Last year I had the privilege to start co-hosting a radio show with my husband on a local station which has been an amazing experience. A huge benefit is that it's 100% DJ's choice and we don't play any commercial music from the current market. Local stations like this give DJ's the freedom to play what they love, making sure that the underground always has a voice and allows like-minded people to expand their horizons and enjoy something different while offering a platform for "up and coming" talent.
Our show is mostly beats and instrumentals, and one of my favorite things by far is that I have been able to connect with some of the beatmakers that I really admire. The Grammy's might not be calling them (yet) but their stars shine bright in a world that they are constantly influencing. Many of them are students or have full time jobs where nobody there has any idea how talented they are, and they can walk down the street without being recognized, but fans worldwide know their names and are quick to jump on new tracks.
I have a highly addictive personality, so I find something I like and it consumes me. Because of that, I have a growing list of "Beat Crushes" - beatmakers that bring out a song, and I'm pretty sure I'll love it before I even hear it. My Beat Crushes supply the majority of the soundtrack to my life, and I am constantly grateful.
I always try to get permission before I start playing someone's tracks on air which they usually give quite happily, but lots of them are a little surprised that I'm even asking. As far as I'm concerned, making beats is an art - and if you put your time and effort and dreams into something, regardless if you're brand new on the scene or been around for a decade, then the very least I can do is let you know I appreciate it and ask for your permission to share it with whoever's listening...especially if I'm getting it for free!
Sometimes an artist will offer up their masterpiece as a free download and sometimes they ask for a couple of bucks in return. Either way that's entirely their choice and true fans who respect the grind should respect their decision and appreciate their efforts either way. However, it almost feels like we have a growing culture of perceived entitlement, expecting people to work their magic and demanding that they give it to us for free, which seems like a difficult thing to balance.
Take the time to thank your favorite artists. Buy that Digital EP instead of a coffee. If you tune in to any station from around the world (either streaming online or by checking out the DJ's MixCloud shows etc) please let that station know you're out there, you're listening, what your favorite shows are, and that you appreciate what they do!