How to Get Your Music on the Radio

How to Get Your Music on the Radio

You’ve just recorded your latest CD. Now, you want to get those songs played on the radio. Follow these tips to ensure a successful radio-airplay campaign.

Confetti. Confetti.
Love. Love.
I am so proud of you, friend.
What a huge accomplishment this is.
You did it.
And, you did it with heart.

Today, we’re talking about a few things you can do that will make a big difference in getting your songs played on the radio. Let’s dive in.

CD Packaging & Design

Choose a CD package design that has a spine. Print your band name and album name on the spine in an easy-to-read font and color. You want your CD to stand out on the shelf of the radio station library. Make it easy for the DJs to find your CD.

One of my past jobs was working at a community radio station in the CD library. I would round up CDs for the DJs for each show, and I would re-shelve the CDs in the library after each show. An easy-to-read CD spine made all the difference in this task. Flat, envelope-style CD packages with no spines were like needles in haystacks — they were sitting right there on the shelves along with all the other CDs but could not be seen at a glance. Sometimes, a DJ would ask me to go into the library and choose a CD during a show. If the CD had a brightly colored spine, my eye went right to it. Keep all this in mind when making your CD-packaging decisions.

Use black type on a white background in your lyrics booklet. Make it easy for the DJs to read your lyrics. Identify the songwriter of each song. Give the DJs as much information as you can in your lyrics booklet, but keep the font size at an easy-to-read size.

On the back cover of the CD package, print a numbered list of song titles and the length of each song. The DJs need to know how long the song is, so they can fit it into their playlists around station identification breaks, ad breaks, etc.

On the CD itself, print your band name and album name, so the DJs can return the right CD to it’s case.

You’ve really created something beautiful here.
You are sunshine on a cloudy day, Sunshine.

The One Sheet

Create a one sheet to accompany your CD. Tell the story of your album here. Keep it simple. You’ve only got one page in which to convey your album and band information to the DJs. Include the following details:

  • band name

  • album name

  • genre

  • image of your album cover

  • numbered track list and length (in minutes and seconds) of each song

  • release date

  • contact information

  • brief story of your album (special guests, anecdotes from the recording sessions, story behind some of the songs, etc.)

Call out a few songs from your album for the DJs to focus on first. Help them do their job.

Fold the one sheet in half and then in half again, and store it inside the CD case.

As I mentioned earlier, I used to work in a CD library at a radio station. Another one of my tasks was to log in all the newly received CDs into the inventory system. Many times, I could not figure out which was which regarding the band name and the CD name. (Make this really clear on your one sheet.) And, without any direction from the artist regarding the genre of music, I didn’t know what section of the library to file the CD in. (So, again, make this information really clear on the one sheet.)

Radio Promoters

Consider hiring a Radio Promoter to send your new album to the Folk DJs. This person has a trusted, established relationship with the DJs. Picture this. The DJs are sent new CDs on a regular basis — more than any one person could listen to in a reasonable amount of time. If your work is not already familiar to the DJs, it could take a really long time before they ever find a moment to listen to your CD. The Radio Promoter ensures that your new album gets listened to and played on the radio.

I’ve worked with a super-talented radio promoter since 2010. This incredible person got me amazing results with my radio-airplay campaign (like a #1 song). Let me connect you.

Folk DJs

Here is a list of Folk DJs at independent radio stations around the world. With some time and perseverance, you could find each DJs contact information, and send out your new album. But, first, take the time to find out what kind of music these DJs play on their programs. If their program is specifically focused around songs of social justice and your new album doesn’t contain a single song that fits that category, don’t waste their time, your time, and the postage on sending them your album. Also, if you don’t have a prior relationship with these DJs, email them first, and ask them if you can send them your album. Introduce yourself. Give them some background on your band and your album. Let them know that you know how busy they are. Most Folk DJs are volunteers who host radio programs for the love of it and not for any kind of compensation.

You are more fun than bubble wrap.
I love talking about these things with you.
One more thing.

Folk Alliance Conferences

Consider attending a Folk Alliance regional conference to meet other Folk musicians and Folk DJs. Making these personal connections could go a long way with improving your chances of radio airplay. You’ll have a chance to perform live and showcase your work to a supportive audience. At some conferences, there is a meet-and-greet with the DJs — attend it. Really, these people want to see you succeed.

Here is a list of regional conferences:

You're a great listener.
You're always learning new things and trying to better yourself.
That's awesome.
Can’t wait to hear your new songs!

Your Feedback

Have any questions? Any advice that you’d like to add? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

All the best, Holly

P.S. Need help with any of these strategies? Schedule a one-on-one consultation, and I’ll help you with your unique goals.