The time has come for me to voice publicly what I have privately grumbled about for many years….THE CHARTS!
Now at the outset I declare that I am not having a stab at the presenters or the radio stations that prepare charts and I will explain as this rambles on. I am endeavouring to warn the young and not so young acts, and some of their publicists, not to rely on “the charts” as many do.
Let’s look at the charts that are most popular (I will not be specific but it’s apparent to acts and industry folk). There is a ‘National” Top 30 Chart that gets quoted constantly in press releases, interviews and on web sites and social media by artists, usually in the following way, “my new single has entered the chart at number 28 this week”.
Now this is all good news for the artists? No not really. They have been bamboozled by the thought that they are achieving greatness by a song charting. If those charts are sales based and can be audited, iTunes etc. then I have no difficulty with that, but these radio “charts” are made up.
Yes made up!
They are lists compiled by a radio presenter or programme that reflect the music that they play. It’s a very useful presentation tool that has proved its worth for many years. (For many years on Saturday Night Country I presented the Australian ARIA Chart. It was sales based and gave a good idea of album sales.) The chart can give consistency to music that played and create an interest in what’s “Number 1” (It’s not so interesting now as those halcyon days of Top 40 radio in the 60’s and 70’s, most of those charts were made up as well)
So as a tool it can be very effective and all it means in our very small Australian country music world is that your song is being played by that presenter and that radio station or network……nothing else.
Now it’s a good thing that your music is being heard but ask yourself the question “heard by how many?” Sadly the available listening audience is not very large and if you have a song being played on a Community Station the audience reach can be measured only in the hundreds at best. This is no reflection on those stations. It’s a fact of modern broadcasting life, radio audiences are diminishing as other forms of broadcasting impinge and compete. Even, I would suggest, the National Broadcasters weekly show would have a smaller audience than in previous years.
So as an artist be grateful that those “charts’ are declaring that your music is being played by that presenter or show, nothing else, and if you were honest it’s good for the ego, and that’s part of the chart appeal. It will make you feel OK. But how many times do I hear, that a certain presenter is not playing my new song and I want it to chart! Or “he doesn’t like me and won’t play my song”
Says it all for me!
So I know that I will still get release after release, email after email, tweet after tweet and endless facebook posts declaring that “my song is number 98 on the top 100 in woop woop” and nothing will change. But I do so wish it would and that everyone takes a good dose of reality and use the charts as nothing more than a device used to create a radio programme that’s all and nothing else.
One final thing, ask yourself the question, will my career be worse off if there were no Country music charts, I don’t think so?
So next time you write that email, tweet, facebook post, or press release think of your credibility and whether anyone really cares about your song charting. I hope other than near family do, but I doubt it.