10 things to check when choosing a (digital) radio promotion partner

Choosing the right radio promoter

The internet has come a long way since it's inception. It has changed the way the world works in profound ways and has changed many industries. This can also be seen in every corner of the music industry, from digital music distribution to how musicians promote their music. Radio promotion and getting airplay for your music are no exception to this.

With more and more musicians looking for digital promo for their music and new ways to stand out from the crowd, we find it important to give artists and labels information on how you can spot good and great services, while avoiding the shady and bad ones. Some pointers can be applied to businesses in general, others to the music biz, and other specifically to digital radio promo companies.

There are a lot of radio promo services out there. Since the founding of iPluggers in 2010 we have seen radio promo companies come and go, some are shady, some offer a specific niche service, others offer a broad scale of services. Too often we hear from clients that they used other radio promo companies before and that they were not satisfied with the results and some even feel duped. We want artists and labels to avoid making bad decisions when hiring a radio promoter.

The pointers below are drawn from decades of experience in the music industry (including those before founding iPluggers). We hope you find these tips useful to guide you along your way to success, safely and avoiding the shady businesses out there. 

1. Do radio stations want to receive promo from that radio promoter?

A lot of promo companies have collected a list with general email addresses from radio stations and just do an unsolicited email blast to them. This is a big no-go. Radio promotion and certainly digital radio promotion does not work this way.

Do you want to pay a radio promoter to send unsolicited spammy emails on your behalf with your music?
As can be expected, the success percentage for this way of working is low, extremely low.

How iPluggers does digital radio promo

We here at iPluggers do not just e-mail blast random radio stations: radio stations have signed up for an account with us, indicating which genres of music they want to receive. We send out light-weight e-mail notifications directly to the right inbox, where music directors, music programmers and DJs are eagerly awaiting new additions for their playlist.

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2. Is the radio promoter doing a targeted approach?

A lot of radio promotion companies just send out a release to their contacts (or unsolicited contacts) without even knowing who they are offering your music to and if they are offering your music to the stations that are playing that genre of music.
They just send a Pop release to a Jazz station because that station was listed in their email list. This is wrong and is a waste of time and resources.

You also have the promo services that cater to everyone: press, bloggers, record labels, influencers. They have 100.000+ of contacts to promote your music to, but how much of these contacts are actually radio stations? An unsolicited generic email blasts with generic content to 'everyone' somehow related to the music industry is ineffective: a targeted approach is king.

How iPluggers effectively targets the right radio stations in the right way

Here at iPluggers we focus solely on radio stations and airplay (35.000 radio stations and counting). This means our approach is optimized for the radio industry. We know how radio stations want to see new music being offered and we provide playlist makers and music departments with the right information in the right way.

Part of this are press kits. Every artist and label we promote has their own online press kit / profile page where all relevant info can be found and where songs can be downloaded by radio stations. Artists and labels can build and update their profile pages directly from their interface.

Next to this, we approach radio promotion genre-based. Our connected radio stations have indicated which genres of music they want to receive at signup. We promote music to radio stations in 22 main genres and radio stations can search our release database on 220 sub genres.

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3. Do they make a selection of what they promote, or do they take on everything?

A lot of radio promo companies simply promote every release that is offered to them, just to make money.
There is no control on quality or even if a release has a chance of making it onto playlists.

These type of companies are in it for grabbing as much money as they can, without love and dedication for the music they promote. This type of approach is reckless and hurts the results of their radio promo campaigns.

It's important to know for what kind of artists and labels your radio promo company is working. A bad catalog of music will have it's impact on your radio promotion and release. A radio station that continues to receive bad releases from the same radio promoter every time, will stop listening to new releases from that radio promoter. 

How iPluggers approaches quality control

We have a strict A&R policy. This is one of the reasons our promo is so efficient. We refuse approx. 60% of all releases that are submitted to us. Our network knows that music from iPluggers is high in quality and that releases we offer for airplay are worthy of a spot on their playlist.

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4. Are they experienced enough?

This is a big one.

Of course, every company, service and career has to start 'somewhere'. But, do you really want to have someone inexperienced promoting your music? Radio promotion is a tough, competitive business not for the faint-of-heart and you need a radio promoter with the experience, knowledge, skill and grit to get your music onto those playlists. If they don't have what it takes, you're better off not wasting your money with them.

So ask yourself: 'do I know what experience this radio promoter has?'. How long have they worked in the music industry? What did they do before becoming a radio promoter?

A lot of industry moguls also have or had their own careers as artist. Did your radio promoter achieve success for his own career or for others?

If you cannot find this info publicly, ask.

iPluggers: history and background

iPluggers was founded in 2010 by Marvin Kuijs and Cherine Blankevoort.

iPluggers uses its own dedicated digital radio promotion system to serve over 35.000 radio stations worldwide with quality music for airplay. Since it's inception 10 years ago, the iPluggers system is structurally being been extended- and improved upon.

Marvin Kuijs started his own record label at age 17, did freelance A&R work for several record companies, worked as a traditional radio promoter for 6 years and scored 3 top-40 hits as DJ. His first single became a top-10 hit. The song was signed in 12 countries and climbed in the Dutch, German and Belgium charts.

Currently he's owner of Free Music Publishing and Head of A&R at iPluggers. He works on a daily basis with labels and artists such as The Orchard, Sony Music, Universal, Roton, Pitbull, Snoop Dogg, Inna, Shaggy, Alexandra Stan, Mario Winans and many others.

Beside his activities for both companies, he also makes remixes and writes songs for films and commercials. He produced official EDM tracks for- and had featurings with a.o. Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, Jamala (Eurovision winner 2016), Shaggy and Janet Jackson.

Cherine Blankevoort worked as a Managing Director for an international institute for education and has over 15 years of management experience. She has an extensive portfolio as a (ghost)writer of online and offline publications (book, articles, journals and online blog posts).

Currently she's active as concept creator (she's the architect behind several online platforms) and is Head of Development at iPluggers.

For iPluggers she oversees the day-to-day of all departments and is personally involved with the technical development and growth of the iPluggers infrastructure.

More info about our staff can be found here: https://ipluggers.com/staff

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5. Have they worked for “heavy” artists and labels?

Has the radio promoter worked for established artists or major labels?

Radio promotion companies that work with major artists and plug for major labels have credibility. Working with a company that works for the majors will benefit your image and promotion.

But, be careful when you check this!
A lot of music industry companies claim they work for the major labels or have done work for major artists. Can you check this claim? What exactly did they do for those artists and labels?

An often used trick to 'fool' potential clients is to plaster pictures of major artists across their website, without any explanation of what they actually did in terms of work. You'll see faces of heavy hitters on their website, giving you the impression that they have worked for these artists. If you see pictures of major artists on a website without caption, explaining what kind of work was done, it is highly recommended to ask the company what they did for the artist.

iPluggers portfolio

iPluggers does the radio promo for major artist and labels, such as Sony, Universal, BMG, Warner, The Orchard, Eurovision and promotes music from artists such as Pitbull, Afrojack, Daddy Yankee, INNA, Tito Jackson, Frank McComb, Gigi D'Agostino and many others. 

You can find a selection of artists and labels we worked for here: https://ipluggers.com/partners

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6. How much are you paying for the radio promo?

There are radio promo companies that ask 2000-5000 EUR for just one unsolicited email blast. The internet is full of review stories for these kind of companies.
Needless to say, paying for those kind of promos is a bad investment.

iPluggers pricing point

One of our core philosophies is that high-quality radio promo should remain affordable. This way we are not limited to only working for major labels and artists, but we can also give independent artists and labels with great tracks the radio promo they deserve.

A 4-week worldwide radio promo campaign starts at 349 EUR for a single. After the initial campaign a release will remain available in the archives and search module and will stay there forever. With this set up, (new) radio stations can always search and download releases of interest.

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7. What kind of reports or feedback do they offer you?

Some promotion companies don't even offer reports, they just send out unsolicited emails and then you need to guess if your music has been picked up for airplay.
Always ask what kind of reports they will offer you before you make your decision.

iPluggers offers real-time reports

If you promote your music via iPluggers, you have real-time insight in which radio station from which country has downloaded your release for airplay. Additional you can receive feedback and interview requests from radio stations. You have 24/7 access to this report via your iPluggers account.

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8. What happens with your release once the promo campaign has ended?

Most radio promotion companies run a radio promo campaign and then stop. After your promo campaign has ended, nothing will happen. Your release will no longer be brought to the attention of radio stations.

iPluggers has an extensive music library for radio stations

Once we have done the intensive promotion campaign, your music will remain available in the archives and search module and will stay there forever.
With this set up, (new) radio stations can always search for releases of interest. We have a dedicated music library for radio stations where they can search for music in 22 genres, 220 sub genres and based on keywords. This way your release can continue to get picked up by radio stations.

And as an added bonus: when you promote a second release via us, that release is added to the same artist profile / online press kit. This means promotion of a follow-up release (single, EP or album) can drive attention to your earlier promoted release.

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9. Are the artists and labels they worked for satisfied with their service?

It makes sense that if a radio promoter does a good job in general, that other artists and labels will be satisfied and will recommend them.

However we have found that online reviews can be misleading.
Shady companies looking to boost their reputation publish fake reviews themselves on review sites.
Unfortunately some review sites do not check for fake reviews. Others do but even their filters do not catch everything they should and some review sites seem to have policies in place to leave fake reviews up as long as possible just so they have content on their site.

Some radio promo services even have their staff post great reviews for them. Those reviews definitely are not a legit experience of an artist that has used their service.

If you find a review, whether it's negative or positive, try to see if you can verify the existence of the reviewer and whether or not there's a conflict of interest (does the reviewer work for the company, is the reviewer paid for the positive review, etc).

Once you have some experience checking the legitimacy of reviews, finding the fake ones becomes second nature. This will also help you in other business dealings.

iPluggers reviews

To make sure we're fully transparent about reviews, our review page includes links to the artist profile pages. Here you can find the same info that radio stations have access to so you can be assured by whom the reviews were written.

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10. Do they promise to make all your wildest dreams come true?

Everybody wants their dreams and ambitions for fame and recognition to come true. A lot of the shadier radio promo companies out there prey on this desire. They promise you the world, mountains of gold and more.
In reality, things aren't that simple. Getting airplay is notoriously hard and a good radio promoter will be realistic about what you can expect. Radio promotion should be seen and used as a logical next step in your career as a musician. It's part of your marketing toolkit and should be used as such.

Promises such as guaranteed chart positions, a guaranteed amount of income from royalties, a guaranteed amount of spins... these are things that are all red flags.
Each radio station has their own playlist editor, music director or music department. How can radio promoters guarantee that every individual editor will pick up your music for airplay, your music will be playlisted on high rotation and that you'll be charting with your music?
Chart positions, a certain amount of income from royalties, guaranteed amount of spins all are impossible to guarantee. When a radio promotion company promises these things, it's time to look elsewhere.

What you can expect from a good radio promoter is that they'll be honest with you in terms of what is realistic to expect for your release and what they can and can't do for you.

How we approach radio promotion and what we can promise

iPluggers promotes new music genre-based to radio stations worldwide. For this we use our own dedicated digital radio promo system to serve over 35.000 stations worldwide.
After radio promo starts via our system, you have real-time insight in which radio station from which country has downloaded your release for airplay.

We give out a guarantee on results: your release will be picked up for airplay. We can give out this guarantee because we are confident in the strength of our network and we have spend over a decade building relationships with our connected radio stations.

No results? Then we will give you your money back.

However, we cannot promise which stations will pick up your release as each radio station has their own music department that decides this.

Next to this, we do not promise chart positions: for bettering your chances of getting charted we recommend a traditional radio promoter that targets a specific territory. Read the article about traditional radio promo vs digital radio promo for more info on this.

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Bonus tip!

And a bonus tip, which will help you in all business dealings:
Inform yourself on who you're doing business with and what you can expect from them. Communicate clearly: tell your potential business partners what you are expecting from them and ask them if they can deliver this for you.

Submit your music for radio promo

If you're interested in exploring what we (iPluggers) can do for you, contact us via support@ipluggers.com or create an account via https://ipluggers.com/signup, upload your release and our A&R will listen to your music and get back to you. 

We hope this article has helped you in avoiding bad and shady radio promotion services.
Are there any tips we've missed? Was there a tip that was particularly helpful?
Let us know in the comments below! 


Comment policy: We love your comments and feedback. To uphold quality, we manually moderate all comments to prevent spam and solely promotional comments.

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