In part 1, I said that the key to getting your song played on the radio is writing a song that people want to hear, so that radio stations can sell advertisements. Figuring this out is the easy part, the hard part is actually writing the song, and this isn’t a lesson in songwriting. Most songwriters think that the songs they write are good songs that everyone wants to hear. But you really have to break it down. Is what you are writing what everyone wants to hear, or a select group of people want to hear? There is no point sending your music to someone that doesn’t care about it. So, figure out who wants to listen to your song. You have to define your audience. Not everything on the radio will sell millions of albums, and has an audience of millions. Once you find your audience you’ll be able to figure out WHAT radio stations will want your music.
If we take last week’s example, Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning,” the audience for Rihanna is top 40, pop, R&B, Hip Hop and Urban, adult contemporary radio stations, and the audience Metallica’s song is limited to radio stations that play heavy metal, thrash and maybe active rock. Listen to your music and think about who the audience is for your music. Be honest with yourself otherwise you are going to be disappointed when radio stations don’t play your music. Don’t be afraid to categorize yourself, it will be much easier to find your audience if you do!
So, where do you fit in? Do you play neo-classical ska country? Are you hip-hop death metal? Straight edge folk punk? No matter what your style is define it. If you don’t know ask your fans. But remember, be honest, because even your fans probably think you should be all over the radio. Look at Metallica now compared to when “Ride the Lightning” came out. They started out on several tiny radio stations, mostly college radio, until they wrote songs more people wanted to hear.
In defining your audience, you are making a decision to save time and money when you are ready to send out your CDs. If you can only afford to make 1000 CDs it doesn’t make sense to send out 300 to radio, especially if there are only 50 stations that will play your music. That’s 250 program directors who’s time you haven’t wasted time listening to something that doesn’t belong on their station. People don’t like their time wasted, and you certainly can’t afford to waste your money on CDs that will be thrown out or used as coasters.
Next time, after you’ve figured out your style, who you potential audience is, I’ll discuss the next step in getting your song on the radio-production.