Throughout this week, when the eyes, ears and assorted other vital organs of the bluegrass community are focused on World of Bluegrass in Nashville, we will be highlighting many of the new features of Bluegrass Today. This morning, we’ll have a look at The Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay Chart.
One of the founding goals of the company was radio syndicator and Bluegrass Today co-owner Terry Herd’s belief that bluegrass music needed to have a reliable weekly chart measuring actual radio airplay. In fact, he had suggested this project to Brance Gillihan and myself as much as three years before serious discussions to launch this site began in earnest early in 2011.
Herd also owns Bluegrass Radio Network, which distributes his 3-hour weekly show, Into The Blue, to 153stations across the United States. Over the 19 years his show has been in syndication, he has been chosen Broadcaster of the Year 4 times by the IBMA.
The chart really is his baby, so I asked him to share a few words about its development and inception.
“An airplay chart for bluegrass based on empirical data has long been a dream of mine. I’ve held the belief, as have many, that our industry would benefit greatly from a weekly airplay chart built on actual spin counts. The Americana Music Association (AMA) has done it for years, as have other genres.
I remember a meeting in Louisville around 1999 when the IBMA was offered an opportunity to partner in the development of the AMA’s online chart management software. For whatever reason it never happened, and our artists, labels, retailers and broadcasters have been without this critical data as a result. It’s long overdue.
When John and I started discussions in earnest about a joint venture, it was the first item on the table. But like anything, there is a right way and a wrong way to do these things. Foremost, a rich pool of contributors is essential. As such, we’ve included syndicators, commercial and non-commercial and satellite radio. From large market to small, we’re signing bluegrass broadcasters to deepen the sample and provide the most accurate picture possible of bluegrass radio airplay. To date we have 81 reporting DJ’s and that number is literally growing daily.
Secondly, the boundaries of what constitutes a bluegrass song must constantly be evaluated and we let our broadcasters help define those. In addition to the 100+ albums listed in our online survey, we provide space for our reporters to log spins from recordings not yet listed in the survey.
Equally important, we provide Airplay Direct links for each album, in order to give our contributors quick access to the material. It’s a simple premise – If the reporting stations don’t have it, they can’t play it. If they don’t play it, it doesn’t get reported.
Currently about 65% of the recordings in our survey have Airplay Direct accounts. It is my hope that all artists and labels will use this service going forward. It will make an important difference in the amount of radio airplay an artist receives.We’re going to keep fine tuning our data collection process and we’re confident the Bluegrass Today airplay chart will provide years of critical information to the benefit of everyone within our industry.”
Radio hosts and programmers who would like to participate in this weekly collation should contact us through this form.