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radio, hip-hop, Music Business 101

Nov 25, 2015 07:00 AM

D Grant Smith

Start Getting Radio Play: 5 of the Best Independent Hip-Hop Stations That Accept Demos

Photo via flickr.com

As an indie radio guy, I'm a little biased towards independent music platforms that accept submissions and demos versus more commercial routes. In my experience, indie, public, and community radio stations are consistently more supportive and beneficial for reaching the right audience for your music than any other media outlet.

For hip-hop artists, the same criteria and methods of promoting your music are true as those in any other genre. What is specific to you is that hip-hop has historically been a music style that celebrates the underdogs who rise to the top, as opposed to genres like rock or pop that tend to celebrate the celebrity image of success. The rags-to-riches story is pervasive in hip-hop, with icons like Biggy, Tupac, Jay-Z, Eminem, Run DMC, and so many more surviving a rough path to find monumental success through music.

Many emerging up-and-comers like to compare their talents to these rap legends, but what helped them rise to the top was their hustle and the ways they sought out getting their music into the hands of people who would support and grow their names. This is a short list of the hip-hop stations and programs I'd recommend, in seeing how they promote indie artists and hearing their programming.

Confessions of a Radio Programmer

All images courtesy of the author

Confession 1: Mail that has no name on it comes in all the time. Yup – no contact information provided for a new album released by a band that has a good sound and potential. How do I let them know we'll be playing their music? I wish people were more deliberate in their attempts to make contact. 

How Much Should You Budget for an Indie Radio Campaign?

Image by Mace Ojala

While we live in an era where you can promote your music on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and a thousand other sites, getting real fans to flock to you on their own is a difficult path. For DIY musicians, indie radio promotion makes audience growth and community building around your music easier and more effective.

A successful radio promotion campaign will put your music in front of the right audience to give you a combination of new fans, stronger listening from existing fans, new areas of the country (and the world) where your fanbase will extend, and the potential for increased music sales.

How to Work With Local Radio Stations to Build Your Fanbase and Strengthen Your Community

Photo by Chris Darling

Too often, artists get the impression that they have to make their start outside of their local community to be able to make a name for themselves in the music industry. It's true that growth and long-term success will require you to get your music out to regions beyond your hometown, but that doesn't mean the starting place for your music career growth has to be outside of your local community.

Local radio is an often underestimated but great way to build a strong community around your music; you invest in their community for reciprocal benefits. The key to working with local radio is to think differently about your fan engagement and how you want to stand out as an artist.

The Truth About How Radio Stations Decide Which Songs Get Played

Photo by Stuart Chalmers

Spend any time listening to the radio, and you'll both enjoy the mix of music and ask also yourself, "How did this song get on the air?"

Everyone who makes the decision on what songs get played on the radio has their own individual perspectives and motives for what they initally choose to play and what they don't. The same is true for how often some songs get rotation versus others. The truth on how radio stations and programs decide which songs get played actually has to do with a few factors that you might not realize.