Securing airplay as an independent artist is one of the biggest challenges there is in the music industry. As A&R at iPluggers, I deal with new releases submitted by indie artists for plugging on a dally basis. Since we have a strict A&R policy (we refuse about 60% of all releases submitted for airplay), we at iPluggers would love to give you some advice on how to better prepare your release for radio.
Here are five tips to help you get radio airplay.
First of all, you need to have a great song. Better yet, it should have a catchy, quick intro because most music directors only listen to the first 15 seconds. That first quarter minute is essential, as it will determine whether or not they continue to listen. If they drop out, your chance for airplay is over.
The second important element is the hook. You’ll need a good, memorable hook that will linger. Be objective and compare your song with what you hear on the radio. Can you and other unbiased people – i.e. not your mother, best friend or roommate – picture that being your music? If so, you are ready to proceed to the next step.
Make sure your song is no longer than 3:40 minutes. If it is, edit a shorter version and use the original one as a second extended track. It may come in handy for future marketing assets, too… Read on.
When your final mix is ready, it’s time to master your music. As the final touch to your production, mastering will make the difference between a good song and a radio-ready track. Here’s what mastering will achieve: editing minor flaws; applying noise reduction to eliminate clicks, dropouts, hums and hisses; adjusting stereo width; adding ambience; equalizing audio across tracks for optimized frequency distribution; adjusting volume, dynamic range compression or expansion and peak limit.
For radio, the last two elements – compression and peak limit – are very important. Most stations, especially FM frequencies, use a lot of compression to send the audio signal out. When you haven’t compressed and limited audio peaks, some frequencies can come across far too hard while others will be lost on air. Without proper mastering, your track will sound like a completely different mix on air than what you recorded in-studio.
If your budget is a concern, don’t let it hold you back. There are plenty of studios out there that can do good mastering for a very good price.
Artwork is very underrated, but it is so important! Your cover art is the first thing music directors will see when they receive your release, and like it or not, books are judged by their covers. Your track could be amazing, but if the artwork is bad, directors won’t even click play.
Let’s be clear, since I see this more often than you would imagine: a picture of you with plain text in a standard font and a basic color is not good cover art. Even worse, some artists just submit a picture without any text at all. Don’t be that person.
A good design is something that will pique music directors’ curiosity. Use a font and text colors that are original and that match your overall design. If you can’t do it yourself, don’t fret. You can easily find designers who can whip up good cover art at a very reasonable price. Don’t skimp – it’s called “art” work for a reason.
Some artists still believe that using just one promo tool will give them worldwide fame, top charts positions, and a Grammy … We wish!
Be realistic and use iPluggers as a part of your total marketing plan, not as your ONLY marketing plan. Our plugging needs to go hand-in-hand with other marketing efforts. A band that has no fanbase, rarely performs and has no other online presence whatsoever will have a hard time generating airplay.
Ready to go?
If you have done all these things, then you’re ready to make the most of iPluggers’ worldwide radio promotion.
Signup here, complete your profile, upload your music and ask for approval. We will review all the things listed above and if everything lines up, we’ll approve your release and your global radio promotion can begin.