'XFM' RADIO STATION PUTS
INDIE MUSIC ON THE AIRWAVES
OF LONDON WITH 28-DAY
LICENCE
by
GRANT GODDARD

www.grantgoddard.co.u...
How commercially viable is 'XFM', the experimental North London radio station
scheduled to broadcast alternative/independe...
"There are one hundred specialist shows," she concludes, "but maybe only
twenty of them will play a record once by a band ...
Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of
experience in the broadcasting...
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'"XFM" Radio Station Puts Indie Music On The Airwaves Of London With 28-Day Licence' by Grant Goddard

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Feature about a 28-day broadcast licence for London indie & alternative music radio station 'XFM' in the UK, written by Grant Goddard in February 1992 for Music Week magazine.

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'"XFM" Radio Station Puts Indie Music On The Airwaves Of London With 28-Day Licence' by Grant Goddard

  1. 1. 'XFM' RADIO STATION PUTS INDIE MUSIC ON THE AIRWAVES OF LONDON WITH 28-DAY LICENCE by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk February 1992
  2. 2. How commercially viable is 'XFM', the experimental North London radio station scheduled to broadcast alternative/independent music for four weeks this spring? "Financially, it will be a total disaster," says one critics with sixteen years' industry experience. "Anyone who had a bean of sense in his brain would not get involved in this fiasco financially." The critic is Chris Parry, founder of Fiction/Desire Records, but also co-director of XFM. Two rooms in Parry's West End offices have been given over to Britain's first legal alternative music station. "I've made money from this area of music," he explains. "I suppose, at this stage, I'm just putting some back in." His partner, Sammy Jacob, came up with the idea of XFM after organising a radio station at last year's Reading Festival, having been immersed in the alternative music scene for several years. Jacob estimates the experiment will cost £20,000 to £80,000, around 10% of which is covered by a sponsorship deal with 'NME'. "The idea of being involved with an independent alternative radio station really appealed," explains NME's Marketing Executive Robert Tame. "There isn't really a station on at the moment that has such an appeal to our readers." XFM is seeking further sponsors and is identifying potential advertisers that Jacob estimates could cover a further 70% of his budget. "If we get around two or three minutes of advertising per hour, that will be enough," he says. "The main potential comes from venues, record companies and record shops who advertise now in the music press." The ability to reach XFM's targeted audience should prove a godsend for companies promoting alternative rock acts. Existing commercial stations have some specialist shows devoted to such music, but little attempt is made to attract relevant advertisers. Independent Radio Sales [IRS] markets airtime for half the UK's commercial stations. An enquiry about advertising on 'alternative/independent' shows baffled two of their sales executives, who admitted unfamiliarity with the term. After some research, IRS recommended buying time in only four "appropriate" programmes, two of which turned out to play heavy metal music, and one of which cost £103 for a single 30-second advert. By contrast, XFM can offer advertisers a one-week campaign of forty spots for £15 per play, plus the ability to target alternative music fans. Lisa Paulon handles radio promotion to that audience for Southern Studios' acts and wrote to all UK radio stations to determine their potential for airplay. 'XFM' Radio Station Puts Indie Music On The Airwaves Of London With 28-Day Licence ©1992 Grant Goddard page 2
  3. 3. "There are one hundred specialist shows," she concludes, "but maybe only twenty of them will play a record once by a band I'm working on." Paulon's view that XFM "could be really effective" is shared by other pluggers of alternative music." "There are lots of things that don't get airplay otherwise," says Nicki Kefalas, Co-Partner of Out Promotion which promotes 4AD, Mute and Factory releases. "And there are people out there who do buy these products." "It's exactly what we need," says Scott Piering, London's most successful alternative music promoter. "I've always thought that there's a definite place for our kind of music." Although XFM's 28-day licence makes little commercial sense, the directors plan to use its anticipated public success as a campaigning platform for a permanent Londonwide service. "We need to prove to The Radio Authority that the station is desperately needed," says Jacob. "XFM will be running at a pretty serious loss for this trial period," admits his partner Parry, "but, on the other hand, 'no gain without payment' I say." Both express satisfaction with the initial response from the music industry. "If they dip their hands into their pockets," laughs Jacob, "that will be a sign of how excited they are." Although commercial radio is currently suffering an acute dearth of advertising revenues, the post-recession prospects for an alternative music station look far healthier. The last occasion a Londonwide FM licence was advertised in 1989, nine of the forty applicants offered research supporting the viability of a rock music service of some type. The success of KISS FM has proven that the audience for niche music radio exists amongst young Londoners. All XFM needs is access to a permanent spot on London's crowded FM waveband. [First published in 'Music Week' magazine as 'Parry Puts Indies On The Radio Map', 29 February 1992] 'XFM' Radio Station Puts Indie Music On The Airwaves Of London With 28-Day Licence ©1992 Grant Goddard page 3
  4. 4. Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk 'XFM' Radio Station Puts Indie Music On The Airwaves Of London With 28-Day Licence ©1992 Grant Goddard page 4

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