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Working music to radio is a time consuming project. Few new bands/artists realize how much dedication and work it takes to get a song on radio. The general assumption is, once in the hands of the Music Director it will automatically be added to the playlist. Unfortunately, that's only the beginning of the long ride to regular rotation.

The burden of pursuing airplay can be alleviated by hiring a professional, independent record promoter. A professional promoter, through established relationships, can encourage Music Directors to listen to your song and take into their weekly music meeting, to consider for regular rotation.

A professional radio promoter/tracker calls music directors each week to obtain as much airplay for a client as possible. Music Directors receive anywhere from 25 - 50 new cd's EACH WEEK from major record and small independent labels, and of course, completely independent groups or artists.(For Campus Radio the figure
is closer to 50-100 cd's per week, can you imagine having to listen to each one? Well they do and many Music Directors are there on a volunteer basis and also take tracking calls through out the week by as many people, that's alot of work)

For commercial market radio priority rotation 'adds' first go to signed major label artists. If there is space for more adds the promoter trys to convince the music director why he/she should add your song. Campus radio is more receptive to
those unsigned artists and likes to hear all sorts of music.

If you haven't already decided on a "single", the record promoter will assist in selecting which of your songs will have the best chance at securing airplay. If you're not sure which format your cd should go to, the promoter will know. Many new artists waste both time, money and product by sending cd's to the wrong market. Formats range from Easy listening (MOR); Adult Contemporary (AC); Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR); Contemporary Album Rock (CAR); Country, Secondary and Campus markets. After your cd has been sent , the promoter
starts pre-promotion, informing the music director the cd's on the way, tracking
it's course until it arrives. At this point the ball begins to roll.

Once the promoter gets the music director to listen to the song and receives feedback they will provide the artist/group with weekly or biweekly reports.
Reports cover exactly what's happening at radio; who is considering it for an
"add"; who needs to listen more; who it's not suited to; who doesn't like it and won't be adding it ; or who does like it and will start by giving it "feature" airplay. The feature can be anything from playing the single once, or extensive as playing several cuts from the album along with a "live" radio phone interview with the artist or group. If you begin to get airplay your promoter should supply you with weekly tracking sheets. These sheets can be used to help you distribute your CD to areas where your song is being heard, book shows in markets you are being played and help get interviews in those cities and develop a fan base.

(Commercial Radio Stations require a focus track) A common error many new artists/groups make is sending their cd to a Music Director without indicating which track is the focus or "single". This is ineffective and also puts your CD at risk of never obtaining airplay. With 25-50 new CD's on their desks each week, Music Directors don't have the time to listen to an entire CD. Chances are they will throw it out without ever listening to it.

(College, Community, Public Radio) In the case of Campus radio singles are not chosen, the entire CD is made available for airplay.

Another important aspect to consider when looking to approach radio with your song is what you want to accomplish. This means, do you want to chart nationally or are you looking to sell some CD's and obtain gigs and build up your fan base locally? You need to take a serious look at this factor, as it will determine how large a geographic market you will promote your CD.

Spins are defined by the number of times a song is played. Artists/groups that go to major market reporting stations in any format stand a chance at "charting" in one of the industry trade magazines. Chart numbers are now based on number of "spins" a song receives from the total number of stations on the record. The more reporting stations, where you achieve airplay, the higher your chart number will be. If you start charting, "building a story"about your music, you will be able to take it to the next level.

It's important to have your product properly labeled so when the Music Director picks it up, they will know what track you want them to listen to. The standard format for sending a package should include: A short bio, a list of stations already playing your song (if applicable), the track # clearly marked, and in a jewel case.

Any CD's going to major market radio MUST send a copy to BDS. BDS stands for Broadcast Data Systems. BDS is a computer based system that "fingerprints" your song into a computer ,then tracks it through a satellite system giving an exact number of "spins" a song receives. BDS Reports tell the number of "spins", from what station and how many listeners at the time of your airplay. This report is expensive to obtain but can be factored into the cost of radio promotion fees, if the artist/group desires. That is how charts are compiled today. The address to send to MUST indicate the track number and name of the single: 8100 N.W. 101st Terrace Kansas City, Missouri 64153 Att: Lana Goodman The local Toronto BDS representative is Paul Tuch, for further information he can be reached at Ph: 1-905-853-6657 FX: 1-905-853-6403 . PS. Fingerprinting your CD on to the BDS System is FREE!

Written By: Kris King


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