I’ve been in the radio business for a decade and a half now and the one question that almost every musician has is how do you get airplay on the radio?
It’s not as hard as you might think. Radio works much like baseball. There are twelve Major Leagues; these are the largest twelve cities in the country. These markets have very little room for new bands. Then you’ll find large mid-markets these are the top 100 cities in the country, these are also tough to break into, but usually these stations have a show on weekends that will break new music…find out who is in charge of programming those shows. Now, your best chance at getting on the air and getting exposure is with the medium market stations, the top 250 cities in the country.
Each station has a Program Director and a Music Director, occasionally these are the same person, but not usually. Regardless of what the title says, Music Director does not mean they can just add your music to the playlist. A music Director’s job is to co-ordinate the music with the big labels and to listen to the unknown bands. He\She will then pass on the unknown musician to the Program Director.
Believe it or not, radio stations love to get behind a new band. Breaking bands is what makes names in this business. Radio airplay is not an impossible task…what it takes is;
1: a hell of a product
2: energy to press the flesh
3: willingness to let ego
take a back seat
Radio is a business like any other…Music Directors are swamped with thousands of cd’s from people just like you. You have to market yourself to the music director…make your product unique!
I’ll tell you a story about a kid I knew…he and I were in the same small town. I was a music director there and he was a bartender and hopeful musician. He pressed the flesh…He showed up in my office once a month like clockwork just to chat…never brought up his music other than to ask for a critique (what I thought of its playability) HE NEVER asked me to play it! He slowly built a band that he was proud of and kept coming in to see me…I never played any of his music, but I felt his music was good for a different format (we were Rock, he ws more of a pop\jazz edge). That didn’t deter him from stopping by with a kind word and questions about how the radio business worked…Then one day I had taken a job at a pop station and much to my surprise started playing the new hit from his latest album…Ants Marching…that young bartender was Dave Matthews and he has gotten his share of radio play…
It takes perseverance above all!
Go in to the local station that plays your style of music. Be friendly and respectful of their time. Be nice…drop off your music and free gifts never hurt…but, be concise on your first visit…get in and get out…Music Director’s love to break new bands…and radio stations love to get behind a good local band, but you’ve got to be just as eager to get behind that local radio station!