Goodbye Payola:DeliRadio’s Brilliant Idea


Has a DecidedlyUn-ValleyStart-Up Solved the 70 Year Conundrum that the Tech and Media Giants Would Not: Easy, Effective Music Promotion forAny Music Act?

Moses Avalon

It happens to me about three times a year. I’ll get an urgent email: someone has created the grand unified solution for the woes of the music business.

It usually ends in disappointment. Either I’ve already heard something similar. Or, there is a very good reason why this “brilliant idea” won’t work– they didn’t know about mechanical royalties, or some such oversight. We part friends, usually.

This year that pattern was interrupted– in a good way.

During the 2012 NARM conference I saw a message on Twitter from Wayne Skeen, CEO of a small California start up called, DeliRadio. I’d had their mobile app for a few months already; promising idea, but not much traction. When I reached out Wayne did not lead off with telling me he had “all the answers.” In fact, he was looking for a few.

Over the next few months I dug deep into DeliRadio’s business model as well as their terms of service agreement (since amended with a little help from yours truly). In a word, I was blown away by this platform’s potential. DeliRadio could greatly reduce the major labels’ (and indie labels’ for that matter) dependence on iTunes as a retail platform as well as enhance artists’ reach beyond the need for radio promoters. For the first time in the internet age any listener can discover new music in an organic way that makes sense.

Already it has attracted lots of high level Heritage acts, like Steve Winwood, Blondie, Twisted Sister, They Might Be Giants and newer contenders, OK GO, Pretty Lights, Beach House, Silversun Pickups, Sleigh Bells and My Morning Jacket. They see DeliRadio as a dead-simple way to promote shows and sell product while paralleling or even sidestepping more “conventional” pipelines.


You’re sitting on your couch thinking, “I want to hear something new and I don’t want to travel far or sift though myriad links on Facebook. I want to hear live music that is new, undiscovered, close to home and great. And goddammit I want it tonight!”

Tall order?

Boot up DeliRadio on your laptop or via a mobile smart phone app; give it a radius around your location (5 miles, 10 miles, etc) and a time frame (tonight, one week, 2 weeks, a month, etc). In seconds it will populate a playlist of every touring act within those parameters.

You can listen to the play-list, make it genre specific, skip as much as you want, and when your ears perk up with a favorite – one click and you’re looking at that artist’s tour schedule, bio, pictures, videos, sharing options and of course, music.

You can stream and/or buy tracks or tickets to any of their shows. Like what you hear and want more: you can add that artist to your own personal stations and cyber stalk them. (And this is ultimately why DeliRadio might also be a Spotify/MOG challenger: the play-lists you hear are packed with acts that are accessible.)


Like many men of inspiration Wayne didn’t believe he had created anything invasive; he saw DeliRadio merely as a tool to drive more people to artists’ live shows. Nothing wrong with that, but quite limiting for a technology that can literally create new fans out of thin air and unify several music sales platforms at once.

“Wayne,” I told him, “Using DeliRadio for just selling tickets is like inventing Cold Fusion and using it to fix flat tiers.”


I’m sure, just like rounded corners and a touch-screen seem the obvious way to design a smart phone now that Apple has created a standard, so too someday someone will realize that promoting new music (tickets or recordings) has a direct relationship to immediate needs, rather than long-term necessity.

Record Labels realized this in the 1960’s. They knew that buying a 12″ album was mostly a tactile sale: hear it, want it, touch it, buy it, formula. But, that idea was neutered with the death of the biggest retailers of physical CDs. Spotify has brought back some of that spontaneity with the “buy now on iTunes” button, but you still have to know what you are looking for and the ease of discovering new music on these services has been rightly criticized.

DeliRadio offers something unique to radio: the ability to discover an actvia proximity; where the play-list is controlled by the listener (as opposed to a program director twice their age) and with accessible acts you can see tonight.

With the 100s of complex ideas I’ve reviewed in consulting practice for over a decade, DeliRadio is that paragon game-changing example of genius in simplicity.

No payola, no cronyism, no pay for play. A simple way to marry music to fans based not on “lifestyle” but on immediate desires.

Obvious, now that it’s been executed.

Sometimes to light our way we don’t need a cell that converts carbon into electricity and feeds a glass globe with a filament excited by particles.

Sometimes inspiration is as simple as saying, “We need a light so we can see in the dark.”

Mo Out

If you’re an artist, click here to Get Started on DeliRadio NOW.

6 responses to “Goodbye Payola:DeliRadio’s Brilliant Idea”

  1. Neel says:

    This sounds like a good model.

    The only thing is are you limited to touring acts in your search?
    I get their thought process and how that is a good filter.

    • Moses Avalon says:

      Well, I wouldn’t exactly call that a “limitation.” Most of the bands and/or artists that have commercial music are also touring. However, you don’t have to be touring to be on DeliRadio. That’s my point. It’s designed as touring radio but you can use it as your own personal store and sell music for zero fee. That beats the crap out of iTunes.

      • Neel says:

        I re-read and I got your point.

        I agree, that sure beats iTunes.

        Thanks for this info and tip. I will be passing along this info to my crew.

  2. David Cole says:

    I just visited and tested out DeliRadio’s website. The home page spontaneously attempted to load local gigs but (after about 3 minutes of waiting for the twirling circle) I just clicked on San Francisco under “My Stations” on the right bar. It did a good job loading all the SF gigs coming up in the next couple days, and I really like that I can just click on any band and then click “Play Artist” to hear their sound. It even let me advance the track to get past intro, and select from whatever tracks they have posted. I see genre, photos, all the info is really nice. The only downer for me was that the player takes quite awhile to start the song, like 30 seconds on average. My internet connection is about 24 megabits d/l so I don’t think the bottleneck is with me. This is a great angle on local music, so I hope it’s successful and grabs hold.

  3. Craig says:

    There’s another similar idea called Timbre that I’ve been using in the NE. I share the belief that the connection to the artist can keep burning the ember of the music soul through this crazy time. Tech often swings on a pendulum – what is possible technologically drives the agenda for a while, until what we really want becomes possible and then tech delivers us that. I’m hopeful that this too will cycle like that!

  4. Mr. Moses!

    I joined ’em! Since I’m recording new stuff again (and hopefully gigging with it, if not just making youtube videos or stream live when I can), I’d like to get my recordings ‘out there’ the best way possible. I’m learning to trust your judgement, as I’ve been reading your books (bought all 4! I just wish your quesions/answers book was on kindle like the other 3).. Thanks Brother Moses! 😀

    -Stan Halaby II, saxophonist/keyboardist/vocalist

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