Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Excuses Musicians Use For Not Learning About the Music Business

I have heard them all...the reasons so many solo artists and band members give for not learning about the business they are in...the Music Business:

The Top 3 Reasons are:

1.They can't afford any courses, classes, books, or workshops.(in truth no musician can afford NOT to educate themselves about this crazy, ever-changing business)

2.They believe that if they know the right people in the music business, they won't have to bother with learning how their industry operates, their contacts will take care of them.(and will they ever!!)

3. Leaning about the music business will take too much time away from creating their music.(yes, and more likely unscrupulous businessmen and women will exploit that very creativity they are so enamored with.)

Now, I may not have heard all the reasons for being ignorant of the inner workings of this business.

I'm sure you have your own reasons for avoiding this issue, but all I am asking you to do is examine those reasons. Ask questions about how things work!

That would at least be a start!

To paraphrase a well-known saying: "The career you save may be your own!"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Building a Successful Radio Airplay Campaign

Designing A Realistic Radio Promotion Plan

The commercial radio industry, at this time in history, couldn’t be less friendly to the independent musician. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some significant radio airplay available to you if you know what you’re doing. Outlined below is a plan to consider if you have the three important ingredients necessary for working your record to radio.

* The money to fund the campaign

* The time to spend working all the stations consistently

* A product that is ready for national airplay

When it comes to commercial radio, the chances of getting significant national airplay for your independent record are next to none. We live in an era when a small group of powerful media conglomerates own and control the most important radio stations in the land. Unless you are connected to a major label, or are independently wealthy, the costs of promoting your songs nationally to commercial radio have spiraled out of sight.

There are, however, lots of mix shows and specialty shows on commercial stations that may offer limited airplay, and at least will get you some awareness in the markets across the country. There will be a lot of work involved in finding these stations yourself, city by city, and music format by music format. I suggest you subscribe to or get a copy of the annual CMJ Directory.

If you have money to invest in radio promotion it’s possible to hire an independent promoter who may be able to open some doors to these shows for you. Be prepared to spend several hundred dollars a week for their services.

A more realistic approach for airplay is to consider the options available on the noncommercial side of the FM dial. (88.1 FM to 91.9 FM) With the combination of college radio stations, community stations, and even some of the larger National Public Radio affiliated stations, your chances of getting your record played are much better.

Also, don't forget those thousands of Internet radio stations that stream millions of songs a day. Google the phrase "Internet radio stations list", and you will be amazed how many stations on the web play independent music of every imaginable type. If you own a Blackberry or an iPhone, there are several free apps that will give you access to these web broadcasters.

Here is an outline based on how professional record labels plan for their radio promotions:

You need to prepare:
• A database of commercial, non-commercial and Internet stations that you realistically think may play your music.
• A timeline you’ll use to put together your promo material together (basically setting your deadlines).
Remember that your plan may be distributed to any helpers or employees you may have for your own label, and any independent promotion people you may hire. This plan will be their introduction to your or your artist, and is the plan they will base their work on.

1. Design a detailed overview of your radio promotion plan.
Consider all marketing and promotional ideas listed below.
Propose what you think would work best in each of the areas to help market the record to radio.
Remember to keep cohesiveness between all areas: Give reasons why your music is appropriate to each station you approach. You will need several practical tools/materials to achieve your goals. (Computers, Smartphones, reliable Internet connection, hardware/software, office supplies, etc.).

Address the following specific topics in your plan:

Background/Goals: Give a brief history of the artist, and describe your goals

Image: Describe/ maintain the artist's image consistently in all promo materials.

Radio: What radio format(s) will be targeted? What markets? Which songs? Any station promotions? (On-air concerts?) Hiring any Independent promoters?

Publicity: Describe your plans to create a “buzz” in the print media. Any press releases to the music industry trades? Update any bios, fact sheets, and electronic press materials.

Sales: Describe Distribution and Retail plans. Any in-store play/ promotions?

Other specific sales opportunities? Mail order, live shows, Internet sales
Any store promotional tie-ins with radio stations?

Video: Is a video cost effective? What airplay opportunities are there for the video?

Touring: Describe the time frame for touring, and other promotional events to coordinate while on the road. Consider specific clubs, halls, fairs, festivals,
Any club/venue promotional tie-ins with radio stations

Social Networking: Mention any Facebook, Twitter or other SN plans

Misc.: Having a record release party? Novelty items? Any other clever ideas?
Explain each idea in-depth !

2. Design a 12 week plan for the product and promotional tools.

* Lay out what needs to be accomplished each week to get the record out.

* Consider the: artwork, mastering, credits, sequencing, printing, pressing, booklets,layout/design. And be sure to convert your songs for online downloading!

* Include in the timeline when to start working on your promotional tools

* Design the timeline with deadlines for each element of your project.

Remember that your radio promotion campaign is part of what I refer to as the 'Four-Fronts of Music Marketing', and your plan must connect to all the other Fronts in order to be successful.

Always have distribution and sales plans, as well as publicity, advertising and touring plans coordinated carefully with your airplay campaign. The worst thing that can happen to any song on the radio is that someone hears the song, but can’t find a way to buy it.

Professional record labels always have distribution and sales connections set up before they secure airplay. You should do the same.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Think Like a Music Publicist

Think Like A Professional Music Publicist

(25 Tips borrowed from the mind of a publicity genius...Howard Bloom)

The following information is summarized and improvised from an interview with the legendary music publicist and father of modern music publicity...Howard Bloom in the ‘Billboard Guide to Music Publicity’ (out of print book)

Howard Bloom (now a retired music publicist and well known author of books such as the Lucifer Principle is responsible for the publicity for such legendary artists and bands as: ZZ Top, Prince, Talking Heads, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, REO Speedwagon, George Michael, and countless other artists.

The 25 Tips;

1. Learn to be a writer for magazines, newspapers, and any online publications.

2. When going in to work with an act for the first time, go in AS IF you were a journalist and interview them at GREAT LENGTH, spending as much as 2 or 3 days in the interview.

3. The purpose of this is to find out all the facts, but more than just bland facts—find those things that will make an interesting and compelling ANGLE.


5.THEN, write your Bio, that incorporates all the information you have discovered.

6. Writing your Bio is like a good encyclopedia tells all the facts that would be useful to other writers you will send the Bio to, and to yourself as you approach media contacts who will be EAGER to take your phone calls and work with you.

7. Publicity by itself cannot sell records, but it will be a strong addition to your other marketing tactics if done right.

8. Don’t worry about generating tons of press. Concentrate on appropriate media contacts within your geographic and budgeting limits. Then WORK those contacts with constant, but polite communications that will provide your contacts with useful information to do THEIR job.

9. If done right and in cooperation with a professional record label that is dedicated to building slowly and consistently the careers of their acts, publicity can do the point that as an act grows, and more and more articles and print media appear, people will ultimately say something like; “ Oh, that band (or artist)...I’ve been reading about them”.

10. Aim to get consistent press, month after month. No haphazard publicity planning!

11. Remember this truth: When it comes to the music publications, like Rolling Stone, Spin, Uncut, or Mojo....or even local and regional music outlets, there is a key group of critics that run through this country the way a nerve runs through a lobster. These critics are all friends and talk to each other. The have certain acts that are fashionable among them to like or dislike.”

I2. Is YOUR ACT one of those acts that these critics are likely to respond to? Research who these critics are and try to determine if your artist or band might be appealing to them. If not....

13. Keep your acts AWAY from any critic who you suspect doesn’t like your act’s kind of music.

14. Get involved with choosing the photographs that will be sent out with other publicity material. Keep photos 8x10, black and white, glossies!! Nothing else.

15, Music publicity is just one of many tools used to promote an act: get involved with the act’s management, record label, and publishing company. Communication is everything. If anyone drops the ball the whole campaign can collapse.

16. The first step in planning a music publicity campaign is doing research; the second step is creating one’s materials (bios, fact sheets, cover letters, quote sheets, business cards, websites, and other online materials); the third step is creating lists of those people you think are good contacts for your particular act. The next step is sending out or emailing the materials to those people you think can help your act, so that after a week to ten days, you can begin contacting these people and have people on the line who are willing to work with you.

17. Research and write down the ‘lead times’ for every publicity contact you make. Depending on whether a contact is a newspaper, a website, a blogger, a national or regional publication these lead times can vary from hours to days to weeks, or even months in advance of the publication date.

18. If you have done YOUR JOB with your contacts, you then have to wait and see if THEY have done THEIR JOB helping you get the word out, (the buzz) on your act.
If someone gives you bad press, don’t make a big deal about it, just remember who said what about your act, and DO NOT include them in any further publicity plans.

19. When working with a record label always remember that a record company will put out many obstacles to the development of the career of an artist. Being signed to a label is not the beginning of stardom, it is the beginning of your difficulties. A label will throw every obstacle it can in front of you, and it is up to you to find out how to get around, under, over, and through them.

20. You must be willing to work 12-18 hours a day 6 or 7 days a week until your act is successful, and be sure their label reps and management are going to be up working with you all the way toward success.

21. There is NO SUCH THING as a short term publicity goes on eternally OR until the act breaks down and quits. But as a publicist YOU will never stop working, you will just move on to the next project that comes your way....VACATIONS? There are no vacations in this profession.

21. Today, more than any other era, acts are broken on the road, and your publicity work should encourage that, and be in there helping plan the tours and all that goes with working the publicity angle as you move along.

22. When you are planning a publicity project you have to work out your strategy from the get go, like you are building a building. If you don’t build the foundation right, it will tilt just like the Tower of Pisa, except this tower WILL fall without proper planning.

23.Be sure there is ONLY 1 contact to the press with your act. YOU are that contact. Do not let members of a band switch around talking to the press. ALL these types of interviews or press conferences must be PART of your plan, and going back, IF you did your initial interview with the act successfully you will know what bandmember to work with to get the right information out to the press, and that information should be what YOU said to your act as you train them for working with the music press.

24. Choose your media carefully. We live in an era of many press possibilities: From local papers and magazines to the bigger national and international music publications. In addition there is radio...AM/FM, the upcoming HD Radio stations, satellite radio, and thousands of Internet broadcasters. And don’t forget television and the hundreds of cable channels out there. If that isn’t enough, there are more music bloggers out there than there are websites these days for music exposure. The trick is ....WHICH OF THESE IS RIGHT FOR YOUR ACT?

25.LASTLY....well, there is no last thing to know. There is just more to know all the time. You must be possessed like a demon in this business, or you...or worse yet...YOUR ACT may suffer. Keep your eyes and ears open for new publicity the old saying: “better look behind you, you never know who is gaining on you.”