Most aspiring artists don’t fully understand the dynamics of commercial radio, so I decided to compile a list of some general insights, below.
- The primary mission of commercial radio is to sell “commercials”, not to break new artists.
- The goal of commercial radio is to build an audience and draw attention to those 30-second advertising slots.
- The DJs on the commercial radio level have no say at all as to what songs go into rotation.
- For the most part, DJs on commercial radio spin songs according to a given playlist set by the station’s Music/Program Director.
- Commercial radio stations derive their primary income from advertising and they need to show sponsors that they have a large listener-ship.
- The commercial radio station will play music that it feels will both draw and hold the largest audience.
Pairing your indie career with commercial radio:
- If you have the budget, then you can duplicate the marketing practices of larger labels to get your songs in rotation. You will need to enlist the services of a well-connected and competent radio promoter who has relationships with key Program Directors. Before enlisting a Radio Promoter, it’s very important that you check his/her references.
- It is wise to do market research on your song first before investing thousands of dollars in to a national radio campaign.
- Commercial Radio spins should be the second phase for an artist to implement. Develop the song virally and create a word of mouth buzz first. Work your song on the street level (grass roots marketing) and make sure a campaign is under way to get the song spun in the clubs as well. Focus your efforts on the college or specialty/mix-show radio format first and then expand to a commercial radio campaign.
- Make sure your song is registered with Mediabase or BDS before implementing a radio campaign.
- Make sure that you are registered with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC to collect royalties from airplay and performances.
- Once your song is on the radio then a second campaign must be implemented to get your fans to call the radio hotlines to request the song.
- The desired end result of your radio and club campaign should be digital sales of the single, paid performances, etc. Monetize your movement.
- If you’re going to spend thousands of dollars for a national commercial radio campaign, then DON’T do it to try to impress a major label. Implement a radio campaign to expand awareness for you song, your indie label and your brand.
Don’t get the above content twisted/confused with indie and online radio, though. This is where I’d recommend all independent artists to start. Indie/online radio supports most anyone from local acts to underground legends. They rely on the fan base of the indie artist’s they play for listener-ship and don’t pivot solely around monetary gain. Get to work, and get on the airwaves somewhere…regardless of what people say, there are still millions of radio listeners today.