Hearing your song on the radio is something that most artists dream of at some point, but the mysterious world of radio and radio promotion can seem daunting. Where do you start?
Shine on Promo is a radio promotion company that helps independent artists promote their singles, EPs, and albums to College and Specialty stations and has secured several #1 spots for their clients on the coveted NACC chart. We spoke with Robb Haagsman about how to execute a proper radio campaign, how long it takes, if radio is even relevant anymore and how radio coincides with touring.
What is Shine On and what exactly do you do?
Shine On is a Radio Promotion company focused on College and Specialty formats. We’ve been around over six years but the company has had various incarnations for over ten. In addition to College And Specialty formats, we’re also starting up on Non Comm / Triple A promotion later this year! We work with a variety of artists from bands just starting out to established artists. In 2022 some highlights were Beach House, Kurt Vile, Pedro the Lion, Father John Misty, Good Morning and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, among others.
Will your company work with any band, or do you only sign acts you deem marketable?
We only take on artists that we feel passionate about, and that we think radio programmers will love as well! If you have an upcoming single, EP or album you'd like us to consider, you can reach out to us via our website, shineonpromo.com
What are your criteria for selecting songs that are worthy of airplay?
We provide artists feedback on what singles we think would perform best at radio. If an artist has a video or other drivers supporting a particular song, that can factor in when pitching a single as well. For College radio, singles matter a bit less than other formats like Commercial Specialty and Non Comm, as DJ’s can play whatever they want for the most part. For College, we usually recommend programmers 3-4 tracks to start with.
How much does it cost to hire a radio promotion company?
It varies depending on factors like type of release [album, EP, single], is there touring around it, are their singles preceding a larger release, how many of the three formats we’re going to bring a given release to, etc.
Do you send CDs to radio stations or do they all want links emailed to them?
When I started doing radio promotion in 2008, we mailed CD’s to 500 programmers a week. Over the years, more and more stations have become digital friendly, so we’ve been able to cut back our CD mailing component to roughly half the original amount. However, many of the stations require CDs to consider them for programming, as physical copies can help speed reviews and processing along. For newer artists in particular, CDs still help move the needle, as some stations require them, and programmer inboxes are flooded with digital links. Even if we send a CD, though, we always supplement with digital servicing to the entire panel, as a given.
If you do send CDs, what style of packaging is preferred? Should it be wrapped, or not? Is a spine important?
In a digipack or jewel case with a spine is great, but slim CDs with release name/artwork on the front and tracklist on the CD or insert is a good budget friendly option as well. No wrapping necessary!
How should a band pick a promoter for their campaign?
When hiring, you should look for a team that’s as passionate about your music as you are. You should also consider a given company’s roster, and keep an eye if it’s balanced with established acts and new acts. For a new artist, the company pitching you can help you stand out. If the company has a strong track record of promoting artists that succeed, that reputation can help you. Conversely, if a company seems to take on anyone, that can work against you, as their reputation could result in your music not being reviewed, or just lost in the shuffle.
If a band wants to be played on the radio, where do they start?
There are many routes you can take, from the DIY route; mailing CDs yourself and following up with programmers, right on up to hiring a team to do that task for you.
What goes into a radio promotion campaign? How long does it take? What should it coincide with?
For College radio, album / EP campaigns can run 6-8 weeks, and for singles they last roughly 4 weeks for maximum ROI. Other drivers that can help the campaign would be a Press push occurring at the same time. That way the Press buzz can help feed the radio push and ideally the radio results can help the Press push as well! For touring, especially for newer artists, it’s important to have a radio presence in a market before a show there. If it’s your first time at radio, touring 1-4 months after a promo campaign’s start date would be best for pitching stations on in-studio performances, at venue interviews, ticket giveaways, phone interviews, etc.
Is radio still important?
In the age of algorithms, radio still offers artists exposure to not only the station's listeners but also the network of music directors / tastemaker DJs that can become fans and increase word of mouth. We see College radio support being especially important when bands are on tour. Having a station support a concert with either an in-studio, ticket giveaway, and/or on air mentions can be the difference between having 10 folks show up and 100.
What is the difference between College radio, Community radio, Local radio, Specialty radio, and Commercial radio?
The College Radio [www.naccchart.com] panel is the best place for a new artist to first establish a foothold and presence. At 300+ stations, the format is large, and it includes influential stations like KCMP/The Current [St. Paul, MN], KEXP [Seattle, WA], SIRIUS XMU, KDHX [St. Louis, MO], KCRW [Santa Monica, CA], KUT [Austin, TX], right on down to smaller College and Community stations across North American, including Canada. For the most part, programmers can add in whatever they please if they like a release, so for a new band, it's the best format to gain notoriety and build a story at! The support you build can also be leveraged down the line, as you climb up the ladder to other formats like Non Comm / Triple A / Alternative, etc.
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