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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. Relationship building (i.e. Growth Farming) 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 strategies, tactics and tools are available for you right now in the Indie Radio Course. 


Learn How To Get Radio Airplay The Right Way

In the video there’s a bit of role-playing through examples to illustrate the method explained here in this blog.


Many artists reach out to me on how to get radio airplay. It’s a big subject that confuses DIY musicians because music submission to radio is so common, but getting accepted isn’t. I’ve set out to remedy this for musicians who are serious about growing their audience using one of the best methods: radio airplay on specific media platforms.


Over the past few months I’ve talked about Super-Fans, Audience Growth, and the particulars of what works for Successful Indie Artists.

Radio airplay is one of the methods of exploding your fan base, as well as your music income.

Start with how to NOT get radio airplay

Radio airplay and promotion continues to be a beneficial means of growing your music as an indie or unsigned artist. However, there is a way to get airplay that is more beneficial to you than how 99% of artists do it.

  • Submitting your songs to every station who accepts and plays indie music is not the way.
  • Sending DM messages to radio shows or stations on Twitter is not the way.
  • Emailing stations your mp3 song is not the way.

How to get radio airplay that actually works

One of the best ways to learn how to get radio airplay is by seeing examples that work.  Just like everyone else, I’ve made some big mistakes in reaching out to radio stations to get my platform picked up. The key though is recognizing what works and what doesn’t, and making a pivot on the stuff that isn’t producing the results you want.

Most of us are used to seeing blanket emails that were obviously sent to a ton of people, with no specific individual in mind to receive it. Think about group messages on Facebook or group texts. Even if the person reaching out is a good friend, those are kind of annoying, aren’t they? Treat the person you want to contact the way you want to be treated. Send them an individual note. Before that, have an experience with their station that you can talk about when you email or contact them. By doing this, you show that you’re a genuine person who wants to build community and add value to the station or radio program with your music.

This is the method that I used to get my indie radio show heard around the country and across the world. I first did all the wrong things to grow my radio show. I sent the blanket emails, to both people that I know and those I didn’t. I got the same response from both endeavors: silence. Those tactics didn’t work for me and rarely work for others. There’s a reason why so many artists feel scammed when they pay for radio promoters to pitch their music to stations that get zero airplay from the endeavor.

The real secret to getting radio airplay is a mindset change. Shift from music marketing to community building.”Or as Ghandi said, “Be the difference you want to see in the world.” It’s the Golden Rule. It’s what makes the connections that we all have to build (the real ones, not the mouse clicks that pretend to be connections). Treat those you want to feature you like you want to be treated. It’s the pivot we have to make to see real growth happen.

When I made the pivot, and changed my approach, I found that it actually works. The details and step-by-step process of what to do, how to do it, and why is chronicled in my book book The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook. The Handbook can also be used in your endeavors to grow your audience online via social media and with gigging, as well as reaching out to other music and media mavens for networking.


Radio-Ready: What Is It And Are You There?

Radio Mic Old Fashioned

I listen to a lot of indie, unsigned, DIY, and label artist every day.

Many of these artists are making music submissions for The Appetizer, and honestly I’m looking for new music to feature on our syndicated radio show.

Though I listen to a lot of music, I hear some great talent and I also hear many artists that are missing some of the quintessential elements needed to get their music on the radio.

I’m not saying that I have certain qualifications that other radio programs or stations don’t have. Actually we’re all in harmony with what it takes for a new band to get heard.

You’ve probably heard me use the term “Radio Ready” a few times. What does radio ready really mean? More importantly, how can you know if you are ready for radio airplay?

Honestly that last question is one that very rarely is asked by artists and musicians, and tragically so. The crux of the radio ready signification is having music at the level of airplay worthiness.

It’s having a combination of key elements that every radio and media professional (from music directors to station managers to music curators) are looking for.

I’ll go ahead and tell you exactly what you need to get radio airplay, and these are things that aren’t stated by radio insiders, so you are getting an inside tip. Ready? Here you go, you need these 3 things:

1.  Have A Great Sound

2. Have An Existing Following

3. Provide A Positive Listening Experience

Does that seem too easy? It’s not, because there are tons and tons of artists who submit music who don’t have these elements. I explain what these elements mean and how to ensure that you are at the level where you meet these 3 things in this FREE PDF.

When an artist asks why their music was accepted for a submission but they didn’t get the airplay they thought they would receive, it’s often likely that the initial listen by the radio or media professional sounded good enough to warrant a submission, or a look at their other work. But that following listen didn’t produce the mark that they were looking for. The band didn’t have a radio ready sound through and through.

Which brings us back to, what does it mean to be Radio Ready?

I’ve laid out the 3 big qualities that your music needs to have to get radio airplay on not just the local or regional music stations who carry indie and unsigned artists, but also the larger music curator hubs like NPR Music, Paste and Pitchfork.

If you want to have a chance of getting on any of their grids, or even getting picked up on indie web stations, go ahead and download my free PDF Get Radio Ready. This is one of the best free resources available to you to get your music in the right place to make your radio submissions really work.

When artists just send out an email with a link to their music, or if they just mail a CD to a radio outlet without making sure their music is at the level where radio decision-makers are going to approve, they run a big risk of not getting airplay or feature.

Do you want to know how to make radio submissions that are incredibly effective, get your music played on stations and help you grow your audience? Good, I’m going to give you the chance to learn how to get picked up by radio stations across the country. And you’re going to get the cumulative wisdom, lessons learned, and insights that have taken me years to learn, all without having to go through the trial and error that it cost me (and others).

Take these insights and expand on them with The Indie Radio Promotion Course, the first ever online training for DIY Artists and Unsigned Musicians to get radio airplay. The course includes videos, a PDF Handbook and several videos illustrating how to do everything. Click Here to sign up now!