We spoke to Matthew Davies aka MYDIR who was recently chosen to host a monthly show on Data Transmission radio on the back of the success of his monthly Electronic Motion podcast.
We spoke to SEM Student CeCe Summers about her new role as music news presenter for School of Electronic Music presents on Reform Radio
SEM joins Reform Radio for a fortnightly radio show in Manchester. We spoke to SEM student and presenter Will Judd to find out more!
Our very first SEM podcast features a full length interview with Sam, director at Manchester’s Reform Radio.
The last decade has seen radio exploding into digital formats and online platforms, often via independent pioneers, enterprising DJs and audio nerds. One such example of this is HOXTON FM, an online radio station based in London that has been making waves on the digital radio waves for 6 years. We speak to the station’s chief Dan ‘Formless to hear how he has grown the station and why he believes radio now is all about what you can see.
HOXTON FM is six years old, and to celebrate founder and chief Dan Formless shares with us his top tips for radio broadcasting today. Essential reading if you’re looking to create your own buzz over the airwaves!
Get your music played on the radio. Part -Two
In part one I took you through how to get your music radio-ready and brought you insider tips on how to make your music stand out. In this next part, I will be taking you through the essential business skills you’ll need to hone to get your music played on the radio.
6: Keep the press release to one page
Send a press release with your CD submissions, but beware of how long you make it. Here’s a few tips from our friend Henrie Rowlatt, an Assistant Producer from BBC 6 Music: “It’s best when they’re just a one sheet press release. The press release should say where the band/group/DJ is from, who’s in the band or what their real name is and what they sound like. Along with the release dates of single/album and tour dates.” Well you heard it from the horse’s mouth, keep it simple!
7: Write a killer EPK
An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is a fresh way of creating a snappy press release online. You can add your own personality to it along with your music, official photos and live dates. A lot of radio stations that accept electronic submissions are now favouring EPKs, so get ahead. You can create a free EPK.
8: Go networking
Find out where the show production teams hangout. They can often be found at music conferences or music festivals. The best way to find this out is to follow them on Twitter, the School’s twitter page is a good place to follow for a diary of events. To start or if you can, try to find out the delegate lists for these events before you sign up. And if you do spot them, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. If they are able to put your face to your music, they’re more likely to remember you and it will count for a lot more than just a press release on their desk. Don’t forget to be prepared with business cards and demos!
9: Don’t be afraid to follow up
So you’ve managed to meet a show producer at a networking event and you’ve sent them your music to be played on the radio. But you haven’t heard anything back? Don’t just assume they don’t like it, they might have missed your message in their inbox or your CD could have got stuck in the post. Follow up with an email or a phone call. There were only a handful of people out of the many who sent me their music and actually followed up. To be honest, those that did the following up stuck in my mind and I actually made an effort to check out their music or perhaps even give it a second chance.
10: Try a different track
Okay, so maybe they didn’t like your music the first time. Don’t be disheartened. They might love one of your follow up tracks. Keep making connections at the radio network and keep sending them tracks. One day they might change their mind and your music could get that all important radio airplay.
If you missed part one you can check it here. Part Three coming soon…
Get your music played on the radio.
So you’ve emerged from your studio after several weeks of spent blood, sweat and tears getting your track mixed to perfection. Now it’s ready for airplay. But how do you get your music played on the radio (and more importantly played) when it’s up against hundreds of other submissions a radio network receives everyday?
Hi I’m Emma Houlton and previously worked on a national network BBC specialist show and it was my job to sift through hundreds of track submissions every day. Artists had their work cut out trying to capture my attention, and I certainly had my work cut out trying to clear the hoards of submissions off my desk. What was it that made me put tracks into the shortlist and others straight in the bin? Read my definitive guide to getting airplay.
1: Do your homework and be realistic
Research the radio shows you want to feature and be played, Is your track something that would suit the show? Find out if they play emerging artists. If they don’t, then it’s a waste of your time getting in touch with them. For a full list of UK radio stations. Be realistic though, you might believe that your music is ready to be played on the radio or BBC Radio 1 but if it has not created traction on other specialist shows at the BBC, it is not likely to get played. BBC Radio 1 daytime is heavily playlisted and shows are only given a handful of free plays away from that playlist. Unfortunately they are very unlikely to take a punt on a completely unknown artist and are much more likely to play it safe. Remember, their own credibility is at stake here too. Go for suitable specialist shows that are usually in the evening. They have a lot more free plays and are a lot more likely to give a new artist a chance. Once you’ve whittled it down to which shows your music will potentially suit, get a working knowledge of the show running order so that when you get in touch you can explain confidently why your track would be suitable for their listeners. Look up things such as regular features and who they’ve had on the show. And of course, research their recent playlists.
2: Contact the production team, not the DJ
Find out the names and contact details of the production teams for the radio stations. Get in touch with them about your music, not the DJ directly (unless you are friends with the DJ of course!) Contrary to what you might think, on many shows it’s the production teams who mainly make the decisions as to what is going to be played on the show along with the DJ’s input. Also many producers man email accounts for the shows too. The DJ does not have the time to sift through submissions, they land on the desk of the producer who will cherry pick tracks that they think may be suitable for the show and that the DJ might be interested in playing. The producer and the DJ will then have a meeting about new music they are excited about, and decide together which tracks will get that all important airplay. Yeah, production teams are pretty important!
3: Make sure your track is radio friendly
I know this sounds like an obvious one, but submitting a track that is 10 minutes long or full of expletives is going to make it fall at the first hurdle and doubt you get your music played on the radio, if you’re wanting to get your music onto mainstream radio. Also make sure that its is mixed down and mastered ready for radio broadcast. In your first submission, make it as radio friendly as possible by keeping it simple and cutting out any lengthy intros. You have about 10 seconds to capture the attention of the producer before they move onto the next submission. You probably have even less time to captivate your listener if your track is lucky enough to get airplay, so start the track out in it’s best light possible. Of course if a DJ wants to add your track to their 30 minute mini-mix, they may request an extended version, so have your full 10 minute mix standing by ready to send. When mixing your track intended for airplay, make the lead vocal prominent (if there are any vocals) but aim for a good solid level overall. Make sure that there is no digital clipping though! Most radio programmes are mixed down to an output of -6db and a sample type of 44100 Hz 32-bit. Bear this in mind when mixing down too, If you are new to mixing down we cover this on our Diploma courses Also important is finding out which format the show prefers to receive submissions. Unlike record labels, quite a lot of stations are still old school and prefer to receive CDs through the post. On the show I worked on, we deleted emails with MP3 submissions or Soundcloud links as they just clogged up our inbox. If they do prefer CD submissions, keep it simple. Don’t accompany it with a comprehensive 10 page biog, it’ll just rub them up the wrong way and create more waste paper. We asked Henrie Rowlatt, an Assistant Producer at BBC 6 Music what she looked for in a CD submission:
“Personally I look for labels I know and references to bands I like, plus PRs I trust. But there isn’t just one thing really. Just don’t get fancy on the presentation, no posters or massive heavy GSM paper photos. There’s no point! Have a good striking image in the sleeve, but big A4 folders and gimmicks don’t really work. Though the occasional chocolate is always welcomed!”
If they prefer a link to your music (such as Soundcloud), make sure you send a downloadable link. The easier you make it for them to add it to their playout system, the better. Production teams sometimes don’t have the time to chase artists up for music files, and will quite often get in touch with you after the track has been played.
4: Make a noise on print and online
Radio shows like to see that you have had a positive response in other media. Good reviews in influential music blogs or music magazines will get you a lot nearer to getting that airplay. Get to grips with who the influential bloggers are within your genre and reach out to them. Bloggers are hungry for new music and they often love to have an exclusive on a new release. But note that the really influential ones want the freshest, newest releases around and only really take notice of a track that is less than a month old. Pre-release make sure you get your act together and schedule when you are going to release your track. A self-release or on a label, you still need to have a timeline for how you are going to help promote it yourself. I know it’s also obvious, but a social media presence like Facebook or any evidence that you have a growing following also goes a long way to getting your track played. As much as radio DJs like to take the credit for discovering the next big thing, they don’t want their show to be relied on as a sole source of promotion, they like to see that your music has longevity that will flourish outside of an airplay.
5: If you can afford it, hire a good radio plugger
Yes, a good plugger can be expensive but if you are serious about getting your music played on the radio, they are really your only option to getting seen above all the other submissions that are received every day. Your music might be amazing, but you need the right channels to make people aware of your music. The role of a plugger is pretty simple. They have good relationships with radio stations and their choice of artists on their rosters are taken seriously by network producers and DJs. Any new releases sent over by them are often given more consideration over an outsider doing it independently.
Some pluggers also have influence in playlist meetings, which usually take place once a week at the larger national networks. The playlist committee, made up of members of staff across the organisation and independents will decide which tracks will go on the A/B/C playlists on a station for that week. The A list is rotated (played) the most on station output, this is usually made up of highly established artists. Whereas the C list has the least rotation, but sometimes they will give a promising new track a punt to see how it goes down with their listeners. Getting onto the C list of a national is a pretty big achievement as a new artist, but with the assistance of a good plugger and a suitable track, it is not unachievable. It would be however quite a grand feat it you tried to get your track onto the playlist yourself.
There are a lot of pluggers out there, but make sure that you do your homework on them before you part with any cash. See who they have on their roster and find out what airplay they have had. Make sure that you work with a plugger who is an expert in your genre and believes in your music. Most good pluggers won’t work with an artist if they are not a good fit on their roster or if they’re not into your music. A bad plugger will take your money regardless and not get you any results. A good resource for finding a plugger is by subscribing to the Music Week Directory:
school of electronic music covers “getting your music played on the radio” and a lot more on its Music Business Course
Part Two …
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