August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Going to spend the next few months promoting our music. We have no record company behind us and hardly any money, so I thought some of you might find it interesting to see how it goes.
I’ve tried to keep my objectives slightly limited, try and get some articles written and a bit of radio play then ask a few record companies as to whether they’re interested in dealing with us.
Please join me for the ride.
Before going ahead with anything I decided to try to create a strategy with limited objectives, this would allow me to have end points in view and measurable outcomes… not because I’m particularly organised but just so I’d know when to pause.
So here are my main objectives:
Get coverage in the media: Get interest from local and national media, maybe get some interviews and hopefully get noticed by bloggers.. so I’d better research a list ASAP.
Try to get tracks on the radio: Send out CDs to all the appropriate DJs / So get a list, contact people, send out packages and follow up.
Create a bit of a buzz and contact Record Labels
Work towards 2 release dates: Album release date: 10th October 2011 and Single Release Date 10th December
So with all this in mind I started by getting a 4 week free trial to Music Weekly and buying a cheap copy of the music directory from Amazon for £16 compared to £40
I also looked up a load of CD printing services and came across 1 which seemed quite reasonable however when I got a quote it was for more than their own special offer, a quick phone call remedied that though… I felt like saying “Don’t try that old Jedi shit on me”.
So the next job is the design, however as this is for radio stations and the press it’s a whole different approach, it’s not about looking good but about looking like what the industry normally submits. More about that later though.
Tonight I’ll design the CD print, re-master the album so the tracks I want radio stations to consider are first, and work out the blurb for the labels on the CD envelope and any accompanying paperwork.
I’ll hopefully have something to show you tomorrow.
Day 3 ~ If you want to make God laugh show God your plans ~
I’m in to “next week” and still designing the CD cover. I already had one set up, but it needed a bit of colour correction. I’ve printed out quite a few trials and I’m not getting the strength of colour I need so sometime this week I’ll have to visit a print house and get some help… Ker-ching!
The other development has been a decision to create another CD, this one will have the same tracks on but in a different order (basically the more immediately impacting songs first) and an 8 page booklet, this CD will be available for those who want a more luxurious product and for use as a promotional disk. The other CDs tracks are ordered as Id originally wanted but as it’s an on demand service (as in the company manufactures and sends out the CDs when an order is placed) there was a limit on the book size, which is 4 pages. Getting 19 songs to fit over 3 pages has been quite a challenge for both me as a designer and no doubt anyone trying to read the bloody thing. Anyway the upshot is, 2 CDs, one is cheaper because it has a smaller booklet and the other is slightly more expensive but is more luxurious. Plus I can also send out signed copies of the 8 page one. Phew, did you get all of that… the messes I get myself in to sometimes. So this week is about getting the new Master CD and graphics out to the UK manufacturers and getting a corrected set of graphics out to the US ones.
Meanwhile I’ve just done 2 email interviews, I’ll post the links on here once they’re published, and I am trying to produce a new song too.
As the saying goes: “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it” Hold on! Everybody is doing it!!!
Be back soon~ish.
Two Weeks Later
The designs all got sent off, but both the US and UK companies made mistakes, fortunately it hasn’t affected my schedule. However the main problem has been in terms of printing. The Uk company printed the tray card even though I’d informed them the proof showed the file was corrupted, I mean it had big pink and green stripes running across it. Plus the print out of the cover is too dark. The US version has come out pretty close to my mock ups, but the UK one is way off. If there’s any more runs I’ll be making sure they get it right next time.
Whilst I was waiting for the CD’s to be manufactured I created a database to collate information about radio, magazines and other media that might help run articles or add my music to their playlists. Just going through Radio and magazines created a shortlist of over 600 entries. I still have to add newspapers and music blogs to the list, but one thing at a time. I’ve spent this week contacting college radio stations and specialised medium readership magazines. This has helped me get in to a work flow and become more focused when it comes to phone calls. Next week I’ll move on to higher profile organisations. So far the response has been minor, a couple of companies have got back to me, but given how many of my messages were written directly and relevantly to those concerned I’m surprised by how little feedback I’ve had. Next week I’ll try to establish more contact via the phone than just by email and send promo disks out to the majority of contacts, hopefully that’ll establish more engagement.
So far one highlight has been chatting to DJ’s using their studio chat module whilst I listened to them talking back to me on the show. Also two articles have been published so far. I shall leave them with you for now, and will report back soon.
October 17 2011
It’s been a few weeks since I last reported back on what’s been going happening promotion-wise. I’d say sorry about the delay but I think it’s probably been for the best.
It’s really hard not to come over as sounding a bit bitter, but that’s how I feel. I have emailed around 200 radio stations, I mean these are college, community, hospital and local commercial stations and I’ve only had 6 replies. I’ve also sent out disks to about 20 stations and once again only had one reply. I’m annoyed, not because they’re probably inundated with disks and can’t cope, but because it’d be good if they just had written on their webpages, “Please don’t bother sending emails or disks”. Of course it maybe that our music isn’t up to scratch, but we now have over 85,000 followers on the Internet so I don’t think it’s that, but of course I can’t be sure. What it maybe is this, and tell me if I’m wrong please, is this:
Commercial radio stations need to play music people want to hear in order to bring in audiences to listen to the adverts that keep the station going. Most people want to hear music that’s in the charts because that’s what’s deemed as good. What gets in to the charts is music that is played a lot on radio and TV, and what gets played a lot is music that’s placed on playlists. Music that gets on playlists gets on to those lists through a few main ways. Firstly panels on some stations choose the list, sometimes DJs get to choose what gets played, but in the background are pluggers, record companies and companies interlinked in some ways to the radio stations. In the UK Global Radio owns most of the major radio stations, what they play becomes the chart music and consequently that gets played on the BBC.
I recently went to an AIM (Association of Independent Musicians) meeting with the top brass of Radio One and their take on it was that their playlists were formed by a multitude of influences. Submissions, pluggers, chance hearings and so on but at the end of the day how different is what we hear on Radio One to any of the other major commercial stations? Not much, so the proof is in the pudding.
Now BBC Radio has made a gesture to opening up opportunities to new artists via their BBC Introductions scheme which is also expanding to its other stations e.g Radio 2, as well as making a proportion of air time available for the scheme in every program. However it has already received 55000 applications so it’ll be interesting to see how well it filters through such a massive submission.
Meanwhile I’m sitting here re-assessing the situation. I’m aiming to contact the major radio stations and record companies over the next few weeks whilst at the same time approaching more prominent publications, but I’m already beginning to get an idea as to what I’ll be saying to you at the end of this process and that’s this. The Internet is going to be the place for me, the mainstream is tied up. MTM (An Internet radio station that promotes new artists) has already featured me and my music and wants to do a second interview about the album, GMH Café Radio and Stray FM have also featured us, so some things are happening but there’s definitely a feeling of impasse in the mainstream if you don’t get picked up by a record company. In fact the BBC guys said the same thing when they told us that they would avoid non-label artists, mainly because of the worry that they would not be organised enough.
So as you can see it’s a funny time, I don’t really know if I’m coming or going. The CD is ready to sell and is available on line at www.simonmarksmith.com/store even though its “Impact Day” is scheduled for November 28th 2011. I’ll announce its availability to my followers sometime over the next fortnight.
One thing that has sunk in is that promotion isn’t something that one stops and starts around albums but is continual so if anything this project has given me that realisation. I’ll let you know how this next stage goes and I’ll post links to the radio appearances as and when they become available. I’ll post them here: http://simonmarksmith.com/epk/articles1.html