Radio Airplay 101
- Best Time of the Year to Push to Radio
Many people, when planning the date that their radio campaign will start, think that starting the campaign at a certain time of the year will make a huge difference in the outcome of the project. It won't. There are many other factors which are far more important, and these factors will determine what happens with your release... Things like sequentially pushing a second and third release from the same artist; not abandoning a campaign until awareness has been built; providing the proper packaging; and properly choosing "album vs. single".
That being said, there are some good things which can be had from different times of the year, which will give slight improvements in campaign performance, BUT, this technique will backfire if any ONE of the above mentioned points are not already taken care of. The following are the points to consider for the different calendar times:
FEBRUARY THROUGH APRIL: Many folks think that this is the best time for indie releases. Advertising on commercial radio certainly is cheapest, and most major labels are taking a short break before starting heavy promotion again (but you won't be able to tell this by listening to the radio... you'll just hear the same number of songs. What you don't hear is how many releases are being PUSHED to radio.) Advertising in most trades is also cheapest at this time. So commercial regular rotation, or commercial specialty/mixshow, is a favorite at this time.
For college radio, obviously, most stations are in session during this period. Don't worry about spring break; there is no national "one week" that every school is closed. Instead, spring break varies from school to school, with some doing it in mid February, and others doing it as late as mid May.
MAY THROUGH AUGUST: For both commercial and college radio, this is a good time to use your radio campaign to help you set up a tour.
For college radio, this the easiest time to chart, since college stations are getting the fewest number of releases. Many people think you can't work a record to college during the summer... not true. You do lose about 150 stations during the summer, but about 650 of them stay on (many of them the bigger ones which broadcast to the whole town), and thus a favor is almost being done for you since many of the smaller ones have been removed.
Also with college, when the kids go home for summer, they still want to hear non-commercial radio; so they simply tune into the college station that is in their hometown.
The biggest advantage of summer college radio is that the CMJ charting is easiest here, due to the lower amount of competition from real labels.
SEPTEMBER THROUGH DECEMBER: For commercial radio, this is the time to work radio in order to sell lots of records. (That is, provided you are set-up and experienced enough, and have enough of a sales staff, to sell twenty or thirty thousand records.) This is the technique used by larger labels to sell most of their product.
For college, they are of course back in session, so for many artists that is all that needs to be said... college it's going to be! Even though college radio receives many times more CDs in the fall than it does during the summer, many folks are going to push here nevertheless.
The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is actually a great time to start your college project, because the bulk of CDs have already arrived and passed, and for about three weeks there is very little competition again. You simply carry your project through the holiday, and start back up after the new year.
Bottom line: You can find something good about any time of the year to start your project.
Next topic: Getting Your Own In-House Promoter Staff
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