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One of the most common questions that I’m asked is “how do I do an interview on the radio”? to which I always respond with the question “have you got your story straight”?

What do I mean about getting your story straight?

Take into consideration that music and lyrics make up the narrative of your songs, the very thing that underpins your creation is your story. Your story is the accompanying, yet crucial, piece of information about you as an artist, the personal narrative to the overall narrative that you communicate through your song writing.

What elements do we need to consider when formulating your story?

My two favourite quotes are from Robert McKee, Hollywood screenwriter and Nancy Duarte, author and business innovator in communication.

“The best way to unite an idea with emotion is by telling a compelling story. In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling, but you also arouse your listeners’ emotions and energy”- Robert McKee, Screenwriter, The Colour Purple.  

“You can have piles of facts and still fail to resonate. It’s not the information itself that’s important but the emotional impact of that information. This doesn’t mean you need to abandon facts entirely. Use plenty of facts but accompany them with emotional appeal”. Nancy Duarte, Author of Resonate: Present visual stories that transform audiences. 

What McKee and Duarte are telling us here is that there are certain elements when putting your story together you might want to consider.

McKee talks about “arousing your listeners’ emotions and energy” and in an interview this plays a pivotal part in articulating yourself effectively. Show passion, tell us what this story means to you. To paraphrase Nancy Duarte, we could rattle off a series of information soundbites that do not resonate with the audience which runs the risk of a hideously dull method of delivery I fondly refer to as “death by Wikipedia”.

Death by Wikipedia

What is “death by Wikipedia”? It’s those interviews I dread; those interviews that sound like you're telling your story like a series of historical dates, piece by piece information that’s delivered to the interviewer and then onto the audience. This is where there is an opportunity to deliver the facts but accompany them with emotional appeal.

This is where a sense of story plays an absolutely crucial role; an emotional investment by the artist, a means of connection to the band as a whole and a reference point. With a confident story, invested in by the whole band, it can create (to quote the painter Bob Ross) “happy little accidents”.

When working with clients we model our story on three points of reference.

The happy accident, the magic or consequence, of having a story that the whole band can identify with means you can ‘perform’ your story in an interview with confidence. Much like you do with your songs – you are confident in the lyrics and melody. So now you have your story that you all had a hand in writing, we are ready to do an interview.

The Basic Facts

A common misconception of an interview is that you are expected to recall all the important information from memory alone, this is wrong. The only people that can do that are those who have a high-functioning, photographic memory. Most of us, myself included, do not possess this skill. A pen and paper accompanied with some facts are your ideal partners in an interview situation.

So, what basic facts do you need in front of you before you go into an interview (or a series of interviews in a festival scenario)?

We are now in the interview, you have your story, you are connected to it, you are confident telling it. You also have a notepad with all the information on the current release, locations, dates and so on.

What’s next?

Endear your host. Remember that someone has taken the time and interest to interview you, they want access to you, your music and your story. It is important to acknowledge the interviewer and make them a fan. A simple way of doing this, and therefore connecting with the interview on a human level, is by remembering and recalling their name. What does that do? The Washington Post said, “A person's name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say it is the most important word in the world to that person. It is the one way we can easily get someone's attention... When someone remembers our name after meeting us, we feel respected and more important”. It’s an easy win that is often overlooked.

What happens when something goes wrong? What can we do?

We all have a member of the band who is the loose cannon – they sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time. They’re often a great asset to the band in many ways but if there’s a pause between question and answer, they fill it with whatever springs to mind. To avoid any blips, those gaps are great opportunities to bring your story back to the forefront and get the interview back on track firmly and confidently.

So, what’s our takeaway?

1) Story - Create it, invest in it and tell it from your perspective

2) Remember the name, the journey, the destination, the product and where we can find you/it.

3) Bring your bio to life

4) Prepare with confidence (and for the unexpected)

5) Enjoy the opportunity

To find out more, check out our courses here.

At WaterBear, the college of music, we have published several videos and tips on how to get your music on the radio. We're passionate about helping emerging artists and bands get heard. In this blog, we provide a practical route filled with submission links to popular music radio stations in the UK.

Before diving into each specific radio station, lets recap on the top three tips that will give your tracks the best chance for radio success:

Make the perfect radio edit

Read this blog (link above) for further information on:

Editing out the swearing

This should be self-explanatory but to get radio traction you’ll need to keep the cussing to a minimum. Have a clean and dirty edit of your track for this reason.

Consider the length of your track

There is a sweet spot of about three minutes in the perfect radio edit. There are exceptions, but you'll notice a successful song usually adheres to this rule. Creating a radio hit is an art – learn to enjoy the creative restriction around it.

The importance of the intro

Consider having an intro, this will allow the presenter some time to speak and introduce you before the singing starts. It can really help.

Write the perfect press release

Writing a press release is an art form in itself – here are some top takeaways (don't forget to check the link in the title).

Keep it short 

Your press release should be one-page maximum. If you have gone over, consider revising it. A producer will want to scan through it to find your act's highlights.

The layout

To keep it easy, here's the best way to order your press release:

  1. Your band or artist name

2. The name of the single/EP

3.  Have links embedded into the single or video (Professional Recording)

4.  Artwork (Hi-Res Main Image/Hi-Res Professional Shots)

5.  The blurb

6. Social media contact info

Note, this should all fit on one page!

The links

Hyperlink text to point to the relevant social media channels and streaming sites. It looks more professional and helps to condense your text. Also, get Soundcloud so you can distribute private links efficiently.

The blurb

This is your chance to show off a bit – put your key highlights in bold, so they are easily readable!

Make it easy for the radio producer to find you

Don’t tell people where to find you – give them links to your socials and streaming site. Always think about making the presenter's job as easy as possible!

Submit your music to these radio stations

If you have a professionally recorded radio edit and press release ready, you have all you need to start sending to the below links. Good luck!

Amazing Radio
Genre: Rock/Alternative/Indie
Submit Your Music

BBC Introducing
Genre:
All
Submit your music here 

BBC 6 Music – Giles Peterson Show
Genre:
Hip Hop/Rap, Dance/Electronic, Soul/R&B/Funk, Jazz
Email: [email protected]  

Folk Radio
Genre:
Folk/Country
Submit your music here

Hard Rock Hell Radio
Genre:
Hard Rock /Metal
Submit your music here

Radio Reverb 97.2FM (Brighton)
Genre:
All
Submit your music here 

Rinse FM 106.8FM (London)
Genre:
Garage/Grime/Dubstep/House and Jungle
Submit your music here

Fresh on the Net
Genre: Alternative/Alt-Pop/Pop
Submit Your Music

Fab Music
Genre: Alternative/Rock/Pop
Submit Your Music

KiSS Radio
Genre: Pop/Mainstream
Submit your Music

Under Dogs With Lucy Leeds
Genre: Alternative/Rock/Pop
Submit Your Music

Unity Radio
Genre: Hip Hop/RNB/Grime/Garage/Bass Music/Drum & Bass/House/Reggae & Afrobeats
Submit Your Music

Radio Hartlepool
Genre: Mainstream/Local
Submit Your Music

KISSTORY
Genre: Old Skool and Anthems
Submit Your Music

Kerrang!!
Genre: Rock/Metal/Hard Rock
Submit Your Music

Planet Rock
Genre: Rock/Alternative Metal
Submit Your Music

Resonance FM
Genre: Alternative/Experimental
Submit Your Music

BBC Radio 1Xtra
Genre: Urban/Hip Hop/Grime
Submit Your Music

1BTN
Genre: Electronic/House/Techno/DNB
Submit Your Music

Merry Christmas, my name is Georgie and I previously worked as a radio plugger. My job was to get bands/artists songs played on the radio. In the radio industry, this time of year comes with its own set of challenges as a plugger. One Christmas, I represented Shakin’ Stevens who had recut his Christmas classic ‘Merry Christmas Everyone”. My job was to get this track as much radio exposure as possible. Now, due to the fact it was to raise money it did well in some respects, this was bolstered by it being a familiar song. However, one piece of feedback I kept getting was that people just wanted to hear the original. Despite being lower quality in terms of production (having been released originally in 1985), the original had one thing on its side – nostalgia. That’s the version many grew up listening to and love.

Will releasing a xmas song get me on the radio?

Mariah Carey, Slade, Shakin’ Stevens and The Muppets all have one thing in common - a Christmas hit. The hits are massive income-generating tracks for artists and the industry surrounding them. Mariah Carey has made over $60 million to date, and earns $500,000 every Xmas.  Considering this, you are forgiven for thinking that a Christmas hit will pave your road to financial success.

First, consider your genre

The first question is to ask - is a Christmas song stylistically appropriate in your genre? If you are a punk act, then releasing a Christmas song could be considered intensely commercial and uncool. However, if you are a Bublé-esque then a Christmas track could well have radio potential.

Why do people listen to xmas tracks?

There is a simple answer, Christmas tracks evoke a sense of nostalgia. It is not so much about the track itself, it’s more about the way it makes you feel. Unless you have a time machine handy and can make a historic Christmas track, writing a successful Christmas tune will be a tall order. You may find more success in covering an existing song.

The mainstream industry

It may seem to be a great time to release in December, as all the major label artists do. However, consider that they are releasing albums to be given as Christmas gifts to friends and family, it may be that your death metal album is not an appropriate gift.

The industry is generally oversaturated in December, and if you are an artist with a moderate to small reach you could get lost in the noise of Christmas. Instead, use this month to reflect and get your plan together for January (this is covered in next week’s blog).

But how do I get my band on the radio?

I’ll let you in on a secret… the large majority radio is planned on the day. It needs to be topical, and it needs to be relevant. There is no point in planning it the day before as it will be old news by the time the show is live. This means you, and a band/artist need to be as flexible and available as possible to get that slot on a show on the day.

A Christmas miracle

Let me tell you a story about how this has really paid off. When I was a plugger, the producer of the Robert Elms Show on BBC Radio London called me at 10am saying "we have a slot today for an interview in 3 hours". She needed me to sort it out and get any artist or band in. As a plugger, I said ‘sure, no problem’, then put the phone down, had a mild panic, and rang a few people.

Unfortunately, no one was free that day… until I tried someone I was plugging who lived on the Isle of Wight. It was a long shot, but I gave it a go. To my surprise, he said yes, and he managed to get from his armchair in the Isle of Wight to the studio in London in 3 hours. He did a great interview and brought his guitar along, which I actually didn’t ask him to do. He thought ahead and played a track live.

Not only that, the artist was promoting a Christmas themed album. He had created stories based on old photographs he’d found from Christmases gone by. Robert Elms loved it and asked him back. That just shows that if you are available and committed, then you absolutely have a shot at getting on the radio.

To wrap up 

If you work hard and you’re consistently reliable, you'll be on the tip of the tongue of the person who puts acts on the radio. I knew this artist had worked hard. I knew he would show up, he would do a good interview and also be able to do a track live if needs be. You need to gig, get your name out there and network.  This helps whoever gets asked to find a band or artist know your name. You need to be the act that a plugger thinks of when they have a slot to fill in a couple of hours.

So, this Christmas, don’t get caught up in the festive noise. Use December to reflect and get ready to work hard in January. Next year may just be your year to get on the radio. Keep pushing and Happy Christmas!

If you’d like to learn more about what we can offer you and how to progress your career at WaterBear, please do get in touch and come along to an Open Day or Order a Prospectus.

 

Over the last five years, I've worked in various radio positions including plugging. In this blog, I'll explain what you and your band need to know about radio pluggers – and how to get your music out there to the right people.

Major vs indie labels

It’s a plugger's job to get an artist’s music played on the radio. This activity can be done by major labels with their in-house pluggers or independent freelance pluggers. Now, they're all doing the same thing but the only difference is that the major labels will have a lot more cash to spend.  That's not to say an independent plugger won't do as good a job and get your music played.

DIY plugging

Maybe you're thinking; "Georgie this is exactly what I want, my music played on the radio!"  However, how do you go about doing it?

If you're reading this I'm going to assume that you're an independent band or artist. Purely because if you're with a major label, they'll more than likely sort it all out for you. As an indie artist, you can hire a plugger for a certain length of time with varying different price points. There are great reasons to hire a plugger you may have a single coming out or want to hire them for a full-on EP campaign. A plugger will help you get your music out there and under the noses of the right people.

The price for your plugger is going to come down to how many contacts they have in their pockets. You're going to be paying more for someone with experience and a greater network of contacts to schmooze with. However, someone cheaper will still have their own set of contacts and a little black book. Don't think you have to be with a major label to have an amazing plugger.

Finding your plugger

Finding a plugger is easy but you have to do a bit of research. Google is your friend, so simply type in radio plugger and see what pops up. Try LinkedIn as this can be a great resource for finding professionals as they will generally have a published roster of artists they have plugged. However, the best way would be to find some other bands who are on a similar level to you and find out who’s plugging their music. Then maybe get in touch and see if you can jump on that bandwagon.

I hope this post has shone a light on the world of pluggers and given you some good ideas on getting your music to the right people. There’s loads of other great content on the WaterBear Youtube Channel with more radio tips from me too!

If you’d like to learn more about how to progress your career at WaterBear, please do get in touch and come along to an Open Day or Order a Prospectus.

I’ve worked at various radio stations over the years as a presenter and a music coordinator. Based on this experience, I’m going to tell you how you can make the perfect radio edit. I know loads of you guys are going to be writing and releasing singles, and radio play can really maximise your exposure. It has the ability to get your music in front of as many people as possible. So here are 3 easy tips:

Tip no.1 - edit out the swearing

You may have noticed loads of artists (even the squeaky-clean ‘pop’ ones!) have swearing in their songs, but they know if they want any chance of getting it played on the radio, they have edit it out. Swearing may be okay on your album but it’s still not okay on the radio. How you edit out the swear word is up to you, but here are a few examples I have heard. You could reverse the word, replace it with another word that rhymes, or replace the swearing with a sound, a bell or hitting a drum.

As a music coordinator, I receive loads of emails from artists who are sending in their tracks. So you need to make sure it’s as easy as possible for us to spot whether it’s a clean radio edit or not. How you do that? Put it in the file name of the track! Eg. ‘My song (clean)’.

That being said, some songs that haven’t been edited may slip through the net. The result? We get in big trouble and we will never, ever play you again. So, edit out the swearing!

Tip no.2 - consider the length of your track

There is a sweet spot for a radio edit length, and that is around 3 minutes. It fits nicely into an hour and you can fit all the components of a song into it. Now, you might say, “but Georgie, Bohemian Rhapsody was 6 minutes long”. I hear what you're saying but that is an exception to the rule. You have to earn your stripes to be able to play a song of that length.

Keep it simple, keep it short. If you are going to deviate from the three minutes I’d go under in time as opposed to over. Generally, as presenters, we have to hit the news as close to on-the-hour as possible, so we tend to end up with this awkward amount of time that is hard to fill. If you can make a song that is 2 minutes to 2 minutes 30, then we can just throw it in there. This is so much better for the listener than listening to us waffle to fill the dead air.

Tip no.3 - the importance of the intro

You may have heard people say you have to get straight into the vocals, but as a presenter sometimes I like a little intro that I can talk over. Make it maybe 5 to 10 seconds, something which gives me time before the song starts to say a bit about you, when the song was released or where you’re gigging. Please though, don’t make the intro 30 seconds long!

There is another part to this. Every week, pluggers come in to play their latest tracks by their clients to you as a music coordinator. They have a 10 minute appointment and want to play 5 or more songs. Do the maths - they cannot play every song all of the way through. They can really only play a little snippet of it. So the sooner you get into the song, into the vocals and display the tone of who you are, the better.

Maybe in the future, you will be working with a plugger, or perhaps, you already are. If you don’t know what a plugger does, they quite simply promote your music for you and get you played on the radio.

A little secret

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I was plugger myself for a year in London. I had regular appointments with BBC Radio 1, Radio 2, 6 music, Radio X to name a few. To let you in on the process… I’d go in for my appointment with someone from their music team and sit down with my physical CDs (which were 1 track promo CDs for each artist or band I plugged). I handed the CDs over, they put it in their CD player, and we would sit in silence until they’d heard enough (which sometimes wasn’t long at all!). After the track was over, they would say “hmm, okay” and then you would be on to the next one.

You can imagine me sitting in this meeting with the head of music for national radio stations, with the job of selling your music in a matter of seconds. How I do that? Well, it’s actually your job to do it. You must show everything you’re about in that time, and really get yourself across. This means I come away happy and will want to work with you again, and the head of music remembers you.

An extra bit

Those are my three easy tips. To add to these, there is an extra little bit from me and that is please make my life easy. Label your track, send us nice artwork, have a good story about where you started, who you have supported, and what gigs you have lined up.

You have to remember that when you send your songs in, there are a million other things going on. I’ve got to talk about certain things on air, I have to remember certain questions in an interview, add new tracks to the playlist, give a listener’s, sister’s, ex partner’s dog a shout out – you catch my drift. If you can send me a simple email with a link to your music (don’t tell me where to find it on Spotify or Soundcloud) it will make my life easier and it will pay off for you.

I look forward to hearing you on the radio!

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician please join us at WaterBear HQ for an Open Day or order a prospectus.

Video didn't kill the radio star.....will digital streaming? Unlikely.

Radio is and always has been a key media channel for artists and bands and the recent statistics from Rajar (Radio Joint Audio Research) found that some form of radio reaches nine out of 10 members of the public each week.  Along with editorial playlists on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer etc, Radio is a key channel for getting your music out to a wider audience. In 2019, automation and algorithms are (some what soullessly)  re-shaping how we consume music so it’s refreshing that radio still has a key role.

Across the UK, Europe and beyond there are hundreds of DJs and Stations that are supporting the independent music scene and they want to hear your music. DJs from local to national level are key promoters of independent artists at grass roots level and they play a vital role in the music eco-system.

Below you will find a selection of some UK stations (on FM, Digital and Online) that are open to submissions from DIY / Independent artists. For the majority of bands starting out, investing in using a radio plugger isn’t an option due to budget but there is so much you can do independently to get your music on the air waves.

Before submitting your music to the radio stations below make sure you are happy that the songs you are sending out reflect your best work. If not, don’t rush. Take time on developing your songwriting, collaborate with like-minded musicians, learn and grow. If budget allows identify a pro producer to help guide you through the pre-production and production process. Also, double check that your music genre fits with that of the station.

Key tips:

(1) Separate to the list below --- Most UK, U.S & European Universities have campus radio stations that support new and independent artists. Draft a list of stations and send them your EPK.

(2) It is vital that you create a professional EPK --- check out our EPK blog in the News & Blogs section. A pro EPK will demonstrate that you are serious about your craft.

Submit your music to these UK radio stations

Amazing Music
Genre:
Rock, Alternative, Indie
Submit your music here


BBC Introducing
Genre: All
Submit your music here 


BBC 6 Music – Giles Peterson Show
Genre: Hip Hop/Rap, Dance/Electronic, Soul/R&B/Funk, Jazz
Email: [email protected]  

Folk Radio
Genre:
Folk/Country
Submit your music here

Hard Rock Hell Radio
Genre: Hard Rock / Metal
Submit your music here

Radio Reverb 97.2FM (Brighton)
Genre:
All
Submit your music here 


Rinse FM 106.8FM (London)
Genre:
Garage, Grime, Dubstep, House and Jungle
Submit your music here


Touch FM UK
Genre:
All
Submit your music here

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