Submitting your music to radio
I recently did a short presentation at a London music & media conference organised by my friends at AStepFWD and the one section of my presentation that was most specifically commented on was about submitting music to radio.
The reality is that how you present yourself and your music to radio stations and/or presenters is vitally important if you want your music to reach a wider audience.
You may say well that’s obvious but you’d be surprised how some artists present their music to others and then wonder why nothing happens! I also run a small record label and I regularly receive CDRs with unreadable marker pen scrawled across them and a crumpled up bit of paper with a hard to read hand written note, sometimes not even saying who it was from and with no contact details – and I know that the same thing happens with radio stations and presenters.
So, here’s what I shared at the conference, plus some additional thoughts and tips. At this point I must acknowledge two people. Firstly, my friend and DJ/journalist Mike Rimmer for his input primarily via a brilliant blog he originally posted way back in 2011 called “How to submit music to media” which was crammed full of very well written and laid out practical advice and insight not only from the artist’s perspective but from that of the radio presenter too – well he is a experienced journalist and writer! Secondly, former BBC (now freelance) radio producer Bernard Achampong who I met for the first time at the recent conference and with whom I had a very informative ten minute conversation.
CREATE A PROFESSIONAL LOOKING PRESS RELEASE
Your press release should be created, designed and laid out on a computer. It should at least include the artist name, the song/release title, contact details for the artist (as many as possible, should the radio station/presenter want to contact you for more info or to offer an interview or live session!), a picture of the release cover artwork and details of the ‘outlets’ for the release, such as stating what digital platforms the release is available on and if also a physical release (CD and/or vinyl) where these can be obtained.
It’s very important is that you include the story or inspiration behind the song/release and some info about the artist too. Presenters love (and need) to have some interesting fact or snippet to share when introducing a track.
Keep your press release to one side of A4 max and make it clear and easy on the eye – no micro fonts! Depending on how a particular station/presenter wants to receive your music (see below) the press release can be printed out and enclosed with a CD or saved as a document and supplied as an attachment with an audio file(s). I would suggest saving as a PDF, this is easily opened on any PC or Mac based equipment.
If you find the whole idea of creating a press release daunting then take the time and trouble to hire or consult with someone who does – first impressions count!
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Target radio stations, programmes and presenters that play your type/genre of music. If you submit music that is totally not what they play/feature then you are not only wasting both theirs and your own time (and possibly money in your case too) but it gives a bad impression that you’ve not even taken the time and trouble to check out the people you are submitting to. If you do this repeatedly then they’ll just bin your music and you’ll leave a really bad and negative impression of yourself as an artist. This impression could then spread across the whole radio station that your contact works for!
TARGET THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Following on from above, once you’ve decided on what stations, programmes or presenters you want to submit too, you then need to find out who makes the actual playlist decisions and their contact details and submit to them directly and by name if possible. This could be a specific person (the presenter themselves or the programme producer etc) or a listening group/panel. Also, if you are targeting a smaller/local or specialist radio station then take the time and trouble to get to know them if possible because ultimately, as with everything else in life, it’s all about relationship – but please don’t constantly pester or stalk anyone!
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR MUSIC
These days there are so many different ways to supply your music to radio stations and every one of them likes it their own way, primarily to suit how they and the station go about their daily work. So, firstly find out exactly how they specifically want you to supply your music. This will usually either be by post on CD or via email with MP3 or with a WAV – where you may need to supply a link for them to play it from (such as Dropbox) due to the WAV file size.
Don’t submit demos or early mixes. Only submit the final finished product.
However you are asked to supply your music ensure you supply the following information, either in an accompanying email (if supplying digital music files) or on the CD artwork if submitting a CD:
Song running time (Very important to help the producer and/or presenter plan their playlist!)
Record label (if applicable)
SOME FINAL POINTS
If you don’t know what an ISRC number is then you need to find out all about them as they are important. Here’s a link to a quick guide that I’ve created for my music aggregation firm Doxmedia to help you (CLICK HERE)
If you are supplying digital files, such as MP3 or WAV, then when you create the files remember to rename them with at least the song title and artist name (for example “A New Song This Artist.mp3”) to help your radio contact. When creating your audio files you may also have technology to embed the ISRC number into a file which you should do if possible. If you are having your tracks mastered by a mastering engineer then please discuss this with them.
Radio people receive new music every day of the week and it is an effort for them to listen to every submission so make yours stand out from the pack by using some of these tips and ideas. Also, there are PR people and radio pluggers out who have built relationships and ways in with radio stations and people, so you may want to look at this whole area too. The service these people offer will obviously cost you money so check them out thoroughly to see if their results match their promises before you commit to anything!
And to close, please remember, all of the above may require a lot of your time and attention but ultimately most radio stations that play music are likely to be on your side if your music is creative and recorded to a good standard. Radio people love music and like to discover new music and artists and share them with their listeners. The golden rule is to keep thinking about how and what you supply to them can firstly attract their attention and then make it easier and quicker for them to select your music for inclusion on their playlists.
Good lick pop-pickers! Not ‘alf! Kisses on the bottom