In order to make the cut for many radio stations, a song has to be of a certain length, must exclude inappropriate language, and have the ability to grab your listeners’ attention immediately. Keep reading to dive into the details.
This guest post by Erik Veach originally appeared on the Soundfly Blog Flypaper.
In the current world of audio streaming and downloadable audio files, it’s hard to imagine that we still have to think about the specific needs of audio tracks intended for broadcast on the radio…
But, as stated in a recent article in Varietymuch of the music listeners consume is still streamed on some form of radio station: whether it is traditional radio, terrestrial or Internet stations. And, in fact, popular music streaming platforms – Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Pandora, etc. – aren’t they really just radio stations redesigned for the the age of the internet?
While most radio stations and streaming services apply some form of volume level and dynamic range control to ensure that any songs they play or play come out within ranges of sound whatever somewhat similar to each other (assuming the audio file was at least reasonably well mixed and mastered), there are still some aspects of an audio track that cannot simply be run through an algorithmic processing engine to make it proper for platforms accessible to all audiences.
Most notably, lyrics suitable for all ages and track lengths that match the generality of music currently played by radio stations and streaming services. Addressing these particular elements of a song is entirely up to the artist, not something that is done after distribution.
As an artist or band, you would definitely want to take every opportunity to make sure as many listeners as possible can hear your song, to find the people who really understand your sound and who could become your unconditional fans for life.
It is therefore in your interest to consider creating additional versions of “radio modification” of your bachelor, for use in radio broadcasts and streaming services that require adherence to certain standards that allow the music they play to be accessible to all audiences. In this brief article, I’ll outline three of the most common adjustments to consider in order to create a radio version of your recorded song.
The most obvious edit of the radio version, and the one that most people think of when you say “edited for radio”, is to censor any inappropriate language. To do this properly, you’ll need to work with the original mix, which contains each of your vocal tracks isolated from each other and from the music.
The easiest way to censor lyrics is to simply listen to the mix for words that are well-known offenders and mute that short piece of the vocal track(s) in which those words appear. Save this version of the mix as a “radio edit”, have it remastered to match the original unedited version. You now have what is often referred to as a “clean” version, which can be transmitted to any radio station or streaming service without fear of a random word in your lyrics stopping your music from playing.
A word of advice, when cutting offending words from your vocal tracks, be sure to do a quick voice fade just before the censored word and a quick voice fade right after. This will produce a smoother and more professional radio edit.
2. Song Duration
The next most important thing to consider is how long the song is compared to other songs currently appearing on the stations/services you want your song to play on. It will probably depend on your genre of music.
It’s not uncommon for an orchestral or jazz track to be longer than 10 minutes, while pop, rock, and hip-hop tracks are usually less than 4 minutes long. You may find that most of the tracks played on the radio station or streaming service you are interested in are perhaps even as short as 3 to 3 and a half minutes. If your song is noticeably longer than most of the stations you are interested in, it would be in your best interest to create another shortened version of the song that is better suited to that station.
The more you adjust your song to match the standards of the radio station you want to play your song on, the more likely they will actually play it.
Adjusting the length of a song can potentially be as simple as removing a repeated chorus at the end of the song, or removing an entire verse and chorus. But, if your song is more complex than that, finding a way to cut out the sections of it that make sense while still allowing the song to flow smoothly and cohesively can be a challenge.
It’s entirely possible that you could make these length changes in the fully mixed and mastered version of your track, simply by carefully cutting and deleting sections. If you know the tempo of the song (e.g. BPM), opening up the stereo audio track in your DAW and adjusting the tempo to match may allow you to use trim tools set to trim the track only on full beats or bars.
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3. Intros and Outros
The last area where you might want to adapt your song for radio is how you present the intro and/or the end of the song. With the multitude of social media and streaming options available to listeners today, it’s more important than ever to get straight to the heart of your song as soon as possible to ensure you capture listeners’ attention the most. quickly as possible.
But, even if you haven’t written your song to grab the listener with an immediate melodic hook or lyric line right from the start, you may still be able to edit your song to start with a stronger part. For example, you might consider removing an instrumental intro section or artistic beginning of a song, which might sound great, but will inevitably drag on for radio listeners.
Your fans will definitely be thrilled to hear this amazing intro you produced, but that’s why you got the full version available for purchase or download, right? For a radio edit release, however, you need to focus on reaching the widest possible audience in hopes of discovering new fans, which means getting to the heart of your song as quickly as possible.
You might consider start directly in a chorus or hook, or replace a long intro with a two-beat intro before the start of the first verse. Most of these types of edits can be done fairly quickly and easily, often directly from the mastered stereo audio track.
And finally, look at your outro and compare it to the endings of current radio songs of the same genre. Do you use a long fade when all the other songs have a clean button ending? Do you repeat your ending chorus multiple times while other songs only have one ending chorus? Think about adjustments that can help keep your song tight.
But, in addition to just reducing the length, it’s good to consider how your reduced-length song begins and ends compared to other similar songs in the current stream or streaming rotation.
Clearly, radio should always be considered a viable part of your music distribution plan. By paying attention to the three main points I’ve detailed here, you can develop a solid radio edit version of your song that will appeal to the widest possible audience, while still retaining your original full version of the song that represents your true artistic view. .