From Yinka's head...

Top 5 Tips – Getting Your Music Played on Radio

Here’s a quick update from the ‘Top 5 Tips’ Series:

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to go about getting your music playlisted on a radio station, this might help.

Good Music

The first thing to bear in mind is that most presenter/DJs/stations are happy to support good music.

While the definition of ‘good’ will no doubt be highly subjective, bear in mind that it will almost certainly vary from station to station.

1. Try, Try… Try Again.

It might sound obvious but having your music turned down at one place doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try at another. Don’t get discouraged…

2. Reality Check

Whether you like it or not, your music is up against the likes of Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Muyiwa, Guvna B and other popular names. That’s why they’re popular: people like their music…

This might not be something you want to hear (especially if you’re an artist just trying to break through) but in a lot of respects, popularity is its own quality control.

To put it another way: if you’re a Hip-Hop artist you’ll always be measured against the likes of Eminem and Jay-Z (or whoever happens to be the touchstone for your sound). It’s a fact of life. Get used to it.

3. Reality Check – Part 2

You’ll need to make the very best music you can. And – again I’m going to be blunt here – your immediate circle of friends and supporters may not be your wisest choice of people to go to for objective feedback…

4. Be Prepared to Wait. And Then Wait Some More

Don’t despair if you don’t hear back from a person or station for a loooooong while – I mean a really long time. Sometimes – admittedly not very often – no news is good news. Earlier this year (possibly even last year) I came across a track by a Nigerian guy called Cute Sagay. The song was ‘Imela’.

I liked it a lot. So much so that I didn’t want it introduced to the station I played at (Premier Gospel) via just a playlist rotation, but as my show’s ‘Track of the Week’.  Fortunately, I had a say in making that happen. Sometimes presenters/DJs, etc. don’t have that option (see next Tip).

Cute would occasionally contact me to ask if I was doing anything with the song.  And even when I could sense frustration in his messages, he kept his touch and follow-up polite, light and friendly…

Conversely I’ve had artists who have told me in no uncertain terms what they thought of my lack of any feedback or support after a few weeks.

Guess which type of artist I respond to..?

5. Find The Gatekeeper(s)

The more established (and professional) a station, the higher the chances the playlist will be centrally coordinated and controlled. There may be an individual (or a team) curating the songs you hear on air. Typically they get to decide what songs get played and/or playlisted.

What that means: you’ll need to find out who the gatekeeper is (or are) as it may not necessarily be the DJ/presenter of the show you’d like your song played on.

Who’s in charge? Is there a panel? Perhaps the station manager or programme controller? A DJ/Presenter? Many stations tend to use one or a combination of these.

So the key point here: find out how the show and station you’re submitting your music to actually decides on what goes on air, and respond accordingly.

Bonus (1): …And the Gatekeeper likes what, exactly..?

Find out how the gatekeeper prefers to receive material:

  • File sharing website service?
  • Direct email (dedicated email, personal email, station email)?
  • Do they have their own ‘drop box’ option (like the BBC has for independent acts interested in submitting music to them)?

Bonus (2): Share the good news

Once your music been accepted, don’t forget to follow up: thank the gatekeeper and share the good news!

Bonus (3): Don’t leave the station to do the legwork for you.

Spread the word to your supporters and get them to tune in to the station, and request your song(s). The station will thank you for it!

Hope this helps!

Currently listening To…

Rachel Kerr – Kingdom Soldier remix ft Commission, Lola Godheld, Jay Ess, Faith ChildMatthew Allen and Guvna B (Rachel on Facebook)

Cute Sagay – Imela (Cute on Facebook)



Photo: Pure’s ‘Jongo Lifestyle’ Radio

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s