For all of my musicians, songwriters, producers, and artists out there…
Most of you probably share a goal.
Maybe this goal is more important to some of you than to others, but most of you, at the very least, would think that this is really cool:
Getting your song on the radio.
To actually have a major radio station play your song… it’s kind of like seeing a book you wrote in a major book store or seeing a movie you worked on in a major movie theater.
In the same way, radio, at the very least, makes your song feel like a “big deal.”
Not to mention, if a song lands on radio, it is going to make you way more money than the rest of the tracks on your record!
How A Song Gets On The Radio
There are 4 parties that are important to know about when it comes to a song getting on a major radio station.
Program Directors: the people “in power” at radio stations who officially decide what gets played.
Radio Promoters: the people at labels (or who work independently) whose job it is to communicate with program directors about new singles and releases.
Listeners: the people who listen to the radio stations.
Record Labels, Artists, Songwriters & Producers: those who actually create the music.
Now, here’s the great cycle of radio.
Record labels, artists, songwriters, and producers try to make music that they think that radio promoters will be able to work with.
Then, radio promoters try to promote songs to program directors that they think the program directors will want.
Then program directors put songs on their radio station that they think their listeners will want because without loyal listeners, radio stations can’t survive.
But how do program directors know what their listeners want: Radio testing.
Radio testing is when volunteers come together and listen to clips of songs where they rate which songs they would be more interested in listening to and which ones they would skip.
They are rarely judging a song by its quality the whole way through. Normally, it’s just a short clip that the radio testers are judging things by.
So that is the great cycle, and that’s how it all trickles back to YOU: the artists, musicians, songwriters, and producers.
Is Anyone Wrong In This Situation?
No one is wrong in this situation.
No one is an “unfair gatekeeper.” At the end of the day, everyone is just trying to please someone else. That’s pretty much how our economy works in every aspect of it.
And if you don’t like how it works, then you don’t need to play the game 😉
But if you understand all of these roles and what motivates each person in each role, then that will be able to inform your decisions about what music you choose to create.
Because the whole process ultimately starts with YOU: the music creator.