Your band, the Microwaved Salamanders, is red hot. Your mama loves it. All your friends tell you that you're ready for stardom and you're ready to move from headlining the closet down the street to filling arenas. But how do you get your sound out to the masses?
Radio is still the best way. You don't have to sign your life away, compromise your sound for suits or worry about all those pesky royalties. All you need is a demo and some talent.
"I will take demos and if I hear a glimmer of somebody really building something cool, I will play it," says Kim Clark, WNCW producer/interim program director. She describes her local music show, Local Color, as a showcase for emerging artists.
But just because you're still emerging is no excuse for a poor quality demo. "If it sounds crappy, we don't want to put that on the air because it's gonna make the station sound bad and it's gonna make the band sound bad, so it's not good for anybody," says Divakar Shukla, host of WEND's 106.5 local and regional showcase show, 90 Minutes.
CharlotteMusician.com is home to Charlotte Indie Radio, an online streaming radio station that plays Charlotte area music 24/7. Links on the site can inform bands how to submit their work, and tell listeners how to hear the music.
Clark says that if you want to get beyond the local level show, production values become even more important. "So when their CD is played, then followed by a Bob Dylan thing or some other high profile artist, their work will sound just as good."
But that's not all it takes to get on the air. Sitting back waiting to be discovered won't work. It's up to bands to be active and promote their music to the media. "If a band just puts out a CD just because the guy is sitting in his corner office and wants to do it, it may get airplay," Shukla says, "but it won't get played as often as band that's playing once or twice a month."
Although both Clark and Shukla admit that they and their staff sometimes go check out bands as a result of tips, the direct approach -- putting materials in their hands via demo -- is the best one.
That doesn't mean hand-delivering them to the station. You can do it from home on the Net, for free. "I get a lot of information now from MySpace," Clark says. "Somebody tells me about a band, I'll go and find a MySpace. I'll e-mail 'em and say go ahead and send me a CD."
Clark says MySpace is changing everything for local music. "Now you can be local with a global reach."
But before you can go global, you have to get past the locals. Shukla spends a lot of time teaching bands what to do to get to that first step to the airwaves. "If it's a 10-song CD, recommend two songs we should listen to first. Make sure they're radio-friendly. And then keep us up to date via e-mail on upcoming gigs, so we can talk about them on the air, put them on our concert calendar."
It does make a difference. Clark cites Asheville artist Eliza Lynn who was working at the YWCA when she sent in a CD that the station flipped over. Not confident enough to play live, Clark had Lynn come in and sit with her for an hour on air talking and playing cuts off the CD. Over the last year-and-a-half, she quit her job and is a full-time musician now. "I feel like we opened that door for her now to walk through."
But once the door is open, resorting to tricks to keep it open is frowned upon. "I caution bands about this all the time," Clark says. "If somebody's requesting their own music or their family's requesting it, you can tell as soon as you pick up the phone. The dead giveaway is when they say, 'Do you have the new CD from that band I really like a lot and could you please play track number six?'"
But if you play it straight, you just might have a shot at the big time. "If the music is good, all comers are welcome," Clark says.
Where to Find It
WEND: 106.5 FM
90 Minutes featuring Local & Regional Music from the Carolinas and surrounding states is heard every Sunday from 8:30 to 10 p.m.! Hear it anywhere in the world via 1065.com. (Click the listen button.)
If you want to get your local/regional band on 90 Minutes, send a CD along with a band bio to:
WEND - 90 Minutes
801 Wood Ridge Center Drive
Charlotte, N.C. 28217
Please send the highest quality recording and suggest two songs you feel are good for the radio (no profanity and great production). Signal goes from Spartanburg all the way up to Greensboro, covering Carolinas into Virginia, Georgia and parts of Tennessee
WNCW: 88.7 FM
P.O. Box 804
Spindale, N.C. 28160
Local Color is hosted by Kim Clark who spotlights emerging artists from all over our listening area, with a focus on those who are pushing the envelope just a bit. Live performances, official releases, demos, and exclusive in-studio performances will all add to Local Color. On Fridays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sundays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Gaston College Radio
Midnight to 6 p.m.
The Eclectic Blend (the station's flagship program) -- A show dedicated to playing a little bit of everything from local flavor to experimental dance tracks.
Charlotte Indie Radio
24 hours a day, seven days a week
Charlotte Indie Radio is an Internet radio station run by musicians, for musicians, as a way for them to get their music heard. All genres are welcome. Though the station features Charlotte, music from throughout North and South Carolina are encouraged.
To help you sample of some of the music that's being created in the Q.C., we're posting four tracks by local bands and artists on CL's blog The CLog (www.theclogblog.com). Check the site between May 30 and June 5. We'll post a new song every day, and you'll get a taste of hometown rap, soul, blues and rock.