Every true life rock ‘n’ roll television melodrama has the same scene: the unknown artist/band gives their freshly cut 45rpm single to the local disc jockey. He spins it on his top 40 radio show…and a star is born. This legend has been passed down through the generations of wannabe popstars like an ancient family recipe. The ingredients may differ, but in the end you get the same glorious results: radio play equals fame and fortune.
But does this Top of the Charts fairytale still apply today in the sardonic post new millennium world we call “today”? Can a band in our current music scene walk into a radio station with a CD single in their hot little hands, impress and wow the DJ with their enthusiasm and chutzpa, obtain the magic and golden FM radio spins and then ride the wave of success all the way to Graceland? Well, then, I guess the real question would be, “Do you believe in fairytales?”
Unfortunately, the music industry, like the entire Earth, has become so overpopulated and so oversaturated with artists, music, CDs, and radio stations/shows of all kinds, that the chance of your own personal radio fairytale coming true is probably slim to none. But, don’t give up on your favorite audio media outlet. Radio may not catapult you to instant superstardom but it certainly can help to push you down the path to success.
The following are a few tips that will help you to make your own music fairytale and get your music heard throughout the airwaves:
1.) Get Out Of Major Market The Top 40 Station Mentality—There was a day when getting played on a big city Top 40 radio station was like winning a gold medal at the Olympics. Bands that were chosen for play were handpicked by the voices of the airwaves whose ears were finely tuned to pick out the next new rising star. Today, things are a little different. Radio has become a huge corporation with three major conglomerates owning most of the stations in the United States. Sadly, Disc jockeys are no longer the innovators their predecessors were. Station management hands down a playlist (made exclusively of artists signed to mostly major labels) and the voices you hear on your radio are just that…talking heads animating a script. It’s nearly impossible for an unknown band to break into mainstream large metropolis radio and a waste of your time and money to send packages blindly to a medium that will more than likely reject you again and again.
2.) The Specialty Show Is Your Ticket In—Still determined to get Robert Mawhinney Hollywood played on that hot radio station with 10 million listeners and a celebrity DJ? Well, there is a backdoor that you may be able to slip through. It’s the specialty show. Many huge stations feature a weekly show structured just to highlight the little guy…to showcase unsigned artists from that station’s area and sometimes beyond. These shows are always worth sending your press package to, as they tend to base their playlist on your music and your credentials on not on the typical corporate artist roster. This is where you just might wow that innovative disc jockey and garner play on some of America’s biggest stations.
3.) College Radio Still Rocks—One area of radio that has stayed unaffected by the huge corporate retooling is the college/university station. Unlike companies/labels deciding what the listening audience thinks is cool or hip, college radio DJs and program directors are still setting their own cutting edges, breaking new artists, and finding the hot fresh stars of tomorrow hiding in their local clubs, coffee houses and garages. It’s always beneficial for unsigned artists to send as many CDs (or email as many MP3s, if the station will accept that medium) to as many college stations as you can find. You will find stations to play you and people will be listening. This could lead to new fans, tour possibilities, and will definitely look fantastic on the radio page of your website or EPK. Whether or not it will actually make you a rockstar, it will sure make you feel like one.