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Monday, August 29, 2011
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Getting Your Song Played on Radio

Lately I've noticed a change in that independent artists are not approaching the radio industry. They are putting energy instead into getting their songs aired on internet radio stations. There's a simple reason: An increasing number of indie artists are finding it more efficient to use the internet for getting their songs played on radio because an increasing number of terrestrial radio stations are not interested in offering music from new artists.

"It's a nearly universal artist perspective that all it takes is one listen to decide if a radio station should add your song." It's not that getting your song played on a terrestrial radio station isn't important anymore, or that having your song played on an internet radio station has swollen in value. The traditional radio industry is focusing more on fewer major acts, leaving little airtime for unknown artists. At the same time, more internet radio stations are devoting a larger portion of their playlists to exposing new music.

The internet is now a "music discovery" medium, much more so than the radio industry at large.

I spent the past decade building the only online destination that focuses on an audience of internet radio programmers who are looking for new music ( At the same time, I built the highest search engine-ranked radio station portal ( Interacting with indie artists and internet radio programmers, by default, has given me insight to how an independent artist needs to approach this nascent world of new music distribution.

There are many wasted motions, and possibly quite a bit of promotional suicide taking place, which I'd like to outline here. But as this is a lengthy topic, let's present it in two parts. Today, "Part 1."

You may use these suggestions or discard them. Just know that as someone who is on the receiving end of indie artist music and on the distribution end of getting songs played on radio, I hear from both worlds. These observations are for artists trying for radio airplay, or those just trying to promote/sell their music online.

1) The value of a song has changed, dramatically.
I know you have quality music. And I know that your legion of fans are clamoring to hear the latest notes you've strung into a song. But, the value of anything is determined by supply and demand and - at this time - supply is far outstripping the demand.

We're no longer in a time when merely being good will start word-of-mouth promotion. Shorter attention spans, exposure to much more new music online, and thousands of web sites devoted to promoting independent artists makes finding time to fit even more "new music" into a person's day difficult.

2) Nobody owes it to you to listen to your song(s).
If anything drives this point home, it's something told to me not long ago by the programmer of one large internet radio station: "I have more new music than I have time to listen."

This is the largest problem that any musician or band needs to circumvent. How do you make sure your song(s) fit in the "time" a programmer has to listen?

There are services that help, but an indie artist often hesitates if the service charges a fee. Why? I've been told, many times, it's because the artist doesn't feel it necessary to pay to have their music on the radio. Only, that's not what a music distribution service is charging for. It's their system which allows a more direct route to a radio programmer's ear that costs, or the fee is there to keep the hoards of artists who have undeveloped talent (and should not be requesting radio industry airplay) from submitting their work.

Audio Graphics' RRadio Music places a low $9.95 charge on its submission process because of the latter. Yet, you'd be surprised at how many artists refuse to pay even this amount to reach, literally, hundreds of radio programmers.

3) It's a nearly universal artist perspective that all it takes is one listen to decide if a radio station should add your song. Hence, the thought that there's little time spent by the programmer to hear what you have to offer. This is an erroneous concept, and the last one we'll cover in "Part 1" of this topic.

Every day, I receive emails from acts wanting me to listen to their song (because "they know I'll find it worthwhile") and to suggest it to stations listed at Audio Graphics' RadioRow. Others petition me to hear what they've produced because it "belongs" in our list at RRadio Music.

All I'm asked to do is "listen." But what's not considered is this: To decide if a song is worthwhile requires at least 3 listening sessions. Then, notifying those stations, or writing the code to place their song at RRadio Music, requires a minimum of an hour's work.

I'm for helping both the indie artist and the online radio industry, but each takes time. And, as the adage goes, time is money.

Part 2 of this will dig into construction of a song, distribution of new songs, and the desire of the public to pay for something that's available free (nearly everywhere). I'll also touch on why I think distributing one song is now passe, and why our new form of music distribution for indie artists has evolved into placing songs into short-form programs, like Audio Graphics' "Intro to Indie Artists" series.

How you get music into the radio industry is different today. The competition is much stiffer, while the number of songs seeking exposure is much greater.

"Wishing" that a radio industry insider will listen to your song still appears to be the route most bands choose. Only now there are thousands of radio stations online, and that "radio industry insider" may just be connected to one of them.

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