DJ Michele’s Airplay Tips – Part 2

Photo courtesy of Michele Myers, taken at the Leopard Lounge

Here’s the second installment in my advice for musicians who want airplay on KEXP. Please keep in mind that these tips are just suggestions from one DJ at one (very individual) radio station and are by no means applicable to all DJs or KEXP as a whole. Best of luck!

The most important point in promo is that you should be prepared to spend at least as much money promoting your CD as you did making it. More probably. Focus on getting your CD to as many people as possible. Good luck!


1. Always send CDs in full size jewel cases. Slim ones get lost between other CDs. If yours is thin and in the KEXP library it is virtually invisible to anyone looking for a CD. (Put your CD in a stack of commercial discs. Can you find it easily? Does it stand out?)

2. Marketing studies show that 90% of a listener’s first impression of a CD comes from the cover. Never send CDs without artwork unless you are Mudhoney.

3. Make sure the audio quality is ready for radio airplay. Play your disc next to a commercial CD and see if it jumps out of the speakers like the pro ones. If it doesn’t, you should rethink the recording/engineering/mastering procedure you are using. All discs should be professionally mastered.

4. You don’t need to send a whole promo pack for radio. Send a one-sheet only. It should look very, very professional. It should also prominently state the city the band resides in and should clearly designate your genre. You definitely need to be able to write a good description of what you sound like.

5. A very pro thing to do is to use a small sticker on the front cover. List a 3 word descrip of the genre type and music sound in general. Then write: “Play:” and then designate track numbers with a 3 word descrip of each of your chosen airplay songs. This is really helpful to DJs who want to know which song will best fit the show they’ll be putting together. They’ll also know which songs to check out first.

6. If your band name is hard to understand, read or say, you may as well just shoot yourself in the foot for all the good it’s doing you. Your band name should point to the way you sound and make people curious about you. It should also be able to be heard clearly and be easy and/or fun to say.

7. It’s not enough to make a good CD. It’s got to be special. We get hundreds of CDs every year from talented bands, but most of them sound too much like what’s already been done.

8. Get someone pro to help you. There are some great suggestions for people to help you with promo and distribution, and also info on one-sheets on the KEXP website. Here’s the link to our Getting Airplay section.

– DJ Michele Myers hosts “Nite Life” every Friday night at 9pm

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  1. Posted July 7, 2006 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    ooh, can i add something? if you have any profanity in your lyrics, it’s nice if you mention which songs aren’t FCC-friendly on your one sheet!

  2. Ozzy Osmond
    Posted July 8, 2006 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    For a station that claims to be so proud of playing cutting-edge music, your station sure has a lot of hoops for a small-time band to jump through to get a little airplay. It’s kinda sad that you only give notice to, in your words, bands with material that looks and sounds “pro.” God forbid Beat Happening started now instead of 20 yrs ago…


  3. DJ Michele, Nite Life
    Posted July 12, 2006 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the comment and for giving your honest opinion. The suggestions I made in the blog are just suggestions based on my personal opinion, and do not reflect the overall opinon of KEXP. (I made sure to note that in the opening.) And there are many exceptions to my suggested forms. (I noted as well.)

    Some of the suggestions are just practical (a DJ can play 2 short songs in the time it takes to play one long one)(songs with hooks are more memorable and get more attention)(DJs get hundreds of CDs and if yours looks great it will stand out from the crowd). I’m coming from the viewpoint of a musician who is also a DJ. And am trying to let people know a few things that might help get them, as beginning artists, attention.

    The suggestion about vocals is my personal preference. Many DJs play off-key vocals like in the band Beat Happening (I personally don’t like off-key vocals, but some people don’t mind). At KEXP it’s the DJs choice. I am only one of 30 DJs who could play any artist. Vive la difference!

    I chose to give my unvarnished opinion in the hopes of helping out as much as I can. Disagreement is healthy as long as people respect each other while doing it. And being from back East I really enjoy a good debate, so please feel free to e-me straight up at and I’d be happy to answer any questions.

    Your thoughts are appreciated.

    “If you’re not being criticized, you may not be doing much.” -Jack Welch

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  1. […] Read part 1: Connection; part 2: Presentation. […]

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