Get Your Music On Radio; This Is How

As the interim SABC board seems set to reverse former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s controversial 90% local music policy, here’s a look at a list of tips shared by former 5FM presenter Catherine Grenfell on how to go about submitting your music to radio.

There is no indication whether the local music policy made it any easier for local artists to break into the SABC radio playlists, these tips should help you understand what is required of an artist looking to get their music playlisted on commercial radio.

Here is an edited version of the post shared by Cath;

“I love the music coming out of SA at the moment (always have I suppose – that’s why I do what I do) I thought I would share some tips for bands or producers on how to submit their singles to radio stations.”

Packaging & Submissions;

  • Decide on a single. This is really important. Compilers at radio stations get hundreds of tracks to listen to; they don’t have the time to listen to your entire EP.
  • Give a brief intro of your band in the email, with your contact and social media details.
  • Attach an mp3 of your single less than 5mb for listening purposes.
  • Name the mp3 attachment as “Your Band Name” + “Song Title”.
  • Provide download links for bigger versions of the file – mp3 and wav format
  • Make sure the track you are submitting is not a demo; it must be professionally mixed and mastered.
  • Make sure that you submit a radio edit. Radio stations generally like songs that are around 3 minutes, so if you can, edit long intros.
  • Ask for feedback, and if you’re given feedback, take it as constructive criticism.

Research the Radio Landscape;

  • Listen to different radio stations and hear what their format is before submitting. There is no point in submitting a heavy metal track to a radio station that only plays hip hop – you are wasting your time as well as a music compiler.
  • If you get no response, try again the following week, and then the following week. Don’t spam a radio station. And don’t get your fans on social media to spam a radio station. It just pisses them off. And then you’re screwed.
  • Research radio stations and find out who at the radio is interested in new music. Send your music to those people as well as the music compiler. This means going onto the radio stations website to get submission details and following radio people on social media to see if they support music, particularly new music.
  • If a compiler says it doesn’t suit their format, then listen to the station and understand that your track possibly doesn’t suit the format. Each radio station generally has a format they follow; they could possibly only play Urban (kwaito, house, &/ hip hop) or Top40 commercial music.

Strategic Planning;

  • Have a strategic plan for your tracks if you have an EP or album. Decide on the first single and then your follow-up single etc.
  • If your first single is successful, then keep an eye on how it is doing in charts etc. If it climbing the charts, then hold off on your follow-up. If it doesn’t chart, or isn’t doing anything, then you move onto submitting your follow-up single.
  • If your first single doesn’t succeed in playlisting, (after trying a few times) move onto your follow-up next single.
  • If you are submitting a single to a commercial radio station then make sure it is a clean version. Meaning – No swear words.
  • If you are submitting to an internet radio station submit two mp3 versions, the original version as well as the clean version so they can decide what they would like to playlist.
  • Invite radio people to your gigs. You’ll never know – they might turn up and like your stuff and it helps with playlisting.

Lastly, don’t give up and don’t be a d&*k if a radio station won’t play your stuff!


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