How To Get Your Music Heard – A Guide For Unsigned Artists

One of the biggest challenges to unsigned and independent artists is getting the general public to hear the amazing new track that you have just released. It has become very easy to get music onto streaming services and available on iTunes etc. But for people to buy and listen to your music, first they have to know you exist.

The following tips aren’t foolproof or a guarantee but they will show you what has been successful and what radio producers are looking for. There may be some UK bias here but in general I’m sure a lot will be transferable information.

Explore the options available to you locally

Many years ago a band would start by playing local pubs and clubs, hoping to build a following and get noticed. I’ve often found that getting more than a few friends to see you play can be difficult so what do you do?

Attend other artists gigs and get to know them

Support the local music scene, there may be opportunities for shared gigs in the future and it’s always beneficial to have contacts.

Contact Local Radio Stations

Here in Barnstaple we are lucky to have an independent radio station The Voice. I spoke with presenter Olli who champions local unsigned music on his show who had a few tips about submitting music:

  1. Don’t send music with bad language
  2.  Send one or two tracks, or if a CD make sure the lead track is clearly labelled
  3. Recording Quality needs to be comparable with professional tracks
  4. Good songs will get played more
  5. A weaker performance from a local artist will be favoured over non-local artists

There is really useful information here and the last one is so important. Make the most of the local music scene it’s amazing how often a local bias is taken into account.

Submit to Internet Radio and Music Blogs

There are hundreds of music blogs and internet radio stations so it’s important to know what to target. Nearly all of them are open about the ability to submit your music to them.

Find out if they are likely to feature the type of music you make. The best way of doing this is by checking out the last few reviews or tuning in for an hour. On this site I have shared a playlist of some of my favourite songs although if something grabs me I will share it regardless of the genre.

I have been a little sceptical of internet radio in the past as it’s not something I would normally listen to but after speaking with a few artists and stations the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

Georgia Fearn: “I think that they’re great when you’re starting out as an artist. A lot of internet radio shows have really helped to promote me, and I think the majority of people that listen to them are either locals or music enthusiasts, both of which are great to have on your side. My followers have hugely increased since internet radio stations started playing my tracks, and that goes for podcasts too. On the other hand, the listeners can be quite low, but I think it’s still helpful to just get even the hosts to listen and get enthused about it as you’re just spreading your music.”

I spoke briefly with Radio WigWam who confirmed they get a few thousand listeners a week. Ok, it’s not Radio 1 but it’s a lot more visibility and puts you in front of an audience you don’t currently have.

I also spoke with XTended Radio :  “Internet radio is so different as the ‘old’ radio on FM or cable. With FM Radio people would have their radio on and hear whatever was played. Now they choose to listen while they are on their notebook, tablet or smartphone. That’s why XTended Radio publish 24 hours a day their #nowplaying on Twitter and Facebook. Besides playing long extended versions we also promote worldwide artists and tag their twitter usernames to the trackname and that is very interesting for both: artists and our radio. It leads to more listening hours”

As a newer Music Blog I’m not sure I’m completely qualified to add to this. But I will say that a personal touch goes a long way. I receive numerous submissions, sometimes they contain nothing but a link to YouTube, and others contain lots of information. Whenever I am sent a personal email I will always read it and subconsciously give the artist a little more time. Also when artists comment and share other peoples music it shows that they are supporting others in the same position and this goes a long way with me.

Submit to BBC Introducing

So you’ve been busy on the local scene, had a few plays from internet radio and some good feedback online. Hopefully by this stage you have got a social media presence, a bio has been written about the band and a few good photos.

Submit to BBC Introducing. There isn’t really an excuse not to do this, Introducing have been instrumental in new music in the UK for a long time now. It can be a longer process, a producer will listen to your track and if they like it they will get in touch and you will be played on your local BBC Radio station. If it is really good you will be sent to the National BBC and may feature on Radio 1 or 1 Xtra.

I spoke with Kate Stapley about her BBC 6Music and BBC Introducing experience: “I made it onto Tom Robinson’s Introducing mixtape through Fresh On The Net but this was after BBC Introducing in the West played me as their best from the South West. I’d uploaded tracks, then they messaged my label Breakfast Records asking for the whole EP. I’d recommend Fresh on the Net, you have to already be uploaded onto BBC introducing and then people vote on their favourites.”

When appealing to a producer who is listening to new music all day you need to make sure you have sent your best work. It needs to grab them and make them want to listen. In addition they want to be able to talk about you on the radio. you need to have a visible presence, details of your next gigs, an interesting bio are all things that make talking about you on the radio as easy as possible.

Have you applied yet? Seriously, this is probably the best and easiest way to get your music out there.

Time for professional help?

If you have done everything you can and are not able to make the next leap, then maybe it’s time for a little help. Some of these will be paid options that I would consider after success with the above options.

There are promotion agencies who have a list of contacts of blogs, record labels and other press. I have had really positive dealings with PlugginBaby and Shameless Promotion PR from a blog point of view. As a blog, if I see certain names pop up in my email, I know I’m generally going to get a good quality artist and it’s then up to me to decide if I like it or not.

I recently became a partner with Syncr Music. Their idea is to be the middleman between artist and record label/media outlet. For example if a TV show needs some music for a title sequence, it could be listed in their briefs with Syncr acting as a direct known contact to the people responsible for choosing the music. They offer free and paid briefs so it’s well worth checking out.

Apply to Record Labels

I’m a huge fan of DIY music, but sometimes a little push is necessary. A good record label will not only assist in the making of music but they also have good contacts. This can be the difference in getting to the holy grail, the BBC Playlist meeting. If BBC radio play isn’t the goal, then for other genres it could put your music in the hands of the right people whether that be playlist curators, DJ’s or media contacts.

The Important thing when approaching record labels is to do your research. Do they only accept local artists? What other artists are signed to the label? Make sure you know what you are applying for, and again a personal touch is always appreciated.

Conclusion

  1. Form relationships with local artists and media
  2. Submit to Internet Radio, Blogs and BBC Introducing
  3. Appeal to record labels
  4. Pray

Maybe the BBC producer that heard your piano ballad had just listened to 15 ballads before yours, the next time they were listening to pop-punk all day and your emotional ballad hit them hard in the heart.

Sometimes even with all the right guidance it still may not happen for you. The important thing is that you love making music so keep working and keep playing and you can try it all again with your next release.

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