Getting your music on the radio can be tough, especially if you’re an unsigned artist. Here are six tips to help you secure crucial radio play.
Submit your music to BBC Music Introducing
This one’s a no brainer. BBC Music Introducing is the country’s biggest supporter of emerging talent. If you haven’t submitted to these guys yet, what are you waiting for? This platform has an awesome track record – it gave Ed Sheeran, Jake Bugg and Florence + The Machine their early breaks. Once you’ve registered, you can send two tracks every 30 days (via the website’s Uploader). All submissions are listened to and if producers like your stuff it will be played on one of BBC Music Introducing’s radio shows. You could also be invited to gig at one of the many BBC Music Introducing stages at festivals throughout the UK.
TIP: When you submit, you’ll be asked to enter a valid postcode so that the BBC can work out which Introducing radio show is closest to you. Kelly Betts, BBC Music Introducing Production Co-ordinator, says if you can avoid submitting music to London, then do, as it gets by far and away the most submissions. For example, if you’re from London but studying in Essex, then submit to Essex. You’ll stand a better chance of getting radio play.
Submit your music to the Student Radio Network and Amazing Radio
Scott Hastie, from the Student Radio Music Network – a platform of more than 50 student radio stations – advises emerging artists to get to know their local student radio station.
“Research the local student radio station in your town, and start to build relationships,” he says. “We’re all about supporting new and local music.”
Also consider submitting to Amazing Radio, which is dedicated to exclusively playing new and emerging music from independent artists. Lots of top producers and DJs tune in. It’s a great way to get your music heard.
Do your homework before you send your demo
Find out who is the champion of your style your music and submit to them. If you’re a country, jazz or indie artist, target producers of shows that support your genre. Use common sense; if you make bubble-gum pop, don’t send it off to indie DJ Annie Mac – you’re just wasting everyone’s time. And remember producers receive hundreds of submissions every week, so the personal touch matters. If you know the name of the producer you’re sending off to, make sure you use it.
TIP: When you send your submission, put the link to your music somewhere near the top of the email (they may not be bothered to scroll all the way down). Don’t send big files – they won’t get opened. If you’re sending a CD, don’t shrink wrap it.
Play live – a lot
Not only will this help you sharpen your performing skills, it will give radio producers more confidence in you as an all-round artist. What’s the point in having a number one hit and then dying on your ass the first time play live? Producers want to know that if they promote you, you’ll live up to the hype.
Alex Baker of Kerrang Radio says: “I always want to know if a band has played in London. About 90% of the industry is in London. Leeds and Manchester are amazing, but you need to play London.”
Matt Fincham, an editor with the Radio 1 Music Team, says: “It can be a game changer [to see a new band play live]. You see a band in the live environment and see fans engaging with their music, it gives you confidence to push them.”
TIP: Try and get on the bill with bands/artists who have a similar vibe to you. It’s a great way to expand your fanbase.
Talk about yourself – a little bit
“It’s a massive bugbear when bands don’t put any thought into their image,” says Fuzz Chaudhrey, producer for the Radio 1 Indie Show. “I hate it when new bands try and be mysterious. I need to know what you’re about and where your music has come from.” Include some biographical information in your email – it doesn’t have to be War and Peace, just enough to keep it interesting.
TIP: BBC Music Introducing are keen to support diversity, so if you come from a minority background don’t be shy about it. Explain how your heritage has influenced your music.
Get a radio plugger
Before you fork out for a radio plugger, it’s important that you’ve done as much legwork as possible already. But once you’ve done everything listed above, it’s probably time to get a plugger. These are professionals who have relationships with DJs and radio producers and will push your music in the right channels. A good plugger will get your music to the top of a producer’s submission pile (but bear in mind it still doesn’t guarantee radio play).
TIP: Pluggers often focus on a particular genre of music. Look at a plugger’s roster of artists, and if you’re of a similar ilk to many of their existing clients, approach them.