Besides radio, there are three other main parts to marketing an artist; press, gigs, and retail; which can be quite difficult for a new artist/label to get started. Fortunately, radio can be a tool to get these going by using radio referrals. College radio should be considered for every campaign, even if you are doing high-level commercial radio. College radio is relatively inexpensive and can provide some very positive chart or report results to show retail, press, and clubs.
CMJ is the "College Music Journal" or "College Media Journal", depending on whom you ask. For us, it stands for music. And we are focusing here on the professional *weekly* version (available by subscription only), not the consumer *monthly* version (which is available on newsstands.) You can get a feel for CMJ by looking at their site www.cmj.com, but most of the real material is in the magazine only.
The beauty of CMJ is that it lists, on a weekly basis, a huge number of play-lists from individual stations around the U.S.; these lists (being that they are from college, community and NPR stations) actually show music mostly from new artists. This is not a pay to play situation. If they like it, they will play it, unlike commercial claims to do. Thus CMJ is subscribed to by managers, labels, booking agents, and music press who want to be informed of upcoming "trends" in music.
It works like this:
A college radio station's programming is made up of many one-hour segments, each one being programmed by a student who is taking a broadcasting class, or by a volunteer that comes from the local community.
Each student or volunteer presents his/her one-hour play-list to the music director, and the Music Director then compiles a "Top 30" for that station which is a listing of 30 artists that are getting the most airplay from all of the different DJs at the station.
The "Top 30" for that station is then submitted to CMJ who then averages all of the individual “Top-30” charts for that week from every submitting station throughout the United States, and Canada, which makes up the “Top-200” charts for that week (and that week only). Any “Top 30” received before or after that week cannot count for that week's “Top 200” chart.
Whether or not you appear on the “Top 200” chart is dependent upon how many stations put you on their “Top 30's” for that week. To make it onto the bottom of the “Top 200” chart you will need anywhere from 5 to 40 individual stations placing your music in their “Top 30” for that week (depending on the time of year).
Within CMJ, the first chart we want to look at (and the main chart in CMJ) is the "Top 200", which is 200 placements deep of each genre's charting artists (compared to 40 or 50 of other charts). 200 might seem like a lot, but on any given week, over 2000 artists are attempting to chart (and don't). There are about 1,000 college stations, which are eligible to send their playlists to CMJ for inclusion in the "Top 200" charts. About 300 to 600 submissions are reviewed on any given week by College Program Directors, Music Directors, and Dj's at all of these stations across the country.
Radio 200 Adds
A companion to the “Top 200” chart is the "Radio 200 Adds" chart. An "add" placement is different from "airplay" placement charts because at non-commercial radio stations an "add" just means a station added your music to their library, however this does not mean they gave you any spins. But keep in mind that getting an "add" placement can be, and usually is, the first step to getting spins.
Genre Top 40
The next chart to look at in CMJ is your genre’s chart. This is where your genres in particular information shows up. These charts average the top 40 artists in your genre, and have a most-added section that is five artists deep.
Remember college station people are unpaid; so that means they also work in their communities doing something they love... music! So where better to work than a record store, music magazine, or club? Not only do these folks provide more knowledge (compared to commercial regular rotation people) of what's available in their town, sometimes they are the same people that you need to talk to at the stores, magazines, or clubs in the first place.