So you’re at the stage where your new track is ready, you’re happy with it and you want to gain some exposure by getting played on the radio. Where do you start? Who do you contact? If you’re an emerging artist with a great track that’s ready for radio then follow Generator’s top ten tips for targeting regional radio, specialist DJs with ‘free play’ and playlists on national stations.
1. Track selection – whatever genre of music, you want to pick your strongest track. Immediacy can be a deciding factor when DJs listen to tracks. Chris Slade who runs Plugging Company Alchemy Radio speaking at a Generator Panel talked about the cliché ‘don’t bore us get to the chorus’. If you’re targeting mainstream shows make it radio friendly, around 30 secs until the vocal or hook comes in, and around 3-4 minutes in length. This is not applicable for all genres, if you’re targeting alternative and specialist shows you still want to make an impact and the quicker you grab the listener’s attention the more likely you are of keeping it.
2. Timelines – as with press you need to service radio 6-8 weeks before release. If you send your music in the week before, it’s likely it won’t get listened to it until after the song is released and therefore it’s not likely to be played. This will all tie into the overall strategy of your release.
3. Format – what is the best way to send your music in? Each presenter will be different, CDs are less common now but a lot of stations accept them. At a recent Generator panel John Kennedy (XFM) said he prefers to receive a link with the option to download if he likes the track. Soundcloud is a great tool for sending private links.You can also read some great advice on this blog from Sentric Music.
4. Presentation – presenters and producers receive more music than they can listen to so it’s important to present your promo CD in a way that will stand out. 95% of music on radio is playlisted and this is usually through a Radio Plugger but if you don’t have one you can still present promos in the same way to stand a better chance of getting some of that ‘Free Play’. See Tom Robinson’s Blog for advice on how to do this. If you’re emailing then be personal and send a brief paragraph about the track rather than a two page email.
5. Press release – Do you need one? How do you write one? Huw Stephens said at Generator’s The Know How 2011 panel series that he doesn’t read the press release unless he likes the music and then refers to it for factual information he can use if he does play it on air. Obviously the music is most important but this information with your CD/MP3 is still needed. Get in touch for advice on writing press releases.
6. Target the right DJs - It’s a waste of time and money to send your music to everyone in the country who presents a radio show so target the right people. Target specialist stations and DJs who have ‘Free Play’. For example, if your music is more Leftfield then target DJs like Rob da Bank or if it’s more ‘Urban’ then target 1xtra DJs. You can research suitable stations and DJs using this directory.
7. How to contact DJs – if you don’t have an email contact then post CDs to the DJ’s name and address of the station all of which can be found on their website or ring the station and ask about the best way to contact a certain DJ, you can often find email addresses online or dropboxes such as Mike Davies Punk Show or Mista Jam’s Mix Drop Off on Radio 1.
8. Radio Pluggers – If you are looking to get playlisted or break into the commercial radio world then a Plugger can be very beneficial, it’s important to note that this often ties in with a PR campaign, the story and the strategy. Pluggers often have good relationships and connections to the radio world but it can be costly and there’s no guarantee of results. Make sure you check who they’ve worked with before, that they get results and that they can do something you can’t do. It also helps if they are into your music.
9. BBC Introducing - supports ‘unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar musicians’ you can upload your music and it is automatically sent to your local BBC station, if it’s played there it then get’s sent to the 6Music show and from there to Huw Stephens on Radio 1. There are also opportunities to play major festivals, radio sessions and get interviews. Upload here and recommend your music to Tom Robinson's show here.
10. Regional Radio – radio has an important part to play at grass roots level as an artist starts to create a buzz in their region. The North East has BBC Introducing shows at BBC Newcastle and BBC Tees that have session and interview opportunities. There is also student radio, Spark FM in Sunderland, NE1 FM in Newcastle and even though a national station Amazing Radio based in Gateshead have sessions and interviews for emerging artists.