You have great music but don’t know how to get it played on the radio? Here are a few steps you can follow to make that happen!
Radio stations receive hundreds (if not thousands) of songs daily, so it’s very important to make a good first impression!
Where do you/a fan/a radio director go to find out more about an artist? The internet! So make sure your social media pages and/or website are clean, active, consistent and up-to-date. No need to be present everywhere, just select the platforms which fit you best.
A picture can say a thousand words, so make the most of it! People already know what you want them to hear, but what do you want them to see (logo, artwork, content, clothing)? A solid visual identity not only makes your project look professional but also memorable!
Regardless of how long you have been an artist, it is essential to have a brief document, easy to share, which highlights your story and includes: a compelling biography, pictures, tour dates, features in articles and media mentions. In short, anything that makes you look good.
Once your profile is ready, prepare your music. The quality of your song reflects how serious you are about your project, so make sure it is on point.
Radio hosts are not label managers looking for demos to sign but. They want music which matches quality standards. They also receive submissions from major labels/PR agencies, so to compete prove your music is worth being played too! Don’t hesitate to get help from a sound engineer for the mixing/mastering of your song.
Correctly fill in the metadata (digital information) of your song (title, performer, author, composer, producer, ISRC code). Every detail counts to get your music on air. If all the information is already there, the radio host will be able to play the song directly on air.
Like many of us, radio stations prefer to receive links, with the option to download songs, rather than email attachments. A private Soundcloud link is a great option. It makes their lives easier, thus happier, so might as well get them in a good mood before hearing your song!
Next step is to decide which stations to target. In other words, which radios are the most likely and suitable for your music.
“Commercial radio” vs. “Non-commercial radio”. Non-commercial radio encompasses all radios that don’t play commercials (ads). As an upcoming artist it is a good place to start because they are generally run by friendly music lovers, looking for new artists. Getting airplay on these kinds of radios is a great way for commercial radios to take notice of your music. Did you know that The Cure, Sonic Youth, and The Smiths' first airplays were on college radios!
Considering a radio’s audience and music genre is key to optimize your efforts and get heard by the right people. No need to reach out to a Jazz radio if you are a rapper for instance.
Think local before global. Why so? Well, many radio stations often prefer to push local acts, so use that “local” card at your advantage!
Once you have figured out which radio stations you want your music to be played on, find out how to contact them.
Look for the contact information of specific people who work at the radio station: the music director, station manager, program director, production manager, or DJ - the ones in charge of music programming (receiving, selecting, and playing music). May it be in person, through social media or via email, direct personal connections are gold and very valuable to develop your career. Remember music is not just about what you do in the studio, it’s also a community!
If finding a person's email doesn't seem like the best way to go, look up and write to the station’s website or social media pages. They will b able to redirect you and give you guidelines on how to submit your music. Some stations even have online submission forms. For example, BBC Introducing asks you to create an artist profile to upload your songs to their system: Introducing Uploader.
If there is one universal truth, it’s that nobody likes receiving a copy-pasted message. How would you react if somebody sent you “Hi Mark”, and that your name is Julie? Radio stations are the same. Each one is unique so customize your submissions! Keep it personal and short.
Once your song is sent, give them some time to get back to you. No need to harass them with follow-ups. Once you consider the right amount of time has passed, reach out to them with a friendly email. Do not be aggressive or accusatory, simply ask if they heard your song.
Sending music to radio stations is similar to getting signed to a record label. It’s all about patience, dedication and accepting rejection. Being rejected is an integral part of every artist’s career, so don’t overthink it. Perseverance is key to succeed in the music industry. Never quit and your airplay will follow. If you want to accelerate the process, you can hire a radio plugger. Thanks to his long list of contacts, he will act as a mediator between you and the radio stations. On your own or with a team, you can make it On Air, so do not dismiss any opportunity!