Truly it’s astonishing how many indie online radio stations are out there that have substantial audiences and are open to music submissions from artists. Moreover (in case you’re unaware), online radio play holds income potential for artists.
Yes, income potential.
To legally use recorded music for broadcast, online radio stations (like terrestrial radio) must pay licensing fees from which performing rights and licensing organizations like SOCAN, Re:Sound, and Entandem pay out royalties to songwriters, musicians, and labels.
In other words, against near-zero income potential from music streaming services, the comparative potentials of online radio can’t be (or shouldn’t be) dismissed. Yet this is where many artists do dismiss themselves from the potentials by not doing one simple thing:
Tagging their music with metadata (the information attached to audio tracks) because it feels boring and unimportant.
“Whenever some panelist at a music industry session or workshop starts talking about metadata,” writes MetaD founder Jean-Robert Bisaillon in a recent SOCAN blog, “most attending songwriters’ eyes glaze over and the yawning begins. But tagging your songs with data is absolutely crucial.”
Why Metadata Is So Crucial
Noted by Live365: To remain compliant with licensing—and to ensure royalty reporting so artists and labels get paid for plays—online radio stations must receive metadata attached to songs. Metadata is also important for station programmers to meet Canadian content regulations and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Plus, metadata appears on station profile pages when a song plays, meaning metadata helps listeners discover artists and search for them through third-party apps like TuneIn.
On their websites, most online radio stations indicate that music submissions must include metadata. Yet many artists ignore the information and send in a submission with little or no metadata.
Unsurprisingly, online radio stations regularly ignore such submissions and delete them.
“The saddest thing I come across is when, as I’m listening for a TV show or movie placement and I find a great song that would fit the scene, I hit ‘Command I’ and, to my dismay, I find only the song title,” said Song Rep owner and Music Supervisor Valerie Biggin in a recent SOCAN interview. “No contact name, no artist name, nothing… Sadly, I then delete the song and look for something else.”
To hedge against your hard work landing in the trash, and to improve your chances of online radio play, here’s how to quickly attach metadata to your music in Windows:
- Right-click on the song file.
- Select Properties.
- Select the Details tab.
- Fill in as many fields as you can: Title, Album, Year, Publisher, Copyright, etc.
- Double-check your spelling.
- Click OK.
To tag and manage more than one song at a time (e.g., tagging all tracks on an album), Microsoft offers the free app MP3tag (Windows 10), supporting batch tag editing. Yet there are many other available tag editors for Windows and Mac.
3 Last Things to Do Before You Submitting Your Music to Online Radio Stations
- Submit Your Music to Nielsen BDS (Broadcast Data Systems)
Nielsen BDS is a free service that uses patented digital recognition technology to monitor radio, television, and internet airplay of songs based on the number of spins. SOCAN recommends registration with Nielsen BDS as part of the reporting system that enables organizations like SOCAN to pay artists and labels for airplay.
Here’s all you do:
Email the client services department of Nielsen BDS (firstname.lastname@example.org). Use the subject line, “Virtual Encode.”
Include in the body of your email:
- Your full name
- Company label or name
- Contact number
- Primary email address
- Any additional contact information
You’ll then receive login information (username and password) and instructions to upload your music to the secure Virtual Encode website.
You do not need to include a catalog number or UPC code to register your music.
Registration with Nielsen BDS takes 3-5 business days, and airplay is detected as soon as your music is encoded. This means, you should wait at least 5 business days before you start submitting your music to online radio stations.
- Check File Bitrate Before Submitting Your Music
Whether sending an MP3 or Dropbox/Google Drive download link to your music, different stations ask for different MP3 bitrates.
- Some ask for 320 kbps (the highest-quality bitrate).
- Others ask for 256 kbps or lower.
Check a station’s submission details for their preferred bitrate. If they don’t specify, 192 kbps is commonly used by many stations and is likely a safe bet for direct MP3 submission.
To cover all your bases when sending download links, you can create a download folder with your music in a variety of bitrates and let stations choose their preferred format.
Programs like Adobe Audition easily save out files in different bitrates.
- Indicate Whether Your Music Qualifies as Canadian Content
Canadian radio stations are mandated to play a certain percentage of Canadian content. Use the MAPL system to determine whether your music qualifies as Canadian content and let stations know. This helps increase your chances of airplay.
There you go—a bunch of boring but important information to help increase your chances of getting played on online radio and earning royalties.
Dylan Hennessy Releases New Luminil Single, “The Watcher”
Two years after releasing his 2019 prog-metal instrumental EP Luminil, Toronto guitarist Dylan Hennessy releases his new single, “The Watcher,” as a new chapter to the Luminil story.
Taking its influences from bands like Plini, Animals as Leaders, Periphery, and Intervals, “The Watcher” once more captures Hennessy’s ability to combine sheer technical skill and shredding prowess with variations of mood for an overall composition that furthers the “Luminil” theme—an exploration of the presence and absence of light.
“It’s nice to come back to this style again,” writes Hennessy in a Feb. 5, 2022, Facebook post, “and this is the only track I’ve ever recorded with a 7-string guitar.”
Originally planning to release the track in December 2021 before being delayed by technical issues, Hennessy didn’t have a name for the track as he was working with digital artist Xristopher Bland on cover art. After reviewing four cover art choices, Hennessy chose one named The Watcher, and subsequently named his track after it.
“After some unexpected delays,” writes Hennessy in his Feb. 5, 2022, Facebook post, “I’m finally able to announce this bad boy and am so stoked to share the shreds!”—an excitement equally shared by his fans and followers.
>> Listen to “The Watcher” on Spotify
>> Listen to “The Watcher” on Bandcamp (that place that isn’t Spotify)
Follow Hennessy on Social: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
Royal G Symphony Ready to Release Their First Album in 2022
Royal G Symphony is set to release their first full-length album in 2022, currently being recorded at Royal City Studios with producer-engineer Eric Leigh (who engineered the band’s debut EP The King’s Highway).
To stay in the loop about the album release, follow Royal G Symphony on social: Facebook | Instagram
Only 4 Days Left for Free Rehearsals at Royal City Studios
ICYMI: To help bands get back in gear and kickstart local live music, RCS is offering free rehearsal studio time for bands and solo artists until (and including) Feb. 14, 2022.
Book at https://royalcitystudios.ca/ using the code FREEFEB.
Big thanks to CBC Kitchener for featuring RCS owner Jim Duffield on The Morning Show with Craig Norris to chat about this offer. Safety protocols naturally remain in effect at RCS. Studio occupancy in accordance with Ontario safety guidelines.
Open Jams Are Back at RCS!
No cost to join. Just bring your gear/voice. Make new connections! Have a blast with real live people in a non-Zoom setting!
For the next open jam, visit the jam page on Meetup.
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