Unsigned Musician? Stop Wasting Money On Radio Pluggers

Updated: Feb 1

After working with unsigned artists for over 10 years it's easy to conclude that radio is not an effective or cost efficient way to promote unsigned artists. In this article we explain why

Reach & Frequency

Effective advertising is set up to deliver reach & frequency (lots of people, lots of times). This simple formula drives awareness, interest and ultimately sales. It's the reason brand advertising follows you around the Internet, and the reason you see that TV ad over and over again.

As a musician, your song on the radio is your advert, and for your advert to be effective you want lots of people to hear it, lots of times. But herein lies the problem, as an unsigned artist you can't get on daytime radio playlists. The best you can realistically hope for is a one off spot play.

Why is this? Radio station playlists are dominated by signed major label artists for a reason. They want the largest possible audience so they can command the highest possible advertising rates. Afterall, more people will tune in to hear Beyonce than an unknown, and unsigned artist.

Understanding Radio Reach

At face value radio remains a powerful medium. Across the UK (all) radio reaches 89% of the total available population, all commercial radio reach reaches 66% and BBC Radio 2 reaches 26%. The adoption of smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home has also had a positive impact with online listening increasing by 1/5 year on year. (These numbers are reported and calculated by Rajar and are accurate to the period ending March 2020).

Set against this backdrop it's very easy to see why radio remains a central part of record label marketing plan. If you can get your artist on the A-List playlist of a station like Radio One or Capital you are guaranteed radio plays across the daytime and evening schedule for weeks, months or even years! Now you have reach and frequency. (lots of plays, lots of listeners lots of times).

Comparing Key National Station Performance

Station Name: BBC Radio One

Reach 8.9m

Reach Percent 16%

Av Hours Per Head 1.0

Av Hours Per Listener 6.2

Listening Share in TSA % 5.6%

Station Name: BBC Radio Two

Reach 14.3m

Reach Percent 26%

Av Hours Per Head 2.9

Av Hours Per Listener 11.2