Thursday, September 18, 2014

U2 and Garth Brooks - The Challenge of Radio Airplay

Over the past Month we've seen 2 of the top performing acts of the past 20 years come out with new releases.  Garth Brooks makes a long awaited comeback that has been carefully staged with his first tour in years to back it up.  Garth will no doubt pass Elvis and become the 2nd on the list of best selling artists, behind the Beatles.  He's selling out full weeks of big arena shows in minutes.

U2 stages their release with the big Apple announcement of the I Phone 6 and offers up their new album for free on I Tunes.  Their last world tour in 2009-2011 grossed over 700 million and over 7.2 million attended the shows.  It's the highest grossing concert tour in history.

Yet, it seems that radio is a bit tepid on both artists when it comes to airplay.  Garth's new single may not be a barn burner anthem like Friends In Low Places where everyone can sing along with a beer in hand, but after a 10 year absence for the biggest artist in the history of the format it's in the mid 20s in the Country chart this week (9-15).  It did get quite a number of spins in the first few days, but now that it's settled in it looks like it will have a challenge to hit the top 5 on the chart.

U2 is just getting it's Miracle (of Joey Ramone) out but you probably won't hear much on your local Rock station from the song.  It's in the 50s on the overall rock chart and mostly getting played on AAA stations which are not present in many markets. Really for the last 10 years U2 has struggled with new releases being accepted by Rock programmers.

We've seen this before with all kinds of 'stars.'  Paul McCartney came back with huge tours and media presence over the last 10+ years and has not seen the light of day with any of his newer releases on  radio.  Springsteen has continued to pull off huge shows and tours in the last 10 years and even his legendary army has not seen much radio exposure for his last few releases.  It also shows in formats outside of Rock.  Ask Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, and many more pop artists who seem to fade after just a few years or struggle to make a comeback.

Have these artists just run out of Hits?  Are we just tired of playing them?  Is the audience really tired of their music?  They seem to be willing to swipe their credit cards for hundreds of dollars to see them.  TV seems to be ready to plan some of their biggest shows around having them on as guests.   What do we know that they don't about the audience?  Is the audience really tired of them or are we?