How To Get Your Song On Commercial Radio

By George Howard
(Follow George on Twitter)

Why is it that even with all of the changes that have occurred of late in the music business — changes that have altered the face of nearly everything — commercial radio today is still not that different than it was ten, twenty, or even fifty years ago?

As pointed out in the article “The Hidden Money In Radio,” commercial radio is the last stronghold of the majors.  They lost control of perpetual copyrights when artists could fund their own recordings via the advent of ProTools.  They lost control of distribution once Apple and TuneCore got in the game.  And, arguably, they lost control of publicity once artists began using social media to connect directly with their constituent group.

So…why not radio?  Why has radio remained in tact when all the other elements in the industry have changed?

To answer that question, it’s first important to understand how a song gets played on “Big Time” radio.  By “Big Time” radio, I’m referring to formats like Adult Contemporary (AC), Hot Adult Contemporary (Hot AC), Contemporary Hits Radio (CHR), Active Rock, Pop, and Urban.  There are other formats — college, Adult Album Alternative (AAA) — but, because their impact is smaller (read: less money can be made from them), they operate more in line with the way one would think radio operates: program directors try to pick music that the listeners of their stations will like, and if the listeners respond (calling in to request the song; calling in to ask what the song was, etc.), the song gets played more and more.  If there’s little or no response, the song doesn’t get played for very long.

“Big Time” radio doesn’t typically operate that way.  For an artist to even be considered by a Program Director at one of these stations, a tremendous amount of other activity must be going on.  For instance, the artist may have had tremendous (and I do mean tremendous) success at one of those lower formats (AAA or College); or the artist might have had their music used in a TV commercial or film; or (and this is rare) the artist could be blowing up (selling out live shows, etc.) in a local market, and one of these Big Time stations “tests” their music during one of their “specialty” shows (i.e. shows that feature local music, which are typically aired on weekends or late at night — when few people are listening), and it goes so well, that other stations pick up on it.

All of the above seems (and is) fair and reasonable.  Unfortunately, this type of organic, merit-based radio play usually does not end with an artist’s song actually being programmed and played.  Instead, there is another, less reasonable way artists find their music being played on Big Time radio.

This other way involves most everything you’ve ever thought it involves – primarily money (lots of it) and the old boys club of relationships.  A major label (and that’s an important distinction) signs an artist, spends a bunch of money to make a record, and then must get that artist’s music on the radio in order to have any chance of success.

When you’re faced with a “must do” scenario, you do what you must.  In this case, the labels first try to find some early supporters: program directors willing to “test” the song — give it limited play, and see if there’s a response from the stations’ listeners.  If there is, great. If there isn’t…well, great.  In either case, if the label decides they have to get the song on the radio, whether the “test” went well or not, they’re going to do what they have to do.  And for what it’s worth, getting a “test” spin is no easy task in and of itself.  Favors are given to those who have greased palms for years to provide the three and a half minutes of airtime at 2:30AM on a Thursday night to test a song.

Getting a song “added” to a station’s playlist to get a certain number of plays per week involves a rather byzantine process that brings in various parties, called independent promoters (“indies”).  These “indies” are first paid by the label.  It’s important to note that the money the indies receive isn’t necessarily compensation paid directly to them for getting Program Directors to get a song played.  Rather, they work more like an intermediary to pass the label’s money to the radio station. These indies, with the money paid to them from the labels, pay the radio station money for various listener give-aways, bumper stickers and so on. To top it off,  these very same indies are often also paid a second time by the stations themselves as a consultant to advise the stations on what songs they should play.

Top indie promoters make a lot of money.


You’re meant to be.

Smell fishy?

That’s because it is.

It’s all obfuscation.  It’s all a way for the labels to avoid being seen as engaging in direct payment to a radio station in exchange for the radio station playing the label’s song. In other words: Payola.

Payola emerged pretty much alongside radio.  However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that anybody paid it much mind. At this point, payola was criminalized, and it’s been illegal to induce a station to play a song in exchange for money, without disclosing that money has changed hands, ever since.

The methods change; the labels always trying to stay one-step ahead of the government, and obfuscate just enough to keep the system churning along as it always has.

The reason the majors are willing to take these risks, and bear these costs — and the costs associated with breaking a record on Big Time radio can easily reach the seven figures — is because when a record breaks — even today — the returns are massive.  One could argue, in fact, that due to the ineffectiveness of other means of promotion, Payola has become even more frenzied and high-stakes.

You may ask, at this point, “well, fine, I get it…the majors pay a bunch of money, and they get their records played, but why couldn’t some non-major (indie label or investor) do the same — pay a bunch of money and get a hit record?”  The answer ties us back to Jeff’s article, and explains why Big Time radio is still the purview of the majors.  Assuming you had a million bucks or so, you very well could hire yourself some of these indies to “work” your record to Big Time radio, and, believe me, they’d take your money.  Your record even might get a few spins (though likely only during times when prisoners, insomniacs, and long-haul truckers are listening), but those spins would peter out pretty fast.  The indies would come back and say something along the lines of, “We’ve got our toe in the door with station KCUF, and if you can just give it a bit more juice, they’ll move it from overnights to drive-time.”  And you may give them that juice, and it may get a few spins during drive-time.  And then you’ll be told that you need to “juice” some other stations.  You can juice until your money runs out, but the chances of the record ever really breaking is almost zero.

Here’s why: You’ve come to these indies, and they’ve gone to the labels, and they’ve taken your money, and they know that you’re probably not coming back any time soon. On the other hand, the majors are coming every week with money and new artists.  Who would you prioritize if you were in the indie/radio station’s shoes?

So, the majors have a lock on this.  Every once in a blue moon a song will be so powerful that it can’t not be played, and it doesn’t matter if it’s on a major or not.  But this is so rare as to be almost non-existent.  The reality is the songs you hear on Big Time radio all got their the same way, and if you look at the label who released these songs, 99% of the time, they’ll be on a major.

It’s not all doom and gloom however.  Any time a system exists that is as corrupt as what I’ve outlined, it eventually falls under its own weight.  Customers who have been fed a steady diet of music that is not being played because it impacts the market, but rather because it was the highest bidder, eventually lose interest and look for alternatives.  Up until recently, there weren’t alternatives, but now with internet radio, satellite radio, subscription services, and your own playlists on your iPod/iPhone, the alternatives abound.

Our challenge and opportunity is to not allow these alternatives to follow the same path that traditional radio went down.


George Howard is the former president of Rykodisc. He currently advises numerous entertainment and non-entertainment firms and individuals. Additionally, he is the Executive Editor of Artists House Music and is an Associate Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee.  He is most easily found on Twitter at:

    • Slash Asterisk /*

      Whats a radio??? I didnt even know they had those things anymore? I think my great grandpa told me a story about that radio thing one day? Haha. Many new emerging acts are selling out stadiums without 1 day of radio play (skrillex,bassnectar,deadmau5). The radio days are over. The new frontier has been paved. -Slash Asterisk /*

      • Mwatkins

        Unfortunately radio is still the way most people learn about music. Some artists and labels have found ways around this, but for the majority if you are not on radio you are not “making it”

        • Greensleeves32

          very wrong indeed my naive stranger-friend… stats show a much dif picture these days…

      • Greensleeves32

        Damn right! Save the radio for the Soulja Boys and Nickelbacks! This is all old news to me. Whoever didn’t know you had to pay to get play on big radio must’ve been living under a rock for the last 30 years. Clear channel was started by car salesmen and their biz model for radio follows suit. No BS joke here, it’s discussed in the documentary, before the music dies – which is a great movie about this topic btw. Radio needs to die asap! Fight the powers that be and teach these slow-footed labels another lesson in business model management post 2001! Thanks George for getting me thinking on a Friday!

  • Mwatkins

    I think something to think about at least in the country genre are the secondary(mid-level) radio stations, or even the non-reporting ones. There are a few still good old boys in those stations as well, but more indie artists get a chance to be heard on. We handle indie artists radio promotion(among other services) and have had major traction with some of them. And it doesn’t cost what primary radio promotion costs. Just something to think about…

  • M O

    Unfortunately, I think it is all doom and gloom because the previous routes indie labels had to get bigger through sales of at least some physical product are gone.

    Nirvana broke through with a great song, but there were djs at college stations that pushed the song into the major radio stations, although it got there itself. Then the weight of the culture behind it toppled over the previous rock beast. Once grunge got old, and kind of inappropriate for young teens, it was kiiled off by Disney, Clear Channel, and the boy bands in the late 90s, and that pretty much ended that era.

    I dont think the Clash could make it as big today, though I certiainly would be going to see them. A lot depends whose in those dj seats, and those positions have been far reduced in number and power.

    Then again, who really listens to mainstream radio anyway? stations like KEXP in Seattle prob get as many listeners as any of the major stations around. If anything Youtube is pushing comedy stars more than music. It’s a weird conundrum as always.

    When someone really good shows up at the right time, it makes it look so easy to break through. It’s always a question of is that person that rare, or are there hundreds of them not getting through because of the system? Some people might have the talent, but not the raw drive it takes to push all the time, as well as the professional assistance to dial up their talent to the mega-level, ie George Martin and the Beatles, Bob Rock and Nirvana etc. Someone needs to be there to help. Honestly, I just don’t think there are that many original bands these days, and the fragmentation into rap and house music means less focus on being a good band.

    • great comment!


    • Kwamster007

      Great comment, I’m a radio announcer (notice I didn’t say Dj?) the game has really changed and its really too bad people on the radio don’t have to power or influence to break new artist.  That is what was beautiful about radio being able to say I played them first.  Oh well what do you do.

      • david todd singleton

        grow a pair?

      • david todd singleton

        grow a pair?

      • Annette Hendrix WIlliams

        My name is Annette, and I’m in the stage of getting my lyrics copyrighted. I don’t even have music for my work, but when I get all of that and get it on a record, would you play it?

        • RobTulleto

          Annette, not only is the comment over 2 years old, but you didn’t listen to what he said. It doesn’t work like that anymore. Furthermore, no one even knows what your “music” sounds like (not even you, apparently) so how the hell do you expect someone to babysit for your fetus??? It’s like you’re asking “Can you get my kid a role in that commercial?” meanwhile, not only is it not born yet, but it probably won’t even be photogenic. Get a clue, kiddo.

        • Marcos Ramirez

          The short answer. No. I’m the owner of a music publishing company and even in my shoes this business is horrible. The editor of the article missed one huge element. Thanks to the advent of “indie”, the majors had to find a way to maintain control. Realize that even the likes of Rockafella records, Jay Z’s label is still not indie. It is a subsidiary of Universal Music group. It started as indie however it took signing with Priority records (a universal music group label) to make a move. Then came hard knock life. Eventually Rockafella broke from priority to be directly under UMG. At this time in life the only hope for a label to be taken seriously is to subsidiary under a major. I have a lot of great music that I have to fight hard to get more than a listen. However I am a publisher so I don’t have any part of label work. And it is hard for me when someone comes with no label. The common theory now is you don’t need a label. The youtube generation has come to believe that the label is old school and unnecessary. The reality is that the label has full control over the world of music. The bigger the label the more you will accomplish. There are AMAZING musicians that are never going to be heard because they have this philosophy. And in the meantime the ones with less talent will succeed because they are ok with the label. Is it wrong? I can’t answer that for anyone. Sadly the DJ’s hands are tied by the rules of the station. The program director chooses the songs to play. And guess who they play? As the article said, those who have something to offer, over and over. Radio stations are governed by ratings. If they have the songs people want they get more ratings and then can charge more for commercials on the station. So they want to have ties with someone who is always pumping them the latest “and greatest” IE., the labels who will spend a million to make 100 mil. time and time again. You want your stuff played you need to tie to a major, or get a good publisher who can sell your lyrics to a major. And that, is just as hard to pull off. Why, because the labels want songs that will be hits so that the millions they spend getting it n the radio will pay them back 100 fold. C.R.E.A.M. (cash rules everything around me). Not to dash your hopes, but be prepared to be willing to fight for it. Don’t expect the movies, toss your cd at a guy on the street and suddenly get on the radio and become a star. Dont give up on it, but expect to take time and energy.

          • J.Man

            This not Accurate. Rocafella Records had a joint venture with Def jam records. Not Priority. Look it up.

          • Marcos Ramirez

            That i just had to copy and paste the first line from wiki in response to being told to look it up.
            The foundation of the label occurred in 1996, beginning as an independent outlet for rapper Jay-Z’s first album. After being turned down by several major labels, Carter, Dash and Burke started their own label through Priority Records

          • Franklin Delanore

            So what is the best way to get your music heard by a Major Label or A Subsidiary. I am a artist that has around +30k views on Spotify alone. What would be the best route for me

          • Franklin Delanore

            😂😂This seems Like a good place to get Honest Opinions to my New Single‼️Can any one that has a Comment post on the Youtube page And Like or Dislike the Song‼️ Ty This is a Promo Video I did With Clips From NICKI MINAJ 🐍ANACONDA

          • Oronde

            Like the song, good voice but I think you should’ve recorded your own vid to help showcase your vision more. I know a few upcoming artists out of the Caribbean island of Antigua I think you should take a listen, the future is limitless you may even find inspiration, or just an artist to work with you never know. and just like franklin I invite you to follow the link and state how you feel about the song.

          • Dammion Wright
          • Marcos Ramirez

            The only route, unless you have money, is to go viral. 30k isn’t even going to get looked at. You need to hit millions. Self promotion. Get those 30k to share on fb, and get millions of LIKES. Viewed doesnt mean liked.

            If you have money, you can buy your way in front of them. Find out where they will be and be there. Not stalker, professional. Look for release parties and see if you can get in. Contact your PRO and see if they know of any meet ups. Meet people. Don’t hand your cd to people, make relationships. If they like you they will tell you to give them one. Be gracious respectful and courteous.

            Don’t waist your time sending cds to labels. They recieved 100s of them daily and almost none are reviewed. Maybe 1%. The ones reviewed are usually special in some way or expected from…..a relationship they made at a party somewhere.
            There are one in a millions who got heard by throwing cds through windows of cars, but that’s more likely to get thrown back in anger than listened to.

            Best of luck and remember that relationships are the key.

          • Franklin Delanore

            Ty Great information

          • Jason

            Good article. I know there are a ton of “Radio Promoters” out there who will charge $4,000 and up for a 16 week radio promotion/tour.. I believe there may be some who might actually work for you. The only way I might consider doing that is just to get heard by either a Major Label or indie like “Big machine”. There is also a possibility that my producer might be able to get me a meeting with one of these labels. I’ve been told I have hit songs, but unless I do something about it, it will sit on the shelf so to speak. If you get a moment to take a listen, let me know what I should do, or what route I should take.

            Thank you
            Jason Glenn

          • Marcos Ramirez

            Hmm. Never saw your post. Sorry about that. Better than a lot coming out today. You need a better producer. I can hear air noise. You may have by now.
            Remember in this day and age the way the music industry is run, which is identical to politics. You have to be able to help them to get them to help you. The right producer can do that.

            Never ask fries and family. Ask strangers. People that buy music.

          • Dammion Wright
          • Skaz

            If you are gonna spend money make sure ur music is on par. And be careful where u spend it.

        • Lil Mike LMWCB TG V

          I’m Lil Mike. Make tons of Albums and also write and make my own background music. Along as that. I work hard until I’m done. I get the pic and everything. The genre and all that stuff filled out and put together and I’m out there rouphly. My Cuz Lil tone. Aka Anthony Malik Morgan is now on a awesome label. Guess what I’m been producing sense ummm ummm oh yeah 2014. Crazy huh. But I can get anybody out there making billions just if I was in there own studio with there own lyrics. I say. Put your mind where its supposed to be not where its not gonna help you out in the future. Cause if you do it right, you might end up on a big world label.

        • Stephen Peters

          Hi Annette. I hope by now (2 years on) you’ve managed to get someone to write some music for your lyrics. It is a hard task to get your music played. But lyrics alone will get you nowhere. I agree with the main article above but not entirely with Marcos’s response to you. Marcos sounds like he’s speaking from a purely business perspective and takes no account of the artistic. There will always be people with little creative talent who are making money off the backs of those with the talent. Yet there are places you can put your music which will guarantee you’ll get heard by volunteers, then program producers, then DJs in that order. The better the music, the higher the chances are of the DJ getting an ear full of it. If he likes it, it may even get some air time. BBC Radio have such a platform for independent, unknown artists. They call it “Introducing”. There is still massive competition and talent to contend with/compete against, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to get aired using that method. I write and publish my own music and although I have yet to be “broadcast” I have had some success on streaming radio and with sales of my 9 albums. But the route I took in order to achieve this was to publish my albums on iTunes, Amazon etc, via ReverbNation, first. The streams and sales came afterwards. I also placed my music on YouTube. I will admit, if it wasn’t for a couple of covers I placed there, I would not have the amount of followers I have today. With respect to YouTube, SoundCloud and others, there’s a happy medium (which I haven’t managed to find yet) where you need to place your music on these sites in order to gain attention. But not enough of your original work where people can listen to it all for free. I mean why bother buying someone’s music if they can hear it for nothing, right? It all boils down to how much you believe in your own creative and how willing you are to ‘get it out there’. If you’re still in need of music for your lyrics, drop me a line on Facebook.

          • Chris Gillespie

            Can everyone check out my new hits on YouTube called back in the day by Chris gillespie and the other is why mom why? By Chris gillespie

    • missingangel

      It is very frustrating to get a new song played by someone unknown, I have a song “Angels in the Night” by SK Stevens, on Radio Airplay & available on CD, but I just can’t seem to really get it out into the main stream media, even though people listen to it all over the world & I have world wide fans, plus one of the musicians in the song received Tampa Bays best drummer award several years in a row. I am a part of the older generation & I hope I live to hear my song on the radio.

      • Kyle

        I think it has more to do that the song sucks?

        • JAMI

          We need more original music like this. Wonderful musicians. It’s got a 60’s love vibe but in a new way. Its a beautiful song and video! Especially the cool ending hovers like a cinder from the flame.

          • john

            Hmmm…well, what it really tells me is that music really is totally subjective. I’m with Kyle on this – I couldn’t get past the 50 second mark. But you (and others I assume) somehow like it and that’s great.

          • Mike

            Lmao, i got to 1:05 then stopped it, i lasted 15 more seconds than John

          • Wild Bill

            Another LMAO – I got to “their hearts were barely beeeee—ting…” Mamas & Papas vibe??? Whew… Lou Adler and Bones Howe might disagree. Hey, I’m with John… if the music moves ya…great! With that being said… … … come on.

          • KayJay Lee

            1:41 for me–I tried though, I really did. . . . .

          • Public_Programming

            The lyrics and hook sound okay.. sort of Mamas and Papas old school vibe.. This could work if the track was sped way up.. I’m thinking a hot dance beat. Also, the video could use a makeover (the clothes) and some of the scenes drag..

          • david todd singleton


        • MrBoland

          Haha that was funny! And that’s a good thing! But no this is not commercial music! I think you would have to buy your own tv station and a couple of radio stations around the world and through them market a lot of things around this song! Perhaps a tv serie! I myself plays many instruments and have been in and out in many bands since I were 14. And sometimes I do just for myself new age, chill and ambient music! I don’t consider that commercial but listen to it when I’m jogging or taking a break! So it’s unique music only for me! If I had done this I would keep it to myself even though there’s a lot of people around the world that would like this. But to reach them is not so easy! But well done you have my respect! But when the first guy started to sing..Haha
          And again that’s a good thing to make people happy!
          And I would rather listen to this than a lot of crap on radio today! Thank you for sharing!

        • sgrm8


        • david todd singleton


          • Serena Toxicat

            How rude!

        • Ervin Colebrooke

          its like relationship song ..that will probably get people who are in love looking for marriage or hoping for a new good relationship Male and female …

        • John Ulrich

          sounds like simon and garfunkle. man in the moon.

      • sgrm8

        u will!!

        it’ll work better for radio stations that rn’t pop or anything like that obviously, try

      • david todd singleton

        yeah…this is VERY weird song…seriously and I’m not trying to be mean…it’s just like a parody from SNL. Were you guys actually serious? Even the lyrics are ridiculous. Poor structure that would never be played (twice).

        • Dusty Ayres

          Let me guess-all that you can stand is top 40, and that’s it? Shame.

    • radio exito en costa rica
  • Serge

    That’s why I don’t own a radio.

  • Sarah P

    In the UK we have BBC introducing.  It’s part of the BBC radio network and I had my debut single ‘Movin’ On’ played on Radio 1 in England and Northern Ireland – alright it was at 12.15am but it has considerable coverage.  They also played the song on local radio at around 9.00pm.  The problem was I had no idea it would happen so quickly so when I uploaded my single to the BBC it wasn’t live on iTunes therefore missed any potential sales. Bummer!

    Still, the BBC do introducing stages at all the major festivals and have an introducing studio where you can record live for their audience.  

    Great options – so anyone else in the UK should give it a go, I’m not sure how or if it would work for other nationalities?!

    • it’s a good point, Sarah, and consistent  with AAA (mostly non-com) and public radio (lots of overlap with AAA) here in the states.


    • Washington Irving

      BBC introducing is a largely the BBC fulfilling its public service broadcasting obligation but Introducing is tokenism.  I also suspect that labels use things Introducing as a channel to “break” acts.  

      The beeb is publicly owned and funded by the licence fee – it ought to be open and democratic, it should be playing nothing else but the huge variety of talent that is out there.  In reality the beefs music channels have playlists that are dominated by artists from major labels, the DJs get some choice but they are generally plugging and bigging-up artists who are signed.

      How do these playlists work? When the BBC replies to one of emails requesting to see the playlist policy and process I’ll post it out. But so far just obfuscation.

      followed your link but didn’t find your song on Introducing but found it on reverbnation – great stuff.

  • Technology Has No Morals

    The greatest obfuscation is the weekly blog at Tunecore that spreads myth and prejudice against the music industry with little truth. If Listeners wanted obscure music on radio, they would tune into existing sources such as NPR music stations, and Labels would start releasing more of that music. But Listeners vote by Listening and gorging themselves on what many consider C-grade music.  All hot-dogs all the time. Its called mass appeal and alternatives have existed for many years and yet consistently the consumer chooses middle of the bell-curve hot-dog music.It’s your neighbors and their lack of taste that is as much a problem. Labels would actually release alternatives if it sold or attracted masses. Like Rykodisc the Label tried to do. Stop blaming Labels and Radio.

    • Anonymous

      @Technology Has No Morals

      I thought you would find it interesting to learn that George Howard, the former President of Rykodisc – the label you mention in your comment – wrote this article on radio.
      On another note, in New York, more people listen to Pandora than Z100.
      Record listenership is down

      Commercial radio is a media outlet you must buy your way onto (i had to do it myself)
      Labels have a 98% failure rate

      And I as a person that ran a label for 20 years, I am very curious to learn what you think is myth and prejudice.

    • Joe

      Listeners have gone other places  . . . . online.  Radio is becoming obsolete.

    • hmmm. I ran Ryko. I understand your statement, and agree that a percentage of people are happy with MOR material (not just music, but food, movies, books, etc.). however, my issue is that payola (or any influence over what should be a free market) limits choice thru lack of transparency.

      beyond that, I’m very curious about how you feel the TC blog spreads myth and prejudice?

      i mean that genuinely – certainly the opposite of our intent.


      • Lerichardson21

        For give them George,they know not what they speak.
        Yo have you seen or hear from Arther Mann,HE RAN rYKO FOR A WHILE

  • As mentioned, one of the easiest ways to get airplay is to hit up the college and non-profit stations and try to get them to play your song, while hounding all your fans to beg for your music to be played on their shows. If the hype actually builds up, you might get noticed.

    Yes, Clearchannel, Disney and the vocoder craze is corrupting the airwaves and tons of un-talented artists are getting airplay, while the majorly talented underground bands still struggle. It’s not fair, but that’s how it works these days.

    One good way to get noticed is to create a wild (viral) music video and post it on YouTube. If you get it going viral, you will definitely get exposure.

    • WRONG you clearly do not make a living at this, 

        in the end it costs 5MM to blow up on radio, which is why you need a label that can spend that kind of money, other than that you are wasting money, trust me I know I already spent over 50k a few years ago with everyone knows who i am, whoppie do, still have not made REAL money from royalities, can’t get on the festivals, 


      • Joe

        Sounds like you don’t make a living at it either. If your records not selling, maybe you lack creativity.  Souljah did it pretty much the same way Jerry explained.

        • actually souljah had millions of dollars in help from high level street guys in atlanta, and he was still on a major label, 

          look it up:)

          •   and I do make a living at this, but not at the level I want to be at, 

               but it will happen soon and this time around I have a major label that will foot the bill, and when my checks are light I will not sue,

             now I know the money and time it takes to blow up a act, and I found out it is better to leave it to the professionals, 

                 just like if you wanted to collect your royalties outside of sesac, bmi or ascap, on your own, you have to spend millions just to get it all set up, there is criteria, protocol involved, large fees, lawyers costs,   again,  better to leave it to the professionals and what you get be grateful for it and hope it keeps on coming in, 

                even actors have it far easier than us, far bigger paydays, far bigger lively hoods and their bosses spend over 100 million to blow up their projects, 

          •      and one more thing, itunes killed the music industry, when kids had the ability to buy singles instead of albums that killed off profits by 90%

               lucky for me I have a track record, but for newcomers there are no investors to be found, 

                no one buys albums in droves anymore, album sales use to pay for tours and then some, there are many a star / super producer that i know of that lost his or her homes, cars, studios, 

                there is a huge difference between a million in album sales and 10 million, name me the last 50 artists that even sold 5 million albums at 20 bucks a pop ?

          •   and I do make a living at this, but not at the level I want to be at, 

               but it will happen soon and this time around I have a major label that will foot the bill, and when my checks are light I will not sue,

             now I know the money and time it takes to blow up a act, and I found out it is better to leave it to the professionals, 

                 just like if you wanted to collect your royalties outside of sesac, bmi or ascap, on your own, you have to spend millions just to get it all set up, there is criteria, protocol involved, large fees, lawyers costs,   again,  better to leave it to the professionals and what you get be grateful for it and hope it keeps on coming in, 

                even actors have it far easier than us, far bigger paydays, far bigger lively hoods and their bosses spend over 100 million to blow up their projects, 

      • Lerichardson21

        The big boys were little at one time
        Only The Strong Survive.
        Play your cards or leave the table. PEACE

    • if you have to “hound” your fans it won’t work.

      unless your fans are eager to support you, you’ll struggle.


    • Lerichardson21

      “Where there a Will there ‘a way.You are sooooooo right my man.This is how we fight the man.To get into his pockets/or put nothing in his pockets. A real independent American way to do Biz.PEACE


    Pay the radio and put a hit out on the person who controls the spin. If the record spins die so does the programer.

    • Lerichardson21

      aah ha The Bob Marley/Peter Tosh school of radio promo.interesting,

  • Hoopsongs

    This is very discouraging, but very honest.

    • don’t be discouraged.

      as jim collins says: confront the brutal truth, but never lose faith.


  •   I had to find this out the hard way after spending over 50k on so called promoters with real track records, 

      in the end it costs 5MM to blow up on radio, which is why you need a label that can spend that kind of money, other than that you are wasting money, trust me I know 

    I already spent over 50k recently, everyone knows who i am, whoppie do, still have not made REAL money from royalities, can’t get on the festivals, but they say it takes just a little more ect, 

       I finally talked to a label guy at a party,

      5MM to blow up like bieber, timberlake, then another 5MM to stay there, you still have to pay for tours ect, 

  • I wonder WHEN is Payola going to end? 

    • Anonymous


      I dont think it ever will. It will always exist in one form or another

      • Lerichardson21

        God Bless America,
        It’s the “Republican American way

  • Lyriko

    Did ppl really think they were playing all those trash songs for free? seems to me the world is scared of pure raw talent dese days.

    • there’s tons of raw talent out there.

      • Petelaw44

        Agree absolutely George…tons, and tons, of great stuff…

      • Marcos Ramirez

        Amazing stuff out there! The sad thing is how many will never hear it because of the music industry today.

      • John Titor

        Dreams – Single by Titor’s Insignia

        This is raw talent but can’t afford lots of money to get it on the radio. ;( need help

      • MrBoland

        Yeah you’re right I’m here! And Kayne West my buddy! Haha

  • as i have stated and wasted a lot of money–still gained a lot of success–guaranteed you  do not know who may artist is–because of said reason above ps—u didnt mention that the above commonly practiced scenario is illegal–

    • i did say it was illegal:

      At this point, payola was criminalized, and it’s been illegal to induce a station to play a song in exchange for money, without disclosing that money has changed hands, ever since.

  • Kristina Stykos

    I think it’s really interesting to stay up on what is happening at commercial levels of music production, but if we spend too much time trying to fit into some “system”, any “system”, it feeds into the homogenization of musical ideas. I’m all for music with universal appeal, but without individual personality shaping from the inside out, it all sounds the same. The most vital part of music still lives in neighborhood bars, churches and kitchens, and belongs to regular people. For those of us trying to be “real musicians”, we have a choice whether to join humanity and speak from the heart or play games, games, games until our creativity is all but gone. I vote for day jobs and staying real the other way.

    • Joe

      Excellent.  This type of diversification is misrepresented and undervalued.

    • couldn’t agree more, and the intent of this article was to get artists to not worry about this ( and take the power back.


    • Sking11735

      This post should replace the damn article

    • Abby M

      I agree….most music on the radio sounds lifeless and shallow. Real music comes from the heart and it isn’t afraid of expressing itself even if its different.

    • Steve Scholle

      Of all the great replies to this article, this is my favorite.

  • Joebloe

    OK… So, how do you get your song on commercial radio?

    • be signed to a major label, write a good song, get lucky. maybe not in that order.


    @ George 

    That is interesting. Eric Beall, VP of SONY Music Publishing, writes in The Billboard Guide To Songs That Sell the following:  “Radio stations have no relationship with labels. They have a relationship with Advertising”.     (quote – unquote.)  So clearly, Payola does not exist. 

  • PJ

    There is something else that I’ve heard called “music ads” or something like that, where a label pays a radio station to play a song as a “purchased” advertising. The stations aren’t required to tell the public it is an ad, but it is disclosed as advertising revenue and so not technically payola. I don’t know if it exists in all radio formats, but I’, told that it exists in Country radio (I live in Nashville)… but it is probably everywhere. I think the crappy thing, is that not every ordinary musician can buy those ads (from what I am told) they are reserved for “clients” with “existing relationships” (aka labels) and I’m sure they are pricey.

  • musicloveroffinest

    Thank you for giving us a truthful statement about the industry.  I agree on many levels, like for instance Terri Clark is an extremely talented artist and guitar player.  Not to mention Grand Ole Opry member and has many years on major labels.  I love her music but I can’t seem to get any US radio station to play her much anymore.  I’m talking about many Canadian artists as well.  Probably other countries too who US radio won’t even play at all.  If it weren’t for the internet and cd purchases I wouldn’t know half of the music I do.  I appreciate all of the media that has evolved in the last 25 + yrs so, I will listen to my own musical interests from here on out.  Thanks again for bringing this subject to this level.

    • canada has “can con.”


      • im a canadian artist, who sold over 1 million singles on mgm when i was a kid, ive released some  really good pop rock   country ,im in the rockabilly hall of fame nashville,  i can,t get played on main stream, canadian radio, i was told they are only playing established artists , like shania 10 times a day,  cancon is  bullshit,  whose paying them off, bernie  early,

  • L E Richarson

    Great info George,
    If I can expand on what they really don’t want you to know is (drum roll) radio stations(& owners) that make publishing deals with labels to “play for pay”.WLAC in Nashville did a deal like this with Stax records in the early 60’s.These song are probably still in heavy rotation their plat list today.
    Food for thought.PEACE

  • Carrie Johnson

    When I was signed to a major about 10 years ago, we broke on 99X Atlanta – unfortunately the record co lost funding and that was the end of my “hit” song. I still make cds, I still perform but I realize that without that big machine fueling my record, my best bet is to work the social networking system and hope that my talent as a songwriter shines through. This business is NOT for the faint of heart!! 
    I’m a musician, a songwriter with or without a hit song on the radio I will continue to do what I do best – write and perform!!
    Carrie Johnson

    • thanks for sharing this, Carrie.

      take the power back.



    That was a very informative article.  My name is Mezonic.  I’m an artist/song-writer/producer in Charlotte,NC.  I’ve spent thousands of dollars on radio promotion over the years.  I didn’t really see the results except for a few Djs knowing about me.  Also those e-blast services are a complete waste of time.  My advice to indie artists is to save your money and use it to advertise on google, yahoo, facebook, twitter, and maybe myspace.  You can also advertise on radio stations and MTV/BET in your local area. You should also build your own email list of djs and radio personalities. That way, you can email them your press info & song directly.  As far as earning money from your music, perform at all the local open mics, colleges, festivals, and sell your CDs directly to fans.  If you are really a sales person, get a table at your local flee market.  Remember as you begin to profit from your music, save half of your money to start recording your next album and  use some for your advertisements.  Build your contact list and text/email your friends when you release a new song/album. Other than that, keep being passionate about your music, learn new things everyday, and don’t let anyone tell you that you will not make it.  By the way, check out my website and if you like my music, don’t hesitate to show your support. Peace!!!

    • Nice response Mezonic – and great ideas by the way! I think you are right on! Nice site as well!

    • good stuff.


    • This was good advise and the best I’ve heard yet that makes sense. I am going to copy this and use it as my guide for my next release. The record label, Tate Music Group didn’t do anything to push my music.

    • raggedriches

      Never mind

  • Shawn Phillips

    I need to interject here something that George did not mention in this article. He spoke about the “indies”, and the various forms of interplay with the majors, and the radio, but didn’t speak about the relationship between the attorneys of the 2 aforementioned parties. There is a legal loophole that allows both sides to escape the Payola assumptions. When the label produces the artists, (production meaning the artists are only on the label in the first place, because that label is sure that those artists are amenable to “Taking direction”, from the labels producer, so the music only appeals to a mass standard), those artists become the “product”, of the label. The attorneys of the label then talk to the attorneys of the corporation, or private individuals that own the radio chains, and there is an agreement between them that a certain song, (which is deemed the best shot for a hit single), will be put on rotation on those stations, both night, and drive-time spots. Here’s the important part !!! At this point, this is no longer a “Song”, it is adjusted to become an “Advertisement”, for that artist. The under the table shit that goes on is that for every CD sold, the label pays the radio corporations, or owners 0.01 %, or whatever they’ve worked out in their deal. Everybody wins, and the money is the same as the local plumber paying for his advertisement. Ain’t nothin’ illegal ’bout advertising.

    • KrisP

      you are SPOT ON. radio is promotion. a show is promotion. a song is, in end, promotion for your brand. make sure you can back up the good song with lots of things to sell to people who ask. And an artist has to put aside the ego and remember – music is for the listener, not the artist. What do you do to an annoying commercial? What do you do when the Free Credit Report dot com commercial comes on?

  • Davebuoy

    Great Article

  • Todd

    The cream rises to the top! It’s the nature of things. Remember, even today, word of mouth is still the strongest form of promotion known to man. You can present something to the public VIA radio, but if it sucks, they’re not buying it. But if your friend tells you how great this new band and song is, you’re gonna listen. Anyway, when you discover something new that’s great, you can’t wait to be the first to tell your friends about it. Build your audience one fan at a time and focus on them. That’s your core fan base. You can’t win them all so just focus on the ones you have and they will spread the word for you. Once again, word of mouth.

    • totally great, and I agree; however, not really the point of the article.


    • Xdfec

      Your post is wrong. Good is related with bad. When people compare something musical they are comparing with other mainstream artists because thats everything they know. Thats why they call some artists hard when they are not hard, because compared with other mainstream artists they are hard, the same when they call radiohead the most experimental stuff on planet.
      You can think something is good because of better stuff. Also in the end payola is more about “removing” other artists/releases/songs from market, than making people see alot your stuff.
      Also you can’t have word of mouth if most of the population is on the payola vicious circle. “Wow I discovered a great artist, lana del rey”. “I already know this girl, saw her last weekend on vh1.”

    • Marcos Ramirez

      Agreed, but I think that people are looking at the radio completely different than the major labels do. Tthe majority of people view it as the pinnacle of success/ visibility. The majors view the radio completely different. The labels do not make money from air play. The writers and publishers (who are also the majors usually) do. The radio to a major is the single greatest advertisement in history. They dont want you listening to the radio as much as you think. They want you to like it, and BUY IT! They make money from the sales of the album. The label is able to write off money spent on getting on the radio as an advertising expense. Because you listen, love, and go buy the songs and the rest of the album, advertised by radio. BAM! money. That’s why its called a single. They do not try every song on the album. How many albums did you buy that you thought “damn, the only good song was the one on the radio”. Just like when you see a commercial for a movie and think “the only funny part was what was in the commercials”. Radio is Label term for advertising of an album. Don’t get me wrong majors have a way to get theirs from airplay too, but the majority goes to the writers. They are bypassing the “word of mouth” by airplay. They get word of mouth by, “did you hear that song by ______ on the radio yet?”. Then you buy it. Perfection in advertising. This also is why its a broken system. In the visual world if you have money for a 30 sec spot, you do it. And they play who pays. Did you ever notice there are like very rarely cd commercials in a tv show? Because they advertised it playing you a song on the radio.

      my 2 c

  • Wow what great info!
    Donna Wright

  • Andy King

    I’m sure that Alan Freed is looking down (or up) and smiling right now.  I’m an “artist”…yeah, Canadian, but hey, nobody’s perfect.  I started back in 1956 and I’m still entertaining & having a ball…Over the years, I’ve matured into a “Has-Been-That-Never-Was” who’s trying to make a “come-back”…but I have no place to come back from…LOL.  Still, although I’ve never been a “Teenage Idol”, I am now a  “Teenage Idle” and loving it!  I wrote well over 300 tunes between 1956 to 1964…some were recorded & released by other artists and they died…the “records”, I mean.  Some, I recorded & released (2 on the old London records lable), also died.  RIP.  Today, about 52 years later, 2 of my songs (that I recently recorded) “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year”, plus a 3rd one “Tomorrow” (coincidentally all penned by yours truly in 1959) will all have been “released” on a USA independent lable by December 1st, 2011.  Am I worried about the bucks for airtime?  Nope.  This time, I’m doing it for only 3 reasons: fun, fun and more fun…and as the song goes, “no. no, they can’t take that away from me”.  The distributor seems to be aaaaall excited about the songs/recordings but I look at success in the music business this way…it’s like asking a blind man with no arms to find me a needle in a haystack, after having found it, deposit it in a little urine test bottle, tighten the cover really well and bring it back to me in person so he may shake my hand when I congratulate him.  I can’t believe all this is happening to me now that I’m 68…do the math, I was 18 years old 50 freakin’ years ago LOL!  LIFE IS GOOD!  THE MUSIC BUSINESS IS GREAT! If something good or great or fantastic or absolutely nothing happens this time around, Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.  Ain’t life funny?  I stopped dreaming many years ago about a “hit record & fame”. Today, good stuff is happening and it’s called fun, fun fun!  PS:  I miss 78 & 45rpm records. 

    Andy King


    • Trete Lo

      Wow this is the greatest thing I’ve read all day. Andy! When you’re doing what you love, You’re successful hit or no hit! -Trete Lo

  • Onesocool

    George, you’re one of my mentors!!! 

    Question. Before I ‘released’ my current CD (pressed; own my own label, in name at least, and publishing) I FINALLY got royalty checks (ASCAP) for this one song on the CD. It had apparently been played on a ‘digital jukebox.’ Whatever, I was elated! Decent amount; enough to feel vindicated for ‘suffering’ ; ) ha!

    I’m re-releasing same CD w/ publicist (small, 45 media outlets). 

    So, could you possibly recommend a path to take for ANY kind of radio?

    Many thanks!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Enticing them with great advertising banners, links and announcements could help increase the chances of airplay maybe?

  • Jon

    Hey George, Great Article!!

  • Jon

    Hey George, Great Article!!

  • Bluemorblaze

    Amazing! We love this article becouse once again you make everything so open and clear that it’s inspiring.
    Thank you!
    Bluemor Blaze

  • Washington Irving

    George, nice of you to set out some of the mechanics – I guess what you’re saying is that the concentration of capital by the majors means a small class of music biz folks have achieved a hegemonic position, culturally, socially, financially. Once they have their hands on the money making machine that allows them to accumulate capital they are not going to let it slip through their fingers.  Digital technology has democratised music production there’s no doubt but the possibility of getting a return on the investment or making a living from music sales for most musicians (commodification) depends on shifting units in volume and this is dependent on marketing in multiple channels (not just radio) – independent artists don’t have massive marketing budgets or networks!  How do independents get access to volume markets and do marketing?  

  • One likes to believe in the freedom of music, 
    But glittering prizes and endless compromises 
    Shatter the illusion of integrity.

  • I just read billboard sept 10 2011 issue Tiesto is on the front cover, 

    read that article, it will really give you an idea of what is going on now in the music biz with the pro’s, 

    it looks like the labels are slowly going to get phased out and companies like armani, target, axe, pepsi are taking over, 

    it will not be about record sales, but more how long you can get your music streamed for on spotify, how many fans will buy tickets to your shows and so on, 🙂

  • Renee

    great post! I’ve pitched to radio twice now once through a radio tracker and another on my own as an alias and somehow I knew payola was the reason a song becomes huge all of a sudden, because we had an amazing undeniable tune but all the huge stations said they loved it but it wasn’t in the top 10 so they wouldn’t play it, well how do you suppose it gets there in the first place….

  • T Entertainment

    Payola exists on multiple levels with not just money, but concert tickets, clothing, and connections to other businesses. It’s also great when the record company also owns the independent promoter company. They call it a “marketing company.” 

    When is the industry going to start calling these people/companies out? 

  • T Entertainment

    Payola exists on multiple levels with not just money, but concert tickets, clothing, and connections to other businesses. It’s also great when the record company also owns the independent promoter company. They call it a “marketing company.” 

    When is the industry going to start calling these people/companies out? 

  • James Durban

    It’s not just radio with “payola,” it’s also internet outlets (yes, they are influenced as well), retail, etc.

    You don’t know the music biz if you don’t understand how advertising influences blogs, internet retail, etc.

    Also to note, majors have enormous influence with not just radio, but TV, press, touring, etc.

     This answers a lot of my questions why the same few ‘artist’ can make the same “crap” songs over and over and they are played on the radio continually. I am a fan of an artist that just released a fantastic album
    with a major label but he is not Lady G, KP, B etc. amd the program directors don’t want to promote anyone other then the regulars.

  • Grcrecords

    Loved your article. Very informative, to the point, and true. G.R.C.

  • Admin

    Very good, very true article George.

    Here IS the actual reality in the UK and the BBC!The following is all first hand…as they say, “I was there”….the names have been removed to protect the guilty, (well actually because a book is being written about this and other related and not so related articles).

    Coming from the DIY of Punk in the late 70’s; having been signed to a major publisher and appeared on massive music TV shows in front of millions as a drummer for a MAJOR band, (and these guys were top blokes by the way), it was all done because of a LOVE of music. But I never made any money.

    Well, there is the background. Now to the experiment (all done in the “sticking it to the man” frame of mind, hence the book).

    I was invited, along with my wife (who is a singer and songwriter), to the BBC headquarters to sit in the studio while one of the biggest radio shows in the UK went out live (the reason of the invite was not music related). During the show the DJ played a very, very big named singer on a mega label. Having heard this track on the drive down to the BBC on the previous show, (yes, said track was on the “A-list” myself and my wife commented on how such a singer, (many years ago he wrote and performed truly great songs), could put his name to something so devoid of soul, or meaning, (a cover of a ’70’s classic). We were not the only ones with such a view. During the playing of this track the DJ pressed the bypass switch and spoke to the control room where we were sat, and he said, “Why are we playing this utter rubbish, are the BBC sponsoring any concerts by him?”. The answer from the producer was “don’t know?”. The DJ then stated “Why are we playing this rubbish when there is so many young artists out there who dont get a chance?”.

    So, yep, we came home and wrote the track “Summer Shine on Me”and put is out as “Marcelle Ash”.

    The track was “genetically designed” to appeal directly to this show’s audience and was sent DIRECTLY to said DJ and producer….they got it, we know because the wife contacted them directly. The response from the “non-commercial BBC” was, “really like it but your up against, the likes of female artists like x,y and z and they are all on major labels and all have major backing.”, (remember this is from a “non” profit organisation, the BBC).

    The result… plays. 

    Oh, forgot to mention, the very same BBC radio channel held a “New Songwriters” award…makes them look like they are serious in looking for “New Music” you see, the wife was a finalist, (we kept this fact back from this producer and DJ)….as I said….no plays on this show.

    Have a listen here:



    • Rtthorp

      Nice one Mike – I guess that you are either in or out and that being ‘in’ greatly depends on how much financial power you have to leverage your position and not just who you know.  For 100s of aspiring and talent artists – they don’t even have the luxury of industry social networks to get them close to a radio dj..

      I stopped listening to R1 years ago – partly because the music is the equivalent of fast food, partly because the DJs have become the entertainment (and the less I know about their smug lives the happier I am) and also because any listener with an ounce of sense knows that everything is plugged – why else would such poor songs be on repeat play when there is so much good music about.

      • Admin

        Spot on Rtthorp

        Many years ago I had the great fortune to not only speak but get played by the BBC’s legendary John Peel RIP (yes, it still is one of those moments no money could better). Here was a man who played music for the love of the music, without Peel there would have been no Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, T-Rex, Undertones, Sex Pistols, Nivarna, and Dead Kennedys in the UK.  In later years he pushed acts like the Chemical Bros, Aphex Twin etc….He gave Pulp a session 15 years before they broke. ie he knew his stuff.

        One evening he was on a music programme with the then Queen of BBC Radio One’s Indie/alternative shows, Jo Whiley. Peel happens to mention how massively influential Capt. Beefheart was, Jo says “Who’s he? Never heard of him.” The look on Peels face summed up the moment perfectly.

        On a good note, Jo was responsible for breaking the last great “indie” band to break in the UK… Oasis……..oh hold on, if you took a coin and scratched the “Creation Records” label you would find underneath that well-known, bedroom based, pot of glue and some cardboard and letraset label “Sony Records”.

        Extrapolate that graph and you get to the man who 90% of the world’s population think is the arbiter of what is good and bad “music”. I knew of this ‘baked-bean salesman’ in the 80″s…..have a look at what he was up to in the 80’s and what he thought was “saleable” music …..yes, it is him, he is today’s “public face” of music. 

        Think about it, anyone body who can sing, first thing anyone says is….”You Just HAVE to go on the X factor”…….It’s proof positive, you can actually polish a turd and make money.

        Anybody serious about their music, their art and NOT feeling dirty when they wake up has to read the Steve Albini article, “The Problem With Music”.


  • Hotjcm

    These new “consultants” for radio stations is the cover-up for payola.  Why is it that the government don’t see it?  And program directors are told if they play any songs that’s not on their list, they will be terminated!

    • Andy King

      So why don’t we ALL write to our MPs in Canada & our Congressmen in the USA?
      What about newspaper “letters to the editor”?  We’re the lambs & so far, we’re silent.

  • I am old school, and always thought that if a song was good enough it would find it’s way to major labels and major radio. But we all know that is not true. Maybe in the 50’s and early 60’s but not now. So I say sell off the stage and get your fans through social media. I am finding out that after 40 years on the road and off the road and performing everywhere with my band that Thank God the iunternet came along. I still believe that do it yourself musicians will spend too much time trying to propmote themselves and loose the valuable time they really need writing and thinking about their music, So it is a catch 22. I think you need to find a fan of the band or a street team member that is really good on the computer that can handle all the websites that are out there and getting you on all they can. Keeping track of your fans and building a string fan base through that. I know I wish I had someone that would do that for me. I just haven’t found that person yet.
    Selling your product is the ultimate thing to do. So sell your CD, Tshirts, Hats etc, at all your gigs. You will make more money on merchandising than you will doing the gig. If you are a single artist then you reap all the income and pay a % to who ever is working for you. As far as radio goes, There are tons of internet stations that will play your tunes for free and there are hundreds or even more that will. Just do as search and send them the mp3. They wont pay you to play it but they are getting your name and website out there for you and hopefully they will pay you 99cents for a download. imagine say 100 plays per day and 5 downloads a day average x 365. it adds up. Id you arent getting any downloads then make sure you arent on sited that are giving it away. It’s ok for a while to give a song away for the exposure, but make it limited to fans that have to give you their email address to get the free download or something like that. You can find my music at or my basnd site . I hope you have enjoyed my comment and I’d like to hear from you on your thoughts. i couls go on and on.
    Hope you have success. After all I am an overnight success!! lol 40+ years in the making.

    Lou Derr Artist/singer/songwriter

  • Anonymous

    I remember that 20 years ago a large multinational record company used to buy bets at a dog racing track for program controllers at a the biggest station here in the UK to get airplay.
    On the same station now at lot of the dj’s play stuff that they are linked with in some way. A lot of them have their own record co’s, publishing houses and management.
    What will kill radio off is ad free streaming services to smartphones linked to car stereos and this is happening.
    The social networks will become a source of new listening material instead.,

  • C Nicol

    So there is NO point going to radio in America then? This makes this article also disingenous as you CAN’T get your music on radio no matter what you do.

    • Anonymous

      there are different formats of radio – i.e. Top 40, Hot AC, AAA, Alternative etc
      THings like Top 40 and Hot AC are basically impossible to get added to unless you are tied into a major label
      whereas with AAA and college stations you are able to get some adds


  • I’m feeling this article. I manage a hip hop artist who’s beloved by the radio DJ’s and personalities. They play his single ‘Skatin’ on their ipods, but will not play it on the air, now I better understand why. Check out the website

    • Amelia

      I know how you feel I am also on itunes and I would like to be on radio.  I am also on rhapsody Mario Brown Future it is really hot.

  • Cassbass2004

    Thank you…

  • Peter Allen

    I hard as I have tried, even going the Community radio station route I have not been able to get any of my current six songs played on the air, were myself and a huge group of people that I have played for loved my music, even going the Broadjam route, still no payday, to be honest with you If I did not enjoy what I am doing so much I would say to hell with it all, so I look at it this way, Now I have something to leave my grandkids with: the sounds of their grand Father. Peace. Peter Allen aka PAX I can be reached at Thanks

  • Hi Prof, This is quite informative especially to an unsigned artist like me who is independently promoting my songs.
    But I must add I have never read a music industry article that got me bursting with laughter through and through.
    Your sense of humour permeates the second half of the article it is so droll at the same time it is an eye-opener.


    Hi Prof, this is most informative especially to those of us unsigned artists. 
    But I must confess, I can’t remember reading an article that made me laugh so much. Your sense of humour permits the second half of this article it is so droll at the same time it is a real eye-opener.

  • S.

    I have promoted major label releases for 15 years.  Terrestrial radio still reaches critical mass and is not going anywhere anytime soon.  Terrestrial radio is what sells the majority of records in the U.S.  Until the other “alternatives” you mention can do the same on a MUCH larger scale, the old school radio waves will continue dominating.  

    Mainstream radio stations are businesses with one mandate…get high ratings in their market(s).  Without good ratings, sponsors will not advertise.  No advertisers = no station.  So, understandably they tend to play it pretty safe when programming their playlists.  Unless you can demonstrate some really good reasons for them to spin your “hit” (along with providing a lot of money, as you noted), don’t bother trying to go that route.  Just continue using social media to build your grass roots following and get out in front of people performing shows (that is where the real $ is anyway…why do you think the Rolling Stones still tour?).

  • Donald

    all i can say is..i’m a extraordinary songrwiter…i can make u song become a hot song for a day night
    but people dont believe in people doesnt star…if someone need my job just contact me we talk .br 
    my bad for my english i speak portugues

  • Rex Shirley Foutch [ascap]

    i like and im sending songs to oprah and ellen and others and get no reply what gives? do they trash them before they listen those producers[or people that open mail] are bad people that read mail and trash your music and the stars never get to hear them at all; why is that ?i still never got reply from oprah or even ellen degeneres?; who is in charge of the mail i send? rex shirley foutch [ascap]who can i safely send my songs to these days?

  • McCade

    I have utmost respect for George, particularly for the work at Artist House, if you’re an Artist/Band trying to break through you should take many hours aside and watch all the videos there, it’s an unqualified knowledge base.

    The fundamentals of Radio Airplay are not that hard to understand, a ‘popular’ radio station must play songs that ‘are’ popular, if they stray from this they become maverick, ‘less’ popular, less listened to, and less profitable. 

    Why do they play a new song from an unknown Artist?  If it’s from the Majors the answer is simple, ‘leverage’ – “Play this and we’ll throw the new Rihanna/Gaga/SyndicatedTalentShowWinner..  your way!”  And of course the Majors have plenty of new Artists to break ALL the time, so it’s a cycle, new Artist this week – ‘leverage’ next week.

    Why won’t they play a song by an unknown Artist from a Label/Artist that has no leverage?  The answer is logical: Because if they do what else can the Label/Artist follow up with that repays their support, it’s a ONE-SIDED risk.  And the game is a two-way street.

    You’re a Band and you’ve got great songs, a good following, you gig all the time and you sell-out in places.  I’m a DJ on Radio 1 and I convince my Producer to put you on my playlist.  The response is TERRIFIC, the radio station is swamped with enquiries the first day and I get to play you all week, which generates an amazing response.  Trouble is, the Bass player threw the laptop at the Drummer last Friday and endless enquiries go unanswered, which swamps the radio station with work that isn’t theirs and they’re not paid for.

    I’m joking of course :o)  But the RISK is the known reality of successful Radio Producers. 

    You’re an independent Artist/Band, every A/B loves it these days, social media who needs a Label?  But the truth is, you need a large staff of people to ‘support’ success, even if they didn’t help to create it.

    So my humble advice, get signed (An actual contract) to a Label with some track record, a small independent, but still send your songs to DJs.

    Money and Contracts, don’t believe the file-sharing Hype, the game is the same.

    • juiel

       Your idea is wrong because Rebbeca Black was 13 at top itunes and was almost not played at the radio

      • Keith

         FUCK OFF you IDIOT!

      • Tormy Van Cool

        Well, I do think you can’t make ONE case as the general one!
        Even if the cases where 2 or just 100! Too few cases respect the extension of the field. Exceptions are not rules. And who warranty you that that Rebecca Black has not any other let’s called “support”? A friend? The press? And do you really believe on them?The “Payola” which is illegal in US (I don’t think in EU it is, but perhaps I’m wrong), has another name: industry!
        One case over millions can break the Industry. But it’s not the rule and it doesn’t constitute a real case where you can base your actions on.

  • Me

    Why even consider commercial radio, if the likes of Tunecore, Spotify, and Zune are supposedly where it’s at for today’s musicians?

    Corrupt systems do not fall under the weight of their corruption; they just find ways to further justify, dissimulate and perpetuate the corruption upon which their survival depends – including actively corrupting other entities, such as competitors and independent innovators.

    Commercial radio plays doo-doo for people who like to consume doo-doo. Any musician whose music is worth listening to is not even listening to commercial radio; anyone interested in such musicians’ music is likewise not wasting their time by listening to commercial radio.

    Tunecore is great – at least in principle and method – but it seems semi-conciliatory to the Music Industry, as though trying to straddle the fence for the sake of economic and socio-political advantage. It would be nice to read here more articles concerned with publicizing and selling one’s music entirely outside the established Music Industry, as though it weren’t always looming in the background; as though it didn’t register in the production and promotion of one’s art; as though it weren’t an inevitable insidious temptation to deal with or answer to.

    Everything’s been said, many times, and in many ways, about the corruption of the Music Industry and commercial radio; what might be the new discourse, ignoring the Old Regime entirely?

  • Mgcounty

     I understand all I’ve read above yet I am only looking for a runner for my 5 song pop album and or stand up comedy peace live, both on cd. I am looking for a runner for my cd. “person who will take my music cd an do the work”.



  • anastasia

    hello to every1!!! great page/blog. i need some help. i live in Greece (!)  and i’ve been asked to sing 4 songs (commercial) for a radio station. i have no idia what to ask for… (payment ).. what do you think.. ???

  • Jennifer Benson
  • Giving Opportunities

    OSCAR ZAPATA “El Silencio de tu Ausencia” is amazing. I saw it on youtube and I will like for people to help him get out there. So, let’s all help him and all new artists. #giveopportunities

  • Giving Opportunities

    OSCAR ZAPATA “El Silencio de tu Ausencia” is amazing. I saw it on youtube and I will like for people to help him get out there. So, let’s all help him and all new artists. #giveopportunities

    • I saw him too
    • I saw him too
  • Dixernest


  • Kellzons

    whoa…this is some real shit…Check out “change for love produced by d-moet performed by kelvin ”

  • Timothyswiftca


  • Jennifer

    i work with an internet radio station. And with that station we offer indie artists a package. We play their music…(Song of their choice ) 25x a week for a month. It is tracked and they get the proof that it has been played. They can also set up their computer and tape it. We also do a full interview with them I do a lot of free interview prep as many of these young performers (20 somethings) really don’t know how to give a intervew that makes them sound interesting….Then they have the interview with the dj. it is taped, and edited and played 3x a week for  a month. I also offer all these artists free career coaching as I am a certified coach. We also promote them on our site. Direct people to their site. If they make any sales because they were heard on the station, we take NOTHING….And we do tell the public that this is sponsored by the artists themselves…Is this illegal…???

    The charge is $99 AND $30 OFF  for returning clients with different songs…because how many interviews can they do  On my own as a career coach I charge more. Still I don’t wanna do anything illegal. I am all about empowering the indie artist. Our service will NOT make them famous…It will give them some decent exposure…that is our hope.


  • ch

    this is a helpful post and i am using it for a class I’m teaching at UCSD.

  • SEAN D

    This article really helped me alot and i’ve been thinking wrong all along, taking google adverts for granted and all, i implemented all this and it works perfectly if you seek help from other aspects especially Marketing, Public Relations, Communication, coz selling your CD”s to a total stranger is not easy.
    Check my website and tell me what you guys think

  • James Plant Rock

    James Plant Rock “GOING OFF”@ itunes catch the sound wave!

  • G flow

    The way I see it is we must create a buzz throughout the social media with one great song
    for the genera of your choice and just as you would want somebody of music importance to fall in love with your song first you have to fall in love with it, and then push it as hard as you can by all manse necessary and just like any other major label artist you will be discover and someone will sell you and your masterpiece to the work for a profit. keep writing hits I am going to promote my new hit More baby on Jango Artist Airplay: and I suggest you do the same I had over 200 spins in my first week and I am hook they will be getting a study dose of G flow/SB

  • mike

    I really enjoyed your article. Real true. I was wondering do you know of any reputable college and internet radio promoters?

  • ac

    the way forward if ur an independent is to put guns to these ppl’s heads and make them play your songs all day lol

  • Josh how can I have my new songs aired on the radio ?

  • G

    Where does one find these indie promoters to pay ?

  • G

    Okay I get it basically you get an pro music artist like Too Short for example you contact him tell him you need a promoter to get your song played on the radio and you got 30000$ budget for him you give him the money he goes talks to the radio stations program director for you and puts his reputation behind your product and tells the program director that you are a good person for him to put your song on the radio. And you have to do it in each city with a different reputable artist which like you said can get expensive costing you a million dollars. The artist then probably buys an expensive lunch and has an expensive day with the program director to influence him for the favor.

    • G

      Then the messed up thing about it is after you spend 400,000$ the word is going to get to the program directors of what you are doing to promote so they going to call you a sucker being hustled to pay large amounts of money to get promoted getting hustled and chances are they’ll shut down your airplay and say real man make it without paying money so the first half of the million dollar budget benefited from it without really giving you the full blast of fame that you was after, so they have ways of shutting you down even with that method of promoting

      • G

        It’s really comical and funny someone should make an underground DVD of the faces of program directors dealing with some of these cats , you know having guns pointed at them with wads of cash to have to take to play a song. Could you imagine lol, someone pointing a gun at you threatening you to take the money, instead of robbing you they pointing a gun at you forcing you to take money lol to play their song lol

  • Awesome stuff. I like to read your post. Really appreciate your work.Thanks for sharing

  • It sucks but it is what it is…I work all day sometimes on marketing and hear song on the radio and wonder why is this playing. And its becuase of the majors. It’s not all doom and gloom you have find every back door you can. Especially if you have song you believe in.

  • nice article and I do agree with your point of view.


    Hello greet you from Colombia to serve a hug hope we hear our music and get on Itunes God bless

  • KayeLeM

    Great Advice and insight. Yes the world may now be at our fingertips for the distribution of our music. I must share a drawback that I just encountered with my latest album “MISSING LINKs” By KayeLeM. (Me). Very important! I was ripping one of my own CDs and I elected to have the Metadata furnished by the Web automatically by one of those “DATA ONLY” sites. Floored was I when in three different languages at two different times. Albums came up whose language even when translated was not even close to my album, but I did notice there where the same amount of songs. Curiosity got the best of me, and good thing. When I played the songs. They were mine to the T, and in English. Nothing was changed but The name of the band and the songs. One was Greek, one was Spanish, and the other was a Slavic language.. Has anyone had this happen,? I have no idea what to do about it.. Granted I do own all the rights to my music, and they are registered, but I understand some countries adhere to , well! Nothing as far as copyright. I do know the names of the sites where this info was found, but I can not get the URL. I just want to let fellow musicians with integrity know of this, so we can put a crimp in their style. With new distribution. There will be new ways to thieve and cheat. We have to be careful when growing so big and so fast in the industry, that we pay clear attention to such travesties.

  • susanmicklergriffith

    I am a member of tuncore and ascap.the music . I have had my music played on the radio and haven’t heard a thing about my royalties,The song is called talk of the town by susan mickler Griffith, it has been played on the country radio stations in st. Augustine and the Flagler collage radio station.

  • Ernie

    Rediculous article, you start by saying the system has been this way for fifty years. Then you outline the obvious. (Yawn) Then close by saying “It’s not all doom and gloom”, It will EVENTUALLY fall under it’s own weight… What? another fifty years of weight? What a wasted read.

  • Ernie

    Try to remember the title of your article…

    How To Get Your Song On Commercial Radio

  • I have a great new Country single ,It is as good as or better than most of the stuff playing on the major Country radio stations.I joined Jango and I get new fans every day,I am doing the facebook and tweet thing a lot,blog some.I emailed sirrus/XM and they are considering it for rotation.I am a nobody but I am trying,I did hear that the way the top 100 list is decided has changed and popularity on online radio and sales on Itunes,amazon mp3 considered,Utube views as well.I have a website as well so we will see:)

  • lilcorymuzik

    This article should actually be titled how to not get your music on the radio

    • Tormy Van Cool

      I disagree 🙂 the title is: stop dreaming! It’s wasted time 😀

  • Radio Play

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  • Ben Hinman

    More and more people are getting fed up with the mainstream, however, i’m not convinced the house of cards is going to fall anytime soon. I saw an interview where Kanye West was going off on one of his arrogant rages about Taylor Swift talking a whole bunch of jealous trash and the reporter just excused his behavior like a spoiling mother would, “oh, he’s just a very… ‘expressive’ guy”. BULL. SHIT. The guy is a grade A Asshole with delusions of grandeur. He actually had the nerve to come out with a song titled “I AM GOD”, and people still give him a free pass. The industry isn’t going to change until the listeners stop making excuses for talentless losers with attitude problems.

  • Terry Mccall


  • Donna Wright

    George, I think this is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. When I manage the Backstreet Boys the recoupable was CRAZY For radio promotion. Thanks for this article, Donna Wright

  • Loretta Haynes

    Hello my name is Loretta Haynes and I am an author, storyteller,writer of children’s song and a preschool teacher. I make my own cds full of wonderful songs that brings joy and laughter to all. My book “TEN LITTLE PENNIES FOR SOME BUBBLE GUM is a fun and interactive book that keeps us as kids and kids at heart. The fun is having bubble gum to enhance the story. My website has the story and two of my songs on the website as well so go and enjoy. I also have a single cd out called Goldie Locks and the Three Bears with a little bit of a twist. It is a story we all know but the twist to it makes more smiles appear. So I hope you take a look and a listen to my stories that will bring joy I hope to all of you. My email is and phone is 618-5319474 See you in our world of fun and reading.

  • captain- siuwe

    Just have to put you foot forward and put in the hard work.

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  • danny
  • coolgirl

    hi I got over sixty-nine songs written I wish I can sell them to become famous it’s my dream like Laura Marano ! please buy my songs

  • Joshua Holden

    Over the past year I found a band who has been around for 10+ years with 5+ albums that I never even heard of before. (Authority Zero) I quickly realized that they had a ton of talent and I like EVERY single song on EVERY single album, something extremely rare for me. It made me wonder why I’ve never heard of them before so I started looking around and found this article to confirm what I pretty much already knew.

    I started sending text requests and internet request to my local Alternative Station and eventually they did get played a couple of times on the off beat segments / weekend shows. I just hope they get more air time, I’ll keep requesting them because I feel that if enough people hear them around here, maybe they will get played more and start filling out bigger and bigger shows when they tour here next. (I’ve seen them twice and they are awesome, if you get the chance don’t miss them!)

    Sorry if I sound like a promoter but it’s the first band that has excited me in years, I was just dumbfounded that they were not as popular / main stream already.

  • Imhotep Al-Basiel

    shadie game fo sure@

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  • Marcos Ramirez

    So my question to George is…. you speak of the reality of airplay, which is very true. So what is your opinion of the growing belief in “the labels are the enemy and you don’t need them” to succeed? It is true you can survive on music without them, but do you advocate the major label is your savior, or do you believe in the abolition of majors for a more universal open system? That’s not to say long term,I think we all want a more open system, but for anyone in the game today. Obviously if they just do not want to go that rout it’s their decision, but what is your response to the people who say that labels are bad news and you don’t need them to be the next Led Zepplin in today’s world.

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  • Ella Bell

    Incredible article, I personally found help with VX Media, they were really helpful and gave me over 1500 top and key industry contacts , 2000 sites for me to promote my music an online exposure pack and even promotion on their network which worked great. Check them out here:

  • John McGovern

    Thanks you sir, that was a very informative article and I found your blueprint of this sometime byzantine process fascinating to say the least. Perhaps the next time a radio station gives away a thousand dollars every hour etc. we should ask them where the money actually came from and whose interests are being served. Maybe there are times when there may even be more than adding to the playlist, I don’t generally concern myself with these issues but it does make one wonder.

  • update

    If you do not want to join the Illuminati do not read this message. Rules * You must be above 18 years of age.* You must have full access to the internet.* You must not discuss the secret of the Illuminati to anyone.* We are not interested in anyone who has obtained their knowledge about the Illuminati based on what they’ve HEARD from Mass Media (News or Performing Arts), Conspiracy Theorists (Amateur or Professional Authors or Speculators), Internet Rumors, or other HERESY.* Once you join the Illuminati within one week of your membership you will achieved the greatest goal in life and also have wealth and fame.* No one discard the message of the GREAT ILLUMINATI if discarded the person will be tormented both day and night.* Failure to compel to the order and rules of the GREAT ILLUMINATI shall see your fame and riches taken back.* The money ALWAYS flows TOWARDS Illuminati members…And AWAY from NON Illuminati members… One of the rules of the Illuminati is “We don’t talk about the Illuminati” so I can’t say too much about it here. If you are truly interested and get back to me via email or call +2348169340571.

  • David Moni Singer

    i am David Moni i have written performed and produced
    i can not find a company that can help me get on the radio

  • Great Article. Very sad reality of the Music Business. Major labels choke the supply line to the mass consumer base. Like great indie Country? check out Belle Holler at: Post a comment, and remember to become a fan if you like. Support your indies!!!

  • krim
  • Jason

    This is a great article. It doesn’t really address why an artist like Madonna, who is on a major label and has access to PLENTY of money, just can’t get radio to play her new material, even when there are tons of fans who would like to hear it – and even when there are plenty of young cutting edge producers and featured artists involved. Is it just ageism within the industry? Anyone have any insight?

  • pdbeats

    Great post about ways to get your songs on commercial radio, thank you.

    Instrumental beats –

  • keem
  • Aaron David

    So as a starving artist this seems corrupt at first. But I am working on greatness. In the end you sell out or be great. Is there really any other way than this system?unsigned talent is almost an oxymoron these days anyways

  • michelle

    WARNING! WARNING!! WARNING!!! If you do not want to join the Illuminati do not read this message. Rules * You must be above 18 years of age. * You must have full access to the internet. * You must not discuss the secret of the Illuminati to anyone. * We are not interested in anyone who has obtained their knowledge about the Illuminati based on what they%u2019ve HEARD from Mass Media (News or Performing Arts), Conspiracy Theorists (Amateur or Professional Authors or Speculators), Internet Rumors, or other HERESY. * Once you join the Illuminati within one week of your membership you will achieved the greatest goal in life and also have wealth and fame. * No one discard the message of the GREAT ILLUMINATI if discarded the person will be tormented both day and night. * Failure to compel to the order and rules of the GREAT ILLUMINATI shall see your fame and riches taken back. * The money ALWAYS flows TOWARDS Illuminati members…And AWAY from NON Illuminati members… One of the rules of the Illuminati is “We don’t talk about the Illuminati” so I can’t say too much about it here. If you are truly interested and get back to me via email? or call +2349033119072 Do not play mind games

  • audiolfm

    Nice post about radio commercials visit:


    I believe this song will get played on radio Listen to “Live It Up” By MALLY on Spotify

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  • jj

    Make friends with a radio DJ that has not just local but other stations picking up their show. Your fruits will still be small as far as royalties go but people will stream your stuff and if you’re lucky by a song or full album. It’s a game. A gamble but your only loss will be not being played vs played and making what few artists do….get money in your account.


  • haroon shahzad

    hi this is haroon i hv made new national songs for 14th augest

  • Brad Proulx

    Hey! I just recorded my Original Song “Jump And Soar” on Kauai at the oldest standing home on the island! Come take a look! Thanks for listening! “What do you live for? What would you die for? When will you find more?”

    Brad Proulx

  • jermaine adams
  • niomie
  • Tyrone Ledford
  • Record industry structure is Oligopoly! This is important in understanding that a few, very large firms (record labels and their parent companies) dominate the industry setting prices and controlling output. This means very high barriers to entry are put in place ‘deliberately’ by these large firms, and paying ‘big money’ to have radio spin the label’s songs is in part how the established music industry keeps the competition out of the game. The weakness of this industry structure, at least in the music industry, is music fans grow tired of these same labels, who have bought their way into a competition-free marketplace, when they fail to keep up with the changes in consumer demand (content, style, quality etc.) for something new and fresh. Essentially, indies can find strength here by keeping up with music consumer’s never-ending demand for something new, fresh, and of high quality.

  • awarrior

    Sounds like a better title would be: How Not To Get Your Song On Commercial Radio.

  • Jimmy Westra

    The alternatives are doing exactly as the good ole boys club. Probably stealing more opportunity’s than the majors ever did. All these “Indies” who ever they are, have been supplying all these internet radio stations with all yours and my pay-to-play music and you think you’re getting a break. You have to remember where these Indies people originated from. How about “email lists”? Remember that opportunity where you could just send an email and suddenly you get bombarded with emails from the majors trying to sell you porn, land in tahiti, time shares? Yes they sold you and a billion other artists to the majors and the majors are now sending you their featured artists that you hear over and over again on the commercial radio. Nothings changed. As a matter of fact if you don’t have plenty of money you’ll never get heard by anyone outside your local base of friends and relatives and of coarse yourself except you just paid the majors to listen to yourself and whoever else they charge you to play your music and listen. like perhaps if you want fans… You pay them to put you on a network where for free listeners can click on your song and rate it for free of coarse the station supplying your music to them isn’t going to pay them either for their opinion. It’s all business as usual. They get the money, you and, the listener get, the shaft. Sound familiar?

  • Trojan

    Hi My Name Is Tyrone Lamar And I am A Tunecore Artist who made this song and I must say that I did not need any radio spins at all to generate enough money to buy a 10 dollar meal with. It is true that Indies can generate up to a billion dollars off of their own music without the Bigger Labels. Thanks for your listens for all you who see actually like the music link i provided.

    • tunecore

      Hey Tyrone – thanks for sharing! Love to see artists doing it their way using TuneCore – keep it up!

      • Trojan

        No Problem Guys

  • Marcos Ramirez

    Unless you got permission to use those clips your breaking the law. I like the song. But all the likes you get from it on that video will disappear when her people make youtube pull it.

    • Franklin Delanore

      We Have It As Promotion. I Was Told By A Lawyer As Long As We Don’t Make Money From The Video We Can Post It

      • Marcos Ramirez

        Just proceed cautiously. Your attorney says yes, but their attorney may have a different definition of profit. As in if you get a million dollar deal because of that video, they may be able to prove that it was their video footage that got it for you and take a big hunk of that…profit. It will be their burden of proof, but they have very expensive attorneys who don’t like to lose. Just a word of caution.

        • Franklin Delanore

          Do you know the best way for me to contact “Her People ” to get permission?

          • Marcos Ramirez

            I just contacted them for you and tried to work it to get them to review the song at the same time. I’ll let you know if I get anywhere or get a contact for you.

          • Franklin Delanore

            Ty I really appreciate that 🙌🏾

          • Dammion Wright
        • John Ulrich

          nobody enforces copyright anymore

          • Marcos Ramirez

            Yeah. They do. That’s why YouTube videos come down all the time and people get notices from isp’s for downloading illegal material.

  • Angela Hawley

    Well first of all Im not in music to be the next Liam or Noel Gallagher and my lyfestyle doesn’t need me to make wads of cash ! Yeah yeah ! Well sorry its true ! Im an Indie Guitarist Singer / Songwriter from the UK I have a few albums on Amazon ..Itunes ..Deezer ..Spotify ..have a good following on Social media my songs range from 1960s psychedelic to uplifting ..upbeat Indie Rock My website which needs a bit of work as im busy gigging is tracks and videos can also be found on YouTube..So if you want music that is a little different ..Headphones In ! World Off ! play and make music just for the passion and if someone likes it my job is done. Antony Hawley UK Indie Guitarist Singer / Songwriter

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  • Baby Boy J

    I remember wanting to get into the music industry way back in the 1990’s, back when it was a whole different ball game the golden era of hip hop, I remember around 2003 I sent my demo to death row records and at the time I got a letter back, my demo was picked out of of others to compete in a contest to get signed, I was excited but never followed through, back in those days I had tons of lyrics wrote in a binder, eventually I just put my lyrics away and moved on with my life I was younger back then, fast forward to now my mindset has changed the way I view the world has changed so ultimately my lyrics have changed for the better, the game changed tremendously, recording your own music is easy now, getting it on iTunes is easy, but there’s always that one BIG problem radio airplay and major exposure, you can have one of the greatest songs in the world, but if your never heard by the mainstream masses your chances of huge success are little to none, there’s so many artists ive heard that had amazing I mean amazing talent and yet chances are they will never get a big break, yet I hear some horrible artists that are making big, crazy aint it, thought I’d share my little story sorry it’s long lol, one love to all, if you get a chance check out my songs at

  • Christopher Johnson

    Hey. Stage name: The Phoenix. Wrote a lot of original music – music, lyrics, sang in it, played on it… – and it was well received by the public in two states. Not to say I’m the shit, but a few people have told me I was the bomb-diggity. I have been able to sell it (my music in 3 track CDs) with some modicum of success. My next step is the radio or the stage.

    Here’s the question: how would I get to a stage or airplay as a singer/songwriter, or would it be a better (easier) trail to get to be a resident songwriter and studio musician?

    • tunecore

      Hey Christopher – glad to hear people are digging it! We always recommend starting local and doing it DIY at first. Start but hitting up some talent buyers/bookers at clubs, coffee houses, and other venues in your area who support local talent. Don’t pester, but offer links, information about your music, and your availability!

      As for radio, starting local and independent is a good call here, too. Find out what stations have shows where your music would make sense to be played on, and figure out how those stations prefer to receive submissions (usually physical with a one-sheet about the band/artist). After you mail ’em out, follow up with a courteous email or phone call.

      From there, keep reading our blog! We’re always posting helpful articles to get artists’ careers on the right track.


  • Feegenie

    Thanks for sharing………..Great

  • waynyatta

    Misleading title. Should have been called “You can’t get your song on commercial radio.”

  • Alejandro Ayala

    Well I’m not a music artist I did try to be one but I even knew it will be hard unless you have money for promotion make sure when you spend it it’s on something worth spending I know alot of people who say they have great songs then u listen to them and they are not even close to being a song to be played on the radio…One thing I did learn is the way to get really known is to have a new style noone has but at the same time catchy follow what is being played on the radio now then as you build your fan base start making your own type of music you like.Meet people when you tour if you are good as you say you are and keep working hard one of them will try and sign you.Good Luck to everyone

  • Ron Sandefur

    I used to work in radio off and on for 30 years. The trend has not changed. But most is all “auto tuned” to death. ANd people will buy anything or do anything to become somewhat famous. I could care less if a major record label signs me. Iv’e dealt with them before. I just keep moving forward with my songs. Someone cool enough will hear it and sign me someday.

  • awarrior

    This article is depressing for ‘Independents’ who actually qualify for commercial radio airplay. It should be titled “How You Will Not Get Your Song On Commercial Radio As An Independent Artist (Even If It’s Good Enough).” The corporate demons are still winning in 2017.

  • The Real R&B Music need to come back! We are missing that Magic potion.

  • Tim Deacon

    Those Is Want You Want It The Email Addess

  • Ron Sandefur

    Well, I have worked in major radio in the past. It is sometimes frustrating to play a song that’s new and not on the playlist even though it rocked.Yes radio is dead and I don’t care if you have worked in the majors or not, it is dead in my opinion with rock stations playing the same 30 worn out songs (classic rock). Your best bet is to promote your songs on the web/app. Get publishing through Tunecore. That’s how you make a small income on your music. It takes overnight success anymore…just keep rockin’. Eventually somebody is gonna come knockin’.

  • Tim Wehmeyer
  • Rico J Suave’

    This song needs to be on the radio station
    Rico & Blitz #Nosleep
    Over 200,000 views and counting

  • Rico J Suave’

    This song needs to be on the radio station
    Rico & Blitz “Drama”
    12,000 views and counting

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  • Dusty Ayres

    I tell you, I hope that the recent development of car audio systems that are nothing more than a hard-drive to store music from MP3’s will become more widespread then they are now, and kill commercial (North) American radio dead; it needs to die, and then one day start all over again with just a few stations run by people that really do give a care and are not just greedy bastards running radio for the profits and giving us nothing but ‘pop’ music. Maybe then we can get back great bands like The Tragically Hip on radio again here in Canada and the USA and less pop, music that means something.

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  • Skaz

    If a consulting firm says they can put my song on the mainstream radio for 1100$ Is it a scam?

    • tunecore

      Hi Skaz – We certainly cannot comment on that specifically, but like anything else in the music business, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Typically, if anything seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. In this case, while it may not be a total ‘scam’, it’s important that you find out exactly how they plan to accomplish this, where it’ll be played, and when. After all, what good is one spin on one FM station?

      If you haven’t already, consider allocating money toward indie and college radio promotion – you can do it yourself or hire independent firms at more reasonable costs who will actually run a campaign for you. We interviewed Nelson Wells about college and indie radio a little while back, check it out:

      Either way, good luck and thanks for reading!

  • AceDesigns

    Good info here… I’m living through this daily. I have an artist/partner that is trying to break in the game. The PAYOLA model is everywhere. It’s almost like the music is less important. I’ve traveled to shows payed DJ’s for mix show spins/ club dj’s… It all comes down to the leverage you have in terms of cash. Social media numbers nowadays are a must but they don’t guarantee a deal. My artists numbers need work… Check out th new video and follow @bigilmob “HYPERTENSION”

  • Jon Raven Visser

    Just produced this new rock band out of Nova Scotia, Canada. FrAIL – Debut Single “NiRd” (Nothing I’d Rather Do)

    Put this teaser video together to gain some interest for this great group of guys so when they are ready to launch they have some sort of traction. If you have time and like rock… please check it out! Thanks so much!