Radio, Radio, where art thou Radio? 14/11/2006
First of all, cheers to everyone who reads my humble musings every week (I usually would say ‘every Monday’ but I am aware they’re getting a bit less regular then before, but hey, I’m busy so back off). I say thanks as the Sentric Blog received it’s 12,000th viewing last week so keep spreading the word and I hope I can still keep you all interested for many months to come. Also, I’d like to add here that I get quite a few messages a week in response to the blogs which is lovely, but please put them down as comments as well so the rest of the world can see what you think! Also also, if you’ve got any suggestions for blog topics then let me know, I do this for you lot, not me.
Right then, this week lets have a cheeky glance at the world of Radio shall we?
I love radio and I think it’s great. Easily one of the most underrated things out there. Think about it; you can buy a radio for pittance in this day and age and you can listen to music, for free, forever. Marvellous. And then there is the choice! Pop, rock, indie, dance, R&B, classical, country, cock rock, every genre conceivable will have its own station and then there is more than just music; sport, spoken word, drama, news, documentaries etc. When you actually think about just how good radio is, you realise how little you appreciate its brilliance.
I don’t listen to it as much as I used to. I’ll listen to Chris Moyles’ (I’m aware of his Marmite status but he makes me laugh, maybe it’s a northern thing I don’t know) show in the afternoon thanks to BBC’s listen again software (which, after Google, I believe is the best thing on the internet) and if I’m cooking or cleaning by myself in the kitchen I’ll always put the radio on rather then the TV and skip in-between Radio 1, XFM Manchester or The Arrow (renamed ‘Steve FM’ in honour of my old flatmates musical tastes).
Radio has fuelled all 3 of my major passions throughout my life, especially during my childhood. Getting home from school and playing computer games whilst listening to generic pop music (even now certain songs remind me of certain games which is a bit weird and slightly geeky, example: ‘Life Through A Lens’ by Robbie Williams reminds me of NHL 96). BBC radio Sheffield would describe with much lexiphanicism Sheffield Wednesday’s weekly inevitable defeats whilst me and my mates would have a kick-a-bout on the school field. And BBC Radio 4 would introduce me to some of my favourite comedy including That Mitchell and Webb Sound, The Mighty Boosh, Genius, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Just A Minute and more recently, The Flight Of The Conchords (which was actually on BBC Radio 2).
The joy of radio is that it’s a passive medium. You can turn it on with the intention of listening to every word said but more then likely you’ll turn it on, then start balling your socks or sending a cheeky email to your cousin. Even though it is passive, it’s still an extremely useful tool for an unsigned/independent artist as your subconscious picks up an extraordinary amount of information without you realising. I think I said in a blog a few weeks ago how when at a festival I pretty much knew all the words to an artist’s singles who’s album I didn’t even own thanks to them being on the Radio 1 playlist.
So here is the golden question: How do you get your music onto the good old radio?
Well there are various roots of varying success but at the end of the day, if you make good music that people want to hear, it will eventually get picked up. If 1) you can’t be bothered to wait, or 2) you don’t make good music but still want it on the radio anyhow then try a couple of these tips:
Be fully aware of the station you are sending it to
Sounds like an obvious one this but there is simply no point addressing something to Scott Mills because he won’t even get it never mind play it. Even someone like Zane Lowe who actively endorses and discovers new music will probably have someone screen both his post and emails before he sees them. So if you’re aiming high, address it to the producer of the show. Make the letter personal to that person and compliment the show in a specific manner so they know that you do listen and are a genuine fan. If you’re going for something a bit more local and regional then go straight for the DJ and again.
Why post CDs?
Check out Sonic Bids – it’s a website that’s becoming more and more popular in the US and will most likely follow suit here. Electronic Press Kits are a cost effect way of getting in touch with a hell of a lot of people. You could send this to 100 DJ’s for a percentage of the price it’d cost to produce 100 actual press kits and it might only take 2 of them DJ’s to download and play a track for you to earn that money you spent back in PRS monies. Bargainous.Genre specific shows are much more likely to play your music
Even within genre specific stations there are usually genre specific shows so look for the ones who best suit your music and aim for them
Specialist unsigned shows are winners
Again, this may seem like an obvious thing to say but really hit the specialist unsigned shows and stations as 1) they’re more likely to play your material and 2) the key demographic of these stations are listeners who actively want to find new music to spend their money on and tell their mates about. It’s all about playing the odds; a specialist show which only a thousand people listen to might result in 20 new fans and 10 new downloads, but a generic daytime show with 10,000 listeners might result in bugger all.
Get the Press Releases right
This is an easy thing to get right and when done so it can really help your chances of getting noticed. When I was the station manager for my old university’s radio station I received loads of demos every day and some of the Press Releases were staggeringly bad. We used to hand all the demos out to DJ’s to review and play if they liked them but due to the god awful press releases on a few of them, some of them never left the out tray.
Right then, hope this helps!
Let’s hear some of your radio stories. Favourite shows? Memories? Do you hate radio and never listen to it? Could you not believe how Mark and Lard used to get away with Fat Harry White?
What I’m listening to this week: Envy and Other Sins and that Leona Lewis song (that is some reet good pop that is)
What I’m reading this week: The Guardian to gander at extracts of Russell Brands new ‘Booky Wook’
This weeks free track: The Compulsives – Perverse Madonna