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RADIO STATION FORMATS? Understanding The Difference Between Genres And Formats

Make no mistake genre of music is not the same as a music format at radio. This is more than likely the biggest misnomer for an independent musician.  Understanding the difference will set you apart from others which have not taken the time to gain the knowledge.

Think of it like this . . .your grand mother bakes the most wonderful cinnamon apple pie, however no matter what you call it. . . it’s still an apple pie. When it comes to music, artists love to use many genre driven words to describe their music (which is only great for a conversation). However, when it comes to the music industry, we only care about what “format” the music should be placed, promoted and marketed.

A format is derived from radio stations. Radio stations are the “heartbeat” and “nervous system” within the music industry and it is a MUST that your music nicely fits within their playlist with other comparable artists/bands.

Commercial radio is based around one song by one artist at any particular time. Non-commercial radio may accept multiple songs by a particular artist at any given time.  We will write about that in a different article.

Remember one thing, as an artist you are only what your music is when it comes to radio. For example, you may say you are a hard rock artist like Metallica, however if you decide to put one of your ballads out to radio, you won’t be promoting this slow song to Hard Rock radio. More than likely you will focus your promotion and marketing to a format of radio who’s market is ballads. This is ever more apparent with superstar Country artist Taylor Swift. When Taylor Swift first debuted her talents the average joe had a hard time believing she was a Country artist and that was because she only had a couple “country”songs on the album. After she has a string of country “hits” Big Machine’s founder Scott Borchetta put his efforts in pushing Swift’s pop music to Top40/CHR (Current Hit Radio) radio. This sent Taylor Swift into the stratosphere with her music career as Top40 is the largest format of music with the most listeners worldwide.

Still got questions?