How to get played: Advice from a KZSC DJ

So, you’ve recorded an album and want to reach listeners through the most listened to college-radio station in the world? First, you have to remember that KZSC, like most radio stations, has thousands of items in its library and new releases pouring in each month. Even if you’ve produced some great work, there are a few extra considerations to make in order to increase your music’s chance at flowing through the airwaves. Here are some ways to optimize your submission to the station:

1. It’s what’s inside that counts—but what’s outside counts first

Vinyl is great, but new vinyl often gets overlooked or lost at the station. And e-mailing digital files to a music director or DJ just creates a lot of extra work for them, making it less likely for your work to gain exposure.

CDs sent in sturdy cases are your best bet. Cases with spines that are at least 1/4” thick are the most visible on the shelves. If you send your CD in a thin paper sleeve, you might as well consider it lost.

On a less logistical note, carefully consider your album art. Does it represent your sound? Your visual art’s style should match your style of music, and the quality of your album art will suggest the quality of your sound. In short: your album will be judged by its cover.

2. Keep it clear

No one wants to struggle to find your band name, album title, or track listing. The artist’s name and the album title should be clearly printed on the case’s spine, and, ideally, the front cover. Correctly numbered the tracks should appear on the back cover of the case. Only listing the tracks on the disc will frustrate DJs who will want to find the song titles while the CD is playing. If you want to go the extra mile, including track lengths next to the titles can be helpful. And please remember to keep everything legible!

3. Sell yourself—shortly

Many albums that come into the station are sent through professional promoters, but some DIY initiative can help you compete with record label marketing. Describing your music will attract DJs and help you get recognition. I’d recommend formatting the following information on a mailing label and sticking it on the case (make sure not to cover up any text in the process):

Artist Name Album Title Release Date

RIYL: (Recommended if you like) Include a few names of similar artists. These will attract your target listeners.

Then include a brief description of your sound and any other info to personalize your work. Keep it short and sweet—just enough to hook ‘em into giving it a listen.

FCC: DJs will love you if you (accurately) list any track numbers with FCC violations. Tracks containing any of the “seven deadly words” may not be played between the hours of 6:00am and 10:00pm. These words are shit, piss, tits, cunt, fuck, cocksucker, and motherfucker. Of course, there is plenty of questionable language and content that may also be inappropriate, but the minimum standard is to avoid the seven deadly words. The rest is up to the DJs discretion. If your album is free of such content, simply write “All Clean”.

4. Go postal

Giving copies to DJs personally can help your chances of getting on the air, and I would encourage doing so. However, this is no guarantee that the CD will actually end up anywhere near KZSC. No matter who you give your work to, expect that they won’t pass it along themselves. They are not as invested in your work as you are, so you should take the extra step to mail a copy of your work to the station’s music directors. Address packages to:

ATTN (Name of appropriate music director) KZSC Santa Cruz 1156 High Street Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Good luck!

Written with love by Sabrina Sierra