Airplay is one of the best ways to get your music heard. Why? because whilst radio broadcasting cannot show the visual vibrancy of your performance, it can promote your music to a wide audience who you would be unlikely to reach using normal avenues.
So you have to have a record deal to get airplay right?
Wrong!! So lets look at some examples.
The track ‘I’d rather go blind’ which was a hit for a complete unknown was sent in as an unsolicited demo to a morning Television programme. More recently a gifted singer from America had a huge hit – despite having died over 2 years ago – Eva Cassidy’s rendition of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ was heard and subsequently searched out for airplay and television broadcast.
So how do you get the presenters to listen to your music and give you airtime?
First be aware that LUCK does play a large part in this but HARD WORK and DETERMINATION should bring you some significant results.
Second – be prepared for REJECTION, and completely Disregarded letters!!! This business is tough and you must try not to let negative results get you down. Don’t give up if your demo remains unheard by the resident radio guru, keep trying!!
- Research your local radio stations – does your style of music fit their play list – if not you have little or no chance of it being heard.
- How ‘community friendly’ is your station? – For small local RSL’s (restricted service license) and community radio stations, it’s worth noting that they are often granted their license on the basis that local people and community groups will be actively involved or events promoted. If you are unsure, contact the station manager or the Radio Authority for confirmation. This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get your masterpiece played, but it should keep radio stations aware of what their potential customers want.
- Once you’ve found a station and presenter who is new/local artist friendly contact them for their submission requirements. Most usually require your demo on tape or cd with a breakdown of who is in the band, where you play & what type of music.
- Before you send the demo make sure the quality is excellent!! Hiss, pops, feedback and muddy sounds will make you sound awful and your demo will be rejected!! Aim to Impress – not Depress your live music presenters, so keep your letter brief, friendly & informative. Relying on your fab music to wow the program editor is NOT ENOUGH – first you have to get them to LISTEN to it!!
- Remember you have approximately 30 seconds (60 if your lucky). That is the average listening time most A&R, Presenters & Reviewers give a demo……. No REALLY….. so the tracks you send must be your very best effort…. lack of demo clarity is sometimes overlooked but inadequate quality of performance and talent is not!
- So what makes an impact? Catchy tunes, memorable lyrics are often popular but subject to the taste of the listener, however, music played with passion, songs performed with heart and soul plus that intangible ‘something’ are difficult to ignore even when the style or genre of music is not to the listeners taste.
- Packaging is important. Give your CD or Audio Cassette a nice eye-catching cover, mark the track listings clearly, make sure they are easy to read and include a Contact Name and Number on the sleeve and on the cassette/cd!! If a letter gets mislaid or your masterpiece filed for future referance your details will always be available.
- Keep a record of who you have contacted, when & rough notes on the conversation. If you receive a positive reply it’s great to refer to a successful approach to re-use again! Feedback of any kind should always be filed for referance & follow up letters, phone calls or visits to interested presenters should be a ‘must do’ in your marketing strategy.
- Pick your stations & presenters carefully. Take note of those who provide a new or community band/artist show. Check the type of music they are prepared to play & then make your initial request for airplay.
- Some programs actively request your demo’s, for instance, 104.9 XFM has a great indie & rock show highlighting unsigned bands (London & surrounding areas), whilst Jazz FM has provided Paul Jones with an opportunity to promote the occasional new Blues Band.
- There has been an encouraging tendancy for many radio programmes and stations to broadcast live music, dj’s and band gig or event dates. Most need these to be sent 7 – 14 days in advance but it’s another great avenue for new acts to get free promotion.
- For every 100 letters/tapes you send it is most likely that you will only recieve 1% – 5% of replies or acknowledgements, out of which most will be polite rejections from people who haven’t even bothered to listen to your demo. So don’t despair – keep sending ’em out – polite persistance and a love of making music may not make you a ‘Super Pop Star’ but it will go a long way in helping to get you noticed!!