Radio airplay is a very important part of marketing music to grow your audience, increase your awareness in a growing music world, and help sell more music.
It’s also something that many artists don’t understand from a big-picture perspective. Most artists know that they need to find opportunities to get their music in front of more people. Radio airplay and music blog features, as well as podcasts are all great ways to do that. However, there is one very big detail that often gets overlooked when artists go about submitting their music for airplay.
There’s no shortage of music in the world today, certainly no shortage of good music. However, many unsigned an DIY artists behave like they’re entitled to being featured on someone else’s platform. Remember, a radio station, music program, blog, podcast, or other media entity was created by someone (or a group) who is passionate about their work. They have probably built something from the ground up that took many years to establish. It’s a lot of work to do all that media people do. So when someone comes along and throws content in their face and says “Play me,” what do you think that feels like?
As an artist, you are a creator of beauty, brilliance, and greatness. But you are also a creator of bridges. Your music is a bridge from experiences and stories into ideas and emotions that are shared between different people. Forgetting the bridge building aspect of what you do is one of the biggest mistakes artists make.
Why Music Media Accepts Submissions. It’s Not What You Think
Most music media outlets have a submission form or way to present music to be featured. You have to sell these people on the benefit you provide to their station or platform. Just you saying that you make good music is only 50% of what your offer could be at best.
Instead, present yourself as a community building co-collaborator and make your submission an intentional part of your work to build connections. Be humble in your approach. Instead of just giving a link to your music or sending a CD, contact a radio station and ask what the submission process is. Ask if they prefer CD or digital file, and tell them that you appreciate the work they do. It certainly helps if you’ve spent a little time on their website and know a little about the programming they provide. Actually, this step here will help you make a contact very quickly.
Some music blogs and media outlets have different options for music submission. Many smaller blogs offer submissions with no strings attached and will do a short article on you. Take advantage of that if their audience is the same people you are trying to reach. For larger, more established sites, they may have a paid feature to get a music or album review. These are certainly worth looking into. Here’s why:
Remember that the world is not short on music. By doing a free submission, you are putting your work in the lot with the countless other artists who are playing the music feature lottery and hoping to be picked. Your music may be heard, but there are only so many hours in the day, so there’s no guarantee it will be treated with as much attention as something that had a fee attached to it. What do I mean?
Some platforms for submission have a small fee they charge for the music curator’s time, expertise and insight. Platforms such as Music Submit, Fluence, and others all work to get music submissions in front of experienced music professionals to benefit the artist. Experience doesn’t come easy, and it shouldn’t come cheap. This is why for a few bucks you can get some excellent insight, reviews, critiques and promotions using paid services.
Why Should You Pay For Music Submissions? Isn’t This Supposed To Be Free?
Free is easy, it costs nothing, and it rarely produces the results most people want. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take advantage of free offers or free opportunities. Just realize that when it comes to music submissions, the free route may put you in with a lot of competition and not as much time spent from the media outlet.
Here’s something else to keep in mind when you go about submitting your music: keep a thankful and positive attitude. Keep in mind that most people who run radio stations, music programs, podcasts, music blogs, or review sites have multiple jobs associated with whatever position they have.
Listening to music is only a part of what they do each day, and probably not what they spend most of their time on. They certainly aren’t paid to sit in a room and listen to stranger’s music all day (this is what many artists think that radio show hosts and music writers do for a living). Their job is to create great content that their audience will love and come back for. Aside from that, they also have to go out and find sponsors and businesses to support their content through some form of advertising. That by itself is a big job. I’m in this boat too, which is how I can give you this insight.
The Real Work That Media Does To Help You Grow
Our work as music media platform hosts and creators fulfills us in that we get to be a part of other people’s journeys, meet people we otherwise might not get to, get great stories from travels and experiences, and showcase great music to those who make us a part of their lives. But we’re not short on music, so if that’s all an artist has to offer they really aren’t offering much.
If you’ve done this, it’s ok. Many people have. But here’s what the 5% of indie, unsigned, and DIY artists who are successful at getting radio play do. Yes, I did say 5%. It may actually be less than that, which is to say that the majority of people are doing radio submission in a way that doesn’t benefit them. Don’t follow the common path. Be uncommon. Here’s what you can do to make a big difference in radio and media contacts taking notice of your music.
It is an honor to get featured on someone else’s platform. I say that not as a radio host, but as a creator. When other media entities contact me for collaboration or to do a feature piece on something I’ve done, it’s something I’m very thankful for because no one is required to pay attention to anything I’ve done. When I meet and talk with artists who have a similar attitude, I connect with them right away and want to showcase their work to the world. Most of the time, that work is pretty amazing by itself. But that humility makes it go so much further.
Be about building bridges, making connections and helping someone else grow. That’s what you’re wanting and asking for when you put your music in front of a radio outlet, isn’t it?
This is the start of a new way of doing music submissions. It’s really about building a relationship with a curator that leads to much more than a review or a song played. It’s leads to connection that gives you win after win after win.