Why (internet) radio is the best place to break new songs

In my last post, I discussed that familiarity with music makes it more enjoyable and that 90% of the music we listen to, we've heard before. Most people like to listen to music that they know. However, to get to know a song until it becomes familiar means that you have to hear for the first time at some point.

Historically, the best place to break a song has been the radio. But:

1. Why is it the best place?
2. How has the radio changed in the digital era?
3. Are there other platforms that can break a song for the same reasons that radio is so effective?

Why is radio so effective?

Very few people actively put in the footwork to go out and find new music. The people that do are hunters. When most people are choosing the music they listen to, they typically choose to listen to songs they know. When it comes to new music, most people let the music come to them and then choose what they want to listen to later when they are actively managing their personal catalogs. This is why the radio is so effective.

When someone tunes into the radio, they are actively giving up control over what song will play next. This is the one space that they are letting the music come to them through natural radio airplay. The music that is presented to them then has more of a chance of becoming familiar and making its way into someone's personal catalog. Passive listening is the time in which it is best to hit someone with a new song!

How has the radio changed?

Now historically, terrestrial radio was one of the only places that this phenomenon occured. However, we all know that the way people listen to the radio has transformed in the digital age. People are largely transitioning into using online and streaming radio for their passive listening which is a trend that is only growing. Essentially, people have moved their passive listening to new digital services such as Pandora, Spotify, 8tracks, and the like.

What other platforms can be effective to break a song?

The important thing to think about when trying to break a new song is where you can reach people who are in that passive listening state.

Streaming radio

This is the most obvious and prominent choice. It is an obvious platform to push your music. It is essentially the new radio. The best part about reaching people in streaming radio is that once they are exposed to your song, they can immediately take an action with it. They can favorite it, share it, or add it to a mix.

Additionally, with Feature.fm, when you push your song on streaming radio, you can guarantee that your song will actaully get airplay and be listened to by targeting it into regular streaming radio sessions. There is no need to rely on getting a DJ to give you airplay in an almost impossible competition with top artists. Streaming radio provides millions of customized stations with endless hours of airplay.

Other strategies

There are definitely other situations that people give up control over what song comes on next. Here are a few strategies:

  • Live concerts - When someone goes to a live show, they let the artists on stage choose the songs. Opening acts or playing your own gigs is a great way to get your songs exposure and create a personal connection with an audience to build up your fan base. There is nothing like a live show to get someone into your music! Just because we are in a digital age doesn't mean that you shouldn't focus on your live performances.
  • In the club - Depending on your music style, there is always a hangout that you fan base likes to go to. Hipsters, teenie boppers, metal heads, counter culture, hippies, hip hop heads, ravers. They all have their hot spots that typically play music. Of course in these spots, it is typically up to a DJ to choose the tracks, but you can push to get some exposure here.

  • Friends & Family - Another time that people give up control and typically hear new songs are when their friends tell them "OMG! You have to listen to this song!" Many people get music recommendations from their friends and family! Of course, the person recommending the song always recommends a song they are already familiar with! So once you get someone familiar with your song, they are more likely to share it with their friends to help you grow exponentially.

Do have any other ideas to reach people when they are passively listening to music? Let us know in the comments!