Listening to the rain (a lot) in Australia

Sometimes the nicest things that happen to musicians are actually quite random. Like the fact that an Australian radio station has “adopted” one of my songs and has now been playing it on a daily basis (and sometimes more) for three months. Banks Radio Australia has played Listen To the Rain more than 100 times since I sent it to them in early January. Intrigued by this, I decided to investigate!

When I released my album Ageing With Attitude in October, I decided to try promoting some of the songs to international radio. Some research on the web identified a number of stations across the world that had built up a good reputation for welcoming submissions from independent singer-songwriters and giving them a fair hearing, and I sent tracks off to see what response I’d get. Of course, I needed to be able to know who was playing them, so I also subscribed to a worldwide radio monitoring service (a bit similar to Radiomonitor, which I’ve always used to track my Irish plays). These services find a unique audio “fingerprint” in every track you submit to them, and have computers listening to tens of thousand of stations to register every time that “fingerprint” is heard. The wonders of modern technology.

I soon started picking up a very healthy amount of international plays, rising to over 200 a month, combined across the tracks I was monitoring. One of the stations that played a few of my songs was Banks Radio Australia. But something strange was about to happen.

In early January I submitted Listen To The Rain to all the stations that had played any of the other tracks I had sent. It’s a song from the album Ageing With Attitude, and features a stunning backing vocal arranged and performed by Thomas Walsh of Pugwash. The monitoring data showed it was picking up a reasonable amount of play, but also that Banks Radio Australia was playing it regularly. As January turned into February and February into March, the pattern continued. This station was playing the song pretty much every day, and often more than once in a day. On March 27 it registered its 100th play on the station. What was going on?

I made contact with Isaac Banks, who set up the station in 2014. It’s a very successful internet station, based in Canberra, which has almost 40,000 followers between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s a personal passion for Isaac, who told me that his love of music keeps it going. “I am lucky I love all genres of music and have as long as I can remember, so I play all genres”. Isaac reckons that his listener base is 50/50 Australian and international but the majority of submissions he gets are from international artists. He also presents on an FM station in the Canberra Area, Valley FM 89.5, and it too takes submissions from international singer-songwriters. He reckons that one way or another he has been involved with radio for 16 years, during which time he has played well over 30,000 bands and artists.

One thing that struck me was that, as soon as I started sending music to Banks Radio Australia, I got personal feedback from Isaac, telling me which songs he really liked and which would get played. When you are featuring as much new music as he does, it shows incredible commitment to music and musicians to be willing to take the time to engage individually with them. It’s very clear that he really loves what he does!

And so, the big question? Could he shed any light on why Listen To The Rain has almost become an anthem on his station? His answer – “well, the statistics don’t lie, it’s an awesome track and it’s the tracks that get the most listens that get the most play!”

Exactly the type of feedback we all love to get!

My thanks to Isaac for his support and for helping me put this piece together. You can remind yourself of the song here.