So you've crafted the next tech-lord masterpiece and you wanna share it with the world huh? Well let's get to it. Tom has asked me to share some tips with you that may improve your chances of getting played on the radio.
Who am I you ask? Well none other than Dr Hitchcock, tech-lord of electro, psych-rock and ex-Programme Director of RDU 98.5 FM and The Most FM (two independent/college radio stations here in New Zealand).
"Be a consummate professional".
When Nicole Byrant who played Peri Brown in the classic Doctor Who series was recently asked about how to be a good actress she replied "Be a consummate professional". This totally rings true for dealing with Programme Directors (PD) and Music Directors (MD) at radio stations. It may seem old fashioned but it makes a world of difference. Using good manners and common courtesy in emails, phone calls, meetings and interviews is key. Turn up on time and if you're going to be late, let them know. PDs and MDs have a lot going on and dealing with some rude musos isn't gonna make things any easier to get your tunes on-air. Being a consummate professional really is the basis behind all my advice.
Have your online presence and promotional material sorted.
There are a heck of a lot of places to be seen online these days. Don't feel like you have to be everywhere but make sure you do it well. If the PD/MD likes your music and wants to add additional info about it into their system this should be an easy step.
Have your media labelled well.
Every physical piece and individual file should have some information tied to you. Have at least your performing name and email/website/twitter in file names or ID3 tags. I've had experiences in the past where I've wanted to add tunes to the playlist but haven't had enough info to flesh out the system entry. Also, make sure artist bios and song information are as succicent as possible. This makes it easier for show hosts to talk about your song.
Know who you're sending your music to.
For every station you approach find out who the best person is to send your music to. Get some understanding of how the show hosts and staff are structured. Does the station have a playlist or is it 100% show hosts choice? Some stations like all music to come to their PD/MD, some like you to send it directly to the show hosts relevant to your sound and some like both.
Whenever I received music from people who hadn't gone to the effort of finding out my name their music usually went to the bottom of the listening pile. That may sound harsh but it's all part of being a professional. If you've gone to the effort of researching the station you're approaching you're gonna get higher up the pile. And research includes getting a feel for the sound of the station and making sure that your music is relevant.
This is also part of knowing who you're sending music to and your station research. At the stations I worked at 3-5 minutes was a good length, and closer to the 3 minute end of that scale. You could also send through a radio edit and a full length release. But do your research and find out what stations prefer.
Humility goes a long way.
Sure, you may think your music is great but others might not. And remember, music is totally subjective. Just because you have a super well produced and mastered track that all your mates dig there is no guarantee that others are going to think the same. No-one owes you anything, seriously. I once had to deal with a show host who submitted a tune on the Wednesday before the gig that was happening that weekend. At the time I listened and processed all the music on the Tuesday. The show host expected me to drop everything and just add the tune to the playlist. A consummate professional knowing they had a big gig coming up would of had the new tune with the station a month before the gig so that there was plenty of time for playlisting and sharing with the show hosts. This might even have resulted in a few casual mentions from show hosts regarding the gig and increase punters, vibration and blessings. You get the picture.
Well that's my two cents worth. My advice may help, it may hinder. All PD/MDs are different but they're all human. At the end of the day, if worse comes to worse, buy them a drink at the pub.
Thanks for reading and good luck!