Before embarking on a promotions blitz for you or your band there are two whopping great myths we need to ignore.
1. Your fans.
You don’t have any.
Let me explain.This is the GREAT LIE perpetrated by music distribution websites like Sonic Bids, CD Baby and Tunecore. This is how they make their money. They want you to believe in a virtual world of pop stardom where every ‘facebook like’ represents someone who wants to hear your music. Every piece of garbage they write in their Help for Musicians blogs contains the lie ‘what your fans want or need’.
You may have a few friends who, once in a while will go to see you perform. They might even buy a CD if they don’t have to pay an entrance fee.
You may have even bought a few thousand ‘likes’ or ‘thumbs up’, but that is a fools’ paradise.
Getting a few dedicated fans is a difficult business.
2. Music journalists
They do not exist. The newspaper industry is dead on its feet. A professional music journalist is someone like myself who will cover a host of stories including news, politics and sport with the arts the last thing to be considered to add a little colour piece to the pubs and clubs’ paid adverts.
Having said that, it’s not all doom and gloom. If you are savvy, you can get some valuable newspaper or magazine publicity.
But you need to do your homework.
You will be competing with PR agencies who depend on newspaper coverage as a barometer of their success.
The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) is the media industry’s stamp of trust. Advertisers want to see how their hard earned cash stacks up and this is done through ABC’s industry-agreed standards for media brand measurement.
So how can musicians gain media exposure?
Here are my top ten tips.
1. Create your profile and brand early. Use it in all marketing.
2. Have everything ready. Music, artwork, CDs, Online store availability, website and social media.
3. Create a digital press kit. There are many good examples of how to do this. Copy a successful local artist.
4. Create a narrative. Who are you? What is interesting or unusual about you or your band?
5. Don’t forget your local connections. You local newspaper may be interested in you simply because of where you are from and the fact that someday you may be successful.
6. Have a short two song unplugged set ready should you get the chance to perform on radio.
7. Prepare your story and stick to the script.
Have some useful anecdotes ready and if they get a reaction, don’t be afraid to repeat them. How many times did Keith Moon drive his Rolls into the swimming pool?
8. Your story; newspapers may have a space to fill and if you get it right you might just get that space.
On your press kit, prepare a short 200 word piece about yourself. Don’t forget to say where you are from and how you were formed.... all basic stuff but important to a newspaper editor.
Then add an additional 200 word interview. Write it yourself. If there is room on the page the editor might use both.
9. Photos. Do not email dozens of photos. That slows some servers down and just gets the reporter angry. Three good quality photos will suffice. Include portrait and landscape. Do not crop too close to the subject!
Photos should be in JPEG form and approx 1- 2MB in size.
10. A covering sentence to the individual journalist is helpful. Try to get a name.
If you haven’t bothered to check the newspaper or magazine, do not phone up to see if your story has been published. That is just bad manners.
Remember, with a bit of skill you might just have something newspaper editors want. Try to be quirky and original and let that be reflected in your photos - even if you are a serious musician who thinks publicity is all a bit twee.
There’s even a story in that!
A few tips from Stephen Dunwoody