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  • Writer's pictureHelefonix Helen Meissner

Bang Your Drum #2- Feedback and Feels

Welcome to Part 2 of ‘Bang Your Drum’. Marketing for Musos.

"Your straight talking DIY guide to great PR"

If you've not read Part One, you might want to have a look as these posts are designed to build a coherent approach to doing your own pushing and plugging.

How to Amplify your Investment (of time and/or money)

Making the most of radio plays for independent artists.

This is what I've learnt from a standing start, and tips on what you can do and why you might do it a certain way, to get the best results.

Here’s the scenario I have here, and if this resonates, you might find some useful hints to help you. You’re an independent singer songwriter/music creator and you are releasing or thinking of releasing your own material. You’re really proud of your creations even if slightly nervous about putting them out there for all the world to hear/criticise.

You would love to hear it played on the radio and while you’ve heard of the national stations, and are aware that there’s lots of independent stations and specialist shows who might play your music, but you’re not sure how get played on them.

I think it's worth adding that if you’ve been releasing your own music for a while and have managed to secure some radio play, or perhaps delegated the task, there’s so much you can do which will make the most of each spin and reap rewards for your investment if you’re paying for some radio plugging.

Three important points to kick off with...

1. Don't be blinded to the opportunities the independent radio scene presents for your music. Please don’t judge a radio plays value by the station it’s played on. Obviously, we’re all after national radio play to satisfy our ego but in actual fact, and I speak from experience here, a one off ‘spot play ‘ on Radio 1, Radio 2 or 6 Music, for example (other national stations are available!) doesn’t usually lead anywhere on its own, in isolation.

Having said that, of course, if you do get a spin, that’s fantastic and your followers will be delighted that they are supporting someone who is clearly on the up, but don’t let that blind you to the joys of the independent community and internet radio shows which are prolific and extremely supportive of the new music scene.

2. Don’t judge a show based on the amount of listeners it looks like it has. It’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how many people are listening to the show when it’s broadcast. It’s what you do before, during and after the broadcast which will make all the difference.

3. Not all radio plays are equal. And I don’t just mean in terms of the listener rating for a particular station/show. I am talking about the outro or intro to your track.

You must have noticed, even on national radio, some presenters just say the name of the artist and track (if you’re lucky) and some will tell the listeners all about the artist in glowing terms with lovely quotable adjectives. Some will also read out from the artist biog. Some will even play you more than once. (And that is the holy grail, that is where you start to gain traction).

“Excellent points, I’ve been guilty of worrying about how big a show is. I remember Ange Hardy (folk singer) and Neil King (Fatea Magazine) at a workshop taking about how the audience of a national show might be doing the dishes or the school run, but the audience and community of a smaller show have sought it out and are invested in a different way. Your comments again made me think differently about things” Robert Lane

Of course, all of this begs the question :

“Was it even played... if there was no social media?“

I’ve often thought this about live gigs, if no one took photos, any video clips or shared anything on the socials, gigs can be quite a quiet affair, can slip by almost unnoticed. Certainly before Covid. Not least because many gigs for independent artists struggled to get support. We need to shout from the rooftops so people know what you’re up to and want to join in on your journey! This also helps you attract more bookings as it happens. Being active on your socials is an important consideration for promoters who want to have a decent turnout. This was pointed out to me by Sheree Gillcrist, Artistic Director at Neely G Ents

"This advice is so important for independent artists. Also as a venue owner and doing lots of artists promotion for the gigs and festivals we have had showcasing independent artists it should be said that the artists that actively promote their music will get the most bookings. It blows my mind the number that do not do this at all.

I think especially in the times we are in it is important to all of us to work together. If an artist gets a gig they should market themselves to the max and it’s that personal touch that draws you to them and then they show you who they are with their music and that is magic"

It’s the same for radio plays.

Please NOTE:

One of the least attractive qualities in an artist, from EVERYONE’S perspective – and I am talking about potential or in situ management, PR, radio show presenters, bloggers, reviewers – is when the artist appears to start believing their own PR.

Do you know what I mean here? Acting as if thanking people and being grateful for support is beneath you. Ignoring tweets they are tagged in. Only tweeting about the big radio plays rather than the independent radio shows (for example).

This applies to independent artists. The major label ‘signed scene’ is completely different and arguably, when you’ve got to that stage, you’ve got a team of hyped people spending your future highly anticipated earnings on marketing and strategy, which you are then obliged TO settle up before YOU get paid. No pressure then! But this is not about the majors.

This is about you releasing your own music and doing your best to make the most of your time and effort and any potential investment you make in developing a team around you.

I said at the top that I would provide my take on why you would proceed in a certain way.

Why you need to make an effort if you secure any support from a blog/radio play. Surely that work is done at that point?

Any support that you as an artist receive, is likely to be out of the kindness of the heart of the person supporting you. Even if someone is paid to promote you, the investment in time and commitment it takes to get your track on the radio is usually far in excess of the money you will be paying them.

Then there’s the person taking time to listen to the submitted track and select it for one of their shows or their station as a whole.

The majority of radio presenters are doing this for free. And even the ones who are being paid to present have a choice about who they play as demand for plays always exceeds air time to play them.

This is nothing to do with how good your music is. There’s a lot of great new music coming out every week. It never ceases to astonish me. And there simply isn’t enough time to have a life and also listen to all the new music. And then schedule it into a radio show. Hard decisions have to be made. At every stage. From which emails to open, to whether to give a helpful intro/outro to a track.

So that means you need to do things that will cultivate a desire to support you and your music.

What can you do to make them care? Someone asked me this recently – how do I do it? How do I make people care? And it really threw me. I’d never thought about it like that. But I think the answer (Martin Lumsden, Producer) is "to care about them first". Simple human connection. Personal engagement, being responsive. What will make a presenter put themselves out? To go above and beyond?

What will make them do this?

It’s quite simple, and I’ve seen it in practice time and time again.

It’s the personal engagement that you as an artist have with the show and the presenter. And the respect and responsiveness you demonstrate. It's a two way street.

As an overview it's things you can do to helping them with their goals - usually to get word out about their show and help them develop an engaged audience/larger following. (And if they are not fussed, you can bet their station managers are!!) Of course, generating an engaged, ever expanding following is most likely what you are after too. Good news then, your efforts will help you both.


By the way, these are things I've done without realising the impact. But having helped independent artists over the last decade and now myself as Helefonix, I have managed to drill down and identify what I have been doing.

Artists tweeting about shows they are being played on is one thing. Cupboard love is an accusation that could be levelled here I guess, only wanting someone when it’s in your interest, and it’s inevitable for this to be present to an extent. It is symbiotic, the presenter needs new music too. However, if you want to rise above everyone else being played/supported, be in contact with the presenter, tweet about the show, even when you’re not tagged in that particular show.

This is the sweet spot of self promotion and becomes a life enhancing experience for both parties, and gives you feedback and feels, and beats hands down the effects of someone else doing the plugging for you.

You might find this hard to believe, but some artists (shock horror) don’t even bother with the ‘cupboard love’ element. And so, that is where you need to start, if you’re new to this. DIY is where it’s at for so many artists now, so pay heed!!

It makes sense doesn’t it? It’s simple courtesy. We all know that artists need radio presenters and so listening in to the show might be seen as sucking up. But the presenters also need listeners and new music to share, so if someone is prepared to engaged and help to share their pride and joy, their radio hour or two on air, then it’s a complete win/win.

The relationship starts from the moment you discover this radio show. Or are introduced to it by your plugger. Either way, the first thing you do is follow them on all socials that you use.

Keep notes of plays, presenters, show times and stations who support you. It will be invaluable not only this campaign, but also for future ones. And for keeping in touch in between times.

So as a minimum, follow the presenter and station on twitter and facebook. And mixcloud if they put their recordings of show on there (very useful for post play sharing, and much appreciated). A quick scroll through their posts will reveal if they put their show online after broadcast. These are great as kind words/nice quotes about your music can be amplified yet again.

If you are using a plugger perhaps ask them to tweet you the various plays with all links/times, then you can retweet the tweet to announce the play, both as ‘with comment’ and a little while later ‘without comment’ (after you’ve done some other tweets or retweets).

This will alert the radio presenter that you know and will give you brownie points! It’s a two way street here. You will see the reactions of the presenters change dramatically if you use these tips.

Some presenters have spotify or soundcloud playlists which they curate, and again, you’ll see them in their twitter feed. Take the time to like their account/latest playlist.

There’s so much you can do to really develop a relationship with a presenter. I suppose the only limitation is your time. But what I’ve said above is a bare minimum as a rule when you find out you’ve got a play coming. Will share some more things you can do in detail in #3. Etiquette and Energy.


· Don’t dismiss community/local radio stations, they are valuable in so many ways and in some cases better than the nationals.

· Make a big effort not to ‘believe’ your own PR. It is necessarily an amplification of the best aspects of your craft and presentation. It is not an excuse to disregard or disrespect people and opportunities beneath you. Many of whom may have helped you on the way up.

· Take care to amplify every radio play you get, before during and after.

· Make an effort to engage with the presenters, not only when they are playing your track. They are an important part of your journey.

· Follow presenters' socials and mixcloud and help them get word out about their show. It’s a two way street. Simple manners are important. Just because you can’t see them, don’t think they don’t care or notice!


If you've not done so already, make a note of the shows you've been played on and the presenters and follow them on as many socials as you can manage.

While you're there, retweet or like some of their posts to remind them you exist.

This is great especially if you've not a release imminent.

My next post (#3) is here, and it's about the WHERE - where to find these radio shows and presenters/blogs, where to FIND YOUR TRIBE and the HOW in detail, how to make the most of your promotional gold dust radio plays before, during and after the exposure on twitter.

Thanks for being here. I hope it’s helping? Would be very interested to hear any feedback. Because that feedback gives me ‘feels’!! and as we’ve established without feedback it’s a very lonely world.

Not least because we’re limited in our social physical interactions now!!

It’s also helpful to know which parts are resonating as that will influence what I write about in future posts. Please email me anytime and come and find me on twitter or facebook or instagram (I’m not so good at insta but trying to make the time to create the square images and short videos....)

Til next time then x

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