The amount of energy at a dance music festival is unlike anything else – but how can electronic music fans continue to connect with their favorite DJs and the excitement around the music after a festival is over? Dance music stations have exploded in popularity on digital streaming services over the last few years, but are they too niche to make a successful home on broadcast radio as well? Clear Channel has found that with the right programming the Evolution digital station on iHeartRadio also drew a huge audience over the airwaves, and has successfully made that transition with the introduction of FM stations Evolution 101.7 in Boston and Evolution 93.5 in Miami. Here’s what it takes:
#1: Get to know your listeners.
This sounds simple, but it’s important to get to know the community and their lifestyle behind the music. It’s important to know where electronic music fans spend their free time, what their friends are into and what really fuels their passions. They love the music but are equally interested in what artists are doing when they’re not on deck or in the studio.
#2: Gain credibility and don’t fake it.
Listen to feedback from fans online, at shows, at events and pretty much everywhere, and take it seriously. Our listeners in Boston asked us to bring on a DJ from their area, so we introduced DJ Costa, a Boston local who now has a weekly on-air show with Evolution 101.7 and Kiss 108; and Diplo has a huge active fan base in LA so we setup the Evolution with Diplo and Friends program on KYSR-FM. Dance music fans are extremely active on social media and aren’t afraid to express themselves, so it’s up to us to connect with them, let them know we listen and give them the music and experiences that they expect.
#3: Serve the community.
In addition to great music, focus on broadcasting content that will benefit the community and cater to its interests. Evolution 93.5 brought Miami Music Week to its listeners with a live broadcast from an exclusive party, which featured sets by Pete Tong, Fatboy Slim, Eric Prydz and more.
In Boston, Evolution 101.7 partners with local venues to do on-air giveaways for fans to win meet-and-greets, tickets and other unique experiences to shows that feature big-name DJs. The station conducted an Ultimate Contest for its listeners, and the winners received $1,000, a VIP trip to Ultra Music Festival and an exclusive lunch with Benny Benassi on a private yacht. By doing this, listeners continue to tune in not just for the music we broadcast, but also for the amazing opportunities that take the relationship with listeners to the next level.
#4: Mix it up.
Experiment with programming that helps fuel listeners’ passion for electronic music. While it’s crucial for radio stations to play music based on listener requests and feedback, it’s also important to keep up with their ravenous appetite for new music. In addition to broadcasting the music our listeners already love to hear, we focus on connecting them with great new artists and exposing them to new genres of dance music. Helping dance music fans discover new music and bridging the gap between them and their favorite artists is essential. Since Clear Channel began syndicating Pete Tong on over 90 Contemporary Hit Radio stations and broadcasting weekly specialty shows with established and rising-star DJs, even more listeners have been exposed to new sounds that they might not have discovered without radio.
As someone with a lifestyle built around electronic music culture, I always wanted to build a radio brand that really embodied the excitement around the music and its fans. I wanted to be the driving force behind stations that I would tune into personally, and would open everyone’s eyes to the music. Evolution is built on programming that is curated specifically for and by EDM fans, and as more and more casual dance music listeners dive deeper into the genre, there will be more opportunities to serve this listening community and its culture. Whether your first time enjoying dance music was hearing Calvin Harris on a Top 40 station or seeing Krewella at a local music festival, or if dance music is your religion, radio will always be there to play new music and keep the party going.
Adéllyn is the Program Director for Evolution, the “All Things Dance” station for iHeartRadio, and the Director of EDM Initiatives for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. She oversees Evolution’s programming and promotions, connects artists with broadcast and digital radio audiences, and syndicates EDM talent. She books prominent EDM artists for events including iHeartRadio Music Festival, and transitioned Evolution’s digital platform into broadcast radio brands.
Fans can listen to Evolution on the radio by tuning in to Evolution 101.7 in Boston, Evolution 93.5 in Miami or Evolution on iHeartRadio, the industry-leading digital radio service.