How to do radio promotion

Intelligent radio promotion for indies

Maybe you are thinking, my music is not for radio, thus it makes no sense to invest in promoting it to radio. Maybe you are thinking that radio promotion is only affordable and possible for major labels, or that only commercial music is played on the radio? In that case, you couldn’t be more wrong. 

With a growing digitalization of the music industry, and with the help of new technologies, the possibilities of getting played on the radio have never been bigger. 

For long enough radio data has mainly been financially accessible for major labels and their teams. However, radio airplay data became accessible with WARM [World Airplay Radio Monitor], the platform that allows everyone to monitor any song’s radio airplay, globally. WARM monitors +29,000 radio channels across 169 countries. This is twice as much as Radio Monitor, Mediabase, Musictrace, and BMAT, combined. 

WARM focuses on monitoring as many relevant radios as possible, which includes large commercial radios as well as specialist and genre-specific radios. Moreover, WARM monitors noncommercial radios too, such as college and campus channels – we have even compiled airplay charts with this data.

WARM’s detailed coverage of monitored radio has allowed the independent sector to quickly spot new market opportunities, emerging fan bases, as well as identify the most important gatekeepers and tastemakers around the world. 

You don't need to win your home market to be successful on radio

Major labels have had a dominant presence in the music industry in regards to how one “works” a record. Most commonly an upcoming artist needs to win their home market first before they can gain visibility abroad, however this way of thinking is a thing of the past.

With the help of music streaming services and their algorithms, music is more country-agnostic than ever before. Nowadays, a click alone can make songs globally accessible to music consumers, and that’s also important, to gatekeepers at radio stations. Let’s say, if you are a rock band from Iceland, you could easily have much more success on rock radio outside of Iceland; a French indie band could be more successful on the radio in Canada than in France, and a Spanish band could spread their music faster in Latin America than in Spain itself. Nevertheless, wherever the success happens, in order to access their radio airplay, a radio monitoring platform with a global and large coverage of radios is needed. And this is exactly what WARM does. 

Most radio monitoring services primarily focus on large commercial radios only, and especially radios where there is a rate/value attached to it, determined by the local PRO/CMO. 

In the UK for instance, PRS has rates on 190 radio channels, meanwhile WARM monitors 1,100 radios in this country alone (54 of which are college/campus radios).

The size matters, but not the way you think

It is very common that everyone wants their music to be played on the biggest radios, that is understandable. Nonetheless a lot of independent labels and their artists should consider focusing their promotion on smaller and more niche radios. The smaller the radio, the more independent their mindset is. For example, if you are trying to get your music on BBC1, you are competing with everyone else, and especially the 3 majors, Universal, Warner and Sony Music. However, if finally getting airplay on BBC1, you will most likely get sporadic spins. In order to get regular rotation on this type of radio, the station needs to first get solid feedback on your songs; but then you will still be competing with other artists who most likely have bigger marketing budgets (because, once again, of their major labels).

A good alternative in this type of case would be to look into specialist radios. Indeed, with specialist and college radios it is often much easier to get through to the curators and gatekeepers - communication with them is accessible, giving you more time to pitch your record or artist. So as a rule of thumb, it is much easier to break an artist on the radio when focusing on smaller stations and gathering support from multiple gatekeepers and curators (rather than a few spins on one big radio). In order to be successful with this strategy, you need to invest time contacting and pitching to the right gatekeepers DIY method, while keeping your message personal. Work smarter, not harder - it could very well be worth your while! 

If you have the budget for it, you can also hire a professional radio promoter, this can be very rewarding as they often know exactly how to pitch your music. 

On WARM you have a good overview of respected radio promoters across different genres and countries such as: Your Army, Distorted, Listen Up and Concrete promo, just to name a few.


Below you will find some links to some very cool independent radios.

Overview of the best US college radios

Dublab radio, Los Angeles (USA)

This Los Angeles based non-profit radio was founded in 1999 with the intent to cultivate and promote musical curiosity, experimentation and inclusivity. Dublab has over 300.000 monthly listeners, and affiliate stations in Germany, Japan, Spain and Brazil. Listen here 

NTS radio, London (UK)

This radio was founded in 2011 by Femi Adeyemi (part of the founding team of Boiler Room). Adeyemi started the radio with £5000 and a big passion for college and pirate radio, he wanted to create an alternative to the homogenous radio climate. NTS now has 1,5 million monthly listeners, and has live stations in London, Manchester, Los Angeles and Shanghai. Listen here

Other cool radios

Monitor Your Artist's Radio Airplay