“Do Not Be Fooled, Radio Airplay Today Is Still Huge,” Says Jamaica Music Society

Amid suggestions that free-to-air radio is fast-becoming irrelevant, the Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS) has pointed out that the media form remains very important to the music industry, despite the prevalence of online platforms such as YouTube and Spotify.

According to JAMMS, radio remains a source of authentication, particularly for upcoming artists.

“Do not be fooled, radio airplay today is still a huge part of how music gets consumed!” the organization emphasized on its Instagram page recently.

“While online sources, such YouTube and Spotify have taken a slice of listenership, FM Radio airplay is still a massive form of validation for artists, especially emerging artists.  It is like getting a bluetick! It is like being verified!” it added.

JAMMS’ sentiments are similar to that of Party Animal producer Kurt Riley, who, while counteracting the suggestion made by Television Jamaica’s entertainment journalist Anthony Miller in a January 2022 interview that “all some people are interested in is social media” had said that radio was not going out of style, and, as a consequence, opportunities for national radio airplay should be grasped by artistes.

“Radio may not have its value, but it still has its place.  Because if it neva have its place, it woulda end.  Digicel wouldn’t use radio;  Supreme Ventures  wouldn’t use  radio; Grace Kennedy wouldn’t use radio; Sandals wouldn’t use radio.  That means it has its place,” Riley had argued.

“We need to teck advantage a it.  And if you want to take advantage a it, make radio-friendly versions a yuh music and watch the change,” he had added.

Riley who is also a radio disc jockey, had also pointed out that many of the island’s most promising, creative artistes had not been making versions of their songs which are radio-friendly, to their own detriment.

In response to Miller’s question as to whether “it make sense to be making music that has to be edited to get radio play”, Riley had said that these songs would have mass popularity if the creators recorded fit-for-airplay versions.

“I can hear di creativity inna dem brain.  A lot of them really and truly, their songs cannot play on radio.  And mi understand dat, but if you are fair to dem, and look at the creativity part a dem man deh, the artistry dat dem have and di way dem choose to put dem words togedda, yuh know seh dem bad!” he exclaimed.

“All di songs dem weh a run road, if they were radio-friendly versions of the music, they get more traction… I am not sure if a lot a di producers and artistes are aware a dis: a lot of songs cannot be played between 5:00am and 9:00pm, because of Broadcast Commission (rules) something called watershed.   So, if the content is a bit too graphic, we can’t touch it.  And it is sad, because di song dem bad,” Riley had told Miller.

Like JAMMS and Riley, Billboard Magazine, has also acknowledged the enduring importance of music.  An article which was published by Billboard in September 2022, pointed out that “while radio rarely breaks hits in the streaming era outside of country music, it remains important in building recognition at a mass scale, as well as raising awareness in local markets for artists on tour”.

“Radio airplay charts continue to be a metric of success in the music industry internally, and airplay remains one of the components of the Billboard charts,” it noted.

In June this year, the 2023 independent All Media Survey conducted by Market Research Services Limited, revealed that only 900,000 people in Jamaica have been tuning in to the radio.

The survey also showed that Reggae Radio IRIE FM remained the number one radio station again for 24 consecutive years.

Irie FM, the data showed, controlled 23.4 percent of the listenership, which was a 5.9 percent increase since the last survey was conducted in 2020, and the highest percentage increase for any radio station.  

Conversely, at the beginning of the year, Data Reportal, in its report on “The state of digital in Jamaica in 2023”, noted that there were 2.33 million internet users in Jamaica, 1.40 million of whom were social media users.

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