How To Get Radio Airplay

radio airplay


How to get radio airplay? I can tell you that was the first question on my mind when I was near to finalizing the production of my first single. This is where belief in your creation can waver, when your rational mind starts throwing doubt about:

"there are millions of songs out there", 
"I'm competing against established stars", 
" the DJs don't know who I am".

This is when you need to hold firm and BELIEVE.

"Hey there are thousands of radio stations out there"
"There are radio stations specializing in new indie music"
"I've come this far I can't stop now"

Once you are at this point you are ready to roll.


How to Get Radio Airplay

Let's start with the main radio station types out there.
  • There are the big national and international stations whose playlists are pretty much dictated by their big clients
  • Other FM stations that my be monitored by the charting companies
  • FM stations un-monitored
  • Internet Radio stations monitored / un-monitored
  • College Radio
  • Community Radio
So right away we can see there is no need for reliance on the big stations to get exposure initially. So, how to get radio airplay depends on your objective and your status. In this blog I am going to assume 1) you are not already a superstar and that most of the marketing effort is being carried out by the artist/band 2) the main objective is to just get airplay.

The Cold Call

This is always an option and I found that a two pronged approach is best for efficiency rather than doing everything yourself.  As with ALL marketing some things you can do cost nothing other things need you to invest some cash.
As an Indie I did not have time to collate and send out mass emails to hundreds of radio stations who probably have spam filters on. You have to do a bit of research, but I start out with a campaign with one of the music promotion service companies out there. This does not cost an arm and a leg and the better ones will usual include a mail shot to hundreds of DJs and radio stations. This leaves time to do some specific and more personal cold calling to radio stations. This will be to either niche radio stations that I know about or radio stations that I know play my genre. This makes it easier to be relevant when you make contact.

Not all stations have submission pages. For example, if you do an internet search for, say, 'submit music' a lot of stations may not come up as a 'hit'. I found an alternative approach more useful which was to use Twitter. Do a search on Twitter for radio stations in your genre and 'follow' them. Then, when you have your marketing hat on you now have a 'database' to start from.

Time is precious, so this approach enables you to a) see if there is any activity on Twitter (when last did they tweet, no activity for months would put them way down on my list). Also, there will usually be a link to their website on their profile. From there you can see if they have submission or contact details. In many cases it is just a contact / message page. But don't let this stop you as I have had success from just sending a message. Remember there is competition for good new music.

I use links in my messages not attachments as this is quicker for sending messages and easier for the recipient to preview and download if interested. Use whatever cloud based storage is appropriate e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. These should be links to, the song, cover art, website if available. If you have these links on a document, then. it is easy to cut and paste these into the messages.

Paid Radio Airplay

This is another way to get radio airplay and using this option will depend on your budget, objectives and timelines. It does work however, this can be fraught with danger. Not physical, but the spend my hard earned money with nothing in return type of danger, as I have found to my cost. This option doesn't need to blow the marketing budget. The services / stations are actively looking for Indie submissions and will have several promotion packages available one likely to suit your budget..

Many services advertise radio spins, radio promo, guaranteed radio airplay but there is an element of trust when procuring these services as there are those who are quite willing to take your money for minimal or no return. At the same time, there are some really good services out there and below are the things I look for in order to reduce the reliance on trust. If you can tick the boxes on most of these, then, it's a good start in ensuring you will receive the service you expect.
  • Do they have a twitter @handle
  • Have they posted recently? When was the last time they tweeted
  • Do they offer to tag you in a post when the song is playing (check their posts for other artists)
  • Will they actively promote / mention your song? (check their Twitter and Instagram feed for other artists)
  • Do they offer you the schedule for the spins? (which show, how many times a day).
  • Do they mention the artist or just include the song on rotation? (this depends on what exposure you are looking for)
  • Are their shows available for download e.g. on their website, Mixcloud, Spreaker etc?
  • Do they offer proof of delivery?
  • Are the reviews good? What are other artists / producers saying? (it's unlikely you will be the first to use them)
I am not saying that everything listed above must be in place but, in my experience, the best services will have a tick against most of the above.

Check out these examples ( I have no stake in these services or receive any remuneration from them, only that I have used them successfully for my genre).

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