How to get played on College Radio

We get questions from artists all the time about servicing college radio. The media landscape is a tricky one, and for many artists - especially those who operate independently of a major label - connecting with the college radio community is the key to success. Freeform, student-run media has historically carried enormous significance to groundbreaking new artists, shaping the taste of alternative, and paving the way for what bubbles up into the mainstream. As a musician, reaching the college market might be confusing, so we at RadioFX put together a few tips to help you figure out the best ways to get your music to right ears.

Do Your Research!
When sending your music to stations, make sure you are sending it to the right person. Doing some research will help you locate the email/address of the school’s Music Director. Some stations have specialty MDs that focus on a unique genre, while others have one or two that handle everything. Also, keep in mind college radio isn’t limited to one format. Most college stations operate under a Free Form format. This means that each DJ has complete control over what they play. This freedom is what has made college radio so significant throughout history, since students get to spin whatever music they like, without pressure to play what is already popular. There are a number of student-run stations that feature only one genre of music, or that adhere to a Top 40 format - so make sure you reach out to stations that make sense for your style of music.

Adhere To Submission Request
If you’re going to go about promoting your record solo, there are a few rules to follow when sending your music to MDs. While researching, check and see if the school prefers physical or digital submissions. If a school prefers digital (which is usually the case), email the appropriate person a download link to your album. Whatever you do, don’t send links to streaming sites. It’s nothing to take personally, it’s simply a matter of limited time. But, if a MD has to go through any effort to download your music, no matter how good it is, you will go unheard. If you want stations to play your music, make sure you send easy to download links. Downloads should be high-quality (absolutely no less than 128 kb/s), and preferably mp3 format (though some schools prefer FLAC). If a station prefers physical copies of music, it probably also specifies on their website how they would like it sent, and often, it’s with a digital link to the music as well.

While Music Director at WSUM, I came across the whole spectrum of music submissions. We received everything from huge releases from major labels, to strange tapes from local friends, and everything in-between. I also was flooded with hundreds of albums to listen to each week, and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to give each album its worthy time. This means, unfortunately, some records went by the wayside. When determining which music I would give my full attention, there were a number of considerations. The first, is if it came from a record promoter I knew. Below, find a list of promoters that we worked with and that have a reputable relationship with hundreds of college stations across the country. If you’re looking to get your record serviced to college radio, and have a little bit of a budget, I’d highly recommend using any of these affordable services to make sure your music gets to the right ears efficiently and through the hands of trusted, tasteful agencies.

It can be a difficult and confusing challenge trying to get college radio airplay. If you have any further questions, reach out to me (izzy(at)radiofxinc(dot)com) and I’d be happy to address any more of your concerns. RadioFX also has services that can help you promote your record to college radio in ways that have never before been possible to indie artists with our SmartAd technology, and strong relationships with our partner student-run stations. We can help you figure out which schools are already spinning your records and get you helpful information that can help you figure out where you should book your next tour, where to concentrate your promotion efforts, etc. Please reach out if you are at all interested in learning more about how we can help you share your music with the world of college radio!