This week we are chatting with Cozmic Debris, the renown host from Music Mafia Radio, about his experience with music and radio, what makes him tick and what’s going on behind the scene at Music Mafia Radio.
MT: Hi Coz, could you tell our readers about you and what you do?
COZMIC: I decided to answer this question last, because it is a great question. Just exactly who am I and what do I do? I’ve been entranced with music since the age of five. I’ve been a performer, composer, arranger and orchestrator. I’ve had the privilege of rubbing elbows with some of the greatest musical minds of my generation. I’ve been in and out of the business for over four decades. About two and half years ago, I made the decision to get back into the business in a way unlike ever before.
Cozmic Debris is a blogger, social media influencer and on-air personality at Music Mafia Radio. I originally started the whole Cozmic Debris thing as a platform to highlight and promote great independent music, and it has grown far beyond my wildest dreams. I find myself now not only promoting independent music but fighting for justice in the industry for the musicians that are its backbone. You can find my blog at http://cozmicdebris.net and I can be heard every Tuesday and Thursday night at 8pm Eastern on https://musicmafiaradio.net .
MT: When did you start hosting shows on Music Mafia Radio and what motivated you to do it?
COZMIC: I started in August of 2017 with Music Mafia Radio. At the time, Rick Landstrom was the only one doing live shows and I was a huge fan of the station and its format. I was toying around with the idea of doing a music showcase podcast but realized the licensing cost of doing one correctly and legally was prohibitive. I saw the opportunity to get on the air live promoting music would allow me the same end result as the podcast.
MT: Did you have prior experience in radio before that?
COZMIC: I had no experience on-the-air prior to joining Music Mafia Radio. However, I was able to pull from my experience as a musical performer to come up with a personality. I also spent some years right out of college behind the scenes, helping the local FM radio Program Director and serving as a musical mentor for a local college radio station.
MT: What is your first radio-related memory?
COZMIC: My mother had the radio on every morning during breakfast when I was a child. We had a local AM radio station and the DJ lived just up the street from us. It was small town New England, and the song selection leaned towards a contemporary easy listening format.
MT: Do you do live shows, or do you pre-record?
COZMIC: My shows are live. I feel pre-recorded music shows come off as canned or over-produced at times. They also take away the ability to interact with the audience in real time. That being said, I have toyed with the idea of producing some pre-recorded news and editorial shows that focus on the topics influencing the current music industry.
MT: Do you have live acts during your shows?
COZMIC: I’m not set up to do live music the correct way in my studio. However, I’ve started putting together a remote-studio-in-a-bag and have toyed with the idea of doing live remote broadcasts of artists performing. Stay tuned.
MT: Do you do artists interviews?
COZMIC: I try to do a couple of live interviews a month. Because of my background and experience, I tend to dig more into the composition, production and promotional side of things. I love to talk to artists about their recording techniques!
MT: Is your radio purely internet or do you also air on FM/AM? Where can we find you?
COZMIC: We are purely an internet station and can be found at https://musicmafiaradio.net . We do live shows Monday through Friday at 8:00pm Eastern, along with a live show every Tuesday and Thursday at 10pm by my good buddy, TB.
MT: Is the radio in a special studio or are you running it from home?
COZMIC: I have renovated a room in the house for all my radio and production work.
MT: How much time do you spend preparing your shows?
COZMIC:It depends. For my interviews and debut shows, I generally research the acts I am interviewing or debuting, so I can do them justice and know the important points to cover. For my general rotation shows, I used to pour over the library for hours, putting together what I considered to be the “perfect” playlist for my show. For the last year, those open rotation shows have pretty much been programmed on the fly, reflecting whatever mood I want to convey.
MT: Do you play unsigned music only or also commercial music?
A: We are an exclusively indie station.
MT: What kind of music do you play?
COZMIC: Music Mafia Radio has built its reputation on playing music of all genres and styles, which is what initially drew me to the station. Our philosophy is that we want to showcase good music, regardless of style. By not pigeonholing ourselves to a particular style of music, it lends much more freedom for the DJ’s to mix up their shows and provides the listeners with a unique listening experience.
MT: What kind of music do you like?
COZMIC:I am very much like Music Mafia Radio- I don’t favor a particular style of music. I grew up listening to big band and classical music, found rock music in my teens and was exposed to a wide variety of music during my time at Berklee. As a musician, I find myself drawn to well written music of all styles. As a listener, I tend to be listening to everything going on behind the melody, picking out the layers of sound that exist within the music.
MT: How do you find the music you play?
COZMIC: When I have time, I scour social media to find new music, usually relying on Twitter to take me on music listening adventure. I call these my “gold mining expeditions”, because I’m looking for that next shiny nugget. However, more often then not these days, I am relying on the music submitted to Music Mafia Radio, simply due to the time constraints associated with paying the bills.
MT: Do you have sponsors? How is the radio funded?
COZMIC: At this time, we do not have sponsors, and the station is funded out-of-pocket. This is deliberate on our part- we wanted to build the station and build the listener base organically. This approach has worked, and we are now to the point where we will start looking for sponsors in the coming months. However, we are going to be very picky about the sponsors we take on. We’re not interested in the typical corporate sponsors. Instead, we will approach sponsors who have a connection to the independent music world- studios, production companies, publicity agencies and the such. We feel the independent music movement is only going to be successful if everybody is all-in to build the community from within, and our sponsorship philosophy hopes to build and strengthen the larger community.
MT: Could you tell us about your typical radio day?
COZMIC: My typical radio day? In a word- very busy. The time I spend on-air is just a fraction of the time I spend working on Music Mafia Radio. I’m fortunate to work with an incredible staff who shares the same passion for indie music. My behind the scenes roles are primarily focused on stream programming and website maintenance. I’m constantly looking for ways to tweak the stream that plays when we are not live and keeping it current with the new artists we are constantly adding to the library. I also have the pleasure of reviewing just about every submission received by the station, which allows me to hear a wide variety of new music on an almost daily basis. Rick Landstrom (the owner of MMR) and I are also bouncing around a ton of ideas with the staff about new things we can incorporate into the station. Getting on the air is probably the easiest part of the job.
MT: What is your feeling about streaming platforms, like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc.?
COZMIC:Oh, how we have gone around and around about this over the months! I see the on-demand streaming services as a necessary evil for musicians in the current music ecosystem. Everything from booking live performances to getting commercial radio airplay is influenced by the number of hits a musician receives on the streaming services. That being said, I do not view them as being a permanent fixture in the industry. To date, nobody has been able to turn a profit with the business model, and a number of big players in the technology world have already closed up shop. And while companies, such as Apple and Google, can hide the losses deep within their financial reports and absorb the costs, a time will come where the bleeding will become intolerable. When you factor in the proposed rise in royalty rates aimed directly at on-demand streaming, the price point required of consumers could rise to a level where most tune out.
MT: How much presence do you have on social media? Do you think it's important to be there and what do you do to promote your radio?
COZMIC: My personal presence on social media ebbs and flows, but the station is fortunate to have some great ladies behind the scenes that do a fantastic job of maintaining our social media. We have very active Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and are constantly looking at ways to leverage social media for even more exposure. I do believe it is a necessary part of what we do, and the challenge is finding the right angles that appeal to fans and listeners.
MT: What advice would you give to unsigned artists who would like to submit to your radio?
COZMIC: Understand that we receive dozens of submissions every week, many of which are good enough for broadcast. By contrast, we add a small percentage of those submissions to our library in any given month. My advice is to be persistent and make sure you are putting your best foot forward by submitting the music that is the best representation of your sound.
MT: What advice would you give to unsigned artists for their career?
COZMIC: The persistence I spoke of earlier is the key. The industry is wide open these days and it is easy to get discouraged. Don’t allow yourself to question your talent or ability. My second piece of advice to any artist is to have that one person who is qualified to be brutally honest with you about your music. Find a set of experienced ears you can trust and take their advice and feedback without question.
MT: Do you have any issues with the world of unsigned music, or the world of internet radios, things that bugs you and/or you'd like to talk about?
COZMIC: I have two pet peeves. The first is the inclination of artists to make their music available for free. While I get the potential promotional value of doing this, it creates an environment where the consumer has an expectation that they should never have to pay for music. Recorded music should always come at a price and it should speak for itself in a way that influences people to pay for it.
My second pet peeve is the proliferation of pirate internet radio stations. It is relatively inexpensive to start an internet station. Many set up shop and play music without artists seeing a single penny in revenue, and in some cases, they have the gall to charge artists to play their music. Many artists are willing to turn a blind eye to them, thinking that any spotlighting of their music is a good thing, and I get the thought process there. But from a broadcaster’s perspective, these stations make it difficult for licensed stations to gain a substantial listening base. Until the industry consolidates and eliminates these pirate broadcasts, independent internet radio will never see the level of success necessary to build positive momentum in the marketplace.
MT: Any band/artist that has impressed you last year that you would like people to know about?
COZMIC: I can’t possibly single out one artist. Over the last year, I have experienced a ton of great new music.
MT: Any plans for Cozmic Debris and Music Mafia Radio in 2019? Or beyond?
COZMIC: We’ve been spending the beginning of 2019 working to solidify the things we already have in place, strengthening the foundation of things to come. Rick Landstrom and I are honored to be presenting awards at the 2019 ISSA Awards Show in Atlanta in August. Music Mafia Radio has a few things that we’re working on for 2019, most of which are in the development stage at this time. There may be a surprise or two in the coming months, but for right now, we are happy to continue building on what we already offer.
On the Cozmic Debris front, I’d like to find the time to blog more, find even more incredible indie music and become a trusted voice of reason in the industry. Of course, I want to continue taking the mic at Music Mafia Radio and turning the world on to more incredible independent music!
LInks to Cozmic Debris and Music Mafia Radio