A Step-By-Step Guide to Submitting Your Music To Radio – Commercial, College, and Satellite
Radio Stations That Will Play Your Music
With all the attention on Spotify and other streaming platforms nowadays, it’s easy to forget how important radio still is for growing your fanbase. But finding out how to submit your music to radio remains a challenge. No more!
In this post we’re going to walk you, step-by-step, how to submit your music to radio stations of all types. Radio stations will play your music – especially if it’s good. But knowing how to submit your music is key to getting their attention and getting on the air.
Reminder: we have an entire course dedicated to how to network in the music industry. Click here to check it out!
Submit Music to College Radio Stations
I love college radio. It’s where the music-loving community of a university campus comes together. Even with the advent of streaming music, this is still true. Perhaps less so, but still. College radio makes up the bulk of all public radio and their formatting is often similar, so look at this as advice for college and public radio as a whole.
College radio is usually easier to get on the airwaves for, but it will have a smaller audience than their commercial counterparts. If you are producing music that is non-pop or even on the fringes, you will often find a show or two on each college station ready to try your stuff out.
College radio stations are also great for padding your touring schedule with in-station interviews. These can be “practice” for when you’re being interviewed by a bigger outlet later. They can be good for band morale (when you don’t over-do it). And they can be great for letting the local promoter know you are working to help her sell tickets to your gig.
Speaking of – when touring, be sure to ask each promoter for the friendly radio stations in their market. In fact, ask for media outlets of all types. Many promoters keep an active list. And ask for referrals!
Who to pitch your songs to at college radio
Generally, college radio breaks their schedule up into individual shows, each run by the individual host. This presents both challenges as well as opportunities to get on the air. You will need to dig deep to find the individual show that is right for your music. And keep in mind, the schedule will be constantly changing. At any time, a host could have dropped out, graduated, or simply stopped showing up. You’ll want to make sure you are looking at an accurate schedule. Most college radio station websites are at least OKAY at keeping their schedules active.
Reach out to show hosts individually via email or social media. They are volunteering their time and often will be in charge of programming their own music. Feel free to follow-up once or twice, but stop at that point if you haven’t gotten a response.
How to pitch your songs to college radio
Include in your initial pitch a link to your EPK, a link to the mp3 file for the song you are asking them to consider, and be sure to include a list of other radio stations already playing your song (or have played you in the past). This is called “social proof” and is a crucial part of the pitch. Noone wants to be a maverick. Noone wants to be left behind.
Short Note on Public Radio Stations and Online Radio Stations
Most public radio stations ARE college radio stations, but there are exceptions. Most of these stations run very similarly to college radio stations so the advice above should be valid there. In addition, we highly recommend the public radio station WFMU. It’s truly one of the best.
Online radio stations that are not simulcasting their terrestrial version are also often run much like college radio stations. But there are some bigger ones that run more like commercial terrestrial radio stations. Use your judgement as to who and how your’re going to pitch.
Submit Music to Commercial Terrestrial Radio
Commercial radio stations often still have large audiences, despite the challenges of streaming platforms like Spotify. Getting their support can blow up your career in that market, single-handedly. But getting the station’s attention in the right way can be challenging. And getting airplay in their regular rotation is even harder. But for the right kind of band making the right kind of music in the right market, it can be a crucial step to catapulting that band to success. If that’s you – don’t sleep on it.
Who to pitch your songs to at commercial terrestrial radio
The music director at the station is the person choosing the songs in rotation. Nowadays, due to tighter station budgets, a Music Director may also have the role of Program Director and / or could be the Music Director at several radio stations within the same “family” at the same time. It’s not unheard of for the Music Director to wear a number of different hats for the station, including on-air personality, so be prepared to be pitching a busy, busy person.
In addition, many stations are now programmed from a central location outside the local market. So hoping you get some “local love” can be misplaced. Make sure you know before you start trying to figure out how to pitch them.
How to pitch your songs to commercial terrestrial radio
Personal relationships are key. Find out where they are going to be when doing public station events. Ask for referrals from others who might know them. And follow them and try to develop a relationship on social media. (Again, check out our Connected course for how to do this PROPERLY.)
You’ll want to make your pitch in person whenever possible. Ask if you can send a link to the single via email and be sure you are either wearing something or something happens during that conversation that will be memorable for them. This way, when you send the follow-up email, you can include this memorable item in your Subject Line to increase the chance they will open and read it. For example, We Compared Tattoos Last Thursday would make a good Subject Line. Or Blonde Mohawk With The Ukelele At The Film Premiere.
Include in your email a link to the EPK, a link to the mp3 file you are pitching (but not the attachment), some Spotify #s that will wow them (if you don’t have any, get some), and a list of other radio stations playing your track.
Alternatively, hire an experienced radio publicist who has gotten artists onto this station, specifically. Before hiring them, ask them their confidence level in getting your single on the station as well. READ THEM AND TRUST YOUR GUT. Some will make promises they know they can’t deliver in order to get your money. Listen to what they don’t say as much as what they do. If your gut doesn’t feel right, pass. Save your money for the next publicist, or the next single, or another pursuit.
Not All Airtime On Commercial Radio Is The Same
Most commercial radio stations will have an hour here or there reserved for niche shows, and maybe even a local music hour. Proceed with caution. The local music shows, in particular, can be quicksand. Some of them have an audience but most have a small audience. And the value of being heard on the Local Music show is limited, while your ability to “break out” of being considered “another local band” is desperately challenging. If you have modest goals for your band, by all means, enjoy the support of the local music show. If your goals are bigger, know the airplay on that show is possibly more of a detriment than a plus. You’ll be like a tv actor in a sit-com – always thought of as “that character”.
However, as you are trying to develop a relationship with the radio station, the local music host will be one of the easiest ways in. Ask for a referral for the Music Director. Take them out for coffee and pick their brain as to how to become more a part of the station as a whole. Explore opportunities like live music showcases and other events sponsored or put on by the radio station. These can all be a great way to increase your audience.
Submit Music to Satellite Radio
Sirius XM in the United States and Canada has become a huge tastemaker for the genres its stations cover. For many genres, it’s the only way a song can be broadcast to a huge audience all at once. Regular airplay on any of Sirius XM’s stations is an absolute career-maker for some bands.
As Sirius XM has all this power in the music industry, record labels and management companies are very aggressive about securing that airtime for their artists. If you are an independent artist, it will probably make sense to invest your time, energy, and resources in to other pursuits.
Still interested? Keep reading!
Who to pitch your songs to at satellite radio
Sirius XM is programmed station-by-station. There are a combination of music directors, committees, and hosts making choices as to what songs are getting airplay and what songs are not. You can seek out the hosts and Music Directors but be prepared to find out the station for your genre isn’t run like another.
How to pitch your songs to satellite radio
Frankly, you really must have a record label and/or management company pitching for you. If satellite radio is a crucial part of what you envision as needing for your career, only sign with a management company and record label who have artists currently or recently on the satellite radio station you are targeting.
Be sure to work with an experienced radio publicist with a track record of getting artists on that station as well. Your record label and management company can recommend someone effective. But again, the cost of the publicist will come from your future royalties, so trust your gut and don’t work with anyone who hasn’t been able to deliver for someone similar before.