The Tail That Wags The Dove – Part 1

The Sound of Christian Radio

Something I often hear in Christian circles, is a common distaste for the overall sound of Christian radio. Many in the industry listen to Christian radio in short stints as a necessity for work but their personal preference is found in mainstream music. The complaints I hear are generated from college/young adult Christians, artists, producers, songwriters, record label employees and even some who work in radio. Reasons heard from those complaining include 1) the music sounds the same as what was being played ten years ago 2) every song sounds similar 3) radio plays the same handful of artists on repeat 4) the production isn’t relevant to what is being made in the mainstream. While some of those reasons may ring true, who is serving up solutions? Who feeds the music to radio?

I would argue that the radio playlists lie in the hands of the creators. If the artists, songwriters, producers and record company A&R teams refuse to feed radio the same formulaic music, wouldn’t radio be forced to change? When something new begins to work, what if creators resisted the urge to jump on the copycat bandwagon and instead chose to lead with even newer sounds? What if record companies refused to put so much stock into what radio research is asking for and instead fed radio with nothing but innovative music?   Imagine radio playlists chocked full of innovative artists like Switchfoot, For King & Country, Lecrae, Future of Forestry, John Mark McMillan, Social Club and The Brilliance. Radio might just sound a bit different.

Join the conversation, share your thoughts and stay tuned for Part 2 as we explore even more.




Pre-order The New Holly Starr Single!

We are super excited about the new single release from Artist Garden Entertainment’s Holly Starr “God Is!” The song releases June 10 and is already spinning on the FISH LA, WQME Indianapolis, WMHK Columbia, WDJC Birmingham, KCVO Camdenton MO, WFRN Southbend IN, WWWA Augusta ME, KADI Springfield MO. Pre-order this week on iTunes for .99 cents! Price goes up to $1.29 next week. Click cover below to pre-order.


God is Square Ad with Red (June 10)


Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the President of Artist Garden Entertainment, an artist management and marketing company that manages this artist. Regardless of that fact, I only recommend music that I personally believe is exceptional and would be enjoyed by my readers. I am not compensated directly, other than normal management commissions from actual sales, for recommending this record through this blog. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Holly Starr Ships New Single ‘God Is’ To Radio

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Turning Point Media Relations, Inc.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—“God Is,” the highly-anticipated new single from acclaimed Artist Garden Entertainment singer/songwriter Holly Starr, is poised to impact radio next month. Penned by Phillip LaRue and GRAMMY® Award-winner Christopher Stevens, the song was produced by Stevens (TobyMac, Jamie Grace) and Chuck Butler (Mandisa, Royal Tailor).

Going for adds at Christian AC and CHR radio May 16, the powerful piano-driven single celebrates Christ’s attributes, conveying the Hope found only in Him.

“It brings me great joy knowing that whomever hears this song will get a sure taste of Who my God truly is,” says Starr. “‘God Is’ does this in a way so simply and clearly that you can’t finish the song without knowing a handful of His characteristics—our firm foundation. It is a deep desire of mine to simply share with others the character of God, to be a voice of encouragement to the Church, and a voice to share about who God is with those who might not know Him. He is our promise. Our refuge. Our strength.”

Starr is performing “God Is” for audiences around the country as part of the “Save The Storks Tour.” In conjunction with the LIFE Runners A-Cross America Relay, the “Save The Storks Tour” also features speaker Bob Lenz. Since kicking-off last month, the tour is slated to hit a total of 23 cities before concluding this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa.

With a mission to empower women to choose life, Save The Storks partners with local pregnancy resource centers to operate Stork Buses outside of abortion clinics, helping save babies, rescuing women from the pain and heartbreak of abortion, and sharing with them the Good News of Jesus. The organization is the national beneficiary of the LIFE Runners 2014 A-Cross America Relay, and the tour is also helping raise money for additional Stork Buses.

Known for her loyal online fan base, the music videos for Starr’s previous singles “Don’t Have Love” and “Through My Father’s Eyes” have collectively exceeded 1 million YouTube views to date. Both songs were Christian radio hits last year, reaching Top 25 on Hot AC and Top 30 on AC charts.

Starr’s latest full-length recording, Focus, is a noteworthy collection of vibrant pop songs reflecting the acclaimed singer/songwriter’s artistic maturity and heart for worship. A Quincy, Washington, native, Starr’s Artist Garden Entertainment (Save The City Records/Provident Distribution) recordings also include Embraced (2008) and Tapestry (2010).

For further information, visit or Follow Starr on Twitter @hollystarrmusic.



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There’s a New Christian Radio Station In Town!

Jam The City

Something I hear regularly from people around the world is how they feel the Christian Radio station in their home town is lame. They complain that the stations play too much old recurrent music and the new music they do play is limited to a handful of “core” artists. If you ask the radio stations why they program their stations in that manner, they claim that testing shows their listeners want to hear old and familiar music. That bodes the question “who are those people Christian radio stations use in their testing?” The answer is pretty simple. The people chosen for the testing panels are either un-adventurous, Christian sub-culture “church ladies” or the testing really isn’t an accurate method for determining programming. No offense mom 🙂

Fortunately, we are seeing more internet radio start-ups like Pandora who offer alternatives to terrestrial radio . While Pandora is a great alternative, I’m not convinced their algorithms work so well. Pandora requires that artists have physical distribution through before they will add the artist to their system leaving out many independent artists who are making great music. I’m in no way knocking major label artists as many of them are making great music. However, I would like to hear the other great music that the Christian terrestrial radio establishment ignores.

I recently discovered and,  a couple of Christian internet radio stations that are programmed by a human who formerly worked as a programmer at a large Christian market station. The programmer makes a great effort to find music from new and existing artists whether they are on major labels or operate independently. No “church lady” testing is done! They just play great music. I highly recommend these stations for those Christian music listeners who want to be exposed to great new artists and music they may not otherwise hear. Listeners can tune in via the website or they can grab the Live 365 app to listen from an iPhone, Android or iPad. Click on the links below to check out these two great stations.  plays a great mix of major label and independent Christian music. Their slogan is “Playing Christian music you won’t hear anywhere else” plays Christian Hip Hop music which is a format that is virtually non-existent at terrestrial radio 

Dear Christian Radio…

Dear Christian Radio,

Did you ever think Borders Bookstores would be forced to close it’s doors due to lack of business? Do you remember when physical record stores were on every corner? Did it surprise you how quickly both things disappeared? As we approach Christian radio’s yearly Momentum conference, there are a few things I would encourage you to be thinking about and addressing. Transition in the way we consume music is barreling through like a freight train! What’s your plan?

– Do you have a strategy in place for listeners as they transition from terrestrial radio to Pandora, Spotify and the soon to be launched iCloud? Sitting through the Momentum conference last year, I was amazed how this issue wasn’t even addressed.

Are you so focused on “Becky” (or whatever you are calling her now) that you have become irrelevant to her kids who will in no way choose a station that sounds 5 to 10 years behind current pop music?

-Playlists have shrunk to a point where it is nearly impossible for new artists to find their way onto your station. It takes a major label spending $30-40K on a fly-in and another $15-$20K for a radio tour to even get your attention. Wouldn’t that money be better spent on real ministry? 

-New Christian artists are unable to sustain themselves without airplay and radio playlists are so narrow that very few artists are able to break through. Without new artists, there is no future for Christian music. 

-Is your “radio testing” a true picture of what your listeners want to hear or is it designed in a way to tell you what you want to hear?

I hope this year’s Momentum conference is a benefit to all and that you challenge each other in ways that will help you transition quickly as change is definitely upon us!






Does Radio Testing Work?

As a music marketing consultant, I find that most independent labels struggle with finding success at radio. They need their records to be accepted by the gatekeepers at radio, but most of all, they need the listeners to vote “yes” in favor of the music once it hits the airwaves. The first hurdle is getting radio stations to add a song. That requires hiring independent radio programmers who call program directors at radio stations across the country to ask them to play the song. The program directors may have 100 new songs on their desk at any given time and they have the job of choosing 2-3 songs to add each week. Radio charts suggest that radio stations seem to favor songs from major labels as the major labels support them with advertising and promotions. Many call it legal payola. Like it or not, it does exist and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. So the question is how do independents get their records to stand out to the radio station program directors?

A label I work with recently hired Chuck Finney with Finney Media to do some radio testing. Finney Media gathers a sampling of people into an auditorium setting where they play them 20 second hooks from a number of songs. The audience ranks the songs on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the highest ranking. We recently completed a round of testing with some of the songs we think would make great radio singles. Some tested high while others tested low. The songs that tested over a 4.0 are now currently being worked separately to radio by two different independent promoters. In a few weeks, I will post results on how the testing impacted radio station add decisions compared to the test scores. If the radio stations add the songs, we will then take a look at how the testing scores line up with how listeners react to the songs.

Have you ever taken a radio survey via phone or as part of a live audience? If so, how was the experience?