When thinking about the goals for their promotion campaign, I guess most artists can agree on the following goals:
- Getting played on every radio station – obviously on heavy rotation
- Getting daily gig requests for shows with 10.000+ people
- Earning more money than you can spend
Obviously, these goals sound like a dream come true, but they don’t help at all when planning your promotional activities. While it makes sense to set goals that motivate you to work hard to reach them, obviously the goals above will leave you frustrated pretty soon (in the case that these goals are not completely out of reach, maybe the tips on this blog will seem a little basic to you).
Since in this blog we focus mostly on radio promotion, let’s see how we could start to get some airplay. Before you start reaching out to radio stations, you should start analyzing your music and your career so far. Here are some questions you might ask. Try to answer these questions as honest as possible, to get an objective perspective on the matter (when talking to others, you might change the answers a little, in order to shine a little more. But make sure you don’t overdo, or the image might break).
- How is the (sound) quality of the record you want to promote? On a scale from demo tape to solid quality to international pop quality.
- What kind of genre/sound is your music? Are you using a riddim aesthetic or creating your music with a band? Are you more into Reggae or Dancehall or do you rebuild a vintage sound like in the 60s/70s? Do you fuse reggae with other musical genres? …
- What language do you use in your music?
- What standing do you have on the Reggae scene? Newcomer, local hero, national star, international star, …?
How does the answers to those questions affect your approach? With a demo tape, you might spend your energy wrong trying to get rotation on a major, commercial radio station, but you should have a good chance to get support from local radio stations who support new artists. We will give a more detailed analysis about different kind of radio stations in a later post. Obviously the genre and sound of your records should fit the sound and taste of the media or person you are trying to get support from. Doesn’t always have to be 100%, but a metal radio station will never play a lovers rock tune. The language will have a massive impact on the territory you should look at. English and Patois are the accepted languages for Reggae music worldwide. Other languages are – at best – accepted in the territories where people are used to these languages. This doesn’t mean there is no chance to get airplay with a French Reggae song on a German radio station, but it might be harder. Usually, in these cases, your music will be considered an exotic version of Reggae or filed under Worldmusic. When looking at your current standing, usually the approach would be to extend your reach step by step. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the only possible way. We all know some artists that are more popular in countries they don’t live in, but usually you will reach a point where you feel the response from a certain group or region is stronger than expected and then start to change your focus.
Now, how should you start now with your radio promotion? When analyzing the questions above, you might sharpen your view on which steps could make sense to try next. There isn’t the golden way of “how to do my music career”, but with these questions in mind, you might be able to focus your energy for a more effective way to promote your music. And of course this approach can be used for other parts of your activities as well. Just make sure to connect all of them and try to get synergies. When you have gigs in a new region, try to link the local radios, press etc. to push your record and in the same time you are advertising your show as well. Hopefully your show will be packed and you are invited to come back another time.