Since we started ASM in April we have actively worked to get ASM-R up and running, including the monthly Featured, reviews, and the radio itself.
We have a long way to go yet but as I have been networking with bands and promoters, I have noticed several things. While some things have not changed a bit since I ran VEN radio back in the early 2000s, social media has absolutely changed other things. It has made networking a ton easier for bands, but it also removed the experience and education that bands used to need before they could even begin to promo.
Notably, there seems to be a general lack of information for new bands on how to approach radio people. I see a lot of complaining from these bands in social media groups that their emails did not get responded to, that they are not getting interviews, or radio plays.
And there are many reasons why this happens, but let’s look at some of the most common:
- The band did not send a press kit,
- The band did not send a press kit, and,
- The band did not send a press kit
Notice a theme there? I have 100% of the time responded to bands/promoters who sent me as much, or more than, the material needed. Those who send me their Bandcamp link, with no download code, are unlikely to get a response.
And to be clear, it is not because I am snubbing you, I promise, it is because I don’t have time and I don’t have money. If I had to buy every song I played, I’d be homeless. It is incredibly unprofessional to reach out to a DJ and expect them to buy your single/album.
But also, yes I am snubbing you. There are a billion bands out there that want to work with us, that are prepared and know what to send, and will do so respectfully with appreciation for whatever exposure we will try to give them.
I realize some musicians and bands may not know HOW to handle these communications, and cannot afford a promoter, so I really wanted to take this time, not to chastise, but to enlighten because there is an absolutely gross lack of education on these things; disturbingly so. I am seeing a lot of absolutely brilliant artists getting overlooked simply because they do not know what is expected of them.
Don’t feel bad, don’t feel overwhelmed, you got this, and it is far easier than it sounds. Let’s look at what a press kit generally includes:
- Promo photos – for starters, this can include the album cover if nothing else, but a banner, and some band/musician shots are good too, but if you can’t afford to have those taken professionally, at least include the album cover
- All links, your Bandcamp, your social media, Twitch, YouTube, Spotify, and website, whatever links to your music or your fan pages that you have
- A bio. It doesn’t have to be long, but you should include a bio; who are you? What is your music about? Where are you from? When did you start making music?
- And most importantly, MUSIC! You can email wav or MP3 files (both is ideal) or send a download code for your Bandcamp, or a Dropbox link, but for the love of tacos, send music! And don’t make it hard or complicated to access
And don’t be dejected if you still do not get a response. We get about 30 promo emails a week here at ASM, and we are not well known (yet), I can only imagine how much email other more established shows and DJs get. We simply can’t reach everyone. That said, that doesn’t mean we won’t play you. I have played, or intend to play, the majority of the musicians who have (properly) sent me their promos/music.
Now, let’s talk about how to find DJs, because the second largest complaint I see is that bands have no idea how to find DJs for their particular genres. This part is much more difficult, because it requires putting in serious leg work and time, but here are some of the ways you can find stations or DJs:
- Facebook groups. There are many music media related groups, it is not hard to find ones geared to your particular niche
- Record labels. Find what labels other bands in your niche are signed to, join groups circled around those labels, follow them on social media, and check their follower list for DJs, or after following search for “DJ” and look for mutual friends
- Other musicians. Most established bands have a list of stations/DJs they email promo to. Many are willing to share their list if asked, reach out to them and start a conversation
- Mixcloud/Soundcloud – find active radio stations that fit your genre, and reach out
It is time consuming but if you are serious about getting radio play, you will make the time and effort. Very few bands/musicians get sought out. You have to do the reaching out. Do not expect DJs to come banging on your door begging to play you. Email us, DM us, make the effort. I assure you, we want to work with you.
And remember, cross promotion goes a long way. Shout out those DJs and stations that are playing your stuff. I will absolutely play a band that isn’t necessary going to be the next big thing, because they were simply fucking awesome people to work with. How you present yourself matters. Be cool, be personable, and for the love of David Bowie, be professional.