Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Make sure you have all the right ingredients

Of all the clients whom I have represented in promotion and publicity through the years, unfortunately, many have not had their entire proverbial career 'ducks lined in a row'. As such, and based in part on this factor, many clients' music did not obtain the status that it so richly deserved.

Consequently, prior to working with them, I attempted to explain (and, to a number of deaf ears) that achieving a truly successful music career, in both notoriety and financially, is much like baking a cake.

To really create a great-tasting cake, consider that it requires the following ingredients as a minimum; flour, eggs, water, milk, baking soda, icing and, possibly, nuts of some sort. Now, that's a total of seven ingredients.

Similarly, a music career requires (and demands) multiple ingredients as well if it is to be a success, such as; radio airplay, press coverage, live performances, radio interviews, print feature interviews, music reviews.

The reasons (I feel) that many independent artists fall short of obtaining major success in today's industry, particularly, since the operational expenses of the industry are at their most minimal ever in the history of the industry, is a combination of a lack of efficient planning and a lack of proper selective marketing elements.

For instance, when releasing their new music, most recording artists have only radio promotion as a forethought for exposing their releases, although it is the most difficult for them to both obtain and maintain on their own. Distribution seems to run a distant second while print media publicity is, practically, never considered.

While no musician has the power of an android to stay awake twenty-four hours and concentrate all his waking hours on marketing, the truth is, it takes more than radio promotion to make a release a well rounded success.

So, let's review the ingredients necessary in order to bake a tasty music career 'cake'.

Ingredient 1: Radio Promotion:
Obviously, it goes without saying that radio promotion (broadcast, Internet, satellite and otherwise) is, by far and still, one of the most important avenues to bring exposure of your music to the masses. And, it is still easiest to realize airplay fastest on college, public and community stations.

Ingredient 2: Press/Print Media Coverage
However, if you only concentrate on radio promotion, you are leaving a significant media loophole if you are not also approaching the print media in the radio stations' areas that are giving you airplay. Because radio stations can be, to a degree, influenced by what is presented in its local print media.

And, the reverse is true as well, in that area print media will give more serious consideration of a feature interview or music review if it is aware that your music is also being aired on its area stations.

Ingredient 3: Live Performances
Live performances in your radio and print media areas are another strong aspect, and such performances are vital in order to capitalize on and support radio and print media efforts, as well as add additional income.

In attempting to get media coverage, it has become increasingly important for print media that artists are performing in the media's area, particularly if there is no existing radio airplay, before print media will grant coverage.

And, while I don't necessarily agree with print media's policy on this, especially, since readers can now easily purchase music online, they are, indeed, the 'gatekeepers' to print access whose rules we must abide by if we are to work with them.

Ingredient 4: Video Promotion
While once a luxury only major label artists could afford, not only has video production become an affordable reality for independent artists as well, but it is now also a vital necessity. In fact, if you are still not incorporating your singles into video, you are shortchanging yourself 'out the gate'. (See below for steps on how)

Ingredient 5: Distribution
It still amazes me how (and why) independent artists will release new music, and even send it out to stations and print media, nationally and even worldwide, with absolutely no distribution set up, neither online nor offline.

With these artists, I have to wonder if their music careers are simply hobbies. However, in my experience, most recording artists have either themselves invested money in both production and manufacturing, or someone has invested such for them.

Therefore, it is only financially logical that a recoupment and, hopefully, profit would be expected.

Again, success as an artist within the Music industry is not based on one single big thing (radio promotion), however, it is based on a number of little things occurring simultaneously to bring about one great big (hopefully) successful result.

Therefore, the best rule of thumb is to create a plan on paper by listing each of the above areas, then implementing a small portion of them on a daily basis. Much like mutual fund investments, your risk will then be made minimal while, at the same time, getting you noticed in wider areas.

And, that is how you bake your own successful music career 'cake'.

* Steps to Getting Your Video Singles Produced Cheaply *

1. After you have your mastered soundtrack, and have selected your first single, you should then contact an area college, university or art institute.

2. Tell the school's administration department that you need to get in touch with its "broadcast journalism" department.

3. When you reach the broadcast journalism department, ask to speak to an "advisor" or "department head."

4. Tell the advisor or department head that you are an artist interested in getting a music video produced, and that you would like to be put in touch with either a senior student or graduate student who is majoring in broadcast journalism with, perhaps, a concentration on "production" or "direction."

You may also want to stress your preference for a student who has experience with having produced music videos already. Depending on the size of the school, there will likely be several highly qualified student candidates.

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