Album Promotion
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Radio Airplay 101 - Radio Referrals to Gigs; Techniques part 1 of 2

New for 2014: All artists want exposure, and a lot of artists want live gigs too. Our earlier [article] gave a general idea about getting radio referrals to press, gigs and retail, so we'll now focus on just the referrals to gigs, because gigs are the most desired by the most artists.

The basic concept of a radio referral to a gig is this: It is assumed that a person at a radio station has some knowledge of music, and also, this person would have an audience in their city who would value this opinion. Therefore getting this person to hear your music and then recommend a place to perform is a powerful way to make connections and get gigs that you normally might never get otherwise. Here's how to do it...

Let's start out with college and non-noncommercial community stations. Begin by contacting these folks by phone or email; since college kids are wanting to talk a lot about "business" stuff, they'll respond more to emails than commercial stations will. After you've found the hosts at each station who like your style of music, talk to them and ask what their favorite current act is, and maybe their favorite gig they've been to. That's it. Nothing about you yet.

After you get their reply (not all will reply), then send them a link of your material, or a CD if they ask for it, and follow up a few days later. On the follow up, tell them what you liked about their favorite act, and then ask for their opinion about your music. After you get their response, then ask them for a place, venue, restaurant, house, or club in their town that they recommend for your type of music. And if possible, the name of the person there who should be called about playing there. Boom... you now have your first referrals!

This is the real power of college and non-commercial community radio. There are so many of them, in every town and city, and the people there are not paid (worse: the people are paying money to the college) that they can only be in it for the music and they are always out and about in their community, checking out every interesting musical place they can find. And they want to look good in their community too, so if they can recommend a great act to their local friend at a venue, then this will further their cause. And as stated in the other article, the people might even work at these places, venues, restaurants, or clubs that they recommend (since they certainly don't "work" at the station), and if so they certainly should know what type of artist usually plays there.

When calling the recommend person at the recommend place, venue, or restaurant, always start out by telling them that you were sent to them by the station person. Something like "Do you know Bob at the radio station WXYZ over at ABC college? Well, he was reviewing my album, and when I asked him about a good place to play, he said to give you a call. Can I send you my material to consider?" Then, call the station person back and thank him for the referral, and tell him that you have a scheduled follow-up call planned with the venue person. And of course, if you get the gig, you must invite the station person!

Now on to more difficult situations: Commercial stations. The main thing to keep in mind with them is that they are not in it for the music; they are in it for the maximum number of listeners. So when talking to commercial stations, always try to use the word "listeners" in your conversations. Telling them that your music is great will be a waste of time, and you should never do it with anyone anyway, not even college stations. At most, ask station people what they think of your music. And never use the word "hit" or "hot". They don't care what you think about your own music.

When contacting commercial stations, first realize that any person at any station can have a valuable opinion. So even if you can only get the receptionist on the phone, then at the very least you can describe your music to her ("well it's sort of like 80's Madonna music with Nickelback vocals, but with a folk twist") and then ask her what place in her town she would recommend for you to gig at. In other words, whoever answers the phone at the station is the most important person in the world, at that moment. NEVER just use them to get someone else on the phone. Their feedback matters, even if it's only based on your description of your music. They will be pleased that you value their opinion, and even if they can't recommend anything they'll more happily help get someone on the phone who can. But who you try to get on the phone, and at which commercial stations, will make all the difference for the next steps.

To be continued...

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