Although we live in an age of digital streaming services and social media, radio is still very popular and relevant.
Consequently, countless artists and bands want to get their music played on the radio.
Due to huge competition, getting radio airplay is definitely not easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.
On the contrary – if you approach it in the right way, there’s no real reason for that not to happen.
So, keep reading to find out how to get your music played on the radio and reach a wider audience.
Types of Radio Airplay
Without a doubt, radio stations still have great power to promote music artists and shape trends.
And although the music industry and listening habits have changed a lot in the last couple of decades, radio remains one of the most effective ways to find new listeners and build momentum.
And it’s fair to say that it probably isn’t going away any time soon.
That said, if you want to get your music out there for the world to hear, you should try to get it on the radio.
But before digging into different ways of getting your song on the radio, let us remind you that there are two types of radio airplay you can opt for:
1. Commercial Radio
Commercial broadcasting refers to radio programming by privately owned corporate media.
So, these are the traditional FM radio stations that rely on advertisements to generate profits.
Most radio stations in the US are considered commercial, and thanks to their long-standing reputation, they have a large audience.
A lot of people still listen to traditional FM stations.
To be more precise, according to Nielsen studies, an astonishing 92% of the US population listens to the radio every week.
And that’s why getting your song on a commercial radio could be a career-changing move.
But you should keep in mind that this can also be very challenging, and it may take some time until you reach some big radio stations.
2. Non-commercial Radio
Unlike traditional radio stations, non-commercial radio doesn’t play long, distracting commercials.
Most non-commercial radio stations like college radios and small independent radio stations are a product of pure love for music.
Therefore, songs played on non-commercial radios tend to be carefully picked.
And they often include new artists.
That said, reaching out to non-commercial radio stations first might be a great idea – you just need to find a station that fits your genre.
Although they don’t have as many listeners as traditional radio stations, independent radio stations tend to have loyal listeners who are genuinely interested in discovering new music and artists.
How to Get Your Music on the Radio – 7 Steps
Whether you manage to get your music played on commercial or independent radio stations, you’ll undoubtedly find new listeners and grow your audience.
Radio airplay is still one of the most important marketing strategies for musicians, and it comes with numerous benefits.
So without further ado, here are some useful tips on how to get your songs played on the radio.
1. Create an EPK
Researching radio stations that match your genre and style and sending in your songs requires some time and effort.
But first things first.
If you want to start approaching radio stations, you need to create an EPK.
EPK (Electronic Press Kit) is a pre-packaged digital resume that helps music industry professionals (managers, booking agents, venues, journalists, promoters, etc) to access and review artists’ work.
In a sense, an EPK is your digital business card, and it will help you introduce yourself to radio stations in a clear and professional way.
Your EPK should include your bio, photos, videos, press releases, contact information, and any upcoming shows or tours.
Make sure your EPK is clear and straightforward, but try to make it personalized enough so it reflects your musical identity.
Radio presenters and music editors will shape their first impression about you based on your EPK.
And that’s why it’s essential to make sure your EPK is updated and well-made.
2. Make your song ready for distribution
Besides creating an EPK, before contacting radio stations, you should prepare your music for distribution.
Making music from scratch is not a simple process, especially if you decide to record songs at home.
It’s not impossible though – it’s not difficult to build an affordable home recording studio these days, and there are many beginner-friendly DAWs that can make your life easier.
Nevertheless, there are many things to think about when creating a song – from writing lyrics and arranging songs to mixing and mastering.
And if you want to submit your song to local radio stations, you need to make sure you’ve gone through all the stages of music production.
Your song needs to be finished and polished, and it has to meet industry standards.
Also, when submitting your song to radio stations, you should include links to platforms like Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, and so on.
And it would be ideal if you already had a certain number of followers.
Of course, as a new artist, editors won’t expect you to have a huge following, but a solid online presence and positive feedback from your audience would certainly give you more credibility.
3. Find out who to approach
The next thing you should do is to gather all the necessary contacts.
For starters, you can research all the local stations and make a list of the stations that you like the most.
And you should target the right stations – this is arguably the best way to get radio airplay early in your career.
You can contact small independent radio stations or student radio stations first.
Smaller radio stations tend to be focused on specific genres and more alternative styles, so getting in touch with a station that fits your genre and style would be a great idea.
Some stations even broadcast radio shows focused specifically on new music and emerging local artists.
Internet radio stations are also a great option for up-and-coming musicians.
And they are getting more and more popular, so there’s certainly a station that would happily present you and your work.
Either way, you shouldn’t contact every online radio and FM station in your area –
4. Discover how to submit your music
Once you have a list of the radio stations you want to contact, you should find information on how to submit tracks.
You can visit the station’s official website or social media or contact someone you know who might know more.
Most DJs and editors accept submissions in digital formats, but some stations still accept physical copies.
And in many cases, providing your EPK and links to your music will do just fine.
But of course, if the radio station’s website provides specific guidelines on how to submit music, follow them.
5. Start small
As we mentioned before, submitting your music to small non-commercial radio stations is a great way to start.
And as you keep growing your audience and building your fan base, you’ll get a better chance to be featured on bigger radio stations as well.
Plus, if you get your music played on a local radio station, someone else might take notice and play your songs.
But it takes time to create hype around your music, build a fan base, and get your music played on large national radio stations.
So, start small and be patient and persistent.
6. Work on your online presence
While submitting your music to radio stations that might be interested in your music, you shouldn’t forget about other music marketing strategies that will help you get your music heard.
First and foremost, you should work on building a powerful online presence.
In this day and age, musicians need to have websites and newsletters as well as active social media accounts.
Many people discover new music via social media, and even if they hear your song on the radio or via Spotify, they will most likely check out your Instagram or Facebook .
And many A&Rs will check your social media when they receive your submission.
So, create a good social media strategy, find a way to connect with your fans, and post engaging, relevant content.
Besides posting regularly, you should find ways to engage your fans – you can run online contests and giveaways, organize live streams, and so on.
You can also reach out to influencers and creators and ask them to use your tracks in their content.
There are many ways to build an online presence and find new listeners, and all of that will ultimately increase your chances of getting a radio airplay.
After all, if you create a buzz around your name and your music, there’s a chance you’ll get contacted by a local radio station anyway.
Independent radio stations and smaller stations (especially college radios) search for new artists they can feature in their shows, so sharing your music online and creating hype is a great way to get their attention.
7. Consider hiring a radio plugger
Have you ever heard of a radio plugger?
A radio plugger (also known as radio PR) acts as a mediator between radio stations and musicians.
A radio plugger can help you select your best radio-friendly songs and connect you to a suitable radio station.
These industry professionals are usually employed by record labels, but unsigned artists and bands can also work with them.
So if you believe you need help placing your music on radio station playlists, you can consider hiring a radio plugger.
It all depends on your wishes, budget, and goals.
Radio Airplay – Does It Still Matter?
There is no doubt about it – radio airplay matters a lot to every aspiring musician.
It’s a rather traditional way of promoting music and introducing yourself as an artist.
Getting your music played on the radio will help you gain exposure and reach a wider audience.
Commercial radio stations have thousands of listeners (and more), and independent radio stations have loyal listeners and genre-specific shows that can provide you with the spotlight you need.
But in this day and age, music streaming services and online platforms play a huge role in music promotion as well.
Younger generations don’t listen to traditional FM stations that much anymore – they’re discovering new music on YouTube and Spotify instead.
But this doesn’t have to be a disadvantage.
You can simultaneously promote your music on Spotify and submit it to local radio stations.
Spotify streams will help you get noticed by radio DJs and presenters, and getting radio airplay will help you boost your Spotify streams.
So, you should be active on both fronts, and there’s no reason that shouldn’t work to your advantage.
There’s a sentence every aspiring musician keeps hearing over and over again: it’s not easy to make it in the music industry.
It’s a highly competitive field, and with so many convenient ways to distribute and promote music by yourself, anyone can give it a shot.
The rapidly changing music industry landscape is sometimes hard to understand.
But some things never change – and the importance of radio is one of them.
Whether we’re talking about online radio stations or mainstream airplay, this is still one of the go-to ways of listening to music and discovering new artists for many music fans.
How to Get Your Music Played on the Radio – Final Thoughts
We hope our guide helped you understand how to get your music played on the radio.
The first steps are rather straightforward – you need to prepare your track for distribution, research radio stations that fit your music style, and find out how to submit your track.
And if you build a strong online presence and create hype around your music, there’s a high chance you’ll get noticed.
However, there are no guarantees, and you’ll have to be persistent.
But if you start small and keep producing great music, you’ll be on the right path to success.
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