Worldwide digital radio promotion with iPluggers: interview with founder and A&R Marvin Kuijs
An interview with the founder of radio promotion service iPluggers, Marvin Kuijs.
Back in 2015 I was releasing a single for a personal project of mine and in my search for radio promotion I came upon ipluggers.com and thought to give it a try since it was very reasonably priced for what it was offering. Shortly after submitting the track, Marvin Kuijs, the founder of the service, reached out to let me know that my track was rejected for radio promotion. As much as a shock it was to me, I came to realize two things: 1. as an artist you have to respect people who take the time and courage to help you make your music better through constructive criticism and 2. ipluggers is indeed delivering on the promise of keeping a high standard in the music they promote to radio stations.
I recently followed up with Marvin to know a bit more about the service and shed some light into the inner workings of iPluggers.
Chris Roditis (Musicngear): Hi Marvin, thanks for doing this interview with Musicngear. When did you actually start iPluggers and how did you get the idea to offer musicians radio promotion via a digital system?
Thanks for having me, I'm glad to shed more light on the inner working of iPluggers.
For musicians the most important way to get heard and get more fans is airplay. But traditional radio promotion is a major investment that is not affordable for every musician or label and especially independent musicians cannot afford traditional plugging in these times.
The idea was born when I realized that we as an industry distribute releases digitally to shops, but we still rely on traditional radio promotion to get new fans that will buy the music online. It all just seemed counter-intuitive. Why not harness the power of technology to eliminate countries' borders and cut costs?
We started development of iPluggers back in 2010, launched in 2011 and have been servicing independent artists and major labels ever since.
iPluggers makes it easier and affordable for artists to get airplay and increase their fan base. Labels, artists and bands no longer solely depend on major investments in traditional plugging to get their music on air.
Not only that, iPluggers promotes music worldwide in every genre. With over 35.000 stations in our network, it makes it possible for us to give out a guarantee on results with each release we promote.
Musicngear: It sounds like you have quite some experience in the music industry. What is your background? Have you worked in the field of radio promotion before you started iPluggers?
Yes, I worked as a traditional radio promoter for over 6 years.
Next to that, I started a publishing company at the age of 18, did freelance A&R work for several record companies for years and scored 3 top 40 hits as producer/DJ. With this experience I founded iPluggers.
Next to this, I occasionally give lectures at universities for Entertainment and Management. It's great to teach the next generation on topics such as publishing deals, rights management and of course effective radio promotion ;)
The best thing of this job is to see those upcoming acts get airplay on stations worldwide via our network. At the end of the day, that is what I founded iPluggers for and it's very satisfying to see that.
Musicngear: What do you enjoy most from your work at iPluggers?
It's hard to choose what I enjoy most, I enjoy a lot of aspects of being an A&R at iPluggers.
We get material from both established and upcoming artists. It's such a pleasure to get into work and to listen to new releases and discover those little gems.
I also find it very satisfying to give new artists advice on how they can improve their music (if needed) and how to brand and present themselves better to radio stations. Although some might say that this isn't part of the service we offer, we really want the artists we promote to succeed. The packaging does play a role in getting airplay. This is why I also look at how each artist and release presents itself.
However, the best thing of this job is to see those upcoming acts get airplay on stations worldwide via our network. At the end of the day, that is what I founded iPluggers for and it's very satisfying to see that.
Musicngear: You said you work for established artists. Can you give us some names?
We have promoted major artists such as Afrojack, Pitbull, Joss Stone, Shaggy, Daddy Yankee, Snoop Dogg, INNA, Tito Jackson, Janet Jackson, Chenoa and many more.
Musicngear: What about other releases? Do you promote anyone and anything?
We only promote airplay-quality tracks and releases to our network. If we'd plug bad recordings or out of tune vocals, we wouldn't be taken as seriously by our network as we are now. Our mission is to provide stations with high-quality releases and get those great tracks out there and heard.
To summarize: only airplay-quality releases can be promoted via our system.
Musicngear: So what are the steps to getting airplay with iPluggers?
For artists and labels we have made this very easy, there are 4 simple steps:
1) Signup for an account (https://ipluggers.com/signup)
2) Complete your profile
3) Upload music
4) Ask for approval
At that point I will listen to the release, look at the overall branding and get back to the artist or label with constructive feedback or an immediate green light.
After the release is approved, the artist or label pays for worldwide radio promo and sets the promo date.
As soon as the promo date is reached, they have real-time insight in which radio station from which country has downloaded the release for airplay. Additional artists can receive feedback and interview requests from radio stations. It takes at least 4 weeks in total for every radio promotion campaign.
Musicngear: So you don't promote a release within 24 hours to all stations? Why not? This must surely be possible with a digital system.
We have made it possible for stations to personalize their account to fit their needs. Not every music director wants to be updated every day on new releases.
Each MD, PD, DJ, station manager etc. can change their notification settings. They only receive new music when they want to, whether it's immediately, once a week or once every 2 weeks. This tailored plugging process increases the odds of getting airplay.
Create your own style of music, be original, stay true to yourself and your skills and do something new. Do not copy the old or try to fit the mould.
Musicngear: That makes sense. Is the whole system automated?
A lot of aspects of our system are automated, but we pride ourselves on the personal attention we give to our artists, labels and radio stations. Our system is automated because it's the most efficient way to promote music to radio stations worldwide, but we are very hands on and involved with every artist we promote.
I myself am involved in the day-to-day operations of iPluggers and we have a team of radio connectors personally checking in with existing stations in our network and making new connections outside our network.
Next to this our support department is on standby 5 days a week 10 hours a day. We strive to answer every incoming request/mail within 24 hours on business days.
Musicngear: Thank you for giving us your insights into both your service and yourself as a founder. Now that we have a better idea of what iPluggers is about, do you have any advice for starting and/or independent artists with regards to making it on the radio?
First and foremost, create your own style of music, be original, stay true to yourself and your skills and do something new. Do not copy the old or try to fit the mould.
And please, get into a good studio and make sure the final version of your track is airplay ready. Have it produced and mastered properly if you do not know how to do this yourself.
Make sure to build a worldwide fanbase: perform, be active on social media, distribute your music to shops worldwide and promote your music to radio stations worldwide. The times have changed and your marketing strategy should change with it.
Check out iPluggers at https://ipluggers.com/
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