The New Smooth Jazz Radio Landscape
In a recent deep dive into more than 280 Smooth Jazz Radio Stations, we found the following breakdown on broadcasting platforms:
DB RADIO (Digital Broadcasting / Internet Radio)
56% of SJ Stations broadcast to a Global audience on-line. From millions of annual tune-ins on SmoothJazz.com Global Radio to hobbyists on Live 365, as well terrestrial/Internet simulcasts, the Internet is the most popular home for Smooth Jazz content today. Borderless and wildly independent, SmoothJazz.com Global Charts receive more relevant spins from Internet Radio Stations than almost all FMs, AMs and HDs combined.
FM RADIO (Frequency Modulation)
29% of SJ Stations broadcast to local community audiences on FM, but most of these are not in major U.S. cities any longer. Despite the decline of terrestrial radio listening and pervasive competition of Digital Broadcasting and Satellite Radio, FM still retains loyal listenership, however, very few FMs feature the Smooth Jazz format 24/7, most FM airplay spins come from Speciality Radio Shows on College Radio. Ironically, BILLBOARD'S 13 SJ Radio Station reporting panel are inclusive of 99% FM and HD Stations and Shows, offering the narrowest view of format spins.
AM RADIO (Amplitude Modulation)
2% of SJ Stations broadcast to local community audiences on AM. Often Public or College Radio Stations stream On-line as well. IMPORTANT NOTE: It has been reported that CD's mailed to College & Community Stations often end up in the hands of interns instead of DJ's, another reason to focus on Digital Music Delivery with email follow up.
HD RADIO (High Definition or Hybrid Digital Terrestrial Radio Sub-Channels - Often requires special receiver)
12% of SJ Stations now broadcast to local communities and On-line audiences on HD Radio. Previously popular FM SJ Stations fired their On-Air talent and relegated the Smooth Jazz format to their HD sub-channels utilizing Allen Kepler's Smooth Jazz Network for content. Syndicated programming provided by SJN features hosts Dave Koz, Miranda Wilson, Maria Lopez and others on these HD Channels, which also simulcast on iHeart Radio's streaming platform to capture On-line listeners. HD Radio may be waning relevance soon, as no less than three of the major streaming players (Deezer, Tidal and Amazon Music) now offer ‘hi resolution’ audio quality streaming, in addition to SmoothJazz.com Global Radio's hi-res, 320k stream (free for high def listening).
Sirius XM - Watercolors & Pandora Smooth Jazz Channels broadcast to U.S. and Canadian Subscribers. While many listeners now have Satellite Radio in their cars and home devices, the playlists are tightly programmed and not as available to new music and artists as much as DBs or FMs, and are only heard by a portion of the U.S. and Canadian audience with a paid subscription.
Music Choice programs Smooth Jazz for Cable TV in the U.S. Music Choice considers new music adds once per quarter, only four times a year, compared to other Radio outlets that traditionally add new music weekly! While the television content provider offers Smooth Jazz in their selection, this delivery method is considered to be "background" music.
NETWORK SYNDICATION programming is counted as one Radio Station on most Airplay Charts, since the songs are chosen by only one programmer and relayed on several broadcasting outlets. As an example, out of 51 Stations listed on SJ Network's website, our research is showing only 27 as ACTIVE (nearly 50% are INACTIVE). Of those 27, the majority do not air Allen Kepler's Top 20 Countdown nor his Syndicated Shows 24/7, but instead choose between 1 to 3 shows to fill overnights or certain day parts.
NETWORK MULTICASTS are repeater streams/broadcasts originating from one main Station. A Network of Multicasts can appear as multiple Stations, but are in fact, several versions of the same stream/broadcast, playing the same songs at the same time, chosen by one programmer. For this reason, Multicast Stations are not permitted to appear on Charts to avoid giving one programmer too much sway over Spins, Adds & Drops. EXAMPLE OF A NETWORK MULTICAST
How DB Overtook FM - Where the Listeners Are
What is now called Smooth Jazz, began in the 1980's as New Adult Contemporary (NAC) on KTWV The Wave in Los Angeles. FUN FACT : SmoothJazz.com President, Sandy Shore, was one of the first DJ's to spin the new jazz pop format launched by legendary Radio Program Director John Sebastian in 1988.
While the format gained popularity on FM stations in many major U.S. Cities in the 1980s-1990s, by the mid 2000's, due to controversial results of corporate consulting and restrictive programming limitations imposed by Broadcast Architecture (Allen Kepler), listenership and audience began to wane.
Smooth Jazz Broadcasting became 'narrowcasting' as BA advised playlist modifications to include less than a few hundred songs per Station. As modern, personal mobile devices began offering more capacity for music playback than local Radio Station playlists, major U.S. FM's began to flip their formats from the newly abridged and overly edited Smooth Jazz programming to something more popular for their listeners.
After surviving several FM format flips in Monterey, California, Sandy Shore envisioned a new way to deliver a more inclusive, broader version of the format to a Global audience, bypassing the limitations and expense of terrestrial radio. In 1995, Shore bought the www.smoothjazz.com domain and by the Spring of 2000, thanks to AOL's Shoutcast server pilot program, and undying aspirations, SmoothJazz.com (KJAZ.DB) began to broadcast the very first Smooth Jazz Radio Station to a Global audience!
The tenacious team at SmoothJazz.com had a hunch that the lifestyle vibe of the genre was more progressive and inclusive of newer artists and styles, as well as music from a variety of age groups and cultures, and held the belief that the format would find a massive audience in a Global community.
20+ years later, SmoothJazz.com is streamed in over 200 countries for millions of listeners tuning in from homes, restaurants, hotels, businesses, and on personal devices the world over. Smooth Jazz continues to gain growth as one of the most popular formats streamed globally and gaining attention from a youthful demographic.
Smooth Jazz Airplay Charts : How they work?
Music Charts rank recorded music according to certain criteria during a given period. The most common period covered by a Chart is one week, with the Chart being published at the end of this time period.
Many different criteria are used to create a variety of Music industry Charts, including Music Sales, Streams, and Radio Airplay.
Smooth Jazz Airplay Charts rank collected, weekly Airplay data (spins) from a panel of participating Radio Stations and Shows.
Music Charts have become an increasingly important way to measure the commercial success of individual songs and albums with the data utilized by Artists/Record Labels, Music Broadcasters, Radio Programmers, Talent Buyers, etc.
There are a handful of Music Charts in Smooth Jazz, each using different monitoring methods; we set out to define the differences here for your education and discernment.
Album Chart Vs Singles Charts
SmoothJazz.com publishes the genre's only weekly TOP 100 ALBUM CHART. It is our belief that an Album Chart offers the industry a wider perspective of artist success in a genre has always been "album-oriented."
An ALBUM CHART allows all songs from a current album to be counted toward overall spins, giving Radio programmers the freedom to choose which tracks off the album they prefer to play on their Stations, rather than restricting them to play one single chosen by a Radio Promoter.
All songs played from a current album, that were released as singles or featured as secondary tracks, will be picked up by our Audio Monitor and result in an accumulated spin count to determine weekly rankings, usually resulting in a higher spin count than shown on Singles Charts.
SINGLES CHARTS such as the Billboard Smooth Jazz Chart (BDS), monitor the most played Smooth Jazz songs each week and publish them in rankings of Top 30 or Top 40, without consideration of the full release.
How Artists benefit from SmoothJazz.com top 100 Album Chart
• We have developed the only genre Charts that display cover art with Buy/Stream links, directing consumers and fans to to your website, social media and buying platforms.
• SmoothJazz.com has one of the most inclusive and diverse Reporting Radio Panel of active DB, FM, HD, AM and Satellite Radio Stations and Specialty Shows. We have vetted over 250 Smooth Jazz stations, with many of these positioned as future additions to our Reporting Panel.
• SmoothJazz.com thinks Global, by inviting Radio Stations and Radio Programmers from around the world to participate in our weekly Airplay Charts, not limiting our Chart to U.S. Reporting Stations.
• In addition to our Reporting Radio Panel, SmoothJazz.com sends out new music digitally each week to 250+ contacts inclusive of Radio Programmers, DJs, Playlisters and Influencers around the world!
• Every dollar SmoothJazz.com generates goes directly into sustaining and developing our technology to support the Smooth Jazz genre.
• SmoothJazz.com broke the rules over 20 years ago, advocating for Independent Artists and New Releases from core format Artists by sending New Music directly to Radio Programmers, DJs and Playlisters via our GreenStream Music Delivery Blast, inviting our fellow Industry Smooth Jazzers to be part a part of this community.
Our GreenStreams are eco-friendly, digital one-sheets with embedded mp3 files and videos, which have allowed us to bypass the old industry gatekeepers, opening up Radio Playlists to a wide variety of artists (new and established) from all demographics, regions and backgrounds, infusing new life and ideas into the Smooth Jazz format!
Charts, Countdowns & Playlists - what's the dif, why it matters
AIRPLAY CHARTS Tabulate data collected by a variety of contributing sources (DB, FM, AM, HD, Satellite, Radio Shows). As an example, with Radio Airplay Charts, a panel of genre-specific Radio Stations and Shows, programmed by many different DJ's or Program Directors, would be monitored for a period of time to collect their raw song data. RADIO AIRPLAY SPINS > RANKINGS > CHART.
COUNTDOWNS are often a list of songs chosen by one DJ/programmer or network (SJN as an example), and ranked according to requests or votes as opposed to Airplay spins, thus not the same as a monitored Radio reporting panel. Sometimes, these Countdown Shows are syndicated to multiple radio stations or streaming platforms, offering the same show on multiple outlets. REQUESTS/VOTES > COUNTDOWN.
PLAYLISTS are curated by individuals, such as DJs and music programmers who are determining their favorite songs for a given period of time, or to create a soundtrack or musical theme - these also are not CHARTS. SONG SELECTION > PLAYLIST.
While it's exciting to be on someone's Favorites list, it's important to know the difference between Airplay Chart Rankings, Countdown Request Shows and DJ Playlists. There are very few sanctioned Radio Airplay Charts in the Music industry, utilizing third party technology and partnerships with Radio stations to generate weekly Airplay spin tracking. There are far more Countdown shows and hobbyist Playlists that are solo endeavors by the platform proprietor.
Smooth Jazz Industry Charts Guide
SMOOTHJAZZ.COM GLOBAL has been the hub for Smooth Jazz for over 20 years, and was commissioned in 2005 by respected, former Radio industry trade publication, The Gavin Report.
As of 2020, SmoothJazz.com's proprietary, 3rd party Radio Monitoring technology has been developed to utilize Audio Fingerprinting to track and tabulate spins from our Global Reporting Radio Station panel (DB, FM, HD, AM, Satellite, Cable, Shows).
The SmoothJazz.com Chart Suite includes the following Weekly Charts, published Mondays on SmoothJazz.com.
VIEW REPORTING PANEL : 95+ Audio-Monitored Stations & Shows (Vetted Weekly for Format Integrity and Spin Relevancy)
SmoothJazz.com's Top 100 Album is the only Weekly Smooth Jazz Album Chart in the industry, offering the most comprehensive Airplay Chart in Smooth Jazz with a diverse panel of International Radio Programmers.
SmoothJazz.com's Chartbound 50 Below albums are based on upward trending spins from weekly monitored airplay data. TW and LW rankings are positions below the Top 100 Album Chart.
The Smooth Jazz Radio Radar Chart is exclusive to SmoothJazz.com Artists, allowing for early detection at Radio. Published weekly along with the Top 100 Smooth Jazz Album Chart.
The SmoothJazz.com Top 50 Listener Favorites is the only Singles Countdown in our Chart suite. It is also, the only Ranking not based on Radio Airplay, rather SmoothJazz.com's Global audience decides on the platform's playlist by voting for their favorite songs during Airplay. Published weekly along with the Top 100 Smooth Jazz Album Chart and Smooth Jazz Radio Radar Chart.
REPORTING PANEL : 13 Active U.S. based FM Radio Stations & Shows
Billboard publishes over 100 Charts per week, with the Hot 100 being the most famous.
The Smooth Jazz Airplay Chart reflects Radio Airplay from 13 terrestrial U.S. Radio Stations (FM/HD) plus one Satellite Radio channel. Digital streaming and on-line broadcasters (DBs) as well as International Radio Stations are not welcome to contribute to the BDS Smooth Jazz Chart. Billboard prioritizes the SJ format at the bottom of their Chart system, just below Holiday Music and above Phone Ringtones Charts.
Ironically, the most illustrious name in the music industry offers the narrowest perspective of current Smooth Jazz Airplay. It is also of note, that while all other Billboard Charts use Luminate to audio monitor airplay, they still allow for antiquated Manual Reporting for their Smooth Jazz Chart, which risks what we call "paper adds", a scenario in which a station makes up their spins rather than what actually played on the station.
AUDIO & META DATA MONITORED PANEL : 38 Active Global Stations & Shows
Created by Andrew Reich, Radio Wave is a media data collecting platform offering eight individual format Top 40 Singles Charts for Alternative, At Work, Big Rock, Country, Top 40, Urban Contemporary and Smooth Jazz, as well as a HITS100 Chart (Pop). The RadioWave HITS100 chart is calculated using audience totals from on demand, streaming, and video plays, as well as radio airplay detections and digital sales.
SYNDICATION AFFILIATES : 27 Active Stations & Shows | 12 Flipped Formats | 7 Off-Air | 5 Multicast Clones | 1 Non-Existant
Los Angeles Actor and former Broadcast Architecture President, Allen Kepler, is the driving force behind the Smooth Jazz Network. Curating Radio shows, including his own hosted Top 20 Smooth Jazz Countdown, Kepler syndicates his programming to a variety of mostly terrestrial Radio Stations.
Kepler's charts may be more accurately defined as Countdowns with Artist rankings determined by a point system, rather than officially monitored Airplay spins from a designated panel of Radio Stations. While the points do represent spins across the SJ Network affiliates, they also include undefined (proprietary) data gathered from SJN non-affiliates.
Broadcast Architecture History
The company became infamous for removing DJ intuition from contemporary jazz radio in the 1990s by implementing proprietary song-testing and auditorium listener research, which lead to a culling of heritage artists and songs that were purged and replaced by pop and adult contemporary hits and artists.
During their reign, the consultancy was responsible for replacing respected Radio personalities around the U.S. with top format recording artists who would record their shows for Syndication, leaving many professional air talent unemployed.
B.A. is also credited with introducing "radio edits" to the genre, often requesting artists to remove music solos and sometimes up to half of the tune in order to be granted airplay on their network of Radio Stations.
Monitoring Radio Station Playlists : Audio VS Metadata
Radio Stations used to report weekly song spins by telephone reporting to industry print publications like Radio & Records. Today's Charts monitor radio airplay by employing one of two technology protocol standards as defined below.
META-DATA MONITORING Radio Stations digitally publish a visual Playlist featuring songs with embedded codes, ISRC (International Standard Recording Code). ISRCs contain Artist Name, Album Title, and Track Title. These codes are logged into a database and allow Chart monitoring systems to track songs by this method over a defined period of one week, tabulating total overall spins from a Chart's Reporting Radio Panel.
AUDIO MONITORING (Audio Fingerprinting) offers more Airplay accuracy, as this methodl detects spins by monitoring uniquely Audio Fingerprinted tracks on the Chart's Reporting Radio Panel audio streams. Audio Fingerprinting allows songs to be mapped to a Global audio database, thus identifying the tune's ISRC prior to tabulating song spins.
SmoothJazz.com Global employs Audio Monitoring with Audio Fingerprinting for the following reasons :
• We only record spins that can be HEARD. Radio Stations can display Playlists without streaming audio, this is similar to what we used to call a "Paper Add" in old school radio, and isn't actually Airplay. This can happen when a Radio Station's server is down.
• Our system also detects Audio Fingerprinted songs even when Radio Stations enter inaccurate song data, which can affect Meta-Data monitoring systems. This catches ALL Airplay, even when Radio Station's mistakenly label tracks.
• Full song monitoring ONLY - Going above and beyond visual Meta-Data crawlers that can influence Charts without actual Airplay, as Meta-Data monitoring allows for song samples (snippets, jingles, commercial music beds).
An Artist's Guide to Accuracy & Charting Success : Assure Your Spins Count!
We want you to have the best opportunity and experience possible in regards to Airplay and Charting on all of our industry's published Smooth Jazz Charts.
We hope this information provides you with solutions and ideas as well as answers to your Chart questions and prove to be an invaluable tool for your career so that you may accomplish great success with your new release!
1) CORRECT METADATA: Here's where Meta-data really counts, if you don't properly manage your music metadata, your spins may get attributed to featured or guest artists on your project rather than being credited to you. It's very simple to check and correct the metadata on your audio files by right-clicking on the mp3 file and selecting "Get Info" (Mac) or "Properties" (PC).
After any Metadata updates, open your audio file in iTunes to make sure it plays.
NOTE : The ISRC does NOT need to be embedded in Audio file Metadata.
2) DOUBLE CHECK YOUR TRACK LIST : Accuracy and spelling counts! After an album or single is recorded it often floats around in digital form without the correct numerical order and even misspelled titles or abbreviated titles. Double checking your work prior to releasing early digital versions of your mastered music to distributors and marketing professionals will prevent confusion at critical junctures with your release. Inaccurate tracking and spelling can cost you airplay, revenue and support.
3) GET UNIQUE ISRCs : Digital distribution platforms use ISRCs (International Standard Recording Codes) for Music Sales, and Music Charts use ISRCs to match your songs to a current music database. So if there is no ISRC, your spins will not be counted!
SmoothJazz.com does its best to research and locate your ISRC, however we cannot always find it, so please make sure to use a service like CD Baby or Tune Core, to obtain a unique code for each of your tracks, or visit ISRC.org to learn how to do it yourself. It's affordable and easy to do, but can take a few weeks to get registered, so it's best to start early. Make sure to assign only ONE ISRC per Track and make sure to tick correct box or it’s like assigning 2 addresses to the same house. It can work but it’s confusing and not optimal.
4) SUBMIT TRACKS for AUDIO FINGERPRINTING : Don't be a ghost! An Audio Fingerprint is a condensed digital summary of an audio signal, generated by extracting relevant acoustic characteristics of a piece of audio content. Along with matching algorithms, this digital signature permits us to identify different versions of a single recording with the same title.
Keep in mind, songs that have been submitted for digital distribution with accurate ISRCs, may not always be found on Gracenote or in the Global Music Database. Audio Fingerprinting is a must in order to be detected by SmoothJazz.com and BDS' airplay monitoring methodology, as well as by Soundscan and music discovery apps such as Shazam.
Talk to your mastering engineer or digital distribution service about submitting your audio files to the Global Music Database for Audio Fingerprinting, or contact SmoothJazz.com to receive this important service for your current single, we provide Audio Fingerprinting for just $50 per track, and often can turn it around in one business day, while other submission methods have shown to take 2 - 6 weeks for the song to register with the Global Music database!
It is worth noting, that Billboard Audio Fingerprinting ensures your Track is tracked by the Billboard Chart, this is why we Audio Fingerprint ALL of our Client's Tracks separately from Billboard, to ensure that the ISRC/Fingerprint is picked up in the Global Database and our Charts.
NOTE : If you Go For Adds (GFA) at Radio before having your music Audio Fingerprinted, your spins will not be counted on SmoothJazz.com Charts and my impact other Airplay Charting and Music Industry Services as well.
Radio Promotion - Now you have a choice
When SmoothJazz.com, Inc was founded in 2000, Recording Labels used to hire Radio Promoters to service Radio Stations with New Releases, and use their relationships with Program Directors to influence them to add new music to their playlists, often blocking access from Independent Artists to reaching Radio listeners. Radio Promoters did not typically work with Indie Artists, and there was no way to reach Radio or Promoters directly.
In our efforts to level the playing field, we broke the rules and opened the doors to our fellow Radio Programmers to deliver New Music from format favorites as well as emerging Artists to them directly. Promoters service Radio one Single at a time, while we gave Radio access to the entire Album, allowing Programmers the choice to decide which songs work best for their audience.
3 Viable Options for Getting Your Music to Radio
1. DIY (Do It Yourself) with the support of SmoothJazz.com’s Radio Station Contact List (grown and vetted for 20+ years). This is ideal for Artists who have time and are comfortable with communication as it requires email writing and phone calling. Today's Radio Programmers are far more receptive to Artists reaching out and we have seen good success with this model.
2. SMOOTHJAZZ.COM RECOMMENDS is a service that we offer to our Artist Clients exclusively, who do not have the time or interest in reaching out directly to Radio Programmers. In addition to sending your music to our entire list of Radio Stations, Programmers and DJs around the world, our dedicated, in-house promoter, Dayle Murphy, follows up on your behalf with our Reporting Panel of 90+ Radio Stations (including the Billboard SJ Panel) through emails and phone calls, leveraging SmoothJazz.com's sterling reputation to ensure that they listen to your music and consider adding your music to their Playlists. In addition to an initial strategy session, you will receive weekly, detailed tracking updates with Station Adds/Drops and Spins.
This service is extremely limited to a small batch of SmoothJazz.com clients to maintain quality and is available by reservation for $250/week (12-week Min) OR $275/week (8-week Min). CLICK TO INQUIRE.
3. 3RD PARTY RADIO PROMOTERS SmoothJazz.com can recommend Radio Promotion professionals that will harness their relationships with Smooth Jazz Radio programmers on your behalf to ensure that your music is listened to and considered for Airplay. Promoters typically provide weekly progress reports from multiple Industry Charts. This service usually requires booking months in advance, with fees starting at $300/week. If interested, please check with SmoothJazz.com as we have partnerships with the format’s finest promoters and will be happy to find the best fit for you.
CD MAILINGS ADD COSTS - Despite most Radio Stations now accepting properly metadata'd 320k MP3s or WAV files in lieu of physical CDs, many Promoters still request that you send hard copies of your current album and single with printed one-sheets, which can add a considerable amount of extra investment in manufacturing, shipping and printing, and while this does not guarantee airplay, it does assure added expense and landfill trash as CDs are not recyclable, or you may see your CD on Amazon being sold by DJs who burn and turn them. You can avoid this waste by sending CDs when absolutely necessary.
VET PROMOTER STATION LIST - Radio Promoters' Radio Station list can quickly become out of date with stations signing off the air or flipping formats. Sometimes stations are listed multiple times erroneously, or they may be Multicasts of other streams, or could possibly be Syndicated Radio Shows appearing as 24/7 Radio Stations. SMOOTH JAZZ RADIO LIST RESOURCE
PROMOTION IS NOT MARKETING - While Radio Airplay and Chart positions make for nice Social Media Shoutouts, they do not replace the connection that only saturated Marketing with regular frequency can make to the listening/buying audience. Radio Promotion will not help you build your fan base on Social Media, or build your audience on Streaming platforms, which is how Booking Agents and Talent Buyers determine your viability to draw an audience.
How to keep the Charts in Perspective
Live by the Charts, die by the Charts...
As a SmoothJazz.com Artist Client you can count on the widest distribution of your music via SmoothJazz.com’s Digital GreenStream Delivery Blast, as we ensure that every reporting Smooth Jazz Radio Station, as well as Smooth Jazz DJs and Influencers around the world receive your new music.
We cannot guarantee that you will be played on all of these Radio Stations, however chances are very good that if you're working with us, you will be given serious Airplay consideration by our Affiliate Stations.
Please keep in mind that Radio Airplay Charts are simply a form of metrics that tell you how much Airplay you’re receiving around the world each week and are not the end all, be all.
There are other metrics to consider, such as Streaming and Sales as well as Social Media Followers not to mention Live Performance Bookings.
Many Artists who chart high, sadly sell or stream low, or are not considered for Festivals. We also see the opposite… Low on charts and high on Sales/Streaming and Bookings.
So keep your Chart position in perspective. It's just one slice of the pie in regards to your career success and honestly, your SmoothJazz.com Global Music Marketing will reach a much larger (global) audience and make a more lasting connection than any Chart position will!
It’s ok to blow your own horn when you have a good week at Radio and we’ve made it easy for you to showcase your chart positions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by offering a print version of all four of our Charts for you to take a screenshot of and post as well as fun graphic stickers that you may access on our LOGOS + ADS page.
While Chart positions are not necessarily important to consumers, Social Media chart posts help you reach Festival Talent Buyers and Smooth Jazz Radio Programmers.
Regardless of how many stations add you, you will be prominently featured on SmoothJazz.com Global Radio and with your Global Music Marketing Campaign you are already reaching the largest Smooth Jazz audience in the world!
When to contact us about your radio airplay
• When you don't receive your weekly SmoothJazz.com Airplay Tracking via email
• When you have a question about approaching Radio Stations & Programmers
• When you would like to learn more about reading the Charts (Trends, Adds, etc)
• When you would like to strategize increasing your Radio Airplay and/or hiring a Radio Promoter
CONTACT : firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-649-1223