Tag Archives: public radio

How To Build A Powerful Music Fan Base With Rick Barker

Rick Barker podcast DIY artist route audience growth musician

Rick Barker

If you want to talk to someone who has proven time and again how to build a strong audience base, you talk to Rick Barker. The man behind Music Industry Blueprint and the former manager of Taylor Swift is not stranger to building a passionate following. He’s also ready and willing to dish out tons of great advice to artists willing to do the work.

That’s the one kicker he shared with me in this podcast conversation that makes the biggest difference: having the work ethic to get stuff done.

Putting The Advice Of Rick Barker To Work

There is a lot (A LOT) of information being produced every nanosecond on “How To Do XYZ” for your music career. Creative entrepreneurs of every kind have more resources and guides to grow than any point in history. However, what makes the real difference between those who do and those who dream is simply the act of doing.

“The difference between a great artist and a super star is work ethic.”

Being someone who has committed my life to helping artists and business people grow personally through mindset training and build audience through Growth Farming coaching, Rick was a treasure to connect with. His insights and methods fit perfectly within the scope of what is shared here on the blog and other episodes of the DIY Artist Route Podcast.

Discussing The Benefits Of Radio With Music Promotion

It’s also interesting to follow our conversation as it gets into the realm of radio. Rick Barker spent years in the radio industry, but on a different side of the curtain than I have. His experience comes from the commercial side, which I’ve long been critical of.

As we discuss the benefits of radio, you’ll notice a slight disagreement in our individual feelings on the role radio plays, as well as the benefits of radio airplay alone to grow your music. Here’s the thing, it’s important for us to talk with people who have a differing viewpoint than we do. In doing so it sharpens our perspective while also discovering new things.

I won’t shy away from heralding the benefits of public and indie radio in the growth of your audience base. Where that piece of the chat may seem like a dissenting viewpoint, it brought us closer together in discussing the real meat and potatoes of radio airplay: relationship building.

However, as Rick states, radio alone isn’t going to skyrocket your music career. You need more than that, which includes audience engagement and great customer service. You are a business as a musician. His tips on specific actions to take to make that happen are spot on.

“You get radio airplay and exposure anywhere you possibly can. It’s what you do with that (airplay & exposure) afterwards that’s important.”

We also agree that far too many artists try to promote their music to radio before they’re actually ready. You need to have 3 key things before radio is going to work for your career. I highlight those 3 specifics in the Get Radio Ready ebook (free). Grab it.

Get more on Rick Barker and his incredible work on Music Industry Blueprint.

If you gained anything from this podcast episode, let me know in the comments below, share this post and leave a tip. Thanks!

How To Get Solid Radio Airplay The Right Way

This blog article is also published on Dotted Music. Musicians submit music to radio on a daily basis. Many of these music submissions to radio go ignored. Here’s how to submit music to radio that really works.

Secrets To Music Submissions To Radio Stations

Radio Mic Old FashionedGetting radio airplay isn’t a dice roll and it’s not a matter of doing multi-million dollar promotion campaigns. Especially not in public or indie radio (where your attention should be if you’re a DIY artist).

As I’ve said in past posts like How To Build A Radio Promotion Strategy & How To Make Effective Music Submissions To Radio, the basics to submitting music to radio is fairly easy.

The science to getting radio airplay has more to do with only a few specific things, AND they must be made a high priority. Community building and communication is top of that list.

Each radio station decision-maker (station manager, program director, program host, etc)  has their own individual perspectives and motives.

These preferences determine what they play and what they don’t. They also determine how often some songs get rotation versus others. However, how radio stations decide which songs get played actually has to do with a few factors that you might not realize.

online radio station jowanna lewis radiokscr music submission indie music airplay

Jowanna Lewis, owner of RadioKSCR in Los Angeles, CA

Station managers with commercial radio will give a few spins here and there to “unknown” or DIY musicians if it fits with the format and if they earn the respect of either the DJ or the station management.

Once songs begin to chart more (meaning that the music ranking organizations like Billboard and CMJ are recording more plays nationwide) those songs will get more rotation.

Much of this is based on requests and promotion dollars from the labels.

As a DIY artist, your plan is to get your music on stations who are be looking to add indie and unsigned artists to their station playlists.

These are the radio stations and managers who you should be trying to figure out how to gain the interest of. Indie radio is your ticket here. What does that look like?

What determines an indie radio station playlist and spin count

There are essentially three factors that determine whether a radio station manager or music director will add a new song to their rotation. See if your music fits into these factors to be Radio Ready with this free ebook.

The songs that get airplay first off have to meet these three qualification. Sound quality and production value are paramount.

Most professional radio outlets qualify potential music submissions on the quality of the recording first. It’s instinctive, we aren’t going to play a poorly mixed song.

Great songwriting involves lyricism as well as composition and arrangement. Some great songs have very clever, witty, or thought-provoking lyrics. Yet others simply have a good arrangement with a nice melody but nothing very complicated about how it is written.

The last qualification plays the largest role in not only whether as song will get added to the rotation of a radio station but also how often it will be played.

Simply put, if a radio station manager, music director, or approved station personality likes a song, it will probably get some radio airplay. If that song also catches on with other station staff and especially with listeners, that song is going to get a lot more spins.

radio submission music submission to radio How To Submit Music For Radio Airplay

Radio station managers are people too. We like what we play. We have a personal interest in the content that we put on our platforms. It’s just simple human nature.

To be in this industry an din this creative space, you have to be a fan. Radio station managers are fans of music too, and often we’re fans of artists who not only make music that we enjoy but also who have engaged with us in some manner.

Next Steps To Get Music Submissions Accepted On Radio

How someone feels about you as a musician can play almost a bigger role than whether they only like your music. When you try to just separate yourself out and away from your art you limit the reach and connection-building power you have.

Instead, focus your energies on building connections and communities with the radio stations that you want airplay on. It’s not a matter of getting your music out to every single station in existence, or even every station that plays music in the same genre as you.

Learn The Proven Process To Getting Radio Airplay

Many musicians don’t think about the pieces that need to be in place before starting this process.

If you want key elements , a proven process to implement with actionable steps, you’re going to get radio airplay and much more.

All of these tools and more are available for you in the Indie Radio Course.

You can build real relationships with the people behind the microphone. Get your spot on the course here.

 

How Radio Promotion Is Done Right With Jesse Barnett

RelationshipBeing a radio host, I’m plugged into different parts of this industry. I’m connected to radio stations, artists, managers, radio promoters, and listeners alike. I see things from the perspective of a radio station manager, music director, program host, and curator when it comes to music submissions. I do also see things from the perspective of the artists. It might seem like these are two opposing viewpoints, but they’re not.

Not if you look at it the right way.

Jesse Barnett

Jesse Barnett

Jesse Barnett (Right Arm Resource) is one who sees the harmony between the musicians and the media platforms who showcase their work. It’s a team effort, where both sides win when they work together. Look folks, there’s no I in team. We know that. It’s cliched. But how often do you, musicians, look at your music promotions to radio as something that offers a benefit to the station you reach out to other than them “getting to play” your music?

Radio and musicians win when there’s a relationship connection in place. That’s why public, community, indie and college radio continue to be powerhouses in the modern media-rich world. Relationships matter. Make that a focus and you’ll see bigger and better wins in your music promotion.

This podcast episode is about just that: relationships. Jesse is the best in the business of radio promotion because he puts relationships first. He has worked with and represented some big names in indie music including Damien Rice, They Might Be Giants, Cage The Elephant, and others. And he works with smaller indie labels and artists too, quite successfully I might add.

We talk about the power of networking and relationship building a lot in this episode because it’s the real key to achieving anything that lasts. Trust me. Or better yet trust Jesse. We’re both proof of this. Radio is a conduit between people who share interest, love, and stories driven by music. When radio works best is when it builds communities together of people who share these areas. That’s not the same thing as it being a platform that just plays music and has listeners. That’s boring commercial radio, which you’re not listening to.

One other thing that is mentioned a few times in this podcast episode is The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook, which illustrates the exact things we talk about in a How-To format. Jesse has read it and shares his thoughts on it. It’s easy for me to tell you that you need this book. However, you decide how much you want to succeed. If you want to win, and you want long term wins, go grab the book here.

After you listen to this, if you get just 1 thing out of it (which I know is an understatement because you’ll get way more than that), do your part in the growth farming process and plant a seed with 3 of your music friends (i.e. share the episode). Cultivate it with me here, and let me know what 1 thing you got the most from in this conversation. We’ll talk soon!

Make Your Radio Submission Count With This Strategy

8204195250_6d4e042d25_zRadio submission is a big part of the growth of any musician. As a radio program host (and music curator), I get a LOT of music submissions and people asking for feature on The Appetizer Radio Show. It’s really a great opportunity for us as a program to connect with new artists across the country and around the world.

But I’m seeing some really bad trends in how artists are contacting media outlets. It’s a trend that has gone on for a while now, and is increasing more and more each month. I want to address that negative trend here and encourage you to not make these mistakes.

justin-wayne-ill-micMusicians and bands really have to promote and submit their Top-Shelf music to radio and media. This is one trend that is not good and is happening far too often. What I mean by this is, if you’re going to try and put your work in front of a media professional, make sure it’s the best you have, and that it’s amazing. It’s best if you get some objective critiques from media professionals before you embark on radio submissions or blog review requests. Justin Wayne (host of the Justin Wayne Show) said something very powerful about submitting your best music. Listen to his take on music submissions here.

Get Objective Critiques Before Radio Submission

There are plenty of good sources for objective critiques. One I highly recommend is Fluence.io. It is made up of music industry pros who run blogs, websites, radio shows, video programs, and everything in between. You do have to pay a small fee depending on who you submit the work to, but the payoff is that your music gets heard and you get honest feedback on it. Critiques are one of the ways I work with artists too. If you’d like to submit music for a critique, contact me.

Fluence

Here’s how an objective and professional critique benefits you: you know that what you offer media is of the quality and caliber of what music business professionals are looking for. If there’s something amiss in your sound, production or listener experience, that information should be presented to you so that you can fix it and revise it.

When you submit music to radio or blogs that is not top shelf, there’s a good chance it gets discarded. Your band name is more than likely forgotten, unless it’s creative enough that it sticks for a little while. But that memory of a less-than-savory sound can come back if the media rep gets another submission. So make that first impression count.

Your Radio Submission Is Part Of The Growth Journey

Get Your Music Radio Ready-Revised CoverRadio submissions are a necessary part of your journey as a musician. You should get your music out to radio as a way to promote and market your sound, gain new fans, and sell more music. If you’ve contemplated sending an mp3 or CD to a station hoping for airplay, make sure you have the best version of your music ready to go. Get a good critique before you do so. It will pay off dividends in the process of making those radio connections.

Want to know if your music is Top-Shelf and Radio-Ready? Gain insights into your the Radio-Ready-ness of your music with this free Ebook Get Your Music Radio Ready here.

Once you’re Radio Ready, getting your music added to radio stations becomes a matter of networking and strategy. Networking has that ugly buzzword feel because so many artists and marketers have misused it to do things other than what it should be used for. Networking is essentially connecting dots with other dots that make (individual and collective) worlds better. How to target the right radio for your music, how to build your contact list, and what specifically to say to stations is illustrated in detail in the DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook. Click here to get your copy.

Why We’re Already In The Zombie Apocalypse

Artist illustrates modern day life and it's terrifying Source: Steve Cutts / Via stevecutts.comenhanced-buzz-wide-30322-1440435962-9.jpg

Artist Source: Steve Cutts / Via stevecutts.comenhanced-buzz-wide-30322-1440435962-9.jpg

You have a band and a fan base that is supportive of your music. Excellent. But you hear news and industry reports that music sales are down, that music streaming is rising and that more and more people are consuming music yet not buying it. We’re already living in the zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead is a reality. Let me explain.

The Zombies Walk Among Us (And May Be Us)

If I’m not careful, I can waste a ton of time on Facebook. We all can. Youtube is even worse because video is more appealing than any visual medium. Yet many people aren’t aware of their habits towards media consumption, be that streaming music on Spotify, binge watching videos on youtube, or spending all day on Facebook looking at the endless stream of content. This is where the zombie invasion has influenced our behavior towards media and entertainment (music in particular).

Music streaming and media consumption is not inherently a bad thing. However, if your listening experience is driven by an automated program that plays song after song and you never emotionally engage with the music, the artist, the melody or the message. You then have the attitude of a zombie towards the medium itself. Nothing gels or connects that you can build on.

There are hordes of people who consume music all day long, but never engage with it emotionally. Consumption without engagement is the behavior of a zombie that we can see in TV shows like The Walking Dead, video games like Dead Rising, or movies like World War Z (which was a novel first).

Many music listeners are on the big streaming platforms. They have “favorite” bands and artists but own zero music in their library. Hell, they don’t even have a music library. They think that their Pandora Playlist or Spotify playlist constitutes a library. Sorry, that’s not the same thing.

When the mind is not engaged with what it’s doing, or what it’s consuming, you don’t create connections that last. The listening experience doesn’t lead to a search for more music from that artist. As soon as the song is finished, it’s on to the next song. Do you want an audience that isn’t engaged with you and your music experience?

Commercial radio has been programming music stations for decades with this mantra:

feed them the same thing over and over again, program the listeners to only be subjected to a handful of artists because we don’t want them to think or have an opinion that something better may be out there

This is one reason that the big record labels and the big radio stations are trying to get indie radio shut down right now. They want to program to zombies who aren’t paying attention and don’t have engaged minds. They want to control the listening-engagement experience so that they have all the power to determine what music gets consumed.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

In the hit TV show The Walking Dead, there are armies of the undead walking around looking to consume human flesh. They don’t care who the individual is, they just crave flesh. It’s just like people who consume music without thought or care. They will listen and move on to the next song or artist or video or whatever. They “like” you in the moment and when the song is over they’re on to something else.

Why The Walking Dead Is A Metaphor For Music Zombies

The Walking Dead is a show more about the people who are living than it is about the zombies, which is what has made it the #1 show on network television. The people in Rick’s group are another great analogy of the world we live in currently as DIY and indie musicians. Rick’s group is one of a number of humans living in groups across the country. Groups together are strong, and benefit everyone in the community when they decide to live in a community. Individuals out on their own against the hordes of zombies don’t fair well. Often they struggle just to live day to day, or end up victim to the walkers.

Each member of Rick’s group (or family) is a very talented and crafty individual, similar to how your Super Fans operate. Each of them have a particular skill set that adds greatly to you and what you’re doing. As Rick’s group keeps going, they carefully add members to their family and bring people in to help them survive against what awaits them on the outside. This is also the world we live in.

It’s too common and too difficult for us to try and reach the masses because the masses aren’t paying attention for more than 3 minutes. Masses are interested in instant gratification, not becoming an ardent follower and supporter. Those passionate music lovers are out there, sometimes as individuals and sometimes in small groups. When you find them, bring them into your world and give them something they really want: music worth experiencing and a connection with the artist who makes it.

Do these two simple things to survive in the music industry zombie apocalypse. Be on the look out for passionate individuals who not only consume music, but attend shows and buy albums. How can you find them?

They’re at the music venues you attend and perform at. They’re buying music from other bands and merch from tables. Attend other shows and start conversations with the people there on why they love the band you’re both watching, how long they’ve followed the band and how the music has impacted them. Make the connection with them so you can share your music with them and build a true community together.

Do you know who to Michonne or Darryl is in your fan base? They’re your Super Fans. Here’s how to find them.

Gain Super Fans With My Upcoming Book. Be The First To Get It Upon Release (coming very soon!!!)

* indicates required




Community Is The #1 Key To Ongoing Success

communityWhen you begin something new, you’re always on the lookout for keys to make “the new” work better and grow. That’s inherent to the process of creating and building. Once you’ve been doing something for a while, you amend your processes to be more efficient and operate better. And after building something for a long period of time (let’s say over a decade), you’re able to reflect back and see some of the key elements to what made your work successful.

I’ve been working with musicians for over ten  years (hence the time illustration), particularly through the medium of indie radio. In that time I’ve also built and grown The Appetizer Radio Show to international syndication, been a part of some great concerts, collaborated on music events, and worked closely with artists on establishing their unique brand.

Lindsay Katt and I before our concert at the Paramount Theater in Abilene in 2013

Lindsay Katt and I before our concert at the Paramount Theater in Abilene in 2013

I spent some time this week reflecting on what has made all of these endeavors successful over the years, not just for me as an individual, but also for the artists and bands I’ve been privileged to work with. What I found was what I believe to be the #1 key to ongoing success no matter who you are, where you live, how widespread your platform is, or the size of your following.

 

You know what that key is? It’s a cultivated and enriched community.

Public radio has been a great resource for me, as it has for many individuals both in the arts as well as other business. As a former station manager, I got to experience first hand the dynamic power of community members coming together in support of a platform that brought something powerful to our region every day. The impact that the station had on individuals was supported in immense ways through a group of very dedicated and loyal individuals.

Experiencing how community can come together when it’s responding to a need is what has fueled the rise of crowdfunding and social media. All it takes is having your best message presented clearly to the people who want and need to experience it. This is where the cultivation and enrichment part comes in.

Tools-for-Community-ManagersWe’re no strangers to the concept of community building. We do it everyday on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online portals. We build community daily with people we have never met in person, nor spoken with on the phone. Our community members share a common passion, interest, belief, or other similarity that binds us together. Cultivating community is a different ballgame than simply being a part of community. Cultivation requires a mixture of listening and sharing, remembering what it is that people confide in you and a commitment to helping out when called upon.

Our social communities can be a great way to engage people. But cultivation is best exhibited when you can meet in person. This is why artists starting out and in the first few years of their careers need to focus on their local community and region. You decide how wide of a spread for your region you want to reach. I encourage musicians to extend their area up to a 50 mile radius if they don’t live close to a high populated area. This gives you more opportunity to grow your network with the right people who will follow and support you.

Cultivating these connections leads to more diverse interaction online through social channels, and makes communication a little easier. Enrichment opportunities happen in live performances where your music is experienced first-hand. House shows are one of the best places to start (and continue in a broader aspect).

Community enrichment comes from both the community you live in geographically, and the sub-community you build with your art. Supporting and collaborating with other artists in your area is one of the best ways to build and nurture these communities. Relationships are what create new opportunities in everything we do. The better you can get at cultivating relationships, the more success and longevity you will find yourself with, and the stronger connection you’ll have to the communities that matter most to you.

What Happens When Your Dreams Change Shape

I’ve noticed that our dreams aren’t always permanent things.

They can change.

Dreams changing shape or mutating into new things is good, not something that should make you nervous. I’ve heard people say with alarm, “But I used to want to do this thing with all my heart but I don’t know if I want that anymore.” It’s ok for your dreams to change if you are changing too. And it’s also worth noting why your dreams are changing.

Steve Harvey has a great book that tackles this idea called Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success. In it he talks about how to take your gift, the thing that you do naturally that no one else can with the greatness that you do, and use it to make your dreams come true. Harvey calls this your vehicle. Your gift needs a vehicle to take it to the next level, but you won’t always stay in the same vehicle to get to your end result.

Vehicles change. Dreams are the destination.

Here’s a little insight into my story and how my vehicles have changed a few times in the last few years, which was a little scary to me because they’d stayed the same for over a decade. I should have been cautious about the fact that I’d stayed at the same place doing a lot of the same things for so long. Instead, I was proud of the fact that most of my young adult friends were working on their 3rd or 4th job before turning 30 and I was still doing the same work I’d started when I was a teenager.

There is something to be said for commitment and longevity. But you have to look at the lifeblood too. I wasn’t stagnant in my job, but it also wasn’t fulfilling me in the ways that I wanted (and needed) to be fulfilled. Actually, I’d reached the ceiling on how far in the organization I was going to be allowed to go by age 29. And I knew it. But I didn’t do anything to try and improve my situation until faced with some startling realities and that forced me to move.

The fact that I had peaked in terms of how far I could grow in a company before turning 30 should have been alarming (in the ways described earlier) in my pursuit forward and should have led to a shifting in what my goals were. However, since I didn’t have clarity on my dreams, I couldn’t see that there was something really wrong with where I was and what I was investing my energies in.

I wanted to be a big success in the radio industry, but I didn’t want to be in the Pop-Radio space (think Top 40, Taylor Swift, Katie Perry, etc). I also didn’t want to move to a bigger city. So, in essence, I’d pigeon-holed my growth to have to be only where I already was. The dream itself needed to shift and the vehicle to get me to the real dream needed to change.

I worked at a public radio station that operated on a university campus with an all-student on-air staff, but a professional staff of 5 people who maintained the station’s revenues, operations, administration, marketing, and community connection. My role as Operations Director involved every aspect of the station some form or fashion (a bit in the fundraising and administration but not as much as the operations and community connection).

It was a leadership role that gave me a ton of experience in community building, organizational leadership, effective communication, teaching, networking, and management. But as I got into my 30s things around me started to change, meaning co-workers changed jobs and other factors, but I didn’t shift my outlook on the future. I didn’t have a direction.

What I enjoyed most was working one-on-one with college students as a mentor and leader. Teaching someone to talk on the radio takes time and patience. Teaching students how to ask questions that lead to other questions that lead to deeper questions when interviewing someone for a news story is what creates powerful radio. I really enjoyed that. Outside of the teaching of radio operations, I had a direct line into a many young people’s lives and had the opportunity to lead them in ways that went beyond working in the radio or journalism industry. I got to coach them on life stuff, like how to balance their budgets, what to look for in a job and career atmosphere, leadership development, and more. That was the best part of the work that I did, and the one thing I miss most from not being there.

I didn’t see it at the time but I do now. My dream wasn’t to work in radio, or be a big deal in the industry. The dream really was to work with individual people and lead them to bigger and greater things. Radio was the vehicle for that. The same is true for The Appetizer Radio Show. I created the show to be able to hear really great music on the radio instead of the same, boring 15 songs by the same boring 10 artists every day.

The music and media culture has shifted much since 2003 where now you can listen to the most obscure musicians online and on FM from a variety of channels. The dream for The Appetizer really wasn’t about doing something new or different. It was about making a difference in people’s lives and taking them to the next step in their journey, especially for the DIY/unsigned/indie musician. Everyone needs a platform that will give their work a start. The Appetizer Radio Show has been that platform for many artists who have gone on to bigger and greater successes.

It’s important to not confuse your vehicle with your dream, but it’s very easy to mistake one for the other. The key is looking deep within yourself and finding that gift that you have. The gift is the one thing you do naturally without bringing in education or training. It isn’t something someone taught you. It is something you were born with. What is it that people around you say you do naturally that is better than anyone else? That’s your gift.

If you don’t know what your gift is, ask some of your closest friends what they think. Then compare notes. I know that I’m naturally an Empoweror (made up word for “one who empowers”). My communications with people, whether online or in person, are done naturally and intentionally to lead to a positive result, even when I’m upset or holding someone accountable. Yet empowering and encouragement aren’t my gifts. They are a part of the gift, but not the whole enchilada.

My gift is that I’m a great listener who thinks objectively and puts pieces together to create a strong perspective and clarity. I can hear the stories people tell me and naturally connect the dots to what is really going on without knowing all the specifics. I’m good at reading people’s mail, as the saying goes. My natural inclination is to take that discernment and communicate in an edifying way that brings encouragement to the person I’m speaking with.  Positive results and outcomes are the results produced. This gift moves people forward, gives them clarity and direction, and takes them to new successes.

I see now how my gift has been used in the past careers I’ve had, yet none of the jobs or careers were the dream. The dream is bigger. What I think is my dream now is probably bigger in reality than what I imagine it is at this point. As I grow and increase the spread of who I am and become more recognizable, the dream will grow too, and the vehicles that take me there will change.

The same is true for you. The vehicle you’re in now to take you to your dream will morph, switch, change, or mutate. Some vehicles you’ll still interact with or catch a ride with periodically as you grow. Others you’ll never see again. The vehicle is what changes, but not the dream itself. The key it to really understand and have confidence in what the heart of your dream is so that you don’t confuse yourself and your direction like I did.

Do you know what your gift is? Can you recognize where you are right now as being a transport to get you closer to fulfilling your dream? How has your dream and your vehicle shifted or grown in the past year? These are the questions to reflect on to see how you’re progressing.

Since you know my gift, let me utilize to benefit you. Reach out to me and tell me your dream and the transport (vehicle) you’re in right now to get to your end goal. Leave a comment or Contact Me and let’s talk.

[feature image by Jeronimo Sanz]

Debunking When Musicians Say They Can Grow Without Radio Airplay

NewRadioThere’s a “music guru” out there saying that he made music that charted in the Top 5 of iTunes and sold a million albums, all without radio airplay. I hope that’s true, because it’d be terrible to promote that and it not be real. Still, I question the validity of something that rare.

“What if that’s true though, D Grant? What if you really can grow your audience and sell a bunch of music without radio? Radio is dead nowadays anyways since there’s Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify, right? No one listens to radio anymore.”

Oh my, I’ve heard this well-meaning but really off-base remark a bit over the past few months. So you can grow your music without radio? Then go do that. Promote yourself with just you, and all the social media strategy in the world. Knock yourself out. It will end up costing you more work, time, money and energy in the long run than doing radio promotion right the first time.

If you can get grassroots, word-of-mouth promotion on your own that generates a million record sales and puts you up there with big label musicians like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift without radio, more power to you. Actually, (and I’m very serious) write a book and teach the rest of us how to do that, but only if it’s real.

You can then apply that “How-To” on promotion and success to not just music but also small business growth, crowdfunding and a whole slew of other platforms.

I’m not being sarcastic about you achieving great things without radio. That’s entirely possible. Radio is not Superman, nor God, and it doesn’t make magic happen for everyone who gets airplay.

However, to dismiss radio and how beneficial it is because you don’t happen to listen to it doesn’t mean it has no value. Actually, there’s a pretty interesting connection that radio has with Pandora, Apple Music and Spotify, and if you learn how to use the two together, you can make quite a bit of money with your music. But radio isn’t what you’re going to do because you have your music on Spotify, right?

Sorry, I’ll come down off the soap box. Truthfully, radio is a huge beneficial outlet for indie musicians, but I understand why there’s so much confusion about it. When most people think of radio, they think of the stations that play nothing but Bieber and Swift, or Katy Perry or whoever is on the top side of the Billboard placements. And these stations play the same artists and songs all day long in an unending pattern of repetition. Why people still listen to these stations is beyond me. I agree, it’s incredibly boring. And I’m not listening to them either.

But there is another kind of radio. Yes, a radio that actually cares about what music is on it. Radio with an audience that is fully engaged with what they are listening to. Radio with an engaged audience that wants music that is interesting and is made by people who aren’t supported by a commercial enterprise or big label. Yes, radio that has an audience looking for your music.

Do you know what kind of radio this is? It’s indie radio, yes, but that’s ambiguous in an age when “indie” means just about anything and “indie” is a buzzword people add to their platforms to be trendy or cool.

The radio I’m speaking of is non-commerical radio, also known as Public Radio (think NPR), Community Radio, College Radio, and Web Radio.

Do all of these stations have magnificently giant audiences? No, most of them are smaller and have regional or esoteric audiences. Size doesn’t matter in this realm because an engaged audience will look up your music when they hear it and like it. They will search you out and buy your music. They will see if you’re going to be touring or playing in their region and come to your shows. They do this for a few reasons, but the focus here is on the difference in the type of radio (commercial vs non-commercial or “indie radio” vs mainstream radio).

Since there are members of your target audience who are engaged with radio stations like these and programs which are playing your type or style of music, how do you benefit yourself by avoiding these radio outlets? What is really gained by not having your music on these stations and you doing all the promotion work entirely on your own?

Radio isn’t just a media outlet for listeners and it is much more than a promotion tool for musicians. Real radio (the kind I’m talking about: public, community, college, and web radio) is a passion of people who truly love certain types of music and want to showcase it to the world. The right kind of radio airplay connects your music with audiences who are engaged and supportive of the arts. These are the people you want to reach out to, and has been the bedrock for The Appetizer Radio Show for 12 years, helping to turn “unknown” artists into well-knowns, all in the indie or unsigned band space.

Passionate people playing and talking about your creates THE most powerful word-of-mouth marketing to multiple groups of people, all at one time.

Don’t let anyone fool you or convince you that passionate people showcasing your music to an engaged audience hurts you.

Want to know how to get passionate music curators interested in your music? Focus on building a connection with them, instead of just submitting your music. Spend time with a few stations or programs and have some experiences with their craft. You’ll find yourself becoming passionate about what you hear and want to be a part of what they do.

RadioCourseMainImageWant some other help in getting radio curators to play your music on their platforms? Sign up for my Indie Radio Promotion Course to get the inside track on how to get the right kind of radio airplay. I’ll show you what the successful 1% of artists do to get radio airplay, as well as reveal my proven steps to getting heard and showcased around the country.

The Indie Radio Promotion Course enrollment won’t be open forever, so get in on the inside track now. Click Here to get your seat at the course. See you there.

Brandi Carlile Knows Where Her Audience Is

lores_brandi-carlile-credit-david-mcclister--2-For folk and alt-country fans, Brandi Carlile isn’t a stranger but a friend who has made music more than just an entertainment source, but a comforting oasis. She may not have the name recognition of other female vocal powerhouses like Adele, Katy Perry, or Christina Aguilara but Carlile’s yodel-styled voice has more majesty than pop radio deserves. Perhaps that’s why her ardent followers have been so enriched in the latest release The Firewatchers Daughter.

Here’s what indie music fans know, and fellow songwriters/artists should pay attention to: Brandi is well aware of the power of strong storytelling, and she knows where to showcase this magic.

Her latest album was released in early March 2015 and was prefaced by a performance on Conan and public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. Here’s where it’s worth paying attention musicians. Carlile has been a successful recording artist for 10 years, her debut album released by Warner Bros in 2005. Since then she’s come full circle and gone the indie road, now on ATO Records. Conan O’Brien’s TBS talk show has an audience base of young professionals in the 30s and 40s. Music fans who know of her and those who don’t but who caught her performance are likely to do some looking up on her new album and past releases. They’re likely to buy that music too.

The feature on A Prairie Home Companion is more telling though. The media age for that program is not the 30s and 40s crowd. On the contrary, this radio stalwart has been around for quite a while, making the majority of its audience in their 50s and 60s. What benefit is that for a musician in her 30s with a growing audience? Why play a radio show with such an older demographic, doesn’t that go against progress?

Not at all. A Prairie Home Companion is arguably one of the most popular radio shows on public radio, produced not on NPR but on a smaller network of programs (American Public Media). Unlike NPR’s All Songs Considered which regularly cover trends in indie music, new releases and emerging bands, the show created by Garrison Keillor regularly features folk, country, singer-songwriter, jazz, and western acts. Brandi Carlile is and has been a perfect fit for the program. Plus, older audiences do something younger audiences can’t seem to get a hold of: they support the music they love with their dollars.

At the end of the February 28th radio program airing, and subsequent repeats on carrier stations across the country, Brandi set up nicely to have her new album sell very well. She also kicked off a nationwide tour which is already starting to sell out. Musicians take note: your target audience may not have a specific age, and those who are most likely to support your art may not be hipsters in their teens and twenties. What works for those who know how to reach their real fans is worth taking into account, maybe even mimicking if possible.

Oh, and make it worth your while to check out The Firewatcher’s Daughter. The simple recording setup that made this album is a great story by itself. Get it here.