Saturday, February 24, 2024

Faculty radio promotion: The musician’s information

The unbiased music market is extra saturated than ever. That’s why I favor advertising methods which might be particular and focused. They’re typically simpler than casting a large web.

I’ve labored alongside a whole bunch of artists over time, and seen how far more helpful it’s for a band to have a pair hundred actual, devoted followers who purchase t-shirts and tickets to exhibits than it’s to get tens of millions of passive streams on Spotify from listeners who won’t even discover the title of the artist they’re listening to. 

Because of this, and lots of others, faculty radio is my favourite promotional technique.

This text is meant to be a crash-course in how faculty radio works. I’ll cowl the technical ins-and-outs of school radio promotion, however extra importantly, tips on how to suppose strategically about faculty radio promotion.

Why does faculty radio matter?

Earlier than I get into how immensely worthwhile faculty radio promotion is, it’s necessary to say that selling music on faculty radio is a method used broadly by unbiased labels and artists throughout many genres.

It’s necessary and worthwhile due to its viewers, which I’ll get into shortly. But in addition as a result of there are a whole bunch of school radio stations throughout the nation that play unbiased music. This stands in stark distinction to business terrestrial stations, that, outdoors of some specialty exhibits, solely play information backed by six-figure-plus promotional campaigns. There are a few other forms of radio that new, up-and-coming artists may be capable to safe, however faculty radio is the largest pool.

As a school radio promoter, I typically say that probably the most worthwhile new followers you will get are the DJs themselves.

Most faculty radio DJs fall into two classes:

1. Faculty college students

However not simply any faculty college students. These are college students who’re so keen about music that they dedicate their treasured time to discovering and sharing new music. They’re youngsters who go to exhibits, purchase information, develop music scenes, ebook festivals, and so they’re the sort of people that will go on to work within the music trade as soon as they graduate. They’re hungry for brand new music. They’re defining their style, a lot of which is able to final a lifetime.

Many stations, particularly larger ones, have group volunteers who DJ and assist run the station. Importantly, they’re those who maintain issues working when faculty college students are dwelling for the summer season and holidays. These are individuals who love music a lot that they volunteer their time to share it with their communities. 

After all, each most of these persons are additionally all lively on social media like anybody else. However as a substitute of you simply placing your music up on the web and hoping high-value followers stumble throughout it, you’re placing it straight into their fingers at a time after they’ve already agreed to sit down down and pay particular consideration to model new music from artists they’ve by no means heard of, with the intent to then share it with others. It’s laborious to think about a greater set of individuals to be selling your music to straight.

And that is to say nothing of the fantastic music nerds all around the world who make investments time and vitality in music discovery by LISTENING to school and group radio.

Challenges with faculty radio

Hopefully, by now you agree that faculty radio is a good place to advertise your music.

Nevertheless, until you’re actively touring, it may be laborious to show periodic radio performs into followers and significant alternatives. Even in the event you’re displaying up on the nationwide faculty radio charts.

With typical press, you get a hyperlink (or screenshot) you’ll be able to share to get your followers enthusiastic about high-profile protection. This helps reveal to trade individuals that you just’re critical and getting seen. Faculty radio promotion doesn’t yield hyperlinks or simple social proof in the identical approach. So it requires some further consideration and work to take advantage of these worthwhile connections.

Getting radio play is like making it rain (this can be a metaphor, stick with me right here), however in the event you don’t put out buckets to gather the rainwater, it’ll simply soak into the bottom and dissipate. I’ll focus on “capturing the rainwater” intimately afterward on this article. However first, some sensible details about submitting music to school radio.

What even is faculty radio?

More often than not, once we speak about faculty radio, we’re speaking about terrestrial radio stations owned and operated by faculties. These stations are run by faculty college students and volunteers. However with the intention to perceive faculty radio promotion, it helps to get the larger image of how radio play is measured.

NACC (North American Faculty & Neighborhood) is a non-profit group that compiles and publishes weekly and month-to-month charts primarily based on information collected from faculty, group, and web radio stations. When individuals speak about faculty radio charts, they’re nearly actually speaking concerning the NACC charts, though NACC additionally accepts reporting from some web and group stations.

For the needs of this text, I’m going to make use of the time period “faculty radio” to check with stations that report back to the NACC. It’s good to know that some stations that report back to NACC aren’t precisely faculty stations. However they’re necessary if you wish to rank on what is actually the faculty radio charts.

Stations that report back to the NACC are ranked 1-5, 5 being the heaviest, or most necessary. Station weight is decided by quite a lot of elements. However usually the closely weighted stations are those you’ve heard of like KEXP and KCRW.

Whereas stations with a 1 or 2 rating are tiny faculty stations you in all probability haven’t heard of. They’ve a smaller listenership, however are probably superior nonetheless.

Find out how to submit your music to school radio

What to undergo radio

Most stations nonetheless favor to obtain CDs, although many now settle for digital submissions. Determining which stations are which generally is a massive undertaking, so do your analysis and maintain good notes!

Some issues to bear in mind:
  • In case you’re sending out bodily CDs, you need to be certain the jewel-case or digipak has a backbone so DJs can simply discover them on a CD shelf
  • Remember to point out which songs are the focus tracks, which is simply one other approach of claiming, probably the most radio-friendly ones you suppose they need to play
  • It’s a terrific concept to ship a one-sheet along with your social handles and perhaps even an image and style data
  • It’s additionally a terrific concept to ship stickers and a hand-written observe in case you have the time, or something you’ll be able to to verify your submission stands out. At Little Purple Radio Promotion, we use shiny purple envelopes once we ship out CDs in order that whoever opens it is aware of they’re about to find one thing wonderful. No matter you do, make it your personal!

No swears!

Faculty stations have to stick to FCC rules, so in case your songs have naughty phrases, ensure that’s marked visibly, or higher but, solely submit clear variations of your songs to radio.

Who to undergo

Deal with packages and emails to the station’s music director.

Faculty station web sites typically have up-to-date details about the music director and their submission pointers. It’s additionally good to ship an e mail alongside along with your bodily submission with an EPK the place they’ll simply obtain your report and photographs, learn your bio, and take a look at your social and streaming hyperlinks. 


We do weekly follow-ups with stations for the ten weeks following submissions.

This implies calling or emailing stations to ask in the event that they’ve had an opportunity to test it out but. In the event that they’ve performed it already, we thank them.

Retaining observe of who has added and/or performed a report is important. Staying organized is an absolute should.

What different information to share

It’s additionally good to share related data each if you attain out and observe up.

As an example, inform them in the event you’re native to the identical market as a station, or in the event you’re coming via on tour quickly.

extra faculty radio alternatives:
  • provide a ticket giveaway for listeners
  • present free tickets for the station DJs
  • ask about doing an in-studio efficiency in the event you see that’s one thing the station routinely does

Monitoring radio airplay

Faculty radio promoters observe and report airplay frequently all through your marketing campaign. How do you discover out which stations have added music to their library, or which DJs are enjoying the tracks?

3 methods to get information on faculty radio exercise:
  1. Telephone Calls are important if you wish to keep on a music director’s radar and get your music performed on the radio. We name stations and ask in the event that they obtained our submission, then in the event that they received an opportunity to take heed to it, in the event that they’ll add it to their library, and eventually in the event that they’ll give it some spins. The e-mail and the companies listed beneath are useful, however really no match for selecting up the cellphone.
  2. NACC compiles and posts charts that present the albums which might be getting probably the most radio play and getting added to rotation on a given week. You may signal as much as entry this data on their web site. They’ve a primary free providing and a extra strong paid tier the place you will have entry to extra data.
  3. Spinitron is a service the place you’ll be able to observe particular person spins. That’s a useful solution to maintain observe of the place and if you’ve gotten radioplay.

Each NACC and Spinitron memberships price between $100 and $150/month.

Find out how to get probably the most out of school radio airplay

As mentioned earlier on this article, getting radio play is nice, however what’s simply as necessary is what you do with it.

Listed below are some concepts for tips on how to put these faculty radio spins to good use:

Ship a thanks e mail

DJs love listening to straight from artists they’re enjoying.

Document station IDs

It’s greatest to maintain them quick and candy like, “Hello, it’s [ARTIST] and also you’re listening to [STATION].” You are able to do this for stations and even particular person exhibits that play your music. That’s an excellent good factor to throw in with a thanks e mail.

Ship thanks snail mail

Once more, the aim right here is to construct a reference to the DJs and music administrators. And who doesn’t get excited receiving hand-written notes and stickers? In case you don’t imagine me, go hang around on faculty radio TikTok and watch how cute and excited DJs get opening all of the totally different packages.

Observe the stations and DJs

If the individuals and stations that play your music have a presence on social, observe them!

That is simple to do and will be an effective way to attach and study extra concerning the DJs who like what you do and proceed to construct the connection. Do they submit pics of themselves in several band shirts each Friday? Ship them a t-shirt!  Keep in mind, faculty radio DJs are music tremendous followers. They’re the sort of people that observe artists for many years. Linking up on social media takes nearly no effort and it may be value its weight in gold.

Get into close by shops

In case you’re getting vital airplay on a given station (say 25 spins in per week), it’s value connecting to native report shops in that market to see about having them carry your music. Or, in the event you’re fortunate sufficient to work with a bodily distributor, that is nice data to go alongside to them.

Study extra concerning the scene

Wherever you’re at in your launch/touring cycle, selling to school radio may also help you get a way of what markets you have to be touring to and investing vitality in. I can’t overstate the significance of connecting with DJs who’re sharing your music. These individuals may also help you get plugged into native music scenes, discover out about the place you have to be enjoying, and even ebook exhibits.

Lastly, we create shareable IG/TikTok content material for our shoppers that allow individuals find out about radio play. It’s tremendous simple to make a bit animated reel in Canva with the artist’s image and the tune title, station, and chart rating or some other related information. We encourage our artists to submit it on IG and tag the station and/or particular person DJs as collaborators. This can be a nice solution to get in entrance of people that observe the station, however who may need missed your tune. It additionally exhibits a lot appreciation since you’re directing your personal followers to take a look at the station’s web page.

I’m positive there are one million extra methods to construct friendships and group with faculty radio DJs. For my cash, selling to school radio is an unimaginable factor to do, however don’t depend on spins alone to maneuver the needle to your undertaking. Your persons are on the market ready so that you can join with them!

As somebody who does faculty radio promotion, I can inform you that it’s doable to go the DIY route. Particularly in the event you’re somebody who can deal with the analysis and managing giant information units. 

In all probability the largest problem once we began our company was simply constructing an precise listing of all of the stations and their bodily addresses.

WARNING: There are a bunch of issues which might be marketed as “faculty radio contact lists” you should purchase on-line. However none of them are very usable, and so they’re all old-fashioned and incomplete. The easiest way to construct your faculty radio contact listing is to put within the hours researching station contacts and constructing your personal listing. 

Doing send-outs isn’t all that labor-intensive, however following up each week for months is! Likewise, staying on high of who’s performed your music will be troublesome and time-consuming. So that you’re going to want air-tight techniques to maintain observe of all of it.

I believe that there’s a false impression that promoters are folks that constructed relationships with retailers by schmoozing and being in-the-know. however in my nearly 20 years of releasing and selling music, I’ve discovered that the most effective promoters are simply well mannered, organized individuals who make life simple for the DJs and writers they undergo.

In case you determine you’re not geared up to deal with your personal promotion, you’ll be able to search to rent a good faculty radio promoter. You may get a nationwide radio marketing campaign finished for a couple of thousand {dollars}. Some businesses cost far more, some cost much less.

We hang around proper within the mid-range at $3500 USD for a ten-week undertaking. Working at this charge permits us the time to assist our shoppers construct relationships and retain followers.

Along with funds, you’ll additionally need to contemplate:
  • Does the company or promoter have as a report of success, knowledgeable web site, and shopper testimonials?
  • Is their present roster of shoppers selective sufficient that they’ll be capable to correctly promote YOUR music?
  • Are they communicative and clear?
  • Do they set real looking expectations? Do they define their expectations of you, the artist?

In that case, it may be value reaching out to them.

After which bear in mind, simply since you’re keen to pay a promoter doesn’t imply the promoter will say sure. Their fame is constructed on repping music they imagine in.

Measuring success

Whether or not a marketing campaign was profitable or not relies on who you ask. Getting an album to chart within the NACC’s high 200 is a good and infrequently achievable aim for a nationwide faculty radio marketing campaign.

However, as you already know, my focus in figuring out the success of an album has extra to do with what number of new followers you’re really participating with, promoting information to, and including to your e mail listing. Plus, how properly you’re ready to make use of the methods mentioned above in “How To Get The Most Out Of Airplay”.

In Conclusion

Faculty radio is an incredible, and admittedly under-leveraged useful resource artists can use to create sturdy communities round their music.

Thanks a lot for studying, and please be happy to achieve out straight with any technical or extra particular questions. As you’ll be able to in all probability inform, I really like speaking about these items.

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