Engaging community media is one of the best ways to get your music played on the radio.
If you are in a band, chances are you want to be heard someday on the radio. There’s a great interview with Young M.A., who reflects on her independent grind being rewarded by first hearing her song on the radio. To many artists, airplay is a sign you have accomplished something.
However, many musical performers do not get the radio recognition they want. Commercial radio is often limited and does not make time for local and regional music. Changes in Federal Communications Commission regulations have paved the way for station conglomerates to close area studios completely, while continuing to have a place on the dial.
If you are an independent artist, community radio represents a wonderful avenue to get your music played. Its diverse programming and local spirit make these unique stations an exciting spot to be heard.
How does a musician get her or his music played on community radio? First, you should find a community radio station and determine which stations and programs you want to contact. Community radio stations feature a range of specialty music programming. To find the shows that play genres most fitting with your sound, check the stations’ websites and playlists and make notes on these stations and programs for later. Streaming the target programs might help you find if your music blends well.
You may wish to talk to each station, if it’s not posted, to find out their music policies. Some stations maintain a music CD library for its program hosts to use for airplay, and may want you to send your music there. Others may leave music up to DJs to receive. Some do both. Many prefer hardcopy CD while others do digital. Check and find out before you submit.
Next, you will want to prepare your kit to send to target stations. A biography, information about your release, artists you match well with, and suggested tracks are helpful for DJs. Radio is about storytelling, so any interesting anecdotes you can share can only help DJs to tell your story to the audience.
When submitting music, it is critical to either submit solely clean music (i.e. music without prohibited language) or advisories on tracks with profanities. The FCC considers several words unsuitable for airtime during the broadcast day. Stations are permitted to air profanity in safe harbor, which is after 10 p.m. local time. However, different stations have varied rules and may choose not to air such music at all. Airing them opens up a station to fines, and musicians should edit them out or advise stations appropriately.
Obscene content, generally music depicting sexual content or material without serious artistic merit, is not protected by safe harbor or the First Amendment. Stations risk large fines and loss of license for broadcasting obscene material, so please remove anything that could be considered obscene from your submission.
Finally, community radio is volunteer-centered, so the program you contact may be one curated by a local DJ contributing their time. You may wish to email the station or DJ, or simply call the station or buzz the studio during a DJ’s shift, to get feedback. Most DJs are happy to talk with you.
Community radio is a great friend of independent artists. Connect with a local station today.