Getting Airplay

Posted on December 17, 2010

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You’ve got a great CD and you’d like to hear it on the radio, right? That’s a lot harder to do than just saying – “I’ll give it to the DJ, he’ll love it and play it.” Even if you fit the genre of what the station is spinning to a T, there are a dozen reasons dangling right out in the air as to why you won’t get that air spin.

The average radio station has a pre-determined set list. Twenty years ago a jockey would enter the booth and there was a wall of records, even CD’s behind them and they would pick the title off the wall and lay it on the platter, but those days are long gone with the cassette. It’s a digital world, and most of the time, after the morning show leaves, the DJ’s simply pre-record the next few hours voice tracks and a computer inserts them throughout the music’s rotation.  The tough part about that for you is, if you aren’t in the play list database, the computer isn’t spinning your tunes.

So what’s a band to do?

The good news is, and this is especially privy to rock radio stations – there is often a local music scene program that comes on, usually at night or on the weekend.  As a locally performing artist, you’ve got a good chance getting in to that.

Here’s some stuff to consider. A radio station is going to be more prone to spin a band that has a CD for sale at the local retailers that thrive in the radio station’s listener area. Getting a spin on a local show in Texas when you live in NYC isn’t going to happen. The key term here is “local”. You’ve got a small medium to attack here, but attack you must! Focus on the local stations in the area where YOU thrive. Those stations will pay attention to a buzz about you because they have a listenership that tunes in to hear what is going on locally.

Now, be realistic. Radio is a business and all business comes with the concept of give and take. I’ll give you airtime, but I want something in return. I don’t mean “pay to play” … though that helps, I mean you have to offer something back to the premise of the show. It wants to have content to offer it’s listeners. The show will talk about upcoming performances, CD releases, local buzz – and you have to have it. There is no raging fire that isn’t fed by some good old fashion gasoline. Be that gasoline.

Long before you start searching for airplay, you have to be in demand. To get there, you need to write good music, record it well, perform it a lot and hit the streets with your own public relations campaign to get interest by the general public. A good campaign at that point will have people calling the station asking if they have the CD and will they play it. This is the point when you need to give that CD to the station and say “Here We Are!”

A local radio show DJ is reading the local rags and if they’ve seen you in them enough, chances are they’ll even come to you. You get in those magazines by performing your best music for big crowds in popular places around town. The stairway is long and is made of many steps, but you have to start at the bottom.
If you have yourself convinced that radio is the only way to get your name out there and get heard, you have a lot to learn. Consider other options like offering your music to independent filmmakers, free CD’s for stores who play music in them or hand a copy off to the guy who plays music at the local clubs before band’s go on. Get it in the air any way you can and cause a wave of interests. The whole idea is, if you get enough buzz about your band, the radio station will come to you.

So considering the concept of getting your music heard, chances are after reading this – airplay is something on the back burner. Explore every option and do the leg work and before you know it, the red “on air” light will be shining on you.

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