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The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section
Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete
reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false
promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians
so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.
So You Really Want to Be on Commercial Radio
You've got an amazing song and you think that you won't be able to sleep at night unless you get it onto a commercial radio station for millions of fans to listen because somewhere along the line, someone got it into your head that that would be your defining moment. So here's what you do: Find the person that told you it was the most important thing for you to do and slap them so hard it leaves a mark. Now that we've got that out of the way here's how it worked at the radio stations I worked for:
Jennifer Cadence is a singer/songwriter, president and founder of anything but major records and founder of "how the hell do i get there" a website dedicated to providing free help and support to musicians
First of all it costs up words of $250,000 to get ONE song on the radio. If you've got that kind of cash just lying around, hire a radio promoter and give him a big bonus incentive so they'll get your music on the air. Secondly, if you can give me ten names of people right now that listen to regular radio I'd be completely amazed and tell me that the $250,000 you're willing to drop is well worth it. Who wants to voluntarily subject themselves to 20 minutes of commercials while hoping to hear their "favorite" song. I can think of a million other thing I'd like to do, including running my car off the side of a cliff, than listen to that crap. So if you're like the rest of us broke (and sane) musicians I'll go through ways to get actual air play without signing your life away to the devil.
First I need to explain the difference in radio stations:
Commercial: The big boys. These stations tend to dominate the central part of the dial and are greedy bastards. Thanks to our wonderful government, corporations are now allowed to own as many stations as they want as long as they have the money. Did you know that Clear Channel, the single biggest station owner, was started by a few car salesman!
Free air/Thin air/Independent: Depending on who you talk to these will be grouped with community but I'm listing that on it's own. There's a very long description as to where the names came from and what they are but here's the short version: Some rich guy decides to buy a radio station or two in a market and funds it either completely out of his own pocket or sells some of his space for local advertisers. In return he gets to play whatever he wants. There is the rare occasion that space gets sold to big corporations but like I said its rare. Oh and the more important thing is that they don't answer to stock holders.
Community: Similar to Independent radio only rather than having some rich guy fund them they rely on community donations and the occasional community advertising.
Satellite: Pretty self explanatory. It's easier to get play on these because they have so many channel plus they have channels set aside for certain styles like acoustic or singer/ songwriter and they're constantly looking for new stuff.
College: In my opinion these should be considered the holy grail for independent artist air play. They don't care what song you're trying to push at them for a single, if they like you're stuff they'll play whatever they feel like off you're CD (in most cases). They're more willing to give you air play than any other type of station AND for those that need that little reminder to be nice THEY BECOME THE BIG WIGS AT BIGGER RADIO STATIONS! So many people are so mean to college stations and I just can't figure out why...
So now you know the difference between stations, what next? DO YOUR RESEARCH! Make sure that the station (and person aka find out who the programming director is) you're submitting your music to ACTUALLY PLAYS YOUR TYPE OF MUSIC!!!!!! This is one of those really obvious things that very few seem to grasp so I'll put it this way: IT SAVES YOU MONEY AND YOU DON'T LOOK LIKE AN INCONSIDERATE JERK! Drill it into your brain. If you understand that concept, you're already a mile ahead of 75% of the competition.
Next the best step, especially for college radio, is to give them a reason to play your music. If you get a show at the college that you're trying to get airplay at, your chance of getting played became almost a guarantee. If that happens, REMIND THE STATION! They don't always know that you got a gig there and they're not playing your music. Another good idea is to stop by the school, walk up to the student activities center and hand every one there a copy of your CD and tickets to your show. While you're there ask them if there's any way to drop off free stuff (key word free) at the campus radio station. DON'T EVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF THE COLLEGE AUDIENCE! They're the one going to your show and passing you around the internet.
Once you start getting college or community radio play (did I mention to start with those?), update your One sheet and make sure you send it out with your music for potential satellite or independent air play. The beauty of independent and community stations (btw) is that they often feature local artists and allow them to play live in the studio. If this goes well for you and you have some extra cash laying around than it's time to hire a radio promoter and try to get your music on a few local commercial radio stations.
With all of this said, you could do what the Dave Matthews Band does: make awesome music, release a CD and then have the radio stations call you for a single. Well it doesn't work exactly that way but after six months of fans calling angry that they're not hearing an awesome new song the PD eventually catches on and finds a way to get the song on the air.
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The Independent Music world has become so fragmented that anyone entering into this arena will be lost without
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path that leads to success. Sure, you can buy a few books from authors that never played a note or loaded
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