Jeri Goldstein

Photo: 2017 © Lynn Amsterdam

How To Use Radio Promotion to Boost Airplay and Build New Audiences

– Posted in: Promotion

I often get calls from artists who want to know more about using a radio promotion company to help boost airplay and build new audiences. Most artists believe they ought to launch into a full-blown campaign as soon as they have their hot-off-the-press CD. Some artists should do just that, others should not, depending on your career goals, of course.

Use radio promotions to identify hot markets for touring. Be prepared to tour in the markets where airplay is greatest. The best use of a radio campaign is to track the cities and radio stations that have added the recording. Plan support tour dates in those cities no later than four to six weeks after the campaign has been completed. Once you have the radio stations become familiar with your music, those stations become key points of contact to help promote a tour date. When you notify the station of the upcoming tour, they are likely to extend airplay, promote the date, do phone or live interviews and possibly even work with the promoter or venue as a co-sponsor. The radio station may even be able to recommend specific venues and promoters in the area at the start of your booking process.

Use the radio promotion’s campaign to leverage better dates. As you contact the various venues in the markets of greatest airplay, mention the radio campaign, the station playing the recording and what degree of airplay the recording is receiving. Knowing that radio is supporting the act can often be the persuasive factor necessary to land a date.

There are two methods of radio promotions to consider– hiring a radio promotion company or doing radio promotion on your own. Here is a set of criteria to help you decide which works best for you.

Hiring A Radio Promotions Company

  1. Acts with intentions to expand their touring beyond their own region or to tour nationally would benefit from working with a professional radio promotions company.

  2. Costs range from $400-$600 per week for an eight to twelve week campaign. Be prepared to spend at least $2400 for an eight-week campaign and if all is going well, you might want to add an additional two to four-weeks. These costs are just for the company. Some companies charge additionally for expenses like shipping and phone. You need to have enough promo copies of the CD available as well. Each promotions company will tell you how many stations they service.

  3. Select a company that is well established in promoting to your genre of music and radio format. Some of the main formats are: A3, Americana, NAC/Smooth Jazz, Rock, Adult Contemporary, Country, Adult Alternative, Gospel, R&B, New Age, World Music, Latin, Rap, Urban, College depending on which radio chart is used.

  4. Know which format your recording fits. If you intend to use radio promotions as a tool to push the act to the next level, you should research formats and listen to the stations playing those formats prior to making the recording. When interviewing companies to work with, they will review the recording before taking on the project. They are just as anxious to have a successful campaign as you are. They have a reputation to maintain with the various radio stations. Their credibility is at stake with every project they pitch.

  5. Ensure that the recording will be available in the markets where the campaign is concentrating. This can include signing with a distributor who will stock the local stores, or it can mean the recording is available through any of the online retailers. If the recording begins to receive airplay, radio stations want to make purchase information available to callers.

Self-Managed Radio Promotion

  1. Consider the range of your touring. If you tour within a specific region or remain close to your home base, it may prove more cost effective for you to manage your own radio promotion. Although some regions of the country do have radio promotions companies that concentrate solely on a single region, most conduct national promotions campaigns. If you have no intention of touring outside your region, or plan to move more slowly, region by region, the expense for a national campaign may be prohibitive and unnecessary at this time. The money spent on the regions you do not intend to tour will be wasted. When touring is restricted to one area, it is easier to select tour cities and research the appropriate radio stations on your own, city by city, as you need them. Your costs are then spread out over an extended period, as are the necessary promo CDs. You are able to concentrate on each city you intend to tour. The main concern for you is scheduling a time to send the promo CDs, make initial calls to the station to check on the CD arrival and then at least once a week, make a follow-up call to check on the airplay the CD is receiving. This is no small task and it is time-consuming.

  2. Hire a friend or fan part time or assign someone from the band. The solution to the time-consuming nature of this project might be to hire someone for a few weeks at an hourly rate, the total being much lower than the professional company. If they are organized and have a pleasant phone manner, they can accomplish much the same result as a professional company. The difference will be that the professional company has an established reputation and music directors at the various stations will take their calls. Your employee will have to spend some time establishing a relationship first. Then again, your campaign doesn’t necessarily have to be completed within a specific time frame. You are able to target the cities of greatest importance as you decide to set tour dates in those markets.

  3. When making the recording budget, include money for promoting the recording. Set aside dollars for shipping costs, phone calls, promotional CDs, and packaging materials. Research the number of stations you are likely to target and make sure you have included that number in your initial count for manufacturing. Most artists’ recording budgets omit any additional money for promotion. Make booking gigs and building an audience easier for yourself by designating money to market the new CD. This intern will help leverage your bookings at targeted venues in desired markets.

The goal of any radio promotion campaign, large or small, is to create audience awareness of your group and the new recording. National promotions companies use charts to mark progress. If you choose to do your own regional campaign, your benchmark will be the number of stations that begin playing the CD. If those stations report to a specific chart, it is not unheard of for an independently, self-promoted artist’s CD to achieve chart notoriety. I’ve worked with a number of artists who conducted their own campaigns with great success and charted. They spent many hours of each day calling and then recalling. Their efforts were rewarded. Yours can be as well.

Ultimately, your goal is to use the radio airplay to boost bookings and build your fan base. Radio recognition helps both causes. Include some aspects of radio campaigning in your marketing program.


And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It’s all waiting for you at http://www.performingbiz.com. Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring, 3rd Edition.

* If you would like to reprint any of these articles, please contact Jeri Goldstein for permission.

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