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How to get your song played on the radio

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of radio presenters who are just waiting to play your music. So where do you start? How do you find them?

By Emma Scott - posted 26 August, 2014

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Getting radio airplay may help you get signed or get more gigs. It may help you sell more CDs, downloads and merchandise. It will also help you get more hits to your website and Facebook page, attract more fans – or just give you something to tell your grand-children in future years.

media.info is the right place to start your search: so add this website to your favourites and start looking through the radio station directory for the stations in your area first, and then widen your search. (Tip: just type a town name into the search box).

You may not get on big stations straight away, but don't worry: "spot plays" on smaller radio stations can lead to bigger and bigger radio stations playing you.

Remember, there are around 750 different radio stations in the country and loads of "Unsigned" and "Specialist" shows too! You have plenty of stations to choose from.

Question is, can you see yourself making up 750 press packs? How much would that cost in stamps??!

Obviously you don’t need to send to every radio station in the country.

What do you need to send, anyhow? How do you approach the "Unsigned" shows? What do the DJs need from you? Do they want an MP3 or CD? What other information do they need?

Questions, questions!

Here are some very brief tips. All the detailed information is to be found in my Break Your Band – A Guide to Getting Radio Airplay book. I am writing the follow up now, which will delve even further into the subject. Watch out for it!

First, start locally. Look at your local BBC station and find out who presents their "Introducing" show. You'll need to register your band on their website.

For non-BBC stations, you'll need to do some work.

Why not switch the radio on and have a search up and down the dial!

To get ON the radio, you need to get INTO radio!

If you find a station, make a note of their name and have a listen. Look them up on Media UK and see if you can find any information about them playing unsigned music. You can search radio station websites straight from Media UK's directory entry.

It's quite easy to jump onto the radio station’s website to see if they play unsigned bands and artists, or give them a call and ask. It may take you a while to find out where those presenters are, but once you have their details, you can keep sending them your material.

Keep in touch with them too – it really helps. You'll find Twitter and other details on media.info too.

If they do play emerging/unsigned talent, find out who presents the show and how they want to receive material. If sending off a press pack, make sure you get the radio station and presenters name right... and of course send it to the correct address.

Present your CD/press pack nicely. Don't send it in a skanky re-used envelope that you’ve scribbled on. Take pride in what you're doing.

Send a small biography (band history) with your CD, and a personal note to the presenter too. If you have live dates you want to plug, include these too. Make sure you include an email address, your social media information and a contact number too. Try and get this information on one sheet of A4, or better still, on a sticky label that you attach to your CD.

Include the band name and track listing on the CD and the inlay, as paperwork gets lost and CDs get detached from their sleeves. Sending a CD with no information on the actual disc is not good.

Send a follow-up email a few days later and ask if the presenter has had time to listen to you.

By emailing the presenter, you are in their "inbox" and it means he or she doesn't have to bother looking up your email address. Anything that saves a presenter time is good!

Please remember that most presenters are really busy, and they get a lot of emails and a lot of post. With the greatest will in the world, they can't reply to everyone and they can't give feedback to every band that emails them. There simply aren't enough hours in the day.

Repeat this procedure for each radio station in your area, then go regional and then national. Soon enough you'd have covered the whole country and you may be getting airplay from places you'd never even heard of before!

Don't forget, Amazing Radio is a station that plays 100% unsigned and emerging talent, so register yourself on their site too.

It's great being on the radio! Enjoy it and good luck.

Emma Scott has worked in radio since 1988. She's presented shows for many different radio stations all over the UK - like Kerrang! Radio, Q Radio, Power FM, Hallam FM, Metro FM, Juice FM and more recently on the Heart Network. She also runs her own successful gig promotions company "Emma Scott Presents" in the Midlands and her “Transmission Radio Skool” too.