Dilemma: Do I or Don’t I?

I have been told that one of my greatest faults is the inability to accept help from others. I have been reminded of that recently again and I readily admit that is true in many circumstances. The recent events with the stations (KB Radio, etc) has once again put me in that position.

It has been suggested by many that I set up a go fund me campaign, or something like that to help with expenses. My chief concern has always been that those same artists that I am trying to help by playing their music, would be the most likely to contribute, but at the same time, they are the least likely to be in a good position to do that. I base that on how tough the entire music industry is and how little artists actually make these days. The entire situation with no shows due to the virus aside.

I was told today that many of the artists would appreciate the opportunity to give something back. They would use it as a method of saying thanks. I am not sure if that is true or if it would happen. I am also not sure if I want that.

I didn’t start the stations for fame or fortune, but rather because the music is something I enjoy. As it grew and my costs grew with it, that never bothered me inside, because i could see growth in many ways, not just for me but for artists that I had the pleasure to interact with. I remember artists telling me that after getting played on KB they saw plays on other streaming platforms increase, and they believed it was related. I would like to think there is a parallel, and it gives me a great deal of pride.

When I have the pleasure to interview and talk to artists, it first and foremost lets me know a bit more about the people that are making the music. But I also file away the hope that one day some of them will make it big, and I can pass along to my grand kids, if I ever have any, that I interviewed and knew them before they became so popular. To me it is all about the music and having a good time when I get on the air. The costs are just a nuisance that goes with it.

I would love to get into show and station sponsors, but have never explored that in any large scale. It was just another task for the list, that to be honest I didn’t spend any time on.
That would ultimately help with many of the day to day expenses, but I think and hope it will come naturally from the success of the stations. So my question than would be to ask those who read this, should I do a fund raiser? I hate the idea of having it look like just another person with their hand out. I also don’t want it in any way appear to be tied to plays on my stations if and when they return.

So please share your thoughts with me on this so I can decide whether or not I should attempt this or not.

Thanks, Al Yardy

KB Radio Shutdown: “Never say Never”

It is something that many might say, why are you even writing this. But I feel I owe the thousands of artists and listeners and supporters of the stations some kind of explanation. Over the last 12 months KB Radio has continued to grow, and KB Country Radio even faster. KB had hit the 350 thousand listener mark for the previous 12 months, and I was stoked.

I have had such generous offers for help, even an offer to buy the stations and name, but I want everyone to know it is so much more than money that has caused where I am at with the stations at this time. So with that said, this very long blog, which in many ways feels like it rambles on, goes into detail about a lot of the operations, expenses and time that it takes on a daily and weekly basis. I will say a number of times through this that I am not complaining. I loved what I did, what we accomplished and the bottom line through all of this is that I don’t want it to be gone for good. But beyond working out the technical issues, I am not able as the person I am to just sign on and start streaming music without doing it the best way I know how. I could have left the stations on with just music and no live shows, but to what end?

So if you wish you can skip reading the rest of this blog, it will detail what went into the operations, it talks about Sunny and her work and future and into some details about things that had been coming to the stations, but also are for now done. It will tell you that I was taught many years ago by my father, who I can say laughingly I spoke with just an hour or so ago, and he used the line “Never Say Never” about another topic. I will only say I won’t make any promises one way or another, but “Never say Never”.

With the incredible work with Sunny over the past 16 months, things were on a very positive curve. But there is a lot that goes into the operation of my stations, and I take it very seriously. If I can’t give my full effort, I would rather not do some half baked attempt. Day to day operations I can easily say we both put in excess of 40 hours per week into things that needed to be done. This doesn’t include the maintaining of the Twitter accounts. That is its own huge busy animal, but very worthwhile.

I have received so many wonderful messages and comments and more that I wanted to explain a few things. This was not an easy decision, but at the same time we have put a lot of effort into things. I am not looking for anything in explaining some of this, but rather just to let those who care know how much I/we truly care as well, and while things have been knocked off, this is no small undertaking. So to start back up again will be not just a matter of flicking a switch.

Every week, there was the putting together of two lists for voting, the creation of the new poll each week, the generating of a new Top 25 and Top 10 on Country and of course the updating of the website with all the new data. When we did interviews, the arranging of schedules to either record or do them live, which was sometimes not as easy as it sounds. lol If an interview was prerecorded, it then had to be edited before it went to air as well, because I always wanted to present a good product, and something the listeners would enjoy and get something out of. Not the idle chit chat where asked each other about the weather. We also carried a number of other shows on some of the stations, and they would be sent to us weekly. Each show would have to be downloaded and labelled using our system so they would live Tweet properly. I then had to load them into the different computer systems for each station, and make sure last weeks shows were pulled. I got it all right about 90% of the time.

When I talk about music submissions, I do so with the utmost in gratitude to everyone who sent music to us. Without those submissions, I would not have been able to create the sound we did with the stations. As we signed off we were getting about 1500 songs sent to us every month for submissions. It was such a daunting and amazing part of what we did. I updated the music on the stations every week, and this was made up of the submissions we had listened to through the week. Many people asked about the submission process, but it was really very simple. Keep it all together through one email address, and then you don’t lose music. If I were to listen to something somebody had posted on Twitter, that would be the same as if an artist just sent a Spotify link to listen to. We would have to listen, then email the artist and ask them to send us the song. We would wait for that email, among the hundreds of others, and hopefully remember that we had already listened to the song.

We get so many songs in that it became part of our review process for a lot of the music to do a scan through the submission list to see if that song had been sent before. I used a spreadsheet system that tracks on a weekly basis every song we received and listened to. It also shows if it was going to be played on one or more of the stations, and other details. Sunny had a similar spreadsheet and she documented other data on that, a lot of which went to one of our websites or was used in other ways. It was funny how often we would get a song from an artist, their new release, and the name would sound familiar, and when I searched my spreadsheet, we had received and played that same song 2 or 3 years prior. Of course I don’t want to get into how I programmed the stations again to explain why that wasn’t of interest to us.

We honestly had days where we spent 5, 6 or 7 hours just reviewing music. We would do that 3 or 4 times a week when we could. I am NOT complaining in anyway shape or form. As Sunny grew into a bigger part of all the processes, I know she like myself loved this part of what we did. There is nothing cooler, than getting a song from an artist or a band, and putting it on for the first time. Knowing how hard they have worked to put together this music, and really except for a few people we are among the first to even hear it. Such an honour in my mind.

At the end of each week all the new music for the week that is going to be played has to be transferred to the appropriate computer system. This all has to be tracked because in my system, for every song that went in, one had to come out. This meant a system, apart from the new music tracking, that accounted for every song that was being played and on which station. We also needed the start up dates etc to help keep that organized. The new music every week took about 2 hours, and that was just for the Indie music. In the case of the Country station we also played new mainstream hits, which meant we needed to stay on top of those, and keep those lists up to date. That meant acquiring the new songs and doing all the processing etc for airplay on our station.

I know that probably sounds odd, saying we have to do the processing. But because we operate 4 Twitter accounts, when a song is played it live Tweets. The automated connection pulls specific fields of data that show what I have typed in their. Example, Artists Name and Song Title. Plus we add Twitter handles, hashtags and station links for promotion. All of this data also transmits to other places like TuneIn that carry our feed, so listeners get the song titles on the screen. All of this information has to be added to each song we put in for airplay. You might be surprised how many songs come in, without even the Artists name and song title on it. LOL

One of the biggest burdens is the cost. I won’t ever lie about that fact. I retired in 2013 and started the station podcast a couple years later. It has grown as I mentioned and I am thrilled, honoured, blessed, pick your own adjective to have reached the levels we have. But with the growth came expenses. These expenses had to get paid, and I refused to put a donate link on my pages. So I went back to work, at one point with 2 jobs. With all of the Covid 19 activity, one job disappeared and the other I had been working extra hours, and suddenly they have all dried up and I am down to almost none. This is a big factor in the decision process.

Royalties are the biggest expense by far, and I probably didn’t pay enough. Lets face it, we had listeners in 170 countries and can I say for a fact that I paid every country, no. But I paid into a number of companies that represented the major countries and regions and tried to be as fair and legal as possible. There were the monthly fees for streaming services to carry my stations, one for each station. There is the fees for websites, and yes Indie and AOR we did through a free web hosting company, and to be honest I wish I hadn’t. Whats the old line, you get what you pay for. We also wanted to share the interviews that had been done, and was a very popular aspect actually. But to have so many I needed more than a simple free plan on Soundcloud, so some more monthly fees. There were other expenses, like the licensing for the broadcast software I used. To get a professional sound and have some broadcast abilities to that help present a better show you need top quality software. The upfront license cost was steep but worth over penny, and there is an annual fee to be able to keep the software up to date. Again worth every cent that went into it. If someone has never worked in radio or broadcasting before you may not notice what is missing in some of the basic free versions, but once you use high end broadcast software you can’t go back.

This is the line that leads me to where I am at. I run everything through a board built by Arrakis systems, and have nothing but the highest praise for their equipment. When I expanded this studio, it was set up in such a way that future expansion would be very easy, without having to go out and buy new equipment. But i suddenly found myself having connectivity issues, and microphone issues and they were not easily solved. It got to the point I wasn’t able to have a live microphone to do shows, and that would make things difficult. As I write this I have the schematic open for the board in front of me and was on the phone with their support people just the other day. What an incredible group, and very helpful.

As many of you know, Sunny and I parted ways about a month ago, and that left a gap in getting things done that I had to fill myself. I know many people often thank the KB Team, lol, but apart from her work with me over the past year, and a couple others input and help with some items in the past, this is an operation of one. Again as I have mentioned previously, no complaints.

With the extra workload for the stations, the declining income to cover expenses and the technical issues it just became to big a hurdle to jump. It was not easy but I needed to make the right decision. It came at an even more difficult time then whats mentioned. You may remember a few months ago, with the suggestion of Adam (Neil and Adam) and his wife Brijette back in February of this year. We had begun to work on a show for people with Autism, and had done a great deal of work in learning about what would be required, and how to go about doing it. It had been planned to start I think the 1st of May, I have lost track now, but when Covid 19 happened, things got off track. It wasn’t cancelled just delayed, so this takes the wind out of that program as well, something I regret very much.

Earlier in the year we did a survey about music festivals, and the idea for one that KB would be the host and title sponsor of. The idea of course was greatly received, and through the last couple of months an idea had developed on how to pull it off. It was and still is something that think would be amazing, but it too is sidelined.

So where does this all leave me. With a very deep desire to be able to get back on the air and pick up the pieces where I left off. Will Sunny be a part of the scene, I don’t know and can’t answer that. Her work has been invaluable and I would love to be able to get to a point we could continue this together. But until that time I need to plan to work alone on this project. My first issue is to continue to work to get all the technical issues worked out. If this can’t be solved, and cheaply then the rest is irrelevant. I then need to decide whether to maybe scale things back to cut some costs or do I look for another job. Retirement is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I have no doubt the artists will be generally happy if I get back on the air, and I am not worried about drawing back listeners. You provide a good product and they will return.

For now, I wait and try not to rush anything. I will stay in touch via Twitter as much as possible and if there is any update or change in plans, let everyone know.

Thank you again to everyone for the incredible messages. I do feel truly blessed to have met so many wonderful people.

 

Al Yardy

 

2019 A Look Back

The timing for the previous year in review is probably past in some ways, and I had written a blog about the past year a couple weeks ago, but as a writer I have those moments where I just don’t like everything I wrote.   I have sat on that one for a couple weeks, thinking from time to time about how to tweak it and I could publish it, but decided in the end it was easier to start over.

The past year was one of significant gains all the way around for me and the stations.  From a personal perspective entering in to what has become an amazing situation living with someone very special and eventually realizing i want to be with them forever.  That relationship helped to grow the Brand KB Radio and the KB Family of Stations beyond anything I could have anticipated on January 1st 2019 when I officially relaunched the live shows on KB Radio, updated KB Country and add the other two stations. 

KB Indie & KB AOR

We have seen friends go away and new ones develop and still the music is the main focus.  I set high standards for how I want things operated, and try to live up to that every day.  We upset people along the way who think because I have a radio station or 4, I should play every single song that comes in to us.  But I think we have shown consistently our plan, the business model I have developed and based on the growth I assume it is working still. 

With 4 full years now under my belt, I also believe we have shown we are here for the long haul and are not going anywhere.  We continue to grow with other shows and programs looking to air on our stations, and us offering our programming to others as well.  The Indie Music scene has grown into an incredible voice around the world and while we don’t and can’t play every song that comes to us, more than 1000 per month on average, the music we do play we do our best to offer our best in promoting those songs through our stations playlists and more.

I have lived my life with no regrets, because where I am now as I say, I am extremely happy.  You can’t get there without problems, and things just happening in life, in business, in friendships and relationships.  But its how we take those events and use what we learn.  So as I sit and write this, being as happy in so many aspects right now, how can I regret anything.  Without all those past events I wouldn’t have gotten to this exact point in my life.  Can I do better, personally and business wise with the stations?  I am sure that I can and will strive to do so.  We start 2020 with some goals and opportunities that should make it a very exciting year.  We hope you come along for the ride, but if for whatever reason you can’t, that’s okay too.  We all have our own lives and hopes and dreams.

Cheers and thank you to everyone who was a part of the past amazing year.

Al

https://www.kbradio.ca/

https://kbcountryradio.ca/

https://kbradiocanada.wixsite.com/kbindieradio

https://kbradiocanada.wixsite.com/kbaor

 

 

Getting Added to the rotation; What exactly does that mean.

I have written this blog mostly as an attachment for email responses to music submissions, but also general information.  Many of those who read this already know that I do things differently than most other internet based radio stations.  When we get music submissions, you will get one of two emails, either one thanking you for sending in your music and we cannot use it at this time or the better is one saying we can use it and letting you know which stations it will play on.

If you happen to get one that says we won’t be playing or using it, please don’t ask why.  I don’t critique music as a rule.  I look for tracks that will fit with the sound on any of the 4 stations I operate.  the reality of the situation is, last year, being 2019 we received over 10, 000 tracks of music.  I applaud other stations or podcasts that will play all of those songs if they get the same number, and wish them success in their endeavors.  However I program the same as terrestrial or broadcast stations, and due to this there are limited spaces.   Even if I didn’t and played every song submitted on KB Indie Radio as an example let me do some math as an example.

There are on average 16 songs per hour played.  If we were to take those 10, 000 songs, rounded off, it would take 625 hours to play them all back to back.  That works out to about 26 days of non stop music to go through that entire list.  Now of course they all didn’t come in at once and that changes things, but lets not get all technical.

Although we don’t program every song that comes in to one of our stations, those songs that do get added will see multiple plays, and an increased recognition factor with our listeners.  Lets face it, its common sense.  If I could add a song as 1 of 10, 000 and it played once a month for 12 months, yes that’s 12 times for the year, but it doesn’t work that way.  As new music comes in, they would get added because there is still only so many hours in the day.  As our listener numbers climb and the popularity grows we are getting 300 plus songs a week submitted for possible airplay.  That would equate to 20 hours of new music every week, and to play those, you can’t play the others.  I hope this makes sense math wise.

What we do is take songs that fit the sound of each station.  Its how I programmed my first broadcast station I was in charge of in 1989, and its how I do it now.  Again its my methods and let other do things with their methods.  However if I add as an example 100 songs a month to the programming, that is 25 a week, split into different rotation profiles.  Now your music is heard at least once a week, mixed with mainstream tracks and potentially as many as 3 or 4 times in the rotation, and even more if it makes the chart.  I looked at all of the songs in our year end Top 50, in the top 10 positions anyway, and every single song there has played between 90 and 100 times in 2019.  Plus due to popularity among listeners is permanently in rotation on KB Radio.  These same songs got approximately the same number of spins this year on KB Indie Radio.  So would an artist rather get maybe 1 play a month or maybe 200 across 2 different stations.  When a song plays 100 times in a year, it would have played on average 4 times a week for 12 to 16 weeks, being in a high rotation due to its popularity.  The balance of the 100 is made up of extra plays on the chart countdown and it still being aired for the remaining months.

This is for KB Radio, and each of the other 3 stations have their own independent programming and rotation.  The idea for each is to spotlight the newest and most popular among listeners.

So for those who are submitting, if you are told it is going into the rotation it means we want to promote that track and will usually keep your song spinning for 60 to 90 days on the starting station(s).  From that point there are other possibility’s  about where the song can go, but ideally what we like to see is after a couple months a new track from the artist, so we can look at starting the same process again with another song.   This is where WE rely on the artists to help themselves.   This may sound strange but its amazing how many songs we get from an artist or band, start to play it and never hear another word from them.   Than you get the follow up email 10 months or a year later saying “we haven’t heard our song for a while, or something along those lines.”

I truly wish I had the time, not really,  to set a reminder to email everyone that its time for new music.  Call me an ass, but to those of you who think you send out the music and then sit back and wait to become famous, you’re wrong.  It takes hard work and dedication, and if you can’t do your own follow ups with emails, well I am not about to do it for you.  My job is to play them!  LOL   I will say the same thing to everybody and anybody, read our blog about submitting, and although its not required it will help both you and I with your submission.  When you are one of 300 every week, you want to get your music heard, not get an email back saying, there is a problem with your submission.  P.S.  most other stations aren’t that courteous.   There are songs we don’t play on any of the stations.  I don’t think I have ever listed them all in one spot, but here it goes;

  1. Rap – You won’t ever hear rap on my stations
  2. Hip Hop – Now depending on the person defining this can sound very different.  So consider submitting if you think it will work.
  3. Foreign language – We play English language music.  I’m sorry I know this pisses people off because I get your hate mail.  I program with listeners who speak English.  End of discussion.
  4. Instrumental – It just isn’t the sound we are looking for.  We do play some with the Synth Wave show, so its very limited and selective.
  5. Cover Songs – Lets put it the way it is.  We want original material.  I am playing you with mainstream tracks.  Do you think I should pull the original version that was a big hit to play your version of the same song?
  6. Thrash –  That screaming whatever the heck sound it is music.  Its just not happening.

this may seem like a lot, but its not and as I said from the start I am looking for a sound.  When you put on one of the KB stations, you will hear a consistent sound from song to song.  That is at least our intention.

Thanks for reading

al

 

Year End Countdowns: Tabulation and rules

As with all of our charts the majority of the results come from the fan and listener voting. However some artists have bigger fan bases etc, while this is great for them, it gives them an advantage over others. Our systems are designed to attempt to make it so its not a popularity contest, as mentioned in a previous blog. So whether its for KB Radio or KB Country Radio, the year end polls will be calculated exactly the same.

There are some variations to the weekly polling, starting with the fact that weekly we take into consideration the previous weeks chart. Since this is a years worth of activity that would be hard, in the manner we do it normally to use, so it is not a factor. The other slight difference is that fan voting represents 75% of the total. A friendly reminder this doesn’t mean you get 75% of the votes that came in. What it means is that if you finish in 1st in the voting, you will get the highest amount of points. As an example 1st in voting gets 200 points, 2 in the voting gets 198 points, third gets 196 and so on. Again this is only an example and because the total polls have different sizes the number are different for each poll.

So what ever position you finish in those are your points, and they account for 75% of the total. This means, that if you finished 1st, or 5th or 25th in the voting, that is not your final position in the year end necessarily. Like the weekly voting the other 25% is made up of different groups and areas. For the year end we have a panel of people who assist us with each and every song that is voted for. They are given the criteria, and they take the time to score each song. We also have a couple areas we rank the songs on from the past year. We take all of those number from everyone and everything and take 25% of that total.

Our goal is to have the very best for the end of the year, and to present it as transparent and open as possible, so everyone understands how we do things.

We wish everyone the best of luck in the final week of voting and watch for the results coming soon.

KB Radio Year End Top 50 countdown Wednesday December 18, 2019 8PM EST www.kbradio.ca

KB Country Radio Juke Box Top 25 year end countdown Friday December 20, 2019 8PM EST www.kbcountryradio.ca

Any questions as always please ask.

al