When starting out in the music industry, you have a very important role when it comes to promoting yourself. The best way for many artists to get some exposure – local or otherwise – is to use the radio. It’s a source of constant promotion that allows you to get spotted and heard in a way that simple would not have been possible otherwise.

However, one of the most challenging aspects of your planning and preparation is likely to come from finding what type of radio station you should be looking into.

Radio comes in many shapes and forms, and the kind of output that a radio station provides is variable. From going with a small and local radio station to going for something a bit larger, it helps to know what kind of radio station is best for you.

The first thing to take into account when it comes to deciding what kind of radio to try out for is going to come from your own reputation. If you are just starting out, then it obviously makes sense to stick to a more local radio station. If you are looking to branch out, then you might want up your ambitions a little bit with regards to what type of radio station is best for you.

Knowing where to start is an important element in positive transformation in the years to come. Let’s take a look at the various forms of radio available.

College Radio

One of the most common forms of radio to go with, college radio is good for independent hip-hop artists starting out. The main reason why is because the demographic that goes to college is more likely to be into the kind of music that you are creating.

They are more likely to be the ones to go to an independent music event locally, too, and are the type to spread the word when it comes to college radio, also. For that reason, many people can greatly benefit from turning to a college radio station first.



However, beware the fact that college radios might be free but they also tend to be limited. You only get one play per day most of the time, and you are reliant on the students then promoting you.

This does not go outside of the college itself so you have to hope that the people who hear it can then be pro-active enough to go and tell friends and family about the music that they hear.

Otherwise, college radio is worthless to you. If you can get yourself playing in local colleges, though, you tend to run the chance of improving your local reputation with the younger generations. It’s a good way to get some exposure because people tend to be more positive about local people doing well.

Get yourself on college radio for free, and the potential exposure it provides can be very beneficial for your long-term aspirations.

Commercial Radio

Another great choice to go for is commercial radio – the most common form of radio. However, the pros and cons of going with such a radio station can be quite easy to spot. For one, the benefits are obvious – commercial radio can make you a nice living playing your songs on royalties.

It also allows for a huge audience – national, sometimes even global – to be picked up on and enjoyed by as many people as possible. In terms of exposure, no other form of radio is going to give you the same kind of expansion potential as commercial radio can.

However, commercial radio is hard to get into. Without a large reputation and already seeing a lot of positive press and regular hype, you are not likely to get too far with regards to how you come across. Commercial radios are not charities and have no obligation to play your tracks.

If they feel like your stuff isn’t good enough or that you lack the pull and audience to be worth playing, then good luck getting spotted in the first place.

Don’t be surprised if commercial radios expect some kind of deal or even flat-out payment if they wanted to get you on their radio channel. Without a reputation or a large following to point to, it can be hard to even get a reply from a commercial radio station. The most lucrative of radio stations are also the ones that are hardest to get onto, so don’t expect much.

Internet Radio

Internet radio is probably the best bet for a happy medium between the two above. Internet radio is more specific and can pick up a very organized demographic.

For example, internet radio more evenly breaks down into genre and areas so you could easily find a hip-hop centric location for independents within your city or state. This allows for a good level of exposure that is local enough but also large enough to be worth your time, as well as being a realistic shout.

Also, internet radio is a good one for pointing back to. If you get appearances on shows online then you can, sooner or later, begin to make a positive case about your hip-hop career as a whole. It’s about as good a look as you are likely to get as a young and aspiring artist, so making the most of that is vital.

Internet radio means putting yourself out there, but the audiences are higher and the overall volume of potential that you can get from the exposure is greater, too. Most of the time it’s also free to get on if you have a good enough following, so it can be a good place to start with.

All three of the above options are a good pick to go for if you want reliable and friendly levels of exposure that you can make the most of. Start off right away by looking into college radios, build up to internet radio, and then push for commercial airing – it’s the only way to make radio promo work as an independent hip-hop artist.

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Written by Hao Nguyen
Stop The Breaks is an independent music marketing company focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists. Our goal is to help motivate, inspire and educate independent artists grinding around the world. We provide branding, content marketing, social media, SEO and music promotion services.