Monday, June 20, 2011
It's All About You (Finally Right?)
This for all Creative Soul artists, or any artist really, who has put out a CD, or music product, to retail, wholesale, trunk of your car, iTunes, or elseways.
This is for those people who are pulling their hair out (yes, extensions and toupees count!) trying to figure out why their CDs are NOT jumping off the shelves (as if there are any), getting play on the radio (as if it was very possible and anyone was listening), or finding open ears on the world wide web.
Radio promotion is not the answer, it's a tool.
Internet and social marketing is not the end all be all, it's a tool.
Publicity, marketing, distribution, touring. All good things that may help, but they are just tools in your tool belt. Unless you actually use the information you get from all these, you won't get anywhere.
It's all about YOU working it. Every day. Forevermore. The end.
Remember, the main goal is to get people listening and liking your music. This takes more than random radio listens, a Facebook post every now and then, a blast of energy one night emailing possible places to go perform, or paying for a single publicity blast.
You can't do one or more of these things and then just sit back and wait for the sales and fans to come. It won't happen.
Oh sure, every now and then a song hits at just the right time and the gates open for a minute. Yes, things go viral on the internet and that can mean an influx of fans and attention. But these are things you can never plan or purposely orchestrate.
Now, most of you will say, and rightly so, that the reason you can't do a lot of what you feel you need to do marketing wise is because you spent all your money recording and putting the product together. While money may be an important issue for some marketing efforts, this really isn't what I am talking about.
No, what I am talking about is the free kind of marketing. It costs nothing but your time. But it takes your time every day.
The artists I know that succeed, the ones that everyone wished they could be like, are the ones that spend this time, every day. They go to sleep thinking about it, and they wake up thinking about it.
It has to be you. You pushing it. You spending the time each and every day thinking, praying, and working on promoting your music. And this is above and beyond the simple processes you can do like radio and internet.
Here's a few examples.
As you may or may not know, getting a song to radio is not that difficult. You simply hire a radio promoter or promotion service, and then pay the man!
Many artists do this step, and their song is marketed to radio station managers and DJs and off they go. They then wait to get the radio reports and see some results most of the time, no results some of the time, and every now and then very nice results.
This lasts for 2-4 months until the single promotion is over, and then the artist is left wondering, "Hmm, why didn't we get a lot of sales off that? Why aren't people looking me up and contacting me online?"
One reason is maybe that you didn't do anything but read radio reports for 4 months!
If you are serious about wanting to sell product and gain new fans, you SHOULD be reading that report, finding stations that you could travel to, and getting in touch with them to see about a visit. A visit could lead to them playing you more, or a gig in that area. This could lead to hundreds of new fans, tons of sales, and a new place to include each year on your tour.
Um, you did do this so you could go and minister to people right? Well, then use your radio reports for that purpose.
Now, if you tell me, I'm fine with paying radio $$ just so the song could possibly reach someone…well, okay. But I doubt that's really going to be good enough for you. Yes, we want the songs to reach hearts, but will that help replenish the budget of the music ministry?
We live in a time where if you wanted to, you could certainly spend a good amount of time promoting yourself online via blogs, Facebook, Reverbnation, Twitter, and many, many other great sites. I have seen artist pages and sites grow exponentially with daily marketing and attention.
But you have to put in the work.
It's really easy for us to set up these things for artists, but if we set it up and they never work it, it's like starting a garden, planting the seeds, and then never tending it. Most of the time, nothing will grow. More often than not it turns to a bed of weeds.
I've gone back to artist sites I built 3, 4, even 5 years ago and there isn't anything new posted on the site. And this after the artist made a big deal of having a way to make changes themselves.
Social media can work, and work big. But it has to be tended every day. People are social every day. They get on Twitter or FB to see what's new. If you're not posting anything new, no one will know to pay attention.
(See these posts for more info on Social Media: Social Media Explained, How (and Why) to Build Your Platform, and more)
Other things like marketing, publicity, etc. are all the same. They are all things that can work, but you must tend to them consistently and with the same fervor you had working on your recording project.
Most times artists are dialed in during the recording process. They love it, and put in any effort I require. They work hard and wait patiently (mostly) until those CDs come in.
And then depression sets in.
They start looking for places to play. They start looking for folks who want to buy the CD. And the hard truth is that they have to constantly work at it.
They have to sell. And selling is tough. We creative folk don't always have that business passion that we need to sell our wares to the public.
The sad thing is, all the tools are at your disposal now. This isn't the 80s or even 90s when the only way to reach the music buying public was a label deal. All the people and businesses and services you need to succeed are online and a phone call or email away.
We know them and offer them all to our artists. I just can't always sell the services to them like I can the recording process. I think because the recording process has always been OUR service, and I know how to sell that.
I would love to hear responses to this. Please post below. Even if you do not agree. Tell me why I am wrong if you think so.
But I don't think I am.
I'm an artist too. I too have a single at radio now. I have only contacted one station for a visit so far. But guess what, I met them in person, got more spins that week and made the top 30 Billboard chart because of it, AND I found out about a steady gig locally they sponsor we might get to play sometime (on the beach in FL!)
I also have social media, and find it hard to work it. But took the plunge for some Facebook marketing, and try to post every day with a song or picture. Our Facebook page has grown from about 49 folks (mostly friends) to almost 2000 people from all around the world in just 2 months.
I'm telling you, work works. There is no substitute or easy cheat path to success (see Miami Heat). You have to put the time (and sometimes money) into it.
It takes money to make money? Probably. But more than that, it takes getting to work, selling yourself as an artist.
I'm not talking about becoming a radio promoter yourself, or learning to be a web promoter yourself, etc.
But you have something no one else does: The desire to make music your life. If you do indeed have it, then get to it.
You do have it, right?
Eric Copeland is a producer, author, and oh yeah, artist - you know, the reason he got into all this in the first place. His company Creative Soul Records helps people think about, make, and sometimes (if he can convince them to) promote their music. For more info check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com