I think that every artist that ever wrote a song hopes that somebody will listen and hear that song. But when those songs are first created, there is no audience at all, only the songwriter. So if you're trying to build an audience, you're gonna need to reach as many people as possible as often as possible, and that's called frequency. Traditionally, commercial radio has been the source of that audience reach and frequency. Commercial radio is still the big kahuna of getting your music heard.
Commercial radio stations come in all kinds of different formats, from pop to country to hiphop to rock. The major radio stations in large markets offer tons of reach. A single play can reach hundreds of thousands of listeners in a heartbeat. Many of those stations are owned by large radio chains that own multiple stations in many different cities and in multiple formats. Most of those stations have a very tight playlist with a small number of songs being played in regular rotation.
So the competition for that limited supply of slots is very very intense. Because of that, commercial radio has long been the domain of the major record labels who have the money, the staff, the relationships and the expertise to play the radio game. For most indie artists, getting played in regular rotation on a commercial radio station is a long shot at best without a great song and the money to hire independent radio promoters to pitch it to radio stations.
So if you can't get on commercial radio, there are still options at public radio stations and college radio. But to be fair, in most cases, they have nowhere near the reach of those commercial stations. But the good news is, in today's music business, there are all kinds of new ways to hear music beyond traditional radio. You've got satellite radio like SiriusXM, which has hundreds of channels in almost every genre of music. Instead of being heard in a single market, it plays to a national market.
Its demographics run very wide. I'm a huge fan of satellite radio. There are all kinds of online radio stations as well, including in many cases, streaming versions of your favorite regular commercial radio stations. In addition, you've got your web channels like Pandora, Deezer, Slacker, Last.fm as well as streaming services like Spotify. And the good news for indie artists is that it's easier for you to get your music on those outlets, through digital distributors like TuneCore, INgrooves or The Orchard, just to name a few.
While lots of things have changed in this music business, getting airplay is still one of the most powerful drivers of interest in sales so you'll wanna make that happen.