Is radio still an important medium for musicians? There's no question that streaming is at the forefront of audio due to the variety of different formats such as podcasts, meditation, audio books, audio dramas and mood playlists. To attract potential fans and new listeners, many artists rely on making it onto the big playlists of the streaming platforms. Of course, this is important for the visibility and relevance of artists. But radio, often underestimated as a medium today, can also bring you both money and legitimacy as an independent artist, since radio stations as tastemakers attribute a certain quality and professionalism to you and your music. If you make it onto radio stations' radio programmes, it can also be a huge stepping stone for you to build relevant relationships for further promotion.
Radio in Germany
The radio landscape in Germany is still very large and significant. According to FluxFM co-founder and managing director Mona Rübsamen, radio diversity in this country is high and radio use is still very strong: "There are 350 private radio stations and 75 public stations". Radio has a central place in the audio market because it can be used in a wide variety of ways (mobile and global).
So being on the radio programme of radio stations, e.g. through airplay, in interviews or other formats, can extend your reach and even give you a career boost. The hand-picked and curated music selection of editors has a great influence on the taste of many listeners and thus also influences which playlists and artists they listen to on the streaming platforms.
"How do I get in touch with editors?"
Radio editors naturally have their own personal tastes, and these obviously also shape the radio programmes of independent, private stations. In order for your music to be included in these programmes, you need to know a little about the respective station and the music genres that are played there. Therefore, it is advisable to analyse the radio formats of the stations and find out which of your songs fits which stations or formats. On the one hand, this saves the editors time in sorting out unsuitable music and, at the same time, makes a good impression on them. "There is, of course, the possibility of approaching the radio stations via the social media channels. There is then a 50:50 chance that the songs will be heard, because it usually doesn't reach the people it should," says Daniel Meinel, managing editor music at FluxFM. That's why he recommends booking promotion packages through distribution and music platforms like MusicHub, because according to him their promotion partners are usually better connected and know how and where to push songs.
Still want to try approaching radios in different ways? Then be aware that they receive 200-300 songs per week to sample, so you're fighting for popular airplay. This means that you should send radio editors further material and information that will make you and your music shine. This includes, for example, a neatly sorted Electronic Press Kit (EPK) that should contain the following:
- Your music (for download as WAV!),
- artist bio
- previous press reports (interviews, reviews, stories etc.)
- Song recommendations (in case of an album or several works)
- Artwork of the album/song
- previous playlist placements
- concert dates etc.
It is also helpful to know if you can perform your songs live or if you are open to interviews. Regarding the optimal time to sample your music, Daniel Meinel says: "1-2 weeks before release is perfectly sufficient to send it to radio stations". Don't forget that for other media like print and online, the lead time can be as long as 4-6 weeks!
What does "radio-friendly" actually mean?
Most musicians probably have some idea of what is meant by "radio-friendly" or "radio-compatible". But what is behind these terms? There is no clear definition of it. The term "radio-friendly" means above all that the music can be played on mainstream radio, that it is suitable for broad tastes (1st level of the "genre ladder") and that it does not contain vulgar content. Daniel Meinel from FluxFM lists some points that can help with orientation - but this can vary depending on the station:
- Start with the hook, or start quickly with it
- Don't make the verse too long
- 2:30 to 3:00 minutes playing time
Here, too, the personal taste of the respective radio editors plays a major role. In the end, however, it's the quality of the production that counts. Before you submit your song, you should make sure that it is mixed and mastered properly. Half-finished demo versions or mobile phone recordings are not considered by the radio stations.
Last but not least: Radio promotion requires perseverance
Be aware that there are different types of radio airplay. Getting your music into radio rotation at the first attempt is relatively unlikely, but not impossible. More realistic is what is called a hand pick, which is the one-time playing of a song in one of the radio formats. Even if it's not the rotation type you'll end up with, this way you can still get your music and name on the radar of stations and editors when trying. Don't be discouraged by rejections, but keep trying professionally and persistently and, in the best case, get a promo partner on board. This can increase your chances of success. The process can be long, but if you use the right platforms and promo tools to support you, this work can also be fun.
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