Much like hiring a publicist or PR firm to get your music noticed — hiring a radio promoter like our pal Shil Patel can drastically increase your chances of getting heard on the airwaves.
In our interview with Shil, he breaks down what his day-to-day as a radio promoter looks like. He shares the components of a campaign, how he gauges if the campaign is successful, the hidden benefits of running a radio campaign, and some of his best advice to up-and-coming musicians.
Yes, you can do it yourself, but in the same vein as the PR world, radio promoters have spent years building personal relationships with contacts at radio stations and know where to target your music for the best possible return. Program Directors and Music Directors are far more likely to listen to a record sent to them via an established promoter versus a cold call from a new artist.
Having said that, it’s not impossible, so here is a general guide to the process if you’re wanting to roll up your sleeves and take on some DIY radio promo.
1. Compile a list of targeted radio stations and shows.
Choose stations that fit your music sonically, are in your area local market, or are where you are touring. Go to each station’s website and find the station’s music submission guidelines. If you can find an artist that plays similar music and find out where they are being played, that’s a great place to start.
2. Set up a tracking system.
You’ll need to keep track of who, where, and when you sent your music and press kits. A simple spreadsheet works fine.
3. Call in advance and establish a relationship with the music director.
Calling in will let you talk up your band and music. This is what professional radio promoters do for labels, and you’re up against them. The key to getting your music in rotation is for you or your representative to build a personal relationship with the music director of the radio station or host of the show you’re targeting. Although, if you can get a friend or someone working with you on the music to make the call, this will be even more effective — it looks more professional if you can make it appear that you have a team in place.
4. Prepare your music.
For best results, make high-quality MP3s and WAVs of your music to send to them. Many stations have format requirements that will be listed on their website, but feel free to ask on the phone if you get through.
5. Prepare your bio.
Radio stations are not like journalistic outlets. They only need the most basic information about who you are but you still should share a short version of your story. Pay attention to their submission guidelines and tweak the materials that you send them accordingly.
5. Submit your materials.
If you contacted the station and they told you to send in your CD, write “SOLICITED MATERIAL” on the outside of the envelope so they know they requested it. Otherwise, send your music the way that they requested it. If you are touring in the station’s area, make sure that they know that — in-studio opportunities are extremely valuable to build your audience in any given market.
Make sure any email / snail mail correspondence includes how they can contact you, not only on email, but if they want to call to get in touch.
6. Call and verify that they received your materials.
Call your contact at the station to verify that they received your music, if they don’t get back to you. This is another opportunity to talk more about your music and upcoming shows. Ask when they’ll listen to it and consider it for rotation. Note this date in your tracking system. If they didn’t receive it, resend it to them.
7. Follow up to verify it was added to the rotation.
Call your contact again a few days after they said they’d listen to it and find out if your music was added to the rotation. Note that being added to the rotation does not necessarily mean you will get played — it’s usually up to the DJs to decide when to play the songs. It’s likely you won’t know if your music was played unless you listen to each station or they keep a log at their website.
8. Keep calling back or e-mailing to verify it was added to the rotation until you get an answer.
Polite persistence works, and you should “go to a no” because the repeated contacts can make sure that they give your music a listen.
9. If you get added, announce it on your social media and send a thank you to the radio station.
Getting added to a radio station’s playlist is a great thing to share on social media (be sure to tag the station / DJ where possible).
Don’t forget to send a thank you to the radio station, and keep that station and the contacts you made there on a list because they are the most likely places to play your next release. Once you’re “in” you can build on that with later releases.
How to Get Paid:
College radio stations do pay the composition PROs (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) to play their music. Also many college radio stations stream, and thus generate sound-recording PRO royalties with SoundExchange.
Make sure that you register with both a composition PRO and SoundExchange in order to get the royalties that you’re owed.
Credit to Music Radar