"Radio is not life or death for your music" Kevin Mitchell, Jebediah
How radio works
Naturally, radio’s the perfect fit for music but with more acts vying for airtime than ever before, it can be tricky to crack. As Will Larnach-Jones, manager of The Presets, confirms, breaking through is “very hard and getting harder.”
As he points out, there’s a more to getting airtime than just the music. Genre, online buzz and stats, past history, audience testing, touring and the amount of ‘talk’ about an act all play a part in getting added to radio playlists.
If you do get turned down, don’t despair. As Jebediah’s Kevin Mitchell points out, it’s not “life or death for your music” (they didn’t get added straight away and they had a record label.) Plus these days, with the rise of online blogs, music players and aggregators and sites like Facebook and MySpace, there’s plenty of other ways to get your music out there.
Come up with a timeline for how and when you plan to approach radio so it coincides with your EP/album release or a new tour. And keep in mind, maintaining radio relationships can be tough and time-consuming so it could be time to consider a manager, publicist or a record deal if you think your music is at that point.
triple j and Unearthed
The national youth broadcaster is dedicated to playing new and independent Australian music. Established in 1995, triple j’s Unearthed initiative offers an online music community for new and unsigned acts to share their music freely and get feedback from fellow music lovers and triple j programs.
Numerous acts like Washington, Grinspoon, Art Vs Science, Oh Mercy and many more have been discovered via Unearthed and gone on to score triple j airplay, industry recognition, record deals and world domination! As a new band, this should be one of the first promotional things you do.
triple j also runs regular competitions for Unearthed acts to play major festivals including the Big Day Out, Soundwave and Parklife through the year.
triple j Unearthed also has a 24/7 digital radio station of music programmed only from the tracks uploaded to the site, so get involved and create a profile today.
How do I get my music on commercial radio?
This can be almost impenetrable for unsigned, ‘alternative’ acts as most stations operate a narrow playlist of pop hits, sourced predominately from major record labels. Research the various stations and get to know the music they play before contacting them – otherwise, you’re just wasting time and demos.
Austereo have a national digital ‘new music’ station Radar Radio which sometimes features unsigned acts so may be worth checking out.
Your local commercial radio station may have an Australian music show, if so send your music directly to the presenters of that show.
Getting on community radio?
Community and university radio stations are far more receptive and passionate about new, local music so hit them up with a demo, bio and an invite to your next gig. Be persistent but polite. If they like you and play you, they’ll usually plug your gigs too so it’s a great way of building local buzz. Many of their shows/hosts will be on Twitter so you can contact them that way too. Just don’t spam them.
Some radio stations have music managers so it worth sending you music to them, but not all community radio station have these so do make sure you also send your music to the presenters who you think would like your music also.
And what about band competitions?
In addition to band comps at your local venues, keep an eye out for national ones like Commercial Radio Australia’s NA2R (New Artists To Radio), and the National Campus Band Competition. In addition to cash, kudos and studio time, these types of promotions usually offer commercial radio airplay as part of the prize.
How do we get featured on blogs and Internet aggregators?
Getting your music out through online avenues is an essential part of getting heard and turning heads these days. Plus if your music starts picking up momentum online, it’ll also assist you off-line with labels, radio and booking agents.
Get in touch with all your favourite music sites/blogs and pass on links to new songs and info/tour dates but keep in mind, the more locally-focussed they are, the more chance they’ll feature you (don’t expect Pitchfork to hop aboard just yet). Editors/bloggers love ‘exclusives’ so if you can offer a site a song or remix exclusively, that’s always an attractive proposition.
The more you get featured, the more chance you have of ranking highly with music aggregator sites like Hype Machine, Elbo.ws and We Are Hunted. Such sites track music blog mentions and mp3 posts and are powerful global tools for discovering new music.
Triple J Unearthed
Music Network Australian radio listings
National Campus Band competition
Commercial Radio Australia
Community Broadcasting Association of Australia