How we discover, enjoy and share music has changed hugely in recent years. Spotify, and Apple Music, along with the rise of social media sounds and TikTok trends have allowed us to have millions of tunes in the palms of our hands... twenty-four hours a day. Which is, quite frankly, a touch of heaven for us music lovers out there. However, whilst securing a spot on a coveted Spotify playlist or starting a trend that sweeps through TikTok with your catchy chorus may seem like the golden ticket to stardom, there's one side of digital music promotion that we absolutely shouldn't forget - radio plugging. Yes, we're talking about the good, old-fashioned radio.
Is Radio Still Relevant? We're Not Gaga About It Anymore...
Radio plugging services may not be at the top of your list when choosing which music PR agency to go with. And that's understandable. But it is, perhaps, a bit short-sighted. From July to September this year (the last quarter), 49.5 million adults (that's 88% of adults) listened to their radio every single week. That tots up to 1.016 billion hours of radio consumption happening all over the country, all of the time. Each of these Radioheads is racking up 20.5 hours of radio play per week. See? Radio is still so very, very relevant.
Okay, people are plugged in. But why is plugging your song to radios important?
If we consider the statistics mentioned above as real life scenarios, then the importance of radio plugging becomes pretty clear. Those 20.5 hours a week? Who's to say that that's just one person discovering new music through the airwaves? There could be five people all vibing to the same station in the car, or around the breakfast table, or in the office. That's five people listening to 20ish hours of radio streaming. One radio play could be a whole new host of fans. The scope for reaching new audiences is huge. And, arguably, better than one new listener hastily shuffling through their Discover Weekly playlist.
What else is forgotten when we neglect radio plugging is the art of passive listening. On Spotify, most listeners are active; skipping through, searching for songs, forming playlists. What radio perfects is the joy of passive listening. We've all had those songs that weren't love at first listen, but over time we found ourselves gravitating to it and searching it for specific moments. Out of nowhere, it's on heavy rotation. Getting your tune played on the right radio station means becoming that earwig people grow to love. There's no skipping. There's no Discover playlist that changed daily and will be forgotten tomorrow. Listeners get to hear your track time and time again. In its' entirety. You become the soundtrack.
So, How Do You Get Your Music On The Radio?
Pick Your Best Track.
Choosing the perfect song to submit to radio stations is crucial to having success. Think wide mass appeal, catchy chorus or hook, strong musical identity and/or message. Another key thing to consider here is respecting the radio formats. Anywhere between 2-4 minutes is your golden ratio; anything less or more, forget about it. Avoid explicit lyrics or extremely controversial statements. Yes, art is all about expression and risk. No, radios won't play it on repeat in prime family listening. Radio edits are a thing for a reason and we suggest mixing one together if you want a shot at getting on the airwaves. Most likely, the track you're choosing is the one we're working on your campaign with you. Or, if we're promoting your album, we can help you pick out the best ones for radio plugging.
Go For The Right Stations.
Nowadays, it isn't all mainstream radio stations that dominate music discovery. Many operate on the internet and all have a separate niche. Pinpointing where your music fits in the scene and what stations are spinning that scene is crucial. Even if you're a genre-blurring pioneer, figure out where your influences are on heavy rotation and target that radio station. At Decent Music, we are plugged into the right shows for a variety of genres. Stations we've secured airplay on include BBC 1Xtra, Capital Xtra, Kiss Fresh, Rinse, Reform, and more. All of these have a mix of shows aimed a mix of different genres and target audiences. Whatever your music sounds like, we'll know a radio station that suits you.
Don't forget the DJs!
Maximising your chances of being blasted on the radio can be about covering all bases. DJs make the music world spin round and they are the people that will influence what's on rotation through a show. Remember, there are always student radio shows or low-key online stations that are available to pitch to. Mainstream radio stations will have submission after submission flowing in 24/7. But, fanbases are found in every corner of our culture. Dig deep. You can find DJs, local or otherwise, to reach out to directly. Instagram, LinkedIn, and radio station contact lists are all good spots for finding direct contacts to reach out. 'Music Director', 'DJ', 'Station Manager'... these kinds of keywords will get you on the right path.
Have A Press Kit On Hand
Once we've got your music out there, it's more than likely that you're going to get some attention from those almighty A&R teams. Catching the eye of a label, promotor or journalist is one of the goals here, and once you do you're going to want to have an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) on hand. In fact, some radio stations will ask you to submit this with the track so they know what they're talking about when it comes to airing. Honestly, this is what we do best, and Decent Music can help build this for you so you're ready to go when you get that DM.
Use A Radio Plugger and Let The Airplay Roll In!
Radio plugging is no small feat. It takes a whole lot of time and energy. As a DIY musician, it's likely that finding the time to successfully submit tracks to enough stations is gonna be tricky. That's where radio pluggers come in. Having the contacts, experience, and clout is a massive bonus for hiring radio plugging services. Your chances of success skyrocket when hiring the pros.
Whether it's building a fanbase, getting heard by the right industry professionals or just getting some top-notch content for your socials, radio plugging is a key part of any campaign. Whilst the era of the Spotify DJ and tailored playlists is well underway, the 49.5 million people absorbing the sound of their radio station each day is testament enough to the power radio airplay will have on your music's reach. At Decent, we know how to get your song to the right people and get your music in the airwaves of the right stations. Check out our radio plugging services here.