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ClayManiacs.com  |  Archive  |  Media & Appearance Archive  |  Writer's Corner - Fan Essays  |  8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
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Author Topic: 8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken  (Read 1960 times)

Marilyn

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8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
« on: April 28, 2010, 11:36:54 PM »
Pamela
Assistant Webmaster
Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
« on: August 20, 2004, 07:13:03 PM »   

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Achin’ to Hear Aiken: An Open Letter to the Radio Industry
By Bonnie Lini Markowski

“The boy can sing, you just won’t find many fans at our particular radio station.”

An oxymoron if I ever heard one. Clay Aiken fans, get prepared. It seems that quote from a radio station program director signals yet another uphill battle for Clay Aiken and his latest single, “I Will Carry You.”  It’s no secret that the immensely popular singer (and for that matter most AI alumni) doesn’t get fair airplay. Why? Not for the reason the radio industry pros would have us believe. Program Directors and DJs alike would like us to believe that they only play records in which they believe, and, well, they don’t believe in Aiken. The radio industry claims to have a prejudice against Clay Aiken for
innumerable “professional” reasons: Because he isn’t a real talent since he didn’t pay his dues, he took a shortcut; he doesn’t fit the pop image, he’s pre-packaged; his voice is better suited for Broadway; he’s too middle of the road, vanilla, etc. . . . but I think there is something more covert and onerous going on here.

The same PD went on to explain to a curious fan:   “ . . .I wanted you to understand why it’s difficult for the Idol folks to get the respect of radio people—and often even more difficult to get airplay on some radio stations . . . We know that Clay Aiken has numerous young fans who grew to admire him from American Idol. And, he can certainly sing.
However, most of us who are professionals in the music industry frankly have little respect for the American Idol clan as they grew to fame on the coat tails of a packaged television program and not hard work, touring, or song writing.”

How very kind of you Mr. PD, but, sorry, I still don’t understand. Your words seem to speak volumes about your hypocrisy.  Study your logic here:  What you are saying is “he can certainly sing . . .” but we are going to ignore that fact because it doesn’t matter for a singer to have a great voice! You dis the AI clan, especially Aiken, because he’s an easy target, for not paying their dues and from coming from a TV show that gets no respect because they prepackage their talent. You argue that he did not come through the ranks through “hard work.” Do you mean like, say, Britany Spears, who must have paid with her blood, sweat and tears on The Mickey Mouse Club? Or maybe Christina Agular, or Justin Timberlake who also cut their teeth as Mousketeers?

Well, in my opinion, the problem is that the radio industry, PD’s and DJ’s alike, are guilty of the old cliché of biting one’s nose to spite one’s face. It’s ironic that you site the pre-packed idea as a reason for dising Aiken because you are guilty of the same thing.  He doesn’t fit with your image of “Pop,” so you discount him.  His clean-cut image doesn’t fit the mold. 

Maybe if he were tattooed and pierced and sang about treating women like sex objects, he’d be enjoying more airplay. As far as being prepackaged, he is far more authentic than many the current Pop Stars who were, let’s not kid ourselves, created by the recording industry. In more than one case image completely overrides talent. In my opinion, Britany Spears’ seductive look, provocative dress, and diva attitude are far more important to her popularity than her less than mediocre voice. 
In my humble opinion, she should have remained a mousketeer because she sounds just like Minnie!

I think your refusal to support Aiken has more to do with stubbornness and ego than your so-called “professional” reasons. His clean-cut image doesn’t fit your stale old mold, and Americans, not “you professionals in the music industry” got to voice their opinion about what they wanted in a singer. And we all know that we Americans don’t know what we are talking about. Heck, we have no taste unless, of course, we back the horse the radio industry has decided to push for whatever reason.  I also think it rubs you the wrong way that TV is even more forcefully dictating who becomes a pop star.

In an interview with Greenville News before his recent North Carolina concert, Aiken explains that he isn’t interested in being defined by record companies, industry executives or album titles. He says, “I’m not willing to change who I am to sell an album.” And these are not mere words. According to interviewer Donna Isabell Walkers, when Aiken began to record his first album, Measure Of a Man for RCA, he “Laid down the law . . .” Aiken refused to record certain types of songs.  He explains, “I had rules that I wanted people to [abide] by if they didn’t want to do that . . .then, OK, this isn’t for me.” He refused to have his first album self titled because he, “did not think the album represented who [he] was” in that it was moody, introspective and “heart-breaky,” unlike him. 

Apparently, according to Aiken, “he was ready to walk away from the project” if he did not feel comfortable at any point. A bold move for a recently discovered singer recording a first album with a mega label. Similarly, Aiken refuses to bow to the industry standard of what a Pop Star should look like. If you knew anything at all about Aiken, you would know that he fought that image battle early and won. He refused to release his first music video for This is the Night because he was uncomfortable with the dark, brooding image of him it portrayed. Yes, he changed his hair, put in contact lenses and wears nicer clothes, but he will never look or act like Justin Timberlake and the like. He likes his wholesome image, but wholesome isn’t popular today. Or is it?

And if you would give Aiken half a chance you would find that he completely split with AI and 19 Management since the AI stars’ careers are literally not their own.  19’s particularly onerous contract dictates almost every move the singers make on and off the screen. According to a 2002 article, “Slaves of celebrity” by Eric Olsen, Simon Fuller and his company own the names, likenesses, voices and personal histories of the ‘Idol’ finalists . . .forever” save for Clay Aiken who refused to be branded!  His need to be an individual and not a prepackaged “pop star” so important that he legally got out of the 19 contract and signed with the powerhouse management group, “The Firm.” Aiken now owns his own name, image and trademark.

As for hard word, many of the AI “clan” cut their teeth on music in much the same way most other singers have. Through years of singing in school, choir, regional theater, local bands, home grown affairs, etc.  In fact, Ruben Studdard was studying music in college at one point. Aiken did not wake up one morning when he was 24 and decide, “I think I’ll try my hand at singing.” Aiken sang since he was a child, but performed seriously for at least 10 years prior to his success on AI2. Like any aspiring young singer, Aiken, sang in choirs, high school, church and The Raleigh’s Boys Choir; studied voice and music in high school; had a voice coach; performed in a local Raleigh band, “Just By Chance”; performed at various amateur productions such as Hometown Connection, Stars on the Rise, Country Music Showcase, North Carolina Music Connection, Wake County Annual Showcase; performed in regional musical theater; did write songs, and recorded two Demo CD’s. Currently, Aiken has to be the hardest working man in music. He rarely has a day off touring, performing, recording working with charities, etc.

Aiken isn’t naïve. In fact, he’s savvy. He knows or is quickly learning about the politics of radio airplay. It doesn’t matter who’s good or talented. What matters are myriad of political, personal and business reasons. Aiken pointing out in a recent interview with WRAL, KIIS, in his own former home of Charlotte, NC, wouldn’t play his songs because of some problem they have with 19 Management. Unfortunately, who gets played on the radio sometimes also has a lot to do with what record companies can do for the stations themselves. In a move reminiscent of the 50’s payola scandal. We are being told what to like and dislike, what is popular and isn’t. Apparently, the industry has just found another way to accept payola only legally now.  Jeff Leads of the LA Times reports that the outlawed payola practices of the 50’s have only “prompted record companies to find more subtle means of currying favor with the radio programmers [one of which is] offering to play songs in the forms of ads.” Unfortunately, Leads continues, “the practice is legal as long as the station makes an on-air disclosure of the label’s sponsorship, typically with an introduction such as ‘And now . . . presented by Arista Records.’”

Garett Michaels, San Diego’s KBZT-FM’s program director admits, “the radio station isn’t playing a song because they believe in it. They’re playing it because they are being paid.’” as much as $60,000 to promote a single record stretching the definition of an ad to the breaking point. 
Avril Lavigne’s “Don’ Tell Me,” for instance enjoyed 109 rotations in one week on Nashville’s WQZQ due to the practice. Sometimes airing 18 times as little as 11 minutes apart. Include in that Sheryl Crow, Black Eyed Peas, Sugababes, Perfect Cirlce and even Aiken’s recent opening act, Cherie! So, let’s not play the high and mighty “real talent comes from real hard work” card anymore, ok. Aiken isn’t the first or only artist caught in the tangled web of the bottom line. So much for short cuts, hey?

I’ve never been more bewildered by an industry’s hypocricy and lack of business savvy in my life. Let’s be honest. Your industry is in major trouble especially since most radio stations are now part of “conglomo” corporations who stamp out clones of everything that may have worked once, forgoing any original talent. I have always had an affinity for radio.

My husband was a DJ in college, and I actually started in college as a communications major fully intending to go on to a career in radio. I was waylaid for other reasons. But, I have lost a great deal of respect for the radio industry because of the hypocrisy and politics. Biting your nose to spite your face is not the smartest way to go. Your refusal to play Clay Aiken’s singles on your radio waves is going to come back to bite all of you in the proverbial ASS.

One more thing to consider. Despite what you may think about Clay fans being estrogen ridden going to concerts in between hot flashes, the majority of his fans fall into the golden demographic. The almighty 18-49 for which you would do anything. So it behooves me to ask how you are letting the recording, television, print, and concert industries get all our bucks.  Are you not aware that “Solitaire” topped CD sales for its first seven straight weeks? His first single, “This is the Night,” broke a 10 year sales record held by Elton John. His first album, “Measure of a Man” sold so quickly that RCA presented Aiken with Double Platinum instead of Single Platinum for what Clive Davis says was the first time he could recall.

Even Aiken’s TV appearances turn into major events. His latest stint on Good Morning America on July 2, 2004 broke the all time record with over 3000 people in attendance. What’s more, when Aiken is on a TV show, the ratings soar. Even Jimmy Kimmel who had little respect for Aiken has seen the light. He had his highest ratings the two times Aiken was on his show. Likewise, Saturday Night Live and Jay Leno enjoyed similar ratings.

The magazine industry too saw the light early. When Aiken is on the cover, they enjoy their highest sales as their zines fly off the rack. And needless to say, so did the concert industry. Aiken is on his third tour, (his first solo tour but second since distancing himself from AI) and by all accounts, he’s doing quite well even selling out several of his east coast venues in a summer where many other concerts are in trouble. His high energy performance, well-respected musicians, and top- notch stage, sound and lighting designers only serve to show off his natural talent as a singer and entertainer. 

The publishing world has got on the band wagon as well agreeing to print over 200,000 copies of Aiken’s soon to be released inspirational book, Learning to Sing. That’s a huge number for a first time, non-fiction novel. Heck, that’s a huge number for any book. First runs usually average between 3,000 and 5,000 copies. What do they know that the radio industry doesn’t? Aiken is enormously popular and a money maker.

Let’s visit the mindless mantra that his voice is better suited for Broadway. Give me a break. That’s Simon Cowell’s shtick. And those of you uttering this mantra are just parroting him. Maybe you are so used to carbon copies that you can’t even think for yourselves anymore. What ever happened to the time when being “out of the box” so to speak, was a great thing in music? Once, you couldn’t be successful if you had the same sound as someone else. PD’s and record execs LOOKED for mavericks who refused to be labeled. When did music fans agree to be spoon-fed copy after copy after copy of musical personas? So what if his voice is suited for Broadway. It’s suited for other music as well, and you would find that out if you just listened to his album and demos.

“Pride goeth before the fall.” If you continue to ignore Aiken, continue to refuse to give Aiken fair airplay you are bound to see all those dollar signs pass you by. It was apparent to Aiken loyalists by the season’s end that Aiken was outgrowing the limitations of AI . In a way, Simon Cowell was right. Aiken didn’t fit the bill. He couldn’t be stereotyped. They couldn’t easily package and market him. Aiken was and is a rare breed who will continue to cut out his own niche in an industry laden with mediocrity. Aiken has moved far beyond American Idol. Why can’t you?

He is just beginning to bloom, just beginning to get a feel for his own footing, trying to understand himself as an artist.  Give him a fair chance. We’ll all benefit from it in the end.
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© Copyright August 20, 2004 Bonnie Lini Markowski. Printer with the permission of the writer.
 
 
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: 8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2010, 11:38:59 PM »
HavinaClayAffair
BONNIE MARKOWSKI: ACHIN' TO HEAR AIKEN
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2004, 08:18:59 PM »   

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WOW!!

Said with passion, conviction and FACTS!!! Far be it from other authors who sometimes choose opinion over FACTS! I have enjoyed other writings from Bonnie in the past regarding Clay but I hope THIS letter gets into the RIGHT hands of people that can GIVE ANSWERS and MAKE a difference!

Nicely said and appreciated!!

Lora-Ohio
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: 8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2010, 11:39:34 PM »
Spikee
BONNIE MARKOWSKI: ACHIN' TO HEAR AIKEN
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2004, 11:24:58 PM »   

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Pamela - I agree with everything Bonnie has to say on this.  The radio industry has lost many listeners because they refuse to play Clay.  I myself listen to Clays CD's in my car.  I usually only put the radio on when other people are in my car.  (Not everyone in my family will listen to Caly over and over and over again.)  Me, I just change to another CD of his (I have a burned CD that I love), and keep on listening to him.  Thanks for posting this here.   :)
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: 8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2010, 11:39:51 PM »
mmclay
Guest
  Clay - Leading The Way!!
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2004, 01:16:26 AM »   

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Wow.........this is an excellent article.   :)

I to have given up listening to the radio.  I listen to my Clay CD's in the car all the time.  I sent an e-mail to a program director in our area and never heard a word back.  :?:  So I won't be listening to them any more. 

Listening to our CD's is much better than waiting and waiting for some DJ to finally play a "true" artists songs!  By the time they all realize it, it will be too late to "jump on the bandwagon" and he WILL have made it without the radio industry and who needs them!!  :!:

You go Clay and continue to lead the way.  So far, you are doing one heck of a job and your fans are all behind you!! :)
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: 8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2010, 11:40:09 PM »
CLAYMATEFL
Guest
  BONNIE MARKOWSKI: ACHIN' TO HEAR AIKEN
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2004, 08:46:00 PM »   

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Great article with a lot of good points.  All I can say is that I think a year from now, maybe sooner, this will be a non-issue for Clay's fans.  The DJ's are going to have to acknowledge all his successes and start playing his songs.  It's gonna happen! :
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: 8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2010, 11:40:37 PM »
IloveclayAW
Guest
  I had no idea this was going on!
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2004, 03:30:07 PM »   

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I noticed I hardly ever heard Clay on some stations, but never on the variety station. This makes me so mad! This article was great. Now I know what is going on. I didn't even know Clay had a new single out. Wonder why. We need to protest! I love Clay!!! : 

 
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: 8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2010, 11:41:26 PM »
swgen
Guest
  BONNIE MARKOWSKI: ACHIN' TO HEAR AIKEN
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2004, 06:18:36 PM »   

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I think we should keep requesting (nicely of course~~)  I have talked to several DJs that say they don't get "that many" requests.  Maybe it's true, but if so, it's because they have made us about give up!  DON"T GVE UP CLAYFANS!!!!!!
Notice (ClayNationNews today)
 
IWCY is now showing up on the AC Hit Predictor, with an impressive score of 89.5 (over 65 is considered top 10 callout potential). It is #2 on the Predictor chart.



Mediabase Report for IWCY
IWCY is #12 on the Taking Off chart with 11 new spins and we're getting enthusiastic feedback from fans in upstate New York, who report hearing IWCY on 100.07 WHUD.

Please start requesting IWCY at your local station whether or not you've heard them play the song. It's been out long enough now that it shouldn't seem like a "fan group effort." Be sure not to call your station more than a few times per week, try to vary the times you call so that you talk with a variety of DJs. Make sure you're actually listening to the station and if you can reference a song they've just played or something the DJ has said, please do. They need to know the requests are coming from their listeners.

You can look up the stations in your area at airplaycentral.com. If you hear IWCY on your local station, or it is featured in a song battle, please contact CNN at cnn@claynationnews.com
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

ClayManiacs.com  |  Archive  |  Media & Appearance Archive  |  Writer's Corner - Fan Essays  |  8/20/04 Bonnie Lin Markowski: Achin to Hear Aiken
 

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