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Radio Airplay 101 - How Touring and Radio Work Together

The first area we like to see artists use radio for is gigs/touring. This is because the majority of money made by an indie artist (even if they have real distro) is going to be at live gigs via CD and merch sales. It is also because the number one thing a station would like to see is the artist playing in their market. So here is how to help one, using the other...

Whether you are on tour yet or not, you should start with small market commercial regular rotation (or mix/specialty or college), and see what areas you are getting support from, and using that to book additional gigs. You do NOT want to do it the other way around... trying to work radio only in areas that you are gigging... because you will not get enough mass support by working just those areas (even though you are playing there.) This point seems to be difficult for many artists to understand, so I'll repeat: It's great that you are playing in a certain town, but that alone is not enough reason to only work the stations in that town, leaving out the rest of the stations around the country in that format. It is true that gigging a market is the single best thing you can do to help your radio there, just like gas is the best thing you can get to make your car run. But you first have to have a car, and likewise, you first have to get your radio marketing lined up. This means working radio the way radio works: Getting spins on many stations of the same format/type at the same time, across the country, so as to build a "hit".

After you have starting working the stations, you do two things: Go to the clubs in the markets where you are getting radio support, and ask all the stations (or have your promoter ask) what clubs/venues or other places the stations might recommend for you to be booked at. If it's a commercial station, they might recommend a client club (a club that advertises on the station). This is very useful because the station wants the club to advertise more; by recommending that you gig there, and by giving you some spins, the station is providing what the club needs... an artist that the community will know about. Combine this with the ads that the club will hopefully run, and you have what is needed for a nice turnout. If the station is a college station, the referral-to-clubs is still of use because a club is going to respect the fact that someone at the station respects the artist, and felt that the artist would suitable for the club. And the spins on the college station won't hurt, either.

Some other things you can offer clubs... You or a pre-arranged intern in the club's market can arrive a day early and flyer appropriate retail locations. Also offer (or have an inter offer) to find and post club info on pertinent websites local to the market. You can even just offer to find interns who will work for the club. Keep in mind you have to do these things while you are on the road, so portable web access is important.

Next topic: How Press and Radio Work Together

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