Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wheat From Chaff

I just completed my annual clean up of my promotional music inbox.

All year, I hold onto everything - good or bad - because you never know if something that didn't seem like a hit at first listen surprises you and catches fire.

After filling a bookcase with wannabes for twelve months, each January I go through it all and recycle the huge number of CD's and other promotional materials from people and songs that failed to gain any meaningful airplay.

Last week, I had lunch with a longtime friend who has been doing music promotion for decades.  I asked him how the almost impossible odds against success affects the people he works with.

His favorite artists are the ones who take the budget from their hopeful backers and revel in the fun of traveling the country for a year, visiting radio and fans, enjoying the ride as they consume the more than a million dollars it can take.

Some have such a good time doing that, they almost feel like a real superstar and may find yet another backer for another run of the hospitality, pizza at lunch, dinners with music directors and acoustic performances with a traveling guitar backup musician.

CDX-CD exec Joe Kelly's "seven things you need to know" is a great start:
  • Make sure you have recorded music that is excellent and competitive.
  • Equally important is defining what will make you stand out as an artist.  
  • Have a written game plan.
  • Develop a fan base that you can grow as you take your music to bigger audiences with radio airplay.
  • When you’re planning the timeline for your promotion, build in several weeks to visit radio stations and meet programmers face-to-face.
  • For artists seeking to achieve charting positions on the Music Row CountryBreakout Chart or monitored Billboard and Country Aircheck charts, you may need multiple promoters on your single. Who’s on your team?
I have a 7th one:  visit your local country station programmer and ask them to give you the hundreds of throwaways that never made it last year.  Before you record, spend time listening and studying them.

Today, thanks to how inexpensive it is to put together a home studio, there's very little terrible music being released to radio.  It's all pretty good, by singers who sound OK, with songs that aren't bad.

It's easy to find folks who'll tell you how great you are when they are taking money from you.

It's harder to define what makes you different from the pack and to find songs that make a difference.

Get hot or go home
so I don't have to toss your product in my trash next January.

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