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Rocking the Airwaves: The Unbreakable Link Between Artists and Radio Stations

"Radio was the key. Without the support of DJs and stations playing our music, that album wouldn't have reached as many people. It was the lifeblood of it's success."
- Bruce Springsteen on the success of "Born In The USA".

In the world of radio programming, there are many unshakeable rules, but there is one strategy that has stood the test of time, and is not that different today than it was decades ago: the symbiotic relationship between artists and radio stations. From sweeping statements like "The Home of Michael Jackson" in the 80s to branded intros for the likes of Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran of today, this relationship has been instrumental in shaping the identity of radio stations around the globe for close to half a century.

1950s Radio Studio

While it's really not clear who exactly first used artist IDs or where they originated, they became particularly popular in the 1960s and 1970s, especially in T op 40 and rock stations. This era saw radio become more intimately tied to the music industry as a key medium for promoting new music. Radio stations in major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago were pioneers in using these IDs extensively to create a unique brand identity.

1990s Radio Studio

Later, about the time I began my career in the late 80s and into the 90s, this tactic manifested in stations actually endeavouring to "Own" an artist in the minds of their listeners. Stations proclaiming to be "the home of Artist A", or "the place where "Artist B Lives" were everywhere. Whilst the presentation changed a little, the goal remained the same: to establish a deep connection between the artist and the station in the minds of listeners.

Current Day Radio Studio

Fast forward to the present day, and the evolution of radio imaging has brought forth a new manifestation of this tactic: branded intros. By commissioning vocalists to sing the station's callsign and positioning statement in the style of featured artists over the intro to their songs, stations create a symbiotic bond with their audience. And artists gain exposure to a wider audience through airplay.

While radio stations have traditionally benefited the most from associating with popular artists, the relationship has not always been one-sided. Many artists have Radio to thank for their own successful bond with their audiences.

BBC Logo 1990s

For instance, BBC Radio 1's enduring relationship with Coldplay played a pivotal role in

solidifying the band's status as a household name in the UK. Through consistent airplay, interviews, and live sessions, the station not only elevated Coldplay's profile but also contributed to their rise to international fame.

102.7 KIIS Logo 1990s

Similarly, KIIS-FM in Los Angeles provided crucial support to Katy Perry's early career, boosting her visibility and helping her establish herself as a pop icon. By championing Perry's hits and leveraging her appeal among its target demographic, the station played a significant role in shaping her image and fostering her success.

Triple J Unearthed Logo

Triple J here in Sydney has also played a vital role in nurturing local talent, with artists like Tame Impala benefiting from the station's support through heavy rotation and features in the Triple J Hottest 100. This exposure not only helped Tame Impala gain recognition but also contributed to their growth into an internationally acclaimed act.

Metallica Live on The Howard Stern Show

While these examples highlight instances where artists have benefited from their collaboration with radio stations, it's essential to acknowledge that such cases are not universal. The relationship between artists and radio stations is complex and multifaceted, often influenced by various factors such as genre, audience demographics, and industry trends.

At Voodoo Sound, we understand the importance of fostering these relationships and creating memorable experiences that resonate with audiences. With our expertise in crafting bespoke audio solutions, we can help you strengthen your station's identity and forge lasting connections with artists and listeners alike. Check out our radio imaging page to see just how we can help you connect more intimately with your audience.

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