How to get your song played on the radio

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Radio remains one of the most popular mediums for listening to music, creating a huge potential audience for emerging artists. According to research conducted by Nielson, radio reaches 92% of adults in the United States every week. Therefore, getting your song played on the radio remains a great way of boosting your popularity and can make a huge impact on your career.

However, getting radio airplay doesn’t just happen. You need to do your research and approach radio stations the right way to put all the odds in your favor. Here are our tips to help you prepare and set yourself up for success.

1. Commercial vs non-commercial radio

The first step to getting your song played on the radio is to know the difference between commercial and non-commercial stations.

Commercial radio

As the name indicates, a commercial radio refers to any station that includes advertisements in their broadcast. They are, generally speaking, prominent radio stations that have high ratings which incites advertisers to pay for ad-slots to reach a large audience. Nowadays, many of the most popular stations are commercial radios. Due to their popularity and high audiences, getting your song played on a commercial radio can be career-making! Nevertheless, it can be difficult for emerging artists to get their music played on these stations.

Non-commercial radio

Non-commercial radio stations do not include any advertisements in their broadcasts. A few good examples are college radio stations, community-based radios, online radios, and smaller independent radio stations. Although non-commercial radios don’t necessarily have the same reputation or audience as commercial stations, they are a great starting point for getting airplay and sharing your music! Not only are they more approachable as they are generally run by a smaller team, but there is often more space for larger varieties of music and independent artists.

2. Choose the right radio station

When it comes to sending your music to radio stations, take the time to think about who your music is aimed at. By doing so, you can narrow down the potential radio stations that will be a good fit.

Target the radio

You’ve heard of quality over quantity, right? Well, that applies to this situation too! It’s not about how many radio stations you get in touch with, but rather the relevance of those that you contact.

Every radio station has its own values, target audience, and theme or genre. Put simply, we suggest that you avoid wasting your time submitting your indie rock song to a hip-hop radio station. Instead, search for radios that correspond to your musical universe to increase your chances of getting airplay. You may find that your style doesn’t fit into one category, and that’s fine! In this case, you can broaden your search to radios that correspond to at least one of your genres. You may also want to search for local radio stations as they are often open to sharing local talent.

How to reach out

Once you have determined which radios you want to contact, it’s time to actually get in touch. But how? There isn’t one specific right answer here, it will depend on the radio station itself.

Start by looking on the radio station’s website to see if they have a submission form specifically for this purpose. This will ensure that your entry is seen by the right person! If no submission form is available, search for the contact details of the station’s producer, a specific DJ or the music director for example. Again, this information should be available on the radio website or social media.

Remember that some radios will only accept submissions that are sent through the proper channel, and in the correct format so make sure to double check before hitting send. You may also want to start out by contacting smaller stations as they will probably have fewer requests which can increase your chances of getting airplay. This could give you credentials for future submissions with larger radios.

3. Build an online presence

As an artist, it’s essential that you have an online presence to create a fanbase and share your work.

Show that you already have a following

It may sound unfair, but the reality is that many DJs and radio producers won’t take your submission seriously if you don’t have a strong online presence. Make sure that you are active on multiple platforms, and that you know how to use them to your advantage to promote yourself, and your music. Many artists are discovered through social media, sometimes all it takes is one hit to go viral!

The music industry can be a competitive place, especially for emerging artists trying to get their work out there. Sometimes, little things can make a huge difference. If a radio DJ hears two songs that they like, but can only broadcast one, they are more likely to go with the artist that shows who they are on social media, and who visibly takes the time to create content and build a fanbase.

Show that you're invested

You don’t necessarily need 100,000 followers to your name, but working on your online presence also shows that you’re invested in your career as an artist. Social media is essential when it comes to music promotion and creating your image. It’s a great way to show radio DJs and producers that you take your career seriously and are working hard to get your music heard.

4. Create an electronic press kit

First impressions matter, so put all the odds in your favor by creating an electronic press kit (EPK). Send this kit along with your submission to show the radio station who the person behind the music is.

Present yourself

The first part of your EPK should be dedicated to you as a person and artist. Start with basic information such as your name, age, where you’re from, and your music genre(s). You may even want to include a phrase or two to describe your music, your style, and where you get your inspiration from. Remember that the person receiving your music and EPK knows nothing about you, so you need to quickly give them the essential information to better understand who you are! This can help them better understand your music and your vision as an artist. It’s also a great way to show your professionalism, and that you’re taking your career seriously.

Include all your links

As your kit will be sent electronically, don’t forget to include all relevant links too. If you have your own website, be sure to highlight it as it can provide a lot of useful information to radio DJs and producers. If you have an online presence, ensure you include links to all of your social media profiles too. This is another way for those receiving your EPK to find out a bit more about you.

Although you are likely submitting just one song for radio airplay, this doesn’t mean that you can’t include links to your other songs too. If you’re available to listen to on platforms such as Spotify for example, you should absolutely include a link to your artist profile. This will allow them to listen to your other creations, which is always a bonus!

5. Make sure your song is radio-friendly

When submitting your song to a radio station, make sure that it respects the various requirements to increase your chances of getting airplay.

Radio edit

To maximize the chance of getting your song played on the radio, think about whether you’ll need to make a radio edit. There are 2 elements that should be taken into account when submitting your song to a radio station:

  • The length of your song: your track should last between 2:30-4:00 minutes. If it’s longer than that, you may have a harder time finding a station that will broadcast it. If your song is currently over 4 minutes long, we suggest that you create a shorter version specifically for the radio.
  • A censored version: if your song includes profanities, you may want to create a “clean” version in which you remove or replace any obscene language.

The right format

You must also ensure that you have included all the metadata on your track so that producers and DJs at the radio station have all the necessary information such as: title, performer, author, composer, producer, ISRC code, duration, BPM, release date…

The radio station may specify on the preferred audio format for submissions on their website, but if they don’t, you may want to include various formats. We suggest that you submit the industry standard formats: MP3, WAV, and also include any links to streaming platforms such as Spotify.

6. Create your own online radio station

If you’re having no luck with existing radio stations, why not create a radio station yourself? Online radio has become increasingly popular and gives your listeners easy access via their smartphones and connected devices.

Create a radio station with RadioKing

You may be thinking “I don’t have the technical knowledge to create an online radio station”. Guess what? Nowadays, you don’t need to be a tech wizard to do it yourself. For example, RadioKing has designed a tool that allows anyone and everyone to get their own radio station up and running.

All you need to get started is a computer and an Internet connection! As a recording artist, you probably already have a microphone (and maybe even a mixer, which can be a bonus.) You can then upload your content, create your playlists & programs and easily schedule them to broadcast whenever you want. Plus, with RadioKing you’ll have access to detailed statistics to help you better understand your audience and their listening habits.

What to broadcast

Use your radio station to put your music in the spotlight! It’s the perfect way to showcase your talent and promote your creations. In order to gain listeners, you need to create an identity for your radio station. This means creating other playlists and content that correspond to your content, such as:

  • Inspiration: a playlist dedicated to music and artists that have inspired you on your musical journey.
  • Independent artists: share the music of other emerging artists. This can help you create connections with other musicians and perhaps ask them to promote your music on their platforms in exchange.

You can also create radio shows (live or pre-recorded) where you explain your creative process, the meaning behind a particular song, or even talk about the recording equipment and software that you use. This radio station is your own, so the content is completely up to you!

Getting your song played on the radio is no easy task. It requires preparation, dedication and perseverance. Don’t be discouraged if you’re unsuccessful at first, make sure you’re targeting the right radio stations and showcasing your strong points. Make sure that your expectations are realistic and that you keep an open mind. Good luck!

Author picture

Anaïs Salenbier has been the International Content Manager at RadioKing since 2018. Her main task is to create written and video content to help people develop and improve their radio projects. Born in the UK, she has lived in France for the past 10 years and has a real passion for music and audio.