Originally Posted by Derek Sivers
Sorry - I hadn't heard of them.
I do know that every artist I've spoken to that spent any money on radio promotion in the last 10 years has regretted it.
I personally don't regret it.
The group I play in (Invert, a cross genre string quartet) had been approached by one that specializes in AAA ("Adult Album Alternative") stations after we put out our second CD, as he had heard it and thought it could actually work well with the stations he works with, but at that time we didn't think it was the right time to pursue it - but we took him up on his offer for our new 3rd CD ("The Strange Parade").
Basically the way it worked is he provided mailing labels for the music directors to 170 specifically targeted radio stations in the USA & Canada & a few in Europe (mainly FM, but a few that were satellite & internet based), helped us put together a "one sheet" (which summarizes the release in an industry standard template) that had his companies letterhead, and then we ourselves took care of the packaging and mailing the CD's out to the stations.
After that the promoter did follow up calls and emails to all the stations and provided us with weekly updates on what stations added it, how many plays we received, and any other feedback (such as comments by music directors and DJ's, and listing of venues that might be good for us to play at in the area of stations that were giving us plays).
It was a 3 month campaign - the cost was about $200 for the mailing (packaging and postage), and $1000 a month to the promoter. Basically what you're paying for is the fact that the promoter knows what stations are going to actually be good places to target, and for his inside connection to the music directors there, who know what he sends won't be a waste of their time. In other words - the packages sent in with his letterhead get opened and the included CD's listened to, and his phone calls get taken.
We ended up getting added to the rotations of about 50 radio stations, were invited to do a "live in the studio" recording for one of the radio stations which we'll be broadcast later this month, received interest from a couple of other places for gigs, and can trace a number of online CD sales to the broadcasts. So - financially it hasn't completely paid the cost back yet - but overall I think it was a really good thing for us to do in terms of getting the CD actually heard and building some inroads towards doing more successful touring and getting ourselves better known.
It was nice for me to see that there was a decent number of independent radio stations still left that actually take risks in their programming as well.