|Radio Airplay 101 - Why You Have To Promote To Radio
One of the most misunderstood facts of marketing a record is that you must promote it to radio. Notice I did not say SEND it to radio, I said promote it. Sending your release to radio, and getting them to play it, is two separate things. The biggest misunderstanding of everyone releasing music is this: They think that you mail it to radio, and if everyone starts playing it, then it's a hit, and if they don't start playing it, then it's no good. This is NOT how radio works. Even the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) says on its own website, "When you hear a song on the radio -- this didn't just happen! Labels make investments in artists by paying for both the production and the promotion of the album, and promotion is very expensive." Direct quote.
This misunderstanding stems from a few different sources: (1) Radio itself will tell you to "send it, and if it's good we'll play it"; (2) People see a song "start out" on one station, then see it "spread" to others, and assume it just "grew" because it was good. Then, when these people "send out" their own music to lots of stations, and it does not catch on, they assume it must have been bad. Not true. There is a giant promotional vehicle in place behind every successful song. And this promotional vehicle is something you can have with your songs too. Let's compare this whole situation to something, which you can understand: Soda pop.
Suppose you like to invent new drinks, and you came up with a great soda pop that everyone liked. All your friends liked it better than Coke and the rest. You did a blind test with people you did not even know, and they liked it better than Coke and the rest. So, you decide to market it.
You manufacture a thousand cases, with 24 bottles per case, and discover you can sell it to retailers for only $10 per case, undercutting the $12 they normally pay for Coke and the rest. Thus, your product tastes better, and costs less, than every other soda available to all retailers.
So here is what is going to happen: The mom-and-pop stores in your city are going to call you and order several cases each. Next, stores like them in other states will do the same. Next, Ralph's, Delchamps, Costco, Walmart and all the other large chains are going to call you and order several HUNDRED cases each (you see, it's "growing"). Next all the Coke and Pepsi machine vendors are going to put your soda in all their machines (because your soda tastes best and cost less). Next, airlines, stadiums, and all the restaurant chains will place their orders. Eventually, the newspapers, TV, and yes, even radio are going to report on these events, because finally everyone is starting to realize that it is the QUALITY of the product (taste) that counts, and not the marketing. Now, if your product had tasted BAD, it would not have spread like this. But since it tasted GOOD, even to people who didn't know you (and also, since it is priced right), it spread rapidly and became a hit.
OF COURSE this is how it works. After all, since your product is now available nationwide, and you have PROVEN that it tastes best, all those companies surely would not make the mistake of continuing to order Coke and all the other sodas, when everyone now agrees that your soda is best. They could not conceivably continue to offer the other sodas, which THEY now even agree tastes worse than yours.
Now, since hopefully you realize that this is not going to happen to you and your soda, NO MATTER HOW GOOD IT IS, maybe you can start to understand that radio is not going to play your music NO MATTER HOW GOOD IT IS unless you MARKET IT TO THEM, giving them business reasons why they should play it. And we are not talking about one or two small college stations, we are instead talking about hundreds of stations (the bigger the better) all over the country, playing the same music from the same artist (you) at the same time, thus CREATING THE HIT.
Next topic: Airplay vs. Sales
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