International Songwriters Association (ISA) Songs And Songwriting • Getting Your Songs On Radio

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Getting Your Songs On Radio

Jim Liddane
Jim Liddane: Sound Channel Radio

Introduction by Jim Liddane
An avid radio enthusiast and record collector, in 1980 I wangled my way into the broadcasting staff of Big L Radio Limerick, where I hosted a number of shows, before moving in 1986 to Sound Channel 102FM.

Three years later, Jim Wallace invited me to join in seeking the first commercial radio licence to be awarded by the Irish government's Independent Radio & Television Commission. Our application was successful and Radio Limerick One (RLO 95FM) went on air in October 1989 with me performing the roles of Controller of Pogrammes, Company Legal Secretary and Radio Presenter. I may have also made the tea.

For a songwriter, having your record played on the radio can be a crucial step in gaining exposure and growing your fan base. In this article, I will try to explain how to use radio to further your career.

Jim Liddane
Jim Liddane: Radio Limerick 95fm

A lot of people still believe that their favourite DJ plays what he likes. In fact, he (or she) rarely does, except perhaps on oldies shows, or other specialist programmes. Most of the time, they are handed a playlist and warned not to stray from it.

But still there are DJs who are given some latitude, and in some cases even encouraged to include something not on the outlet's playlist.

As the newly-installed Controller of Programmes of one of Ireland's first commercial radio stations, I found myself inundated daily with new material sent in by bands, singers and songwriters.

Everything was listened to very carefully and our dedication paid off when we became the first radio station to play a track by the emerging Limerick band (and soon-to-be international stars) The Cranberries.

But to be honest, a lot of what we got was of no use - not because of the quality of the songs, but because the recording was technically too poor to broadcast.

Getting your material played on radio is still possible if you go about it the right way. Just remember to make sure your song is registered beforehand with your chosen performing rights organisation so that you end up getting paid!

Once that has been done (and only then), these few notes may help you achieve your goal.

1. Research and Target the Right Stations

• Identify Suitable Stations: Research which stations are likely to play your genre of music. Look for both local and national stations. A local station is far more likely to play a local act.

• Understand Their Audience: Know the demographics of the station’s audience to ensure your music aligns with their taste. If they do not already play your style of music, it is unlikely they will start now.

2. Prepare a Professional Package

• High-Quality Recording: Ensure your track is professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered. Remember the old engineer's phrase - is it broadcast quality?

• Bio and Press Kit: Prepare a professional press kit that includes your biography, high-resolution photos, press releases, and previous media coverage. If you do not know how to do this, ask your local newspaper for an old press kit and copy it! Alternatively, this service is often advertised on Fiverr.

• Cover Letter: Write a personalised cover letter for each station, briefly explaining who you are, your music, and why it would be a good fit for their audience. If you are likely to have any connection with that station's audience in the future (gigs etc), mention this. I once received a disk from a band way outside our catchment area but we played it anyway because the letter said that the drummer's aunt, Helen, lived in Limerick! We were a bit miffed admittedly to later discover that Aunt Helen apparently also lived in Cork, Clare, Kerry, Waterford and God knows how many more radio stations' franchises!

3. Submit Your Music

• Digital Submission: Have a look at the station's website. Many stations accept digital submissions via email or through their website. Include links to your track on platforms like SoundCloud, YouTube, or Bandcamp. If possible, talk to somebody at the station and get the name of the DJ who is in a position to play non-playlist material and address the letter to him personally.

• Physical Submission: Some stations still prefer physical CDs. If so, ensure the CD is labeled properly and includes your contact information.

4. Follow Submission Guidelines

• Check Requirements: Each station will have its own submission guidelines. Follow these carefully to ensure your music is considered.

• Include Metadata: Make sure your digital files include proper metadata (artist name, track title, album title, genre, etc.).

5. Leverage Connections

• Network: Connect with DJs, producers, and other industry professionals who might help get your music played.

• Attend Events: Go to industry events, radio station events, and music festivals to meet people in the industry. Ask radio DJs for advice on your recording. They don't often get asked, but if they are, they might slip your disc in on one of their shows!

6. Promote Your Submission

• Social Media: Use social media to announce your submission and tag the station. This shows engagement and might catch the station’s attention.

• Engage with the Station: Listen to their shows, participate in their social media discussions, and build a relationship with the station and its staff.

7. Follow Up

• Polite Persistence: If you don’t hear back after a few weeks, send a polite follow-up email. Keep it short and respectful.

• Thank You Notes: If your track gets played, send a thank you note or card (not an email) to express your appreciation to the DJ who played it. He will definitely show it to his boss!

8. Utilise Independent Promotion Services

• Hire a Radio Promoter: Consider hiring a professional radio promoter who has established relationships with stations and can help pitch your music.

• Use Submission Platforms: Platforms like SubmitHub or MusicSubmit can help you submit your music to multiple stations and playlists.

9. Local and College Radio

• Start Small: Begin with local and college radio stations, which are often more open to new and independent artists. Start with just one station. Don't go big until you are sure your package and your sound are 100% perfect.

• Community Involvement: Engage with local communities and participate in local music scenes to increase your chances of airplay.

10. Keep Track of Your Submissions

• Organise Submissions: Keep a record of where and when you’ve submitted your music, and note any feedback or airplay you receive.

• Analyse Feedback: Use any feedback you get to improve future submissions.

Getting new material on air is not going to be easy, but by following these steps and maintaining persistence, you can increase your chances of getting your record played on the radio.

Copyright Songwriter Magazine, International Songwriters Association & Jim Liddane: All Rights Reserved

The Knowledge

If you have wandered onto this page by accident, then you may very well be wondering what "The Knowledge" button above is all about.

"The Knowledge" is a free multi-part course which takes you from thinking up the basic idea for your song, through using AI or Artificial Intelligence to help improve your writing skills, to penning the title, the lyric and the melody. It then covers plagiarism (what to do if you're told your song sounds like another one!) and copyrighting your song, so that you can take action if your work is stolen.

Finally, it deals with selling your song, promoting your demo, music publishers, putting your songs on the web, and in movies, or on television, getting the money in, raising cash to fund your career via crowd-funding, before setting up your own music publishing company so that you get to keep all of the money! And that blue button at the bottom of each lesson simply takes you to the next lesson.

If however you would like to go back to Lesson 1 and start the course (it will take about 90 minutes to complete), then just press HERE

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