So, you're in an independent band making sincere music that you're passionate about.
To begin - thank you, I love you. Please, keep doing what you're doing; it's making the world a more beautiful place.
I, the music hungry geek who gave up the chance of a stable, profitable career to share your music - I am your ally, not your enemy. We're on the same, unstable, sometimes terrifying, largely unprofitable, but ultimately, utterly enriching page.
Radio station DJs and music directors are sent a huge volume of submissions every day. Most of them won't be played. I am asked why this is a lot and I sincerely hope this piece will help you get heard by the right people.
Firstly, is the record ready? Be honest. Is your track cut into a radio edit (usually under five minutes) and professionally mastered? Sending a poorly recorded demo is not going to do you any favours. Get back to us when you're showing yourself in your best possible light.
Next, is your record suitable for radio? Does your band specialise in stunningly crafted, experimental opuses that take your audiences breath away at your live shows? Congratulations, the music world needs creativity like yours. Keep working on those great live shows and I'll look forward to buying your album. Radio isn't the medium for you so don't waste your time (unless there's a specialist show that suits).
"Firstly, is the record ready? Be honest."
Which brings me onto what I am asked about the most, how to get in touch.
Before we begin - do your damn research. Radio DJs are inundated with post, emails and contact through social media. If you could contact someone saying "Hey can I send you a CD?" or "What's your email address?". Even if we see it, you can see how unprofessional that looks, can't you? Take 30 seconds out of your day to look at the radio station website and pull the email addresses you need off of it.
Equally important - target your submissions. "If we send every DJ ever a CD, someone's bound to play us, right?" - Wrong! That's just wasting your time and money.
Ask yourself, who is your band's audience? Or, who would you like that audience to be? Next, make a list of radio stations, or shows and features within radio stations (eg. new Irish band feature on a top 40 station) that share that audience or potential audience. Always pick audience quality over quantity. These are the listeners, who will buy your record and go to your shows; if they hear you and like you.
You're now armed with your target list (with email addresses easily gleaned from station websites), your properly mastered radio edit, and a short, waffle free bio with concise information about upcoming shows and release dates for your album, EP or single that you're trying to push.
Choose a subject line like 'New Music Submission - *band name*' or something equally clear. Put the info above into the email with a brief, personalised message and include a download link (no giant attachments, please) to a high quality .wav file and a streaming link. This makes the recipient's life so much easier. We can click on your Soundcloud link while reading the email. If we like it, we download the file and play the track.
"... do your damn research ..."
It really can and should be that simple. All you have to do is a small bit of research and send an email. All we had to do was take 30 seconds to give you a chance. CD singles go in the giant pile on our desks to get through 'later'. CD albums are fine if we already play you.
Didn't hear back? Don't take it personally. If you sincerely believe that your submission might have been overlooked, one polite follow up email is acceptable. Bombarding people with emails or calls is pointless. Music is played based on merit and suitability only. If your track suits the station or shows sound and is good enough, we will be as excited as you are about it and champion the shit out of you. It's what we do, it's what we love - we are on your side.
Final notes; we always know when you or your mam are spamming our text lines on your band's behalf. It's unprofessional and a waste of credit. Bribes like sweets go straight in the bin because while you might be perfectly lovely, you might equally be crazy and trying to poison us. Besides, if your music is sweet enough it won't need added sugar. Your job is to create great music, ours is to share your art and watch with pride as your fanbase grows organically.
Good luck, and thank you for the music.