Recently, I had lunch with Emily Higgins. Emily is the producer and host of the delightful music show “The Mulberry Tree” on the NPR affiliate KSMU 91.1 in the Ozarks. And a lovely musician, too. I asked her about sending music to radio show producers like her. And she had a lot of great suggestions. Here are my reflections from that conversation…
Find people who’s job/hobby/passion it is to share music.
And make their job as easy as possible.
Radio producers, blogs, podcasts, media, etc…
Also, look at the Folk Alliance Website or other trade organizations’ websites for a list of folk music DJs.
Put your track runtimes on the CD case.
Producers need to know exactly how long songs are when they are putting a show together. Or else they have to load up your CD to see how long a track is. When they have a big stack of CDs, every little way that you can make a producer’s job easier will help your music get played.
In your CD package, include a card with a few song suggestions.
Tell the producers what your strong songs are. They’re not going to listen to a whole album unless they like what they’ve heard so far. Help them out. Also, on the card include a short description of the songs. i.e. “Moderate paced ballad” etc. Think of a producer putting together a mix-tape of songs they may not have heard: “what kind of song would fit here?”
Include a list of who’s playing what in your liner notes.
It gives the producer a chance to give a shout-out for a well-played part. And it never hurts to share the credit with the musicians who helped you put your project together.
Include a short story of the musical process.
Tell about the musical experience as a whole, but keep it brief. What went into making this project? Include the musicians and/or community who helped. You want a producer to think to theirself, “Oh, I bet this’ll be good!”
Coordinate radio-play opportunities with events: Think ahead.
Emily produces out her show at least six weeks in advance.
If you have a particular event, or album release that you’d like to highlight, try to time radio-play opportunities with your event. But you have to think ahead!
If your CD packaging won’t be ready six weeks (or whenever) before, it’s okay to send a producer a link with your music and some kind of note: “…and here are three songs that I’d suggest [with descriptions]. I’ll send you a physical package, later.”
Register your music copyright on copyright.gov
The minute you create a work, it is copyrighted, but registering it will give you much greater legal protection. Also, there’s no such thing as a “poor man’s” copyright. i.e. mailing it to yourself.
It costs $35-65 per item to register and takes 5-15 months to be processed, so don’t mess around. You can also copyright whole works, but you’ll need to look into which is right for you.
Include copyright info in your liner notes. (Even if you’ve started, but not completed the process.)
If you’re still in production, invite the community into the process.
You don’t have to show them everything, but little bits of information, short video, photographs will pull people into your world and process. Facebook, Instagram, a blog, etc. Maybe even ask the community for ideas on a song. They’ll feel a part of your project and want to follow along on its development. It’ll get folks talking. Plus, it will make your songs better.
Other people/places to check for advice:
Someone who’s recently made and released album. Especially an album that you dig.
CD Baby’s DIY Musician Blog.
“The right format for the occasion: Submitting your music to blogs, radio, festivals, venues, labels, and licensing agencies”
And another: David Wimble’s article on how to contact music sites. )
Thanks to Emily Higgins for her thoughts as a producer and host.
And thanks for reading,
Emily Higgins recently released “91 Acres”, an album of songs inspired by an Ozarks farm.
Emily’s show, “The Mulberry Tree”, airs every Sunday evening 9/CT.