By Jason Didner
So you’ve recorded an album, and EP or a single that you can’t wait to share with the families of the world. You’re getting the word out in social media, giving dazzling live performances, and your offerings are available on iTunes and Amazon, along with thousands of other musical recordings. Now, how do you make your music more than a listing on a page? One of hundreds of play buttons a user might or might not be inclined to click?
This is where radio can help.
With continuing developments of the Internet and satellite radio, there are now stations for every genre imaginable, including “kindie” – aka music for children and their families. And even within the kindie world, families can listen to anything from large commercial enterprises whose program managers happen to love our low-budget, high-spirited creations, to home-based Internet stations created and run by the very kids who grew up on this music. In some cases, it’s a station that plays kindie 24-7. In others, it’s a family hour on a college radio station that will be playing industrial post-punk in the following hour.
Fortunately, the kindie radio world is always hungry for new music; it isn’t beholden to a 40-song playlist calculated by consultants to drive ratings and advertising dollars. It’s probably worth your while to submit your musical releases to numerous kindie radio outlets using some practical, common sense principles to guide you.
Find and listen to the stations you’d like to submit to.
By using social networking with your children’s music colleagues, you’ll find children’s radio stations’ Facebook and Twitter pages. You might also check the “Links” page on the website of a like-minded kindie artist. This is a great deal more reliable than the search engine results I’ve found, when searching for “kindie radio” or “children’s music radio.” When you find some stations that interest you, go ahead and click “Play.” Get a feel for whether your music will flow in the playlist with what you’re hearing. Are the songs geared toward gross-out humor while you’re singing about gentle drops of rain on flowers? Is it the opposite? How do you feel about your songs being included among the ones you’re hearing?
Prepare a “one-sheet” to send with your submission.
A “one-sheet” is a one-page information sheet that uses artwork and text to make a first impression on a radio program manager who has dozens, if not hundreds, of new submissions a day to decide whether to even listen to, let alone play on his/her program. A well-crafted one-sheet has images that visualize elements of your song or album and a brief paragraph to describe what the music sounds like and what lessons the song teaches.
Here’s the one-sheet I created from our cover artwork to send to radio program managers. You can find it at www.JungleGymJam on the Press page.
Read the station’s submission guidelines carefully and follow them.
Some program managers like getting MP3’s emailed to them. Others prefer physical CD’s in the mail. If you want to start your relationship with the program managers on a positive note, look for submission guidelines. You may find this on a station’s “Contact Us” page. Some stations require you to fill out a release form or state which performance rights organizations (PRO’s) you belong to (ex.: ASCAP, BMI or SESAC). Make sure you include any specially requested forms or information in your submission. Program managers generally don’t have time to follow-up with you on missing information. They’re more likely to move along to the next submission if yours is incomplete.
Offer more than your tracks.
There are plenty of ways you can add value to a kindie radio station beyond just submitting your songs. You can place a link from your site to the station and mention the station in your e-mail newsletters. You can follow the station on Twitter and re‑tweet their tweets if you believe your audience would find them interesting. Encourage your existing following to listen to the station and request your music. Make the case for radio as a welcome change-of-pace from the TV as family-time entertainment. Whereas watching TV is generally sedentary, listening to radio usually occurs while you’re doing things – dancing, playing, cleaning or doing crafts.
Another simple thing you can do that carries a lot of meaning for the kindie station is a station ID clip. Record something like “Hey, this is Jason from the Jungle Gym Jam and you’re listening to Goober Kids Radio.” This adds sonic interest to the radio program because now the listener can hear other voices aside from the host. It also creates a more immediate relationship between you and the listener.
If the station does public service announcements (PSA’s), you could offer to record yourself reading a PSA they could use on the air.
If a station tends to have in-depth interviews as part of its format, how do you feel about being interviewed? Offering to be available for an interview or exclusive performance (either in-studio or remote/pre-recorded) is a constructive way to show a broadcaster your desire to add value. It’s also a great way to give the listeners a reason to be interested in you and click “Play” when your song’s page comes up.
Maintain your relationship with the broadcaster – tactfully.
Some of the radio web sites I’ve come across state specifically in their submission guidelines that they don’t promise to contact you with an answer as to whether they will play your music. While you want to remain a presence in a broadcaster’s mind, you will damage the relationship if you e-mail a broadcaster to ask her if she’s playing your songs. A better way to stay in mind is to continue listening to the show and participate with the ongoing social interactions – “Wow, that was a great interview,” or “I really like the way you interacted with that 7-year-old caller.” If you like the broadcast, keep the interactions positive and honest. If you don’t like the broadcast, move on to another one.
We kindie artists, radio hosts, and program managers all want to see the genre continue to develop and thrive. We want more parents to discover this lively, creative music for their kids. We’re all in this together. If you can maintain that attitude with broadcasters who believe in this kind of music, you’ll get the boost from airplay you’re hoping to see.
Jason Didner headlines the band Jungle Gym Jam. We’ve been enjoying his recent blog pieces on the children’s music biz!