If you’ve just landed a radio interview you may be wondering how best to handle it, what will be involved and how you should prepare. Or perhaps you’d like to know how to get a radio interview in the first place.
Preparing for a radio interview is key. You’ll be asked interview questions for singers, giving you the opportunity to grow your fan base and earn kudos in the industry. But good radio interview advice for singers is necessary to shine and sound professional.
Radio interview advice for singers: You will undoubtedly be nervous the first few times you do a radio interview. Nerves can make your voice appear tense or dull on air and the audience will pick up on this, so it’s important to find a way to combat them! Read Open Mic UK’s top tips for smashing that radio interview!
Interview questions for musicians and singers
The main element of a singer’s radio interview will be answering questions from the presenter or DJ. This can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. However, it can also be a lot of fun.
While famous artists may be under scrutiny about their personal lives or careers, if you’re new to this, the chances are the interviewer is not trying to catch you out. They want you to sound good every bit as much as you do. It’s not in their interests to have a bad interview or underwhelming guest – they need ratings and top content to pull in listeners.
So bear this in mind before you go on air. The very fact that the interviewer is on your side, will help assuage those pesky nerves. The more of a rapport you can build with them on air, the better you’ll both sound. And the more you’ll be asked back and invited on to more radio stations for interviews.
Questions to ask an upcoming artist
As an upcoming artist, what might you be asked? Well, the first thing you can do to find out – is to ask the radio station. Find out what the interviewer’s plans are. You can even give suggestions of things you’d like to talk about. This helps them by doing some of their work for them, but also benefits you, as you get to talk about the aspects of your work you’d like to.
Here are some questions that are ideal for the early stages of your career. Have a think about them and how you would answer each in an interview situation. If some of your responses seem more interesting and colourful than others then these are the areas in which you should try to steer the conversation.
Also, try to add in some originality, especially if you get questions that aren’t all that riveting. Listen to other artist’s interviews and make sure you’re not just saying all the same things as them.
Preparing for an interview about music
We’ll take a further look at interview question specifics shortly. But interview prep isn’t just about the questions and answers. There are some practical considerations that will help you avoid common rookie mistakes and act like a pro in the studio. Here are some top tips to consider for your radio interview.
Radio interview tips
- Plan ahead if possible! Ask the presenter beforehand what kind of questions they will ask so you can prepare your answers accordingly.
- Listen to the presenter so you fully understand the question. This will distract your nerves. Focus on the question in hand and not about any future questions you will be asked.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a glass of water beforehand. This will save your mouth drying out and your tongue making click noises against the roof of your mouth.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing and try and sit upright with your feet flat on the floor. This will help you sound relaxed.
- Be friendly and open. Use informal, everyday language.
- Talk as though you were talking to just one person and don’t use any jargon. Keep to the point and avoid waffling.
- Emphasise important words as this will make you sound more convincing.
- Plan what message you want to get across and focus on it! If your new single is out next week, focus on that! If you have a show that week, make that your priority. Try not to over-sell the message; you don’t want to bore listeners.
- If you’re a group, make sure each member is on the same page! Try and get everyone involved as opposed to having one member do all the speaking or worse still you all answer questions at the same time so plan an the order of who is going to answer questions.
- Make yourself stand out! Grab the audience’s attention. Maybe make a competition beforehand offering the winner a free copy of your E.P or maybe a pair of gig tickets.
- Don’t lose your temper or sound defensive. Simply stick to positive statements and never resort to negative attacks.
Music interview questions and answers
You may well do this already, but it’s good to listen to artists at all stages in their careers being interviewed. This gives you an idea of what works, what comes across as dull and tedious and what makes you want to listen to their music as a result of hearing them interviewed. It’ll also help you understand the kind of questions you might be asked yourself.
A rule of interviews is that you should always be professional. If the radio stations ask you not to swear, or talk about particular topics, take care to listen to them. Don’t be offensive or rude. It may seem rock and roll, but it’s a quick exit route and you’re unlikely to be invited back.
If anything you say gets the radio station into trouble with the media regulator Ofcom, then that is likely to be a slur on your career going forward. It’s a very bad idea to incur these kinds of negative experiences so early on in your career.
10 interview questions for singers on the radio
Here are 10 common questions you may be asked during your radio interview (these may, of course, be worded differently).
- Who is your inspiration?
- What and when is your next gig/album/tour?
- Who would you like to work or collaborate with?
- How did you get started as a singer/musician?
- What’s your own favourite song?
- Do you write your own music?
- Describe your sound and genre of music?
- What obstacles have you overcome to get here?
- What’s ‘a day in the life’ for you?
- What advice do you have for emerging artists?
As you’re likely to get variations on these throughout your career, it’s well worth formulating some interesting answers up front.
Do you have any funny anecdotes or unusual stories you can work in while answering these questions?
Interview questions to ask a singer for a radio interview
We’ve talked a bit about the kind of questions a new or unsigned artist might be asked. But what if you’re more established, or the interviewer is looking for a quirky take on the traditional types of interview questions.
Vogue Magazine frequently interview stars with its own brand of quickfire random questions. Although these are video interviews, they are good for some alternative inspiration for how to spice up your radio interview.
Once you gain a level of fame, you will be asked about your personal life, perhaps in quite a bit of detail. Decide up front how much, or how little you’re going to share. Some stars tell all, while others prefer to keep their private life private. Adele famously doesn’t even disclose the name of her child and rarely mentions her personal life. So don’t feel you have to give interviewers everything.
Radio rap artist interview questions
Rapper’s interviews can often be a little bit different. Because rap contains a lot more lyrics, often written by the rapper, there’s much more being said in a short space of time. Rap will frequently cover political and social injustice issues, as well as gang and knife crime. So, when rappers are interviewed, these topics may be introduced into the questions, such as here, when BBC Radio 1 interviewed Jay Z.
How to get radio stations to play your music: submitting music to radio stations
But of course, it’s no good being an ace at radio interviews if you can’t actually get any. As with anything in the performance world and music industry, this is a competitive world. Everyone wants to be heard and the radio is a prime place for it – especially on the larger stations with admired presenters.
So to be heard on the airwaves you’ll need to know how to approach a radio station and who to contact.
How do I get my radio station to play my music?
Try getting some experience at student or hospital radio stations before moving upwards so you get a feel for the environment is a good way to gain experience! Thereafter you should have the confidence to expand; most local FM radio stations are always keen to support local singers and acts, some will even have unsigned shows; so get involved.
If you have personal experience of working in a radio station, then there’s more chance they’ll give your tracks a shot too. In fact, make the most of any personal connection with a radio station. You might even want to volunteer as a runner, or making the tea, to get a foot in the door.
How much does it cost to promote a song to radio stations?
Promoting a song yourself doesn’t cost anything in theory. You can contact radio stations and send tracks yourself. Some will listen, some won’t. Where money does come into play, is in the use of promoters. Music promotion is a big business and operates at all different levels. They act as your PR/marketers and make contact with the radio stations for you.
How much a music promoter charges you will depend on their reputation, what the promo package involves and what you want out of it. Most unsigned artists begin by doing their own free music promotion though. Social media and online resources have made this easier and more accessible than ever
Radio stations that will play your music
If you want to get your music heard and you don’t have a large following, then start small. Look to local community radio stations first. These will be more interested in nearby emerging artists, especially those stations with a reputation for playing new tracks. Find out which local volunteer DJs are into your genre and approach them.
Hospital radio has often been the training ground and starting point for successful radio DJs and presenters, but it’s also a great place for unknown artists to get airplay. If a DJ gets to know you at this stage, it’ll be a good contact for you if they make it big further down the line. So listen out for those with star potential. Now is the time to build a relationship that could prove very useful in future.
Radio stations that accept submissions UK
There are some radio stations that actively encourage emerging and unsigned artists to send in their work – because they’re all search for the next big thing, along with exciting non-mainstream talent. This list is not exhaustive, so check in with your regional and new radio stations too.
- Amazing Radio
- Gilles Peterson
- BBC Introducing
- Folk Radio
- Hard Rock Hell Radio
- Radio Reverb
- Rinse fm
- 102 Touch fm
- Union Jack
- Fresh on the Net
- SODMG Radio
How to write a letter to a radio station to play your music
It’s time to get contacting those radio stations to get some interviews and airplay lined up. In order to send a covering letter, you should set up your own professional musician or band email address – separate to your personal one. This is all part of presenting a slick image, and a credible image will contribute to your chances of landing that interview.
Sample letter requesting an interview
When contacting a radio station by email, you should include a letter, telling them why they should have you as a guest. Here’s a guide to pitching yourself as a guest for a radio station. You can use this as a template, but do change the details and add in some fun and informative stuff on how you’d be an especially exciting and entertaining person to interview for radio. Make sure to add in any unique selling points you have – and include a copy of a track.
Most importantly, relax and enjoy yourself at your radio interview. When you smile, your voice smiles and listeners will pick up on this! Always thank the presenter and ask if you can come back in, in a few months to give an update. After the interview, write a thank you email to the producer and the hosts. Tell them that whenever they’d like to have you back, you’d love to be a guest again!.
Afterwards, review the interview for where it went well and where it could improve for next time. Soon you’ll be knocking them out like a pro – and all your interview prep will stand you in good stead when it comes to holding your nerve at competitions and auditions, too.
- Do radio stations pay to play songs?
Yes. Radio stations have to pay the royalty collection organisations, who then distribute fees on to artists. The two organisations in the UK are the Performing Rights Society (PRS for music) relating to songwriters and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) relating to performers and labels.
- Do radio stations get paid to play songs?
Commercial stations get paid for advertising air time, not to play songs. BBC channels and radio stations are funded via the licensing fees. Radio stations should not be taking backhanders for playing artists’ music. That’s not to say it never happens, but you shouldn’t pay money for track plays.
- How do you get on a radio show?
Interviewees get on the radio via good contacts and publicity. Also by asking for an interview, or – if you’ve got a decent profile – by being asked. If you want to get onto radio as a presenter or interviewer, you’ll need to build volunteer experience or work your way up starting as an intern.
How have you prepared for a radio interview? Do you have any radio interview advice for singers just starting out? Tell us your tips in the comments section below.