Self-Publicity : Radio Airplay & the Indie Artist
By Kerilie McDowall
Musicians faces such extraordinary financial challenges these days . From the booking agent to publicity and the record company – it just seems everyone is taking a slice of you . Thankfully , there are some do-it-yourself approaches that can help you build solid success with radio airplay . It takes some work , but it is well worth the payoff . I suggest considering the following options and put in a practical plan of action for each month in the year leading up to your album release .
Importantly , if you are a Canadian independent artist , you should always plan a strategy for the U . S . Why ? First off , Americans are very wonderful supportive music fans . Second , the population of Canada is only 38 million and the U . S . population is 333 million . For this , take advantage of self-publicizing through Yangaroo . com / music .
Also , crucially , join SOCAN to get your royalties for your compositions and performances .
Targeting Check out your favourite shows on Sirius , CBC , NPR , BBC , commercial and university / community station formats , and make a plan of action and a press and mailing list . Add your fan email list . Establish good relationships with radio DJs and producers . Request an interview or a performance spot . Try to generate press interest at the same time as radio targeting for the U . S . and Canada .
Send in your materials to magazines three to four months before your release date , two to three months before your drop date for radio , and one to two months for newspapers . A general rule of thumb is to plan for a three-month heads-up to media , or your project may go unnoticed .
What should you send ? Send a link or other simple way to download the music in high-quality MP3 and / or WAV formats . Also include a one-sheet , press release , free tickets / downloads , and information on where to access show dates and videos . Consider two mailouts by sending just two or three of your best tracks with a save-the date and then send the entire release later . Send in your event date invite or release date . Send your best video link and social media links . Email a copy to the radio station ’ s music director for airplay and copies as a gift to the producer and host . Gifting college , public , commercial radio , and community hosts / producers CDs and giveaways is a good idea , and always during radio station fundraising . Consider promoting a contest like “ meet the band ” if you are going for a radio or television interview .
After your radio interview , write a personal note of thanks to the host and producer and comp / gift them free tickets to your release party or show with some giveaway tickets .
University / Community Radio Many radio stations prefer downloads and digital materials due to a lack of space for CDs / vinyl .
In community and university radio , usually the host of the show is also the producer . Pitching a show to any producer whether in television or radio just involves sharing your idea , then adjusting to their format , collaborating if it is requested , and doing a great performance as a presenter or performer on the air . Here is your free contact information URL for 50 Canadian university / community radio stations : www . earshot-online . com / stations . cfm
CBC & Print For the CBC and other major radio stations , do not send your music only to the host . I repeat – do not do that , that ’ s a mistake . Send your music primarily to the specific producer of the show . ( The producer puts the show together and writes the episode .) You can find the producers for specific CBC shows at cbchelp . cbc . ca
Approaching a Producer Think outside of the box when sending in materials . When I was on practicum decades ago at the the CBC ’ s Vancouver library , a then unknown but now multi-Juno-winning band sent in a physical package of toys with their release . Their band name was embossed everywhere on all these crazy old-school toys like jacks , balls , skipping rope , and truly hilarious written jokes accompanied their press materials . It was well done and very clever .
Humour is always an “ in ,” but so is being creative . Producers are always looking for those who are doing the edgier , more innovative releases . Your press package or EPK indicates how inventive you are to a producer . And yes , persistence can often pay off , but not always . You need to make sure the radio show you have chosen matches your project concept . Make contact then follow up a week later .
Commercial Radio Radio trackers are worth hiring to sell your work to commercial radio if you can fit it into your plan . Otherwise , you can look at self-promotion with a service like Yangaroo and choose a distribution package to target your listener audience and genre format yourself to a large number of commercial or campus radio and industry targets . It can also be wise to hire a publicist , for example , when putting together Juno press packages .
A few well-placed thoughts with a personal touch , mentioning awards , accomplishments , and adding your fav media quotes can create genuine radio / press interest . Combine this with ads on your social media accounts with your happy message on Facebook , Instagram , and Tik Tok and you will be on the right path to creating affordable publicity and excitement about your artistry .
Director / producer / guitarist Kerilie McDowall is a writer and an award-winning short documentary filmmaker of In the Zone : Rick Kilburn . She is a former DownBeat writer , publicist , and radio host of the jazz radio podcast Rhythm ’ a ’ ning , and is currently a guitar instructor , and recording artist publicity coach . McDowall owns Canadian Online Guitar Lessons and is a volunteer television host , director , and producer at Shaw Spotlight . For more , email her at canonlineguitarlessons @ gmail . com or
go to www . kerilie . com .
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