How to get your song played on radio in Canada

Many independent artists are still struggling to grasp the importance of promoting music online. They also struggle to build momentum on Apple Music, Spotify, and other streaming services and book their shows.

Although it’s an area in the music industry more controlled by gatekeepers such as big record labels and radio station music directors, it can be used to promote independent artists.

Fit your music into a format.

I am a music producer/songwriter who has helped independent artists navigate the radio in Canada. Some of these artists have even cracked the top 40 on several radio formats. Canadians and songwriters must compose 35% of the music that is played on radio in Canada (this includes peak hours between 6 am and 6:30 pm). It is a great asset for any Canadian artist who wants to promote their song on radio stations.

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You must understand the various musical formats and what artists are playing on them. Your campaign will be based on how well your music fits into the multiple formats.

The radio formats available in Canada can be divided into four categories: Pop (which includes top 40, Hot Adult Contemporary, and Adult Contemporary), Rock (which also includes Active Rock and Alternative), Country (including CBC and College Radio), and Non-commercial (such as CBC).

The Weekend, Dua Lipa, and Ariana Grand are all core pop radio artists. The Black Keys are rock radio’s core artists, as well as Metric, Arkells, and The Pretty Reckless. Country radio’s core artists include Luke Bryan, Dallas Smith, Eric Church, Sam Hunt, and other contemporary pop country artists.

Non-commercial radio has a more diverse style and plays a variety of music genres, including indie rock and hip-hop, as well as electronic and experimental.

Select the right song.

It is crucial to have the right song when approaching radio once you’ve determined if your music will fit into any of the main radio formats. Radio is very picky when it comes to what they play, and production and songwriting must be up-to-date and catchy to compete in the current market (especially for commercial formats).

The next step would be to consider hiring a radio tracker if you believe your songs can fit in one of the main radio formats. Small labels and independent artists need to hire radio promotion specialists to promote their songs. While big labels will have departments to promote their songs on the radio, smaller labels or independent artists may not.

Your music will gain momentum if you do this.

Artists who are considering hiring a tracker for their radio songs must first gain momentum in other parts of the music business. Make sure that you have a growing and solid fan base online. Radio station music directors consider a number of factors when selecting songs. These include Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc., good streaming numbers for previous releases, and a growing live fanbase.

You can use Onesheet for radio on your website as a guide for your radio promotion. Radio station music directors consider a number of factors before deciding which songs to include on their playlists, even if your song sounds great.

It is a waste of money and time to work on a song for radio early in your career. The cost of a typical radio campaign in Canada ranges from $2,000 to $8,000 per song, depending on the format and who you approach.

Consider a radio tracker.

If you’ve started building an active fanbase and gained momentum through social media, streaming, or other means, now might be the right time to approach a radio tracker. Several independent radio promotors in Canada will promote your song on the radio and work to add it to the radio station’s playlist.

Tandem Tracks is one of the best radio promotion companies in Canada.

It is often a good idea for you to have two or three songs prepared to play to a radio tracker if they would like to hear some options for a possible single. If they choose to play one of your songs on the radio, there are several ways they can do this.

Programs for emerging artists

Radio trackers can also submit songs to emerging artist programs. Bell Media stations, for example, have a monthly program called Future Star, where they listen to songs from up-and-coming artists. Stations vote for their favorite music, and the winning one is added to Bell Media radio stations across Canada in medium rotation for a full month. Virgin Radio stations in the pop format, for instance, would add your song to their Future Star Program playlists.

It is the best way to establish yourself as a radio artist. Winning a program for emerging artists will help your song reach the top 40 of a certain format. The emerging artist program can also help you to service more songs in the future, as it helps to build some recognition among radio station music directors.

Radio is a valuable tool for artists.

Radio can be an effective tool for exposing emerging artists, even though the entry barriers can be daunting for some due to the costs, high-level song production, and the need for career momentum. A top 40 or 30 chart position on a major radio format can help you get noticed by record labels and Apple Music playlist curators.

Music radio is listened to by millions of Canadians every week. This can increase sales, streams, and concert ticket sales. Although the cost to promote a song on radio can be prohibitive, there is a funding grant for Canadian artists that helps cover marketing and radio promotion.

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