Last April, College Broadcasters organized a moment of silence in which over one-hundred colleges simultaneously shut-down their broadcast for a moment. The purpose of the silence was to bring awareness to the lack of university radio funding and the need to adapt to an ever-changing music discovery environment. Stations such as NYU’s WNYU have added their broadcasts to be online as well as on FM stations to expand their relevance. Despite the changing environment in the music industry, college radio remains an excellent promotion channel for the indie universe. The Music Director from WNYU explains that, “We’ve been credited with proliferating numerous bands into nationwide popularity, and with good reason: alternative radio has been, and continues to be, a crucial launching pad for independent artists. The service is inexpensive, if not free, and can serve as vital promotion for a new artist—the trick is getting the MD on your side.”
Here are four crucial tips for getting your band’s music heard on college radio.
Physical Versions Are Better
I know we all thought digital killed the CD star, but the fact is that most DJ’s prefer to have physical copies in front of them to listen to the music directly. Also, the added benefit of submitting physical demos or albums is that it will enable that radio station to archive your band and your music so that future generations of the station will continue to play and promote your music.
Know the Station
If your music fits into a particular genre the best thing to do is submit it into a specific program on the station. If you are familiar with the particular DJ from that program, submit to them directly. This is one of the most basic ideas of any communication; know your audience. Knowing your audience can get your music to relevant decision makers and DJ’s more quickly and give them more confidence that you understand the alternative radio submission process.
If You Don’t Have a Distributor Seek One Out
These promoters do more than assist in checking on the status of your submission, whose playing it, and its number of plays. An independent distributor will likely already have an in with the elusive music director you are trying to contact. This independent distributors prior relationship can increase your likelihood and frequency of plays of your song.
Be Persistant Without Being Annoying
My final tidbit of advice is to be persistent with trying to get your music on without driving the music director crazy. This was general advice given to me by Bruno Del Granado (Ricky Martin’s manager) a few years back with anything in the music business; and it holds true for college radio as well. You need to understand that the university music directors are intensely busy and have lives of their own. Don’t send a million emails and 100 phone calls in two days, you may not get a response that quick, and you may end up irritating that director to the point that he wouldn’t play your music if you were the next Jimi Hendrix. You need to be persistent with your goal, and be patient with the response. I am currently trying to get rotation on WVUM for the band I am managing. So, I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to track down the music director and get them to respond to your emails. Remember, persistent yet patient. It’s a balance between sending enough contact to make sure your band doesn’t fall through the cracks of the MD’s busy day, and being patient enough to let them consider your music for airtime.
Using these steps can greatly increase the likelihood of your band getting airtime on college radio. Can’t wait to hear yall on the airwaves!