At WCDB we get a lot of of CDs every week begging to played, whether it’s a major label pushing for one of their premiere bands or a collection of guys from Schenectady who are hoping for a break. In either case it’s nice to help, but the simple fact of it is that we can’t review every CD that comes in because we don’t have the ability to tell our DJs what every single one of those CDs sounds similar to while being decent students. This means that some get skipped over, and for a lot of artists this happens based solely off of the impression that the packaging gives(it’s unfortunate, but true). So how can an artist try and make their CD stand out at college radio stations?
Mail it to the Station
Today there are a few companies who give out CDs exclusively for digital download. That means it gets emailed to one of our directors, and they have to review it themselves or go search for someone else to do it. This is a bit of a hassle, but the worse part is that this forces us to go through the process of burning the CD, throwing it in the case and making labels for it that tell you what album it is and the track listing. It’s a small annoyance, but you’re asking someone to do work for you so that your CD can be played at their station.We don’t do that very often, it’s only likely to occur if you’re at least a semi-major band or if you’re having a friend at the station who will review it for you.
Have an Add Date
An add date is the day that you want the radio station to report to the College Music Journal that your album was added to their rotation. Every week our station reports five new albums that we added, and CMJ takes the data from all the college radio stations and says what the most added albums were. If this is the debut album from your local band, you’re not getting listed by CMJ, but you should still throw an add date on your album. Why? It’s a matter of showing that you’re at least aware of the process. At WCDB we sort our albums that we’re waiting to review by their add date, and the DJs usually look in the columns with the most recent add dates because those are the ones most likely to still contain good looking albums. The column that rarely gets looked at? No Add. And when you see some of the albums we have in our No Add category you understand why, there’s some clearly ridiculous albums and the home to some of the worst ones I’ve listened to at CDB. Stay out of that company, and put yourself in the same category as the major releases.
Keep Yourself Off the Cover
It is amazingly cool that you’ve actually released an album, and that is something that you should feel terrific about, but keep yourself off the cover of it. This is because the way you view your album cover is different from how your audience will, and seeing you smiling back at us doesn’t really say anything about the album other than how many people are playing on it. I’d argue it has a negative effect in fact as it can hammer home the point that I have no clue who your band is and what the inspiration was for the album. Go with an image or symbol that worked as an inspiration for your writing or something that captures the feeling of an album well, and make it thought provoking.
When your album is done and ready to be sent in to stations, there’s a last thing you can do to leave a good impression. Make something that can go alongside the album if you’re feeling creative, some extra piece of art that shows that you put a lot of thought into this product. Some examples; Beach House’s Bloom physically placed bumps on the album cover and made the lyric booklet like a weathered book, Father John Misty released Fear Fun with an entire story he had written printed out on a poster, and Sufjan Stevens released his last collection of christmas EPs with posters, stickers, ornaments, and temporary tattoos! Stickers, posters, and personal notes are the most popular and get hung up around the station, if you can think up something unique and cool though it’ll help you a lot.