So you’re an unsigned artist and you want to get some radio play. That is definitely an uphill battle, but it can be won. A path of lesser resistance would be internet radio, and two of the bigger platforms are Pandora and SiriusXM. This post will help you navigate what to do to be considered. The information provided here was from my own personal experience as well as from Chris Robley. The quality of your music will be a big proponent in getting you through the door, so make sure you get it mixed and mastered to sound the best!
We will start with Pandora and move on to others from there.
- Make sure you control all the (legal) rights to your music (this includes copyrights and such).
- Make your music available on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, or (the option I chose that will take care of all the others for you) CDBaby Pro
- Log into Pandora (if you don’t have an account, you can create one here)
- Go to Pandora’s Submit Your Music page.
- Verify your submission
- Wait (say some prayers while you’re at it)
- Now if your submission is approved, then Pandora will purchase the album from Amazon (digital), iTunes (US), or Bandcamp. If you list the source of your submission as CD Baby and the submission is approved, it is automatically added to the Pandora library. Keep in mind that not every submission is approved, but every submission is listened to and considered in the same way, in the order it is received, by a human being.
- If your music is accepted, be sure to register with SoundExchange, an organization that pays digital performance royalties to artists, labels, and performers for the usage of sound recordings online. Heck, even if Pandora doesn’t accept your music, you should still register with SoundExchange; there may be plenty of other internet radio stations (see below) that are interested in playing your music.
Now onto other stations (like SiriusXM)
The first step is to figure out which stations will play your type of music. This requires listening to and searching through the different stations. You can do your reconnaissance with the SiriusXM stations here. For other internet radio stations you can search this page.
You’re going to have to check out the submission guidelines for each of these stations/radio shows individually; don’t assume every station accepts things the same way. Do your homework; use Google! (it’s free); follow the blogs and social media feeds of your favorite DJs; introduce yourself (but in a non-annoying and non-demanding way); then send them your music (with permission).
The “official” way to be considered for SiriusXM radio airplay is by sending your materials to their Music Programming Department. Get your press kit together and make sure everything is in order and write up a cover letter introducing yourself. You might even want to mention some of the stations you think your music would be a good fit for. Mail your package to:
Attn: Music Programming Department
1221 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Another popular platform for internet radio is iHeartRadio and these are their guidelines for submitting here. You’ll notice with a lot of these submissions that as an independent artist (read: not signed with a major label), signing up with CDBaby Pro is your best bet for getting your music out and distributed internationally. Disclaimer-CD Baby did not pay me to say that. I came to that conclusion based on my own personal research and due diligence. Hope this has helped and I look forward to hearing your music on the airwaves soon!