Getting On The Radio

Nobody just “gets” on the radio anymore. You are “put” on the radio. Gone are the days of sending your mixtape or demo track to the station. No music director is just going to play a track just based off of a CD or MP3 they have on their desk or in their email. The only exception would be if your track is really, really, really good. I mean groundbreaking. You say something no one has ever said before. You are speaking for a voice or community that hasn’t been heard before. You are using a specific sound or instrument that has never been heard before. I’m talking about creating a whole new genre here. I know you think your song is the best thing since sliced bread (and I’m sure it’s great) but chances are, it’s not starting a movement or it would have already.

I realize that not every musician’s goal is to get played on the radio. However, those that do have this desire try desperateley knocking on the wrong doors. Save the gas money from driving to your local radio stations and try these tips instead.

1. Get fans.

Your fans are your number one resource to moving your music. Do you ever hear any acceptance speeches where people thank local radio stations? Hardly. How many times do winning artists thank fans. They should 100% of the time. Without fans it will just be your mom and your significant other showing up at your gigs, commenting on your posts and giving you a grand total of 3 plays on your soundcloud (Hopefully you’re listening back to your own music).

Music directors at radio stations (good ones anyways) are constantly looking for new musicians and local talent. They want to be a part of a success story as much as you do. Numbers aren’t everything, but if a good amount of people are talking about or sharing your music it will catch the ear of a radio station director. You don’t need thousands of worldwide youtube plays, but if the graduating class at a local school is bumping your song at their prom or if everyone at a local bar is always requesting you to play there word is going to get around and someone will notice.

2. Have your music available online.

Simple enough right, but you have no idea how many artists I see perform live and don’t have a particular song or ANY online. Soundcloud, Reverbnation, Bandcamp. These are the most reputable sites to host your music. If you plan on being a one hit wonder, go ahead, just have the one song available and run with it. But, please have it available. If you plan to have a long standing music career have at least 3 songs available in your first year. Sometime after your first year you should have a EP of at least 6 songs available. If you can’t get to this point, stop making music.

Music directors want to see what your about. This is where the quality of your music shines. As cold hearted and number driven as most executives are, they will take a minute (literally) to listen to your music. Your hit will speak for itself. If you have a few other songs that sound like your hit, even if not as good, they can see that you have a particular sound and that you are more likely to be a success story that they want to be a part of. One song that’s similar and second song that shows another side of you is suggested.

3. Have updated pictures of you and your band.

Have you ever seen the faces of Daft Punk? Neither have I, but you have a picture in your head of those helmets when I say Daft Punk. As a matter of fact, you probably already thought about Pharrell’s Grammy hat. If you don’t like how you look, or feel you are not visually friendly, you still have to have a LOOK. You don’t have to spend money on a professional photographer. iPhones take great pictures, and Samsung Galaxys take even better pictures #NoPromo. Brand yourself and have these available online.

If a local radio station is going to take the risk and play your track, they are going to get behind it and you 100%. They want to be the station that broke you first. They want to represent you and your sound. However, these are money making corporations that answer to the people and advertisers. If they want pay you to come out and play at a high school, but you look like you broke out of prison, they are going to hear it from the parents and potential advertisers who have a certain image. This will make them think twice about playing your song. This can be prevented upfront with a clear picture or image of you available. This isn’t to say have a CERTAIN look. If you do look like you broke out of prison, GREAT, they can sell that too geared to a particular audience. The point is, they don’t know if they can’t see for themselves how you fit in the overall image of the station. Save the drama, take some clear pictures.

4. Have a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Yes, I said AND. These are the big three. I don’t care about your tumblr, foursquare, snapchat, or linkedin. Most people are caring less and less about Facebook to tell you the truth. Twitter is the quintessential meter of success. But, but, but… Yes, I know your music is great, but how many times have I heard in the offices of radio and TV, “So, how many Twitter followers do they have?” Now this doesn’t mean you need to buy followers. Your numbers across the board should match each other. Your soundcloud, youtube plays, followers, fans, Instagram likes should all correlate to each other. Label reps and music programmers are not blind and can tell when one count is off.

I’m just telling you to HAVE these accounts at the VERY least, and know what your handle is. You may get a fan who is solely on Twitter, don’t loose them because all you have is a Facebook Fan Page. Instagram is great at offering a closer visual connection to you and your fans. Just have these and know what your handle is and you will see your numbers go up as you continue to progress.

You are not counted out if you have a low following, but they want to see who your audience is and the interactions with them. Pages with 1,000 followers or fans, but only 10 likes per post are a red flag. Are people actually interested in your music? Are people as proud of your new single as your mom is? Also, who is your audience. Are you big in Japan? That’s great, but that won’t get my radio station ratings here. Maybe someone the music director went to high school with likes your page. They are that much more interested in your music now, regardless of how many people you have following you.

5. Have a manager.

If all of this sounds like too much or not worth it to you. Get someone who does care about these things. Find someone who is a bigger fan of you than your mom is. Someone who is willing to make as much of a sacrifice in time and money as you do. This person can assist in booking, scheduling, talking with fans and press. This person needs to be your twin. They should be able to represent you and what you stand for. Pull this person from your group of friends, one of your fans, craigslist, wherever. When you’re starting out, you don’t need a manger who is highly skilled in managing, you need someone who is as committed to the music as you are, but has more time available than you. You can be your own manager, but you better quit any other jobs you have. Spend 50% of your time on music and 50% on managing yourself. If you are not #blessed to be able to leave your “day job” you can have a manager who spends 50% of their time on managing and you spend 50% on your music.

It is, obviously, not necessary to have a manger for your song to be played on the radio. However, it is key to moving on to the next step. When you go to the station to play your track for the first time, how lame does it look to go alone? Even if you are in a band, this person is there to represent all your fans out there. This shows the world that at the very least you have one person who is willing to set aside everything else in their lives to share in this success story with you.

If all else fails, just make a viral video about foxes.