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Interview: Fred Vandenberg, CEO of Online Music Promotion and Delivery Service Play MPE

These days in music, no matter your genre there’s a big push toward streaming platforms. Platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music have highly coveted playlists where new songs break everyday and of course artists want a piece of that! Getting on a curated playlist will definitely boost any artist, but playlists aren’t the be all and end all. Although streaming platforms are super popular, they’re the sons of good old fashioned radio. Radio has been around for decades and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon so if you’re an independent artist looking to break though then consider using a music promotion company like Play MPE to be heard.

Play MPE is the most widely adopted music promotion and delivery service and is now available in over 100 countries, used by music's largest record labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Warner Music Group. CEO of Play MPE, Fred Vandenberg gives us the inside scoop on the current state of music streaming.

There have been so many rumours circulating that say radio is dead and there is such a heavy push to get artists on streaming platforms. Can you explain why radio is still important in this "do it yourself" age?

First, I would say that radio and streaming are not mutually exclusive things - traditionally people think of radio as a radio wave broadcast but as we move further into the digital age - “radio” is evolving into streaming. Nevertheless, streaming has captured a lot of attention for its rapid growth, but the fact remains that radio is by far the most common way most people listen to music in general. Even new music. It has a large audience across generations. Radio is still, and I expect will be for a very long time, a very powerful medium for getting “share of ear.”

In the indie/upcoming artist scene there's an obsession to get the attention of playlist curators and I believe it's because artists perceive radio to be inaccessible. Do you see value in playlist curation?

There is value in obtaining the attention of personnel in programming and curation, no matter what medium or format. In our business, we do not see a preference for playlist curators, but if there is, I think it would ignore the value of reaching radio. Radio remains the most common way for music to be heard. No doubt, streaming is increasing its reach and that’s an avenue not to be ignored but I do not see playlist curators as any more accessible.

A major label may have a big, widely recognized artist but also has the resources to get the music to the right people. Developing these contacts tends to be an involved time- and resource-intensive process. It can be challenging for a self-managed artist to invest that level of time and energy alone.

Once you have the right contacts, you’re dealing with people who are perpetually busy. To get their attention is the second challenge. A service like Play MPE eases the difference in ability to reach radio programmers, giving indie musicians a boost in their reach and impact, ideally. Play MPE is a place radio professionals pay attention to, as they are used to getting good music from us.

There are artists out there who've passed the beginner stage and are starting to make unique and quality sounding music but don't get the attention they'd like which can cause them to get frustrated. These artists know they need to market, but not sure who/where to, how can a company like Play MPE support them?

The trick is getting the attention of very busy individuals who have countless artists trying to do the same thing. Play MPE gets their attention. The second step is putting something in front of them that is interesting. Our tech support and release support are head and shoulders above anyone else in our part of the business. Our staff are knowledgeable in what would be most effective and where to send what music. If you’re an urban or hip-hop artist, for example, there are a few options available and we can advise you what might be best for your project.

Ultimately, we have some helpful words. Like Fred said, it’s great to get on the streaming platforms and on to some big playlists, but that’s not the only way to get heard. Commercial and college radio are still some great options for artists on the come up. College radio is an even better option for artists who have styles that are a little different and more on the experimental side. Before you approach a music promotion company like Play MPE make sure to have your things in order - present your best songs and make sure you have a budget set aside for best results. Finally, if you aren’t sure about the quality of your songs and their ability to be placed there is absolutely no harm in contacting Play MPE and getting a consult and getting some help to figure out your next move!

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