Indie Music: Musicians and the Radio

Independent Musicians and the Radio

By NationWide Source
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

It is extremely important for up and coming or local musicians to be actively involved in their own music distribution. One way to get your music to a wider audience is to pursue airtime on public and local radio stations. Below are some tips for making that happen.

Go Public

If you’re a relatively undiscovered artist, a great way to break onto the airways is through public radio. National Public Radio (NPR) is a nation-wide syndicated radio format that is carried by many local public radio stations. There are a number of music-related programs associated with NPR, the most notable of which is All Songs Considered. A feature on an NPR program could mean national recognition.

College radio stations are another option. While college radio stations are often public radio, some do not carry the NPR programming. The formats for each station will vary. For a list of stations in your area, visit this website. Airtime on these college stations would be more localized than on one with NPR programming, but any airtime is good.

Think Local

Because commercial stations are paid for by ads, listenership matters. These stations might not be as willing to play an unknown artist and risk losing listeners (and ad dollars with them). However, just because it may be a bit more difficult to get your unsigned, new music onto a commercial radio station, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you have good ties with a local venue, try getting them to support you with the station. Better yet, go in together on an ad mentioning an upcoming gig and have the station play one of your songs after the ad runs.

General Pointers

It is vital to establish relationships with the people you’re trying to get to play your music. No matter the station, know your recipient. Don’t submit your music to the DJ if it should go to the station manager or programming director.

Also, it’s important to listen to your music and pick the target stations and their programs wisely. Know the station, their different programs, and the type of music they play. Be sure that yours fits their niche. If you write AOR top 40 style pop, sending your music to a hip hop station doesn’t make much sense.

Music distribution is tough. You’re going to face a lot of rejection and you might think that you’re sending your work off to a vortex that you never hear back from again. But there is nothing more rewarding than getting that break and having your own music be played for everyone to hear.

Has your music been played on the radio? What type of station was it, and what steps did you take to make that happen? How did it help your music career?


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