Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

One fun way to solve the vexed question of radio airplay for Irish bands?

Take a leaf out of the BBC Radio One playbook and tweet a national radio station like 2fm’s playlist meeting. Last week, BBC Radio One tweeted live from its three hour playlist meeting. This is the weekly gathering where various …

Tue, Nov 9, 2010, 09:22


Take a leaf out of the BBC Radio One playbook and tweet a national radio station like 2fm’s playlist meeting.

Last week, BBC Radio One tweeted live from its three hour playlist meeting. This is the weekly gathering where various producers (and occasional presenters) decide which tunes make the playlist and thus get a lot of spins on the station’s various shows. If you’re a plugger whose job is to get your acts played on the radio, the playlist meeting basically makes or breaks your week. If your act makes the list, it’s happy days because it means other media outlets might follow suit and cover the act. If your act gets knocked back, you can expect a bit of a bollocking from all concerned. Yep, another case of good things happen because the act is brilliant, while bad things are seen as everyone else’s fault.

Anyway, we digress. The BBC Radio One move was part of the station’s annual Access All Areas openness and transparency initiative and it received a ton of positive coverage, so much so that the station will repeat the experiment this week. A good move for the station because it allows people to find out what actually goes on behind the scenes at a playlist meeting and to see why certain tracks don’t make the playlist.

Which is where we come in. Irish radio stations also operate a playlist system and there is, I would assume, a weekly meeting to decide what tracks are on each national station’s playlist. This meeting will feature inputs from the station’s various music folks who come to the meeting to champion various new releases for inclusion. Once a tune makes the list, it will then be played on various shows across the schedule and not just those specialist night-time shows (many radio DJs and producers think Irish bands are vampires and only come out after dark. While I can’t speak for The Corrs, this is not true).

Now, I can easily find the RTE Radio One playlist (it’s updated every week and there are over half-a-dozen Irish tunes on this week’s list, though the station is, as we know, mostly speech-based) and there’s a most-played chart from Today FM to check out (no playlist though), but I couldn’t find 2fm’s playlist when I went looking for it. Indeed, when I googled “2fm playlist”, all I could find was this page. Sure, some individual DJs stick up their playlists but we’ve no access to the station playlist. Not very helpful, is it?

When I asked a few industry pluggers about this mysterious 2fm playlist, there was a lot of tutting and sighing. “That’s one of the most secret documents in the world” said one plugger. “I’ve been plugging bands for over a decade and I’ve yet to actually see a 2fm playlist”, said another.

Then, there’s the Irish bands on the radio conundrum. Along with the other national and local radio stations, 2fm regularly gets it in the neck over the alleged lack of plays on daytime shows for new Irish bands. Personally, I’m kind of “meh” about this issue – I don’t really expect Tubs to drop Not Squares just before the 10am news headlines. However, it’s a long-running bugbear for many veterans in the domestic industry, who are happy to engage in spectacular bouts of whinging and whining about the lack of airplay for their acts when they could be doing far more productive things. It’s time to help them to change the record (in every sense).

The OTR solution? Let’s kill two birds with one social networking stone and tweet the weekly 2fm playlist meeting! Let’s find out which tunes are played at the meeting, which producers and DJs are the most proactive in putting Irish tunes up for consideration, which tunes get the nod and which ones don’t cut the mustard (and why). Then, once an Irish tune makes the playlist, everyone will know that it will get a certain amount of plays each week on EVERY show (yes, even the ones which happen during daylight hours, radioheads). We’ll also know why some Irish bands who think they should be on the playlist don’t make the grade.

Given that so many people in 2fm are Twitter fanatics, this is a no-brainer. No need to thank us, just doing our bit for the good of the domestic industry.

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