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Planning Your Radio Promotion Campaign
by Christopher Knab - Fourfront Media & Music - March 2002
The commercial radio industry, at this time in history, couldnt be less friendly to the independent musician. However, that doesnt mean there isnt some significant radio airplay available to you if you know what youre doing. Outlined below is a plan to consider if you have the three important ingredients necessary for working your record to radio.
1) The money to fund the campaign
2) The time to spend working all the stations consistently
3) A product that is ready for national airplay
When it comes to commercial radio, the chances of getting significant national airplay for your independent record are next to none. We live in an era when a small group of powerful media conglomerates own and control the most important radio stations in the land. Unless you are connected to a major label, or are independently wealthy, the costs of promoting your songs nationally to commercial radio have spiraled out of sight.
There are, however, lots of mix shows and specialty shows on commercial stations that may offer limited airplay, and at least will get you some awareness in the markets across the country. There will be a lot of work involved in finding these stations yourself, city by city, and music format by music format. I suggest you subscribe to or get a copy of the annual CMJ Directory.
If you have money to invest in radio promotion its possible to hire an independent promoter who may be able to open some doors to these shows for you. Be prepared to spend several hundred dollars a week for their services.
A more realistic approach for airplay is to consider the options available on the noncommercial side of the FM dial. (88.1 FM to 91.9 FM) With the combination of college radio stations, community stations, and even some of the larger National Public Radio affiliated stations, your chances of getting your record played are much better.
Below you will find an outline based on how professional record labels plan for their radio promotions.
You need to prepare:
A database of commercial and non-commercial stations that you realistically think may play your music.
The timeline you'll use to put the promotional material together (basically setting your deadlines).
Be sure to remember that your plan may be distributed to employees, and any independent promotion people you may hire.
This plan will be their introduction to your or your artist, and is the plan they will base their work on.
1) Design a detailed overview of your radio promotion plan.
Consider all marketing and promotional ideas listed below.
Propose what you think would work best in each of the areas to help market the record to radio.
Remember to keep cohesiveness between all areas: Give reasons why your music is appropriate to each station you approach.
Remember you will need several practical tools/materials to achieve your goals. (Computers, hardware/software, office supplies, etc.).
Address the following specific topics in your plan:
Background/Goals: Give a brief history of the artist, and describe the goals of your plan.
Image: Describe and maintain the artist's image consistently in all promo materials.
Radio: What radio format(s) will be targeted? What markets? Which songs? Any station promotions? (On-air concerts?) Hiring any Independent promoters?
Publicity: Describe your plans to create a buzz in the print media. Any press releases to the music industry trades? Update any bios, fact sheets, and other press materials.
Sales: Describe Distribution and Retail plans. Any in-store play/ promotions? What other specific sales opportunities? Mail order, live shows, Internet website? Any store promotional tie-ins with radio stations?
Video: Is a video cost effective? What airplay opportunities are there for the video?
Touring: Describe the time frame for touring, and other promotional events to coordinate while on the road. Consider specific clubs, halls, fairs, festivals, etc.
Any club/venue promotional tie-ins with radio stations
Advertising: Design an ad to be placed in the trades/ consumer music press, and other media? What funds are available for purchasing ads? Describe the costs/benefits?
Misc.: Record release party? Novelty item? Any other clever ideas? Explain clearly.
2. Design a 12 week plan for the product and promotional tools.
Lay out what needs to be accomplished each week to get the record out.
Consider the: artwork, mastering, credits, sequencing, printing, pressing, booklets, layout/design.
Include in the timeline when to start working on the promotional tools that you will need for your plan (photos, press releases, novelty items, display material, ads).
Design the timeline with deadlines for each element of your project.
As you can see, a radio promotion campaign is something that is done as part of a wider marketing plan. Always have distribution and sales plans, as well as publicity, advertising and touring plans coordinated carefully with your airplay campaign. The worst thing that can happen to any song on the radio is that someone hears the song, but cant find a way to buy it. Professional record labels always have distribution and sales connections set up before they secure airplay. You should do the same.
2006 is the year of Intelligence!