How to Get Licensed
The single most important factor in determining your success is the quality of your work — people want to listen to good radio. There's no question that radio stations are hungry for good radio and are finding it here. PRX works with more than 400 radio stations and has paid over $1,000,000 in royalties to producers.
That said, there's no simple formula for getting your piece picked up. But we can make some helpful suggestions based on the experiences of successful producers and feedback from station programmers:
Before Adding Your Pieces to PRX
Learn From The Best
The way you present your piece is important, but above all, it's the content of your audio that matters most. Here are links to some of our favorite resources on creating great radio:
- The Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) is an alliance that creates opportunities for and represents the interests of radio producers. Their website provides an excellent Resource Guide and links to articles and books and magazines that can help you produce better radio.
- The annual Third Coast International Audio Festival posts archived recordings of all of their group sessions and workshops, going back to 2001. It's not quite the same as attending, but you can still hear advice directly from some of the biggest names in radio.
- Hearing Voices is a collective of independent radio producers that publishes a huge amount of material on their website -- and they've also got a great blog full of excellent radio tips.
- The Transom Radio Hour is a series of hour-long audio programs on the art of making radio, featuring interviews with producers, from the ever-helpful Transom.org
You'll get to see what listeners like and don't like, what stations are looking for, and why. You'll also pick up general advice that might help you improve your work. Watch What Gets Licensed
Keep an eye on pieces that are getting licensed, so you'll be able to model your own work accordingly. Another great resource is the annual Zeitfunk awards, our list of the most licensed pieces, producers, and stations on PRX. Polish Your Work
Technical quality needs to be excellent. Even the best story will probably not get licensed if the volume is uneven, fades are choppy, or ambient sound is too loud -- the finishing touches are essential. You've got to use the highest quality recording and editing techniques that you can. Connect With Other Producers
If you hear a fantastic piece, let the producer know directly, and if you don't know how something was done, go ahead and ask. Radio producers are a pretty cooperative community, and we can't imagine anyone refusing to explain their creative process or special production techniques to someone who asks kindly. You can easily get in touch with producers whose work you admire by clicking "Message me" on any member's profile.
While Adding Your Pieces Make Your Listing Complete
Don't just write a short description. Instead, make a full pitch to stations. Here's how:
- If there's any particular time of year when your piece is more relevant, be sure to add a date peg, since many stations license material for specific seasons, holidays, or anniversaries. In our experience, relevant date pegs are more likely to get attention than any other single part of your piece's description, providing an extra little hook to get stations' attention.
- Include an intro, timings, cues (for longer works), transcript, and any other information that makes it easier for stations to say "yes" to you.
- Add any relevant links -- to your own work and affiliations, and to resources where any listener who is still curious can find out more.
- Be sure to add a picture to each piece to make it pretty. Add your own photo, or find one that you can use: Creative Commons-licensed photos are good for this (just remember to credit the source).
- It's also great to take advantage of PRX's "Series" feature -- so if you're adding several related pieces, consider bunching them together as a series so that other people can find their way easily between related works.
If it's long (more than, say, 15 minutes), consider including a 15-, 30-, or 60-second promo, for stations to use on-air or just to play to get an accurate taste of what's in the piece. Consider producing edited versions of your piece to fit the most common NPR-affiliate and other public radio stations' formats, creating a 1-minute "billboard" and leaving newscast, funding credit, and promo holes in your work.
You could even try posting alternate versions of the same piece -- try a 6-minute version of your 30-minute piece. Why put all your eggs in one basket?Be Liberal with Your License
The more you allow radio stations to do with your work, the more likely it is to get licensed and to get heard. Your name will be attached to your work no matter what -- it's just a question of how much you mind your work being reproduced digitally beyond PRX after the licensing takes place. (If you're using copyrighted material in your piece, you'll have to be a bit more careful about this.)
For more information on licensing to other distributors, see Outside Purchaser options.
After Adding Your Pieces
Spend More Time on PRX
As you look at other people's profiles, read about their work, and listen to their pieces, you'll also leave a "footprint" behind you, and people will notice you. More people paying attention means more people listening.
Comment on Other People's Work
Provide valuable feedback to other producers by commenting on other pieces on PRX.
If you've done something that you think people might really like, you can use PRX's "Message me" feature in members' profiles to ask anyone to comment on your work. And even if no one likes what you've done, you'll probably at least get some constructive criticism.
If your piece is particularly relevant to an upcoming event, we may feature it on our homepage, in our Editors' Picks playlists, or in our email newsletter to stations. You can reach us by email or phone. Let us know as early as you can -- preferably at least 6 weeks ahead of time -- so stations can plan their programming far enough in advance. (Here's more info on how we pick the Editors' Picks.)
Spread the Word Outside of PRX
Although PRX covers the radio world pretty extensively, you probably want "laypeople" to hear you work too. Don't be shy, promote yourself! Put links to your profile, reviews, or latest pieces in your personal website, your blog, your Facebook or MySpace profile, and consider email-blitzing your friends, family, and coworkers.
It's a tough world out there: self-promotion is the new modesty.Got a Podcast?