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Record Pluggers

Updated: Feb 25

There are only about 30 or 40 songs that typically get played on a major radio station throughout the day in differing frequencies and time slots depending on how much of a hit it is at that time. But how do you get played on the radio or get your song to be one of those in rotation? This is the task of the mystery music business people that are the record pluggers.

a record store full of vinyl records

Simply put the plugger is the interface between the million hopeful new tracks released as singles out there in the world and the people who are responsible for radio programming. You might hate that a gatekeeper sits in the way of this process, but can you imagine the impossibility of the radio programmers job if they weren’t?

The job is all about the pluggers relationship with the radio programmers. They can’t AFFORD to take in anything to a programming meeting that they don’t believe in and isn’t likely to fly, which means though they get paid well for the job, the real task falls on the artist to deliver songs that will work on radio, or be a hit.

It’s one thing to bring in the new Ed Sheeran single or whoever is riding the wave that month, but it’s another thing to bring in YOURS. They typically get a 10-15 minute slot to pitch whatever releases they are pitching that week and so do all the other pluggers, and that’s it!

They need to develop a relationship and have trust and respect so that when they bring in a new track from some unknown band, they will take it seriously and give it a reasonable chance.

They will also be able to lay out achievements that the artist has on the table, like live successes, online presence, some back story with a twist, a unique selling point or other factors that may influence the decision, or even perhaps arrange for a live session for a radio producer or music team.

It might also be a journey getting TO that first playlisting via getting single spot plays, adds on regional and smaller radio to build up momentum, and a great plugger will help with that.

Streaming playlisting and online radio are also new-ish frontiers which as they develop also are part of this process. Much like blog aggregators pulled together hot tracks from blogs a few years back no doubt out there right now there are algorithms being developed to trawl the internet as digital gatekeepers for the next big thing.

So what can you do? You can write the best songs possible, pay attention when your producer suggests you do a radio edit that isn’t six minutes long, provide those brag-worthy achievements I just mentioned AND make sure your track sounds good enough to stand up to the competition on the radio. Everything sounds good by itself, but a lot of self-recorded and mixed projects next to a REAL record - just don’t sound like records.

I can help you take your recordings to the next level with a professional mix and at least give you that chance, but YOU have to do the hard work, create truly great music and focus on building a career.

Hope to hear you on the radio soon! This is part of a series of articles for artists that I hope you find useful, written by a veteran mix engineer here at

Click here for more articles on the Music Business and life

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