CC the Cat

Amrap Q+A with musician Claire Cotton 'CC The Cat' and Bay FM 99.9's Alasdair Stark

Amrap, 20th January 2017

In this ongoing CBX series, we catch up with amazing Australian broadcasters and musicians to explore community radio's role in supporting Australian music.

Australian music airplay on community radio has reached an all time high of 39%, with 2,000 hours now aired on community radio every day. Thousands of musicians and broadcasters use the CBAA’s Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap) to contribute to these results, with community broadcasters ordering music for airplay from Amrap’s AirIt and promoting artists online through Amrap Pages.

We caught up with a broadcaster and musicians who are taking advantage of community radio’s growing enthusiasm for Australian music.

Australia's premiere female reggae artist CC The Cat (Claire Cottone) is no stranger to the challenges of touring, having played at nearly every major festival across the country. On the road, CC The Cat is backed by an all-star band featuring well-loved Queensland musicians Julia Rose and members of Kingfisha, Bullhorn and Dubmarine. CC The Cat and her bandmates have all used Amrap's AirIt to build their bands’ fanbases and plan national tours - including frequent stops in Byron Bay and on Bay FM's Live and Local.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as an independent Australian musician in getting your music out to the public? Amrap logo

Touring Australia is notoriously difficult because of the size of the country (huge) and the population density (tiny). This makes touring expensive and the return via ticket sales can be small. I usually cover costs only on tour, and that's touring on a mega budget.

Commercial radio is out of reach and Triple J is fantastic but can be hard to break into if your sound does not meet the latest trend. So community radio has really been a lifesaver for me as an independent musician in Australia, and Amrap's services have seen my music played on stations all around Australia and broken into audience I could never have broken into without the AirIt music distribution service.

How important has airplay on community radio been in building your fan base?

It's been crucial. We've had so much exposure and support through community radio, many stations around Australia have really gotten behind our releases, featured us on their shows, flown us in to play at local events, and put us on the map. We appeared in both the Amrap Metro and Regional Charts of most ordered tracks for airplay from AirIt for the first single release off our last album and got featured on a bunch of shows around the country because of that. We also promote our shows to listeners of stations who are loving us through Airit. You just received your latest Amrap Pages report listing stations that recently aired you and promoted you on their station's website.

Are you surprised by the variety and location of the stations playing your tracks?

No, because I know from 10 years experience how awesome Amrap is! It's super cool. For many years now, you have been using Amrap's CD Mailout and AirIt distribution services to get your music out to community radio program makers across the country.

Why would you recommend these services to other musicians?

The Amrap staff has all the networks in place to get your music to the right stations. For a very small fee they package, post and distribute your album to the most appropriate community radio stations through their monthly CD Mailout. The AirIt online music distribution service is totally free and really effective. If you want to get your music heard, tap into Amrap - it's one of the best services for Australian musicians I that know of!

On Sunday afternoons, radio listeners in far northeast NSW's Byron Shire tune in to Bay FM 99.9 for Live and Local, hosted by Alasdair Stark. The upbeat radio program celebrates Byron Bay's vibrant music culture by promoting touring bands and airing new Australian music. Because Byron Bay is firmly placed on Australia's regional touring map, Stark is never short of guests to interview. Acts including Bobby Alu, Beccy Cole, Caravana Sun, Nattali Rize, The Swamp Stompers, Mat Mc Hugh (The Beautiful Girls) and James Reyne have all appeared on Live and Local to give listeners a preview of their upcoming gigs.

How important is Australian music to your listeners in the local Byron Shire area? Alasdair Stark

Because we have a very active live music scene around Byron Bay, I think that Bay FM listeners are quite conscious and discerning about their music choices. Providing a snapshot of that music scene for listeners is what Live and Local is all about. We receive feedback all the time about this; from listeners who phone or text in, or folks that I meet at the gig later on that day. We are very lucky with Bay FM that we don't have a commercial competitor station in Byron Shire. So, for a lot of our listeners, Bay FM is THE radio station.

What is Live and Local's role in supporting Australian music?

Live and Local creates a platform for local and visiting musicians in the Byron Bay area to get radio exposure. I often feature brand new releases by touring artists in my playlist and - if possible - a live-to-air session with the touring act. These sessions nearly always include stripped-back, live acoustic, demo, or even newly mastered versions of brand new - often previously unheard - material.

Meanwhile, listeners get a unique and up-to-the-minute taste of live music being played in Byron Shire, through previews of forthcoming (and reviews of recent) live gigs at all types of music venues across the region.

Why do you volunteer to make an Australian music program on community radio?

Simple answer: I love it! It gives me a huge buzz every week, to go out sourcing brand new music and then sharing it with the Bay FM listeners. Being relatively new to the area, I also found early on that my involvement with Bay FM and the local musicians' network reinforced and accelerated a feeling of being grounded in the region, giving me a huge sense of connection with the community - quite literally - both on - and off-air. What are some of the challenges you face when tracking down new Australian music for airplay? I think the biggest challenge is sourcing quality material, fit for airplay – especially since very often I want to be playing new songs before anybody else!

You are among over 3,000 community broadcasters who order thousands of new Australian music tracks from Amrap’s AirIt every year. How does AirIt make it easier for you to put your program together?

I use AirIt mostly for sourcing quality new recordings from artists who are visiting Byron and/or due to appear on the show, especially if I don’t know the artist personally, or if I know there’s something brand new out there that I haven’t yet grabbed elsewhere.

Using Airit downloads, CDs and track notes is very useful when preparing shows for upcoming interviews with visiting artists. By looking at the track notes, I know that I have sourced THE latest release from the musician or the newest single from a forthcoming album. Track notes provide enough information for me to be able to speak about each track on air with confidence.

Hundreds of radio programs including Live and Local use Amrap Pages to log their airplay lists, find online content to match the music they air and promote Australian artists through social media, station websites and mobile phones. How has Amrap Pages helped you to promote the music you play to your listeners?

For me, the benefits are twofold. Firstly, I feel it’s essential to share the details of all music that I’ve played with Bay FM listeners – especially since so much of what I try to include will be very new to most people. Secondly, I also feel it’s important for the artists to know that that their music is getting airtime.

Amrap Pages is simple, quick and easy to use. I think it’s also useful that the pages automatically add links to info pages and videos, in order to help listeners discover more about the music I’ve played.  

Find heaps of australian musician for airplay at and check out Live and Local at

This article was originally published in the August 2016 edition of CBX Magazine.

Australian musicians can track airplay and discover programs using Amrap Pages using Amrap’s Airplay Search here. Community radio program makers get your Amrap Page here.

Australian artists apply to add your music to Amrap’s Airt here. Community radio program makers and music coordinator get music for free here on Amrap’s AirIt.

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Behind the Music celebrates the ways that community radio broadcasters and Australian musicians use Amrap to champion Australian music on air and online.


Find out more about how community radio program makers are supporting Australian musicians in this ongoing Q&A series by Amrap.


Almost five million Australians listen to community radio every week and since the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap) started Australian music airplay on community radio has increased by 7% to a new average of 39%.