social media and personal accounts as well for the most part. When I am on social media and I find Facebook is the worst, I don’t want to spend time reading about your politics or religion. I get a lot of request for friends and followers, especially from musicians. When I have a few minutes sometimes I might check an account on FB so that I can see and hopefully learn a bit about them and their music. When I open their profile and the last 7 or 8 posts are “pro-Trump or Anti Trump”, as an example I just unfollow them. I applaud your patriotism and your right to your opinion, however, I care about music. That’s all!

I find the same thing with religion. My beliefs are mine and mine alone, to share with who I choose, but not like this. The same kind of example as before, I have opened profiles of musicians and scrolled and scrolled and only found quotes from Psalms or somewhere else. Not even finding anything related to their music in a couple of cases. Once again I am interested in the music. Now artists that identify as Christian Music have had music played on the station before, have so right now and will continue to do so. Songs in this genre are judged based on how they will fit within the format and playlist of the station.

I do need to make sure everyone understands something. Nowhere here, except in the one case have I talked about not playing music from some artists. If I choose to unfollow someone it doesn’t mean I won’t play their music, it just means I have no interest in reading their views. You should also note I don’t unfollow or block if someone posts the occasional comment. Like I said, in the beginning, we all are entitled to our opinions, however, it’s the way it happens.

The one thing that can be “funny” maybe is to sometimes read the posts before I unfollow. A recent Christian Singer, their title not mine, made a political post which some would call patriotic, but I considered to be the most uncaring and Non Christian thing I had read in some time The hypocrisy of it all was beyond laughable, to read such hateful and disgusting words that wished the death of children on a specific group. I have held off playing their music for the time being. That is beyond being just an opinion, and I am hesitant to be associated in any way at all with this person.

In the past, I had written about a theory I have used for years on how I look at and see public perception. It is something that goes back to early television and radio ratings when the Neilson company used to send out diaries for people to write in and record their viewing and listening habits. How does that pertain to the main subject of this blog you ask. Well over the years they perfected a system before computers that worked based on averages. There was no way to send a diary to every single person and even if they did not everyone would complete them. So they sent them to people who wanted to fill them out and discovered that basically, 1 complete diary was going to equate to the same as 10,000 completed diaries as an example. It was accurate to something like 3 or 4 percent which is pretty damn good and meant they had a pretty solid analysis of viewing and listening habits of millions of people by only needing thousands of diaries completed.

So let me ask you this simple question today. I follow this same basis for many of my operations and if it’s accurate when you get a compliment or a complaint it probably represents the opinion of more than just that one person. In that case, this idea of mine isn’t unique to me. Likely there are thousands of others that feel the same way.

Heres the bottom line, whether you run a radio station, are a DJ, a musician or whatever. Do you want to be successful? Would you like to have as many people possible hear your music or show etc? If you answered yes then why would you take the chance of alienating? The whole world seems to have sensitivity issues these days and you can’t think about farting without offending someone it seems. That’s not what this is about. It’s about going out of one’s way when it’s not necessary. It’s about making a choice that can be a factor today and every day for the rest of your life and affect your career. Just ask Kevin Hart.

I am not perfect and say controversial things because it just happens. But I will take care of the things I can take care of as far as the topics discussed. So if you were following me and vice versa and suddenly find yourself off that list, you may have an answer as to why. If you were blocked well that is something entirely different.