It’s 2023 and indie musicians are still a rising force in the world, be it in Malaysia or the United Kingdom (UK). The thriving independent scene of UK music is very much bolstered by the support of internet radios, such as Selector Radio, the British Council’s weekly international radio showcase for the best new music from the UK.
Yet in this age of ubiquitous streaming services, internet radios might be easy to overlook, and for the indie musician, it would be a missed opportunity.
“Radio no longer plays that role to “break” an artist but it’s still a vital support in an artist’s career journey,” says Jamz Supernova, who hosts the 2-hour show on Selector Radio, which airs in Malaysia on BFM 89.9, every Sunday at 9pm.
The DJ and presenter shared that one of the reasons UK music is thriving is due to the variety and diversity of music, which caters for the community level as well as national.
She pointed out that since internet radios are easily available, even in cars, it has become one of the gateways towards having an international career.
“The UK Radio landscape plays a massive role in cultivating and supporting grassroots music as in each genre there is a plethora of shows you can submit your music to be considered for airplay. Also with technological developments such as voice recognition speakers to being able to connect your phone to your car it’s never been easier to access online (internet radio) stations. A great success story would be NTS a niche specialist station that has over 2 million listeners,” says Jamz.
Indie musicians, regardless of their location in the world, can take advantage of this to keep up with global musicality and potentially, even expand their listenership to an international audience.
Here are 3 ways indie musicians can rise with the internet radio.
While the internet radio scene is by no means a less competitive space, some proactivity on the part of indie musicians can help to even out the playing field.
Afterall, Jamz pointed out that there’s no big-name bias and no obligation to please record companies or radio pluggers.
Selector decides which artists to play and interview based on a simple mission to represent the range of new UK music out there rather than how popular or commercial the artist is.
“For upcoming Malaysian artists, my advice would be to carefully consider the type of shows that their music would be a good fit for, and to listen to those shows to get a sense of the type of music that is featured. If their music seems like a good fit, they should be bold in sending it to their favourite DJs, either through email or by reaching out to them through social media.”
“There is a large amount of shows for you to submit your music for consideration. Many of the community stations are for young people by young people so there are often lots of interview slots to come by. Stations that have more funds and backing are able to offer live sessions. Whilst Radio in the UK can no longer break an artist they can support an artist at every stage in their career from the beginning upwards,” Jamz pointed out.
“Really use the internet to your advantage, a global community can be fingertips away. I would make sure you upload your music to sites like Bandcamp & SoundCloud. And use genre tags in the description. You could also do feature swaps with emerging artists from other countries or look at labels outside of Malaysia that could be a fit for your music.”
Jamz shared that in the UK, exciting new sounds are being created with the experimentation of musical instruments across genres.
“We are seeing massive volumes of artists across the board from rap to pop using Drum & Bass as the base of their production palette. TikTok has had a big part to play in this, also the cyclical nature of music with Gen Z artists discovering the genre for the first time, pre-pandemic it would have been student nights that would have introduced to them sound but (now) it has mainly been online and reinterpreted.”
BFM radio’s Ali Johan shared that it’s important for a musician or band to be serious enough about their craft, to go beyond social media hype.
The radio producer shared that, this was a criterion he usually considered before releasing a song for local airplay.
“I am personally more inclined to support serious musicians instead of hobbyists, even if the latter has racked up some social media fame,” says Ali.
He divulged that being active to perform and network with fellow musicians in the local circuit could help to raise a musician’s credentials when it comes to being considered for radio airplay.
Collaborating with emerging artists from other countries could be a way to broaden listenership beyond geographical borders for a specific sound or genre.
Reaching out to internet radios based on genre and music style could be a potential avenue for striking up such international networks and collaborations.
Ali however, cautioned that it isn’t enough for musicians to seek out international collaborations, just for the sake of it.
“The key is that it should be right for both (collaborating) parties. It should go further than merely sharing a stage or being selected as an opening act.”
That concludes how you, as an indie musician can harness the vast and highly interconnected global community of independent music. With the right approach, success can be found even in the most unexpected places.
Check out the latest, most exciting sounds from the UK as put together by Jamz Supernova on Selector Radio at 9pm every Sunday on BFM 89.9. Shared with more than 30 countries around the world, Selector connects a global audience to a virtual tour of the UK, dropping you into the heart of cities like Bristol, Belfast, Cardiff, and Glasgow to listen to the best emerging talent. Jazz, grime, indie, or electronica – or somewhere in between – each week showcases a truly playlist and catch up with the artists and labels who are leading the way in UK music. Selector Radio is a Folded Wing production for the British Council.
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