“FM USA” – The NXNE Music Meeting

The Panel:
Moderator Sean Coakley, Songlines
Jim McGuinn, KCMP The Current
Mark Abuzzahab, 93.3 KGSR
Chris Douridas, KCRW
Carmel Holt, WDST

With over 50 interactive presentations and panels at NXNE to choose from this year, the one I attended was “FM USA” – The NXNE Music Meeting; a panel of four FM USA radio programmers provided insight into why a song gets picked or tossed.

Representing stations with a AAA (Adult album alternative) radio format, these programmers have a broad range of playlists consisting of mainstream pop and rock as well as many other music genres such as indie rock, alternative rock, alternative country, jazz, folk, world music and blues.

Moderator Sean Coakley played a variety of current songs (mostly independent artists that he found on the internet). Members in the audience and panel had to score each song ranging from 1 to 10, give a critique and guess who the artist was.

One of the tunes was from Lindsay Buckingham’s soon-to-be-released album Seeds We Sow; some thought the production lacked a more contemporary sound and surprisingly only one panelist recognized the legendary Fleetwook Mac guitarist as being the artist.

“Out All Night” by Zoo Legacy got a better review. One of the panelists, who also places songs for TV and films, said he would consider it for a Showtime TV project airing early next year.

The winning song was by roots act, The Deep Dark Woods – their Americana song scored high by both audience and panel. It was praised for its up beat and feel good vibe, traditional sounds/harmony and live band production.

In total, six songs were reviewed; production quality, lyrical content, hook development, energy level and song genre were hot topics. What was interesting was to see the disparity of ratings between members on the panel; even though they are all coming from the triple-A radio format their preferences for song choice varied considerably.