How to get radio airplay for your music in the UK

Radio airplay is not only excellent publicity for any band or artist, but it also introduces your music to new audiences and can play a huge part in breaking you through to the next level.

The Unsigned Guide UK music industry directory has put together some tips on how you can start the ball rolling with getting radio airplay for your music…

Start small & local

National radio play doesn’t tend to come about until you’ve made your mark on local or regional radio stations. So start there! You’ll no doubt already be aware of radio stations broadcasting in your area so find out if they air any shows playing music from local emerging acts and if so, who to send it to.

Once you’ve identified some local radio shows to target with your songs, take time to tune in or listen back to the program to make sure your music will fit in.

Building a good relationship with a local DJ who is keen to champion upcoming bands from the area is very worthwhile. Once you’re on their radar (and assuming they like your music, of course!) it is likely they will be keen to show ongoing support by playing new releases, plus there could be opportunities for studio interviews or live sessions as well.

It’s fine to follow up after sending your music to a DJ or show, but leave it a reasonable amount of time, usually 2-3 weeks. Remember, presenters and producers will have loads of submissions they need to listen to, so allow a little time before following up politely.

Don’t forget, The Unsigned Guide directory can also help you find radio stations that will play tracks by upcoming artists. Our Radio Stations section of the directory features only stations & shows that will allow you to submit music to them, with details of the programmes they air which offer coverage to new and emerging music, when the shows are broadcast, plus names and contact details for who you should send your music to; whether that be the presenter, programme producer or the station’s Head of Music.

Targeting unsigned stations, shows & DJs

Another key element you need to think about if you want to get played on the radio is targeting specific shows, stations and DJs who champion new and emerging acts. There are several UK radio stations and shows dedicated solely to unsigned and under the radar music that you should definitely be tapping into.

BBC Introducing is a great way to get airplay on your regional BBC station, just upload your song to their website and you’ll receive a confirmation email when it has been listened to. Regional BBC Introducing DJs also recommend great local bands and artists to the national DJs and producers, so if you can make an impression on a local level, you may eventually end up being played nationally on BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra or 6Music.

Gareth Fletcher, who has worked as a producer on the Introducing show on BBC Lancashire for many years, explains what he looks for in a track when choosing the playlist:

There are a couple of different elements to it really and this is only my take on it – I can’t speak for other shows. Technically the track needs to be of a good enough standard to be broadcast on air. This doesn’t mean it has to be perfect, it can be a little raw around the edges but it needs to be up to a certain standard which shouldn’t be a problem with the equipment available to record at home. Secondly, we listen to see if there is something about the track – a great hook, catchy lyrics, a different slant on things. Basically, something that makes us take note of the track and makes it stand out a little. Sometimes you don’t know what that is, but the track just has something about it.”

Amazing Radio is also entirely devoted to unsigned and undiscovered music so submit your music via their website to be in with a chance of having your song played on air.

Also look out for specialist stations, programmes or podcasts that may suit your genre and get in touch with them too for a good chance of airplay.

What to send to radio stations

Whilst there are some radio shows that will play rough demos on air and offer their feedback, these are few and far between. Generally, you need to send radio stations a finished version of your track and it needs to be a decent quality recording.

Swearing and explicit content usually won’t go down well, especially if it’s a daytime show, so make sure you send a radio edit i.e. a version of your song that’s radio-friendly with any swears etc removed.

Whilst you don’t need to accompany your track with loads of unnecessary additional extras, some brief info will help a DJ get an idea of your background, plus provide them with some info to work with when they introduce your track on air. So, if you have a press release or EPK you can link to, then send those too.

Also, be sure to highlight other stations that have played your tracks, and for local shows, it’s worth giving them details of any upcoming gigs you have in the area that they may be able to plug on air.

Radio pluggers

If you’ve already made an impact on a local level, have a release coming up and a budget to spend on promotion, then you can always consider investing in the services of a radio plugger to get you further exposure. The role of a plugger is essentially to help labels, artists and bands get played on the radio.

Typically used by record labels to get new releases onto radio playlists, a radio plugger can also be employed directly by bands and musicians to get your track onto national, regional and specialist shows through their established contacts. Their relationships with DJs and radio producers can help shift your music into the mainstream and working with a radio plugger can open doors that you would not be able to alone.

Whilst the decision of a radio station to play your music will always come down to the quality of the song, a track put forward by a reputable radio plugger will be far more likely to get their attention in the first place.

The Music PR/Pluggers section of The Unsigned Guide directory lists contact details of experienced radio pluggers who you can approach.


Get your money!

Don’t forget, you are due royalties for radio airplay that you receive. If you’re a member of the PRS there’s more info on the rates here. And if you’re not already a member, be sure to sign up so they can collect the royalties that are owed to you on your behalf. PRS currently offer a reduced membership rate for songwriters aged under 25 years.


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The Unsigned Guide is a UK music industry directory aimed at emerging, independent bands & artists who are keen to progress their music careers. Search contacts covering 50 areas of the music business; from record labels, radio stations, booking agents, festivals to gig venues & promoters, new music blogs, studios, producers & more.