Stand Above the Noise: The Challenges of an Indie Musician
In the newest installment of the Stand Above the Noise video series, Andrew sits down with Reimut Van Bonn of VUT (German Association Of Independent Music Companies) to talk about the current state of Music Discovery, Maintaing a Professional Music Career, and how the Music Industry is changing.
Check it out below, and don’t forget to Subscribe to the series here for regularly scheduled Music Industry video content!
Stand Above the Noise is a documentary-style series of video interviews, filmed and produced by Dotted Music. From Berlin and Helsinki, to a host of cities dotted across Europe, we have been encounter musicians and essential names in the music business, including representatives from the likes of Universal Music, Soundcloud, or Live Nation. Learn how to be remarkable and make this business work for you with Stand Above The Noise, a contemporary insight into the contemporary music industry.
The Power of Personal - When Traditional Marketing Still Counts
Written by Jem Bahaijoub
As a new artist it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constantly evolving new media world. With new marketing platforms bombarding us every day, it’s difficult to see the forest from the trees. So what should you do to market your debut EP? How can you build up a fan base from scratch? Next time you feel a panic-attack coming on and start screaming “where do I start?!”, take a deep breath and remember that we were sociable before we were social. So cast your smiley text faces and FB invitations to one side, and go back to basics. The foundational elements of direct-to-fan marketing all started in the physical world….
Put Your Face In A Face
Always remember that your most important marketing tool is yourself. Nothing can ever replace the importance of face-to-face interactions. You may not have time (or the money) to attend every industry and event conference but remember that every time you step outside of your house a marketing opportunity presents itself - at your local coffee shop for example (can you leave postcards on their counter?), going to see other local bands (how about a gig swap?), even at dinner with your extended family (get them on your mailing list!). The power of personal will ALWAYS trump the online world. Why? Because you are instantly more memorable in real life, and people will be willing to help you out more if they know you as a person.
Throwback Thurs: Capitalizing on a Branded Session
Written by Mike Harmon
Whether you’re an artist that has done a branded video session before, or are planning a session for the coming weeks, it’s important to know how to make the best out of your session. Several labels, studios, and other music brands are making use of live-in-studio videos with high quality audio to benefit both the brand and the artist, maximizing exposure for both. Some companies hosting session videos with bands include our friends Audio Tree, RAWsession, Sideshow Alley, TourStop, and even non-music related brands such as Converse Rubber Tracks and Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound.
Oftentimes with these sessions, both parties win in the case of good promotion; Artists get additional exposure through a new network, and the brand benefits by having artists with a large fanbase attracted to their content. Here’s a list of a few promotional methods we’ve found work well when promoting your branded video sessions.
Showcase Unreleased Material
Playing an alternate live version, a deep cut, a b-side of your album, or an unreleased song is a great way to take advantage of your session. This offers your band the opportunity to showcase material that your audience might not see otherwise, or promote upcoming music before it is released. Hosting videos of this type in your Presskit is a great way to grant advance, private access to press outlets for early reviews of new material.
Designing an Effective Band/Artist Logo
Interview by Mike Harmon
Austin Bousley of Venture Guitars provides some insight on designing an effective logo for artists and the process from a designer’s point of view. Austin is a graphic designer currently working in Boston, MA, most well known for his work with Hot Rod Circuits and The Tower & The Fool of Run for Cover Records.
Presskit.to: How do you get started designing a logo? Does the idea come from the band and their music, or do you reference other bands’ logos?
Austin Bousley: It differs with all bands. The deal is when working with bands (rather than a corporation) is that they are creative; they’ll always have a lot of input and some have a pretty good idea of what they want. I respect that; I’ve played in bands for more than half my life and understand the need to have creative control over the artwork that represents your music. What I usually do is talk to them for a while, grab a few beers and shoot the shit about what they want. After that, I usually just gather their ideas, keep them in mind, put on their record, and sketch for a while. Then I hit the computer. I usually riff on what they want to do but try and make it my own. I generally try and stay away from looking at other bands’ logos while designing - I feel the more I look at other bands’ logos the harder it is for me to create something different.
How To Get Music Blog Coverage
Written by T.J. Petracca
Getting your music blogged about is one of the best ways to help your band grow on the Internet. Believe it or not, bloggers are some of the most powerful and influential people in the music industry. Sure, some of them are reclusive nerds slouched over glowing screens in their parents’ basement, but an increasing number of bloggers are producers, managers, A&R guys, and musicians themselves. Even if they are nerds in their parents’ basement, their influence can be extremely crucial to the success of your band. Below, find the top 5 ways to improve your chances of being featured on blogs.
1. Content is King
Creating bloggable content should be your first objective, but doing so is easier said than done. I’m not talking about overloading the web with songs, videos, and pictures, or talking about compromising your art, but rather that you stay current with the type of music that is getting coverage right now. Learn about the blogs you want to see your band on, and target them with the content you create.
2. The Album is Dead
At least when your band is first starting out. At that point in time, it’s all about releasing singles. Put your single up on an attractive Bandcamp page and upload it to Soundcloud. (Soundcloud is crucial to getting reviews. Many bloggers have soundcloud dropboxes built into their sites, making it super easy to share your tracks with them without clunky email attachments.)
3. Keep it Short and Sweet
Now that you’ve uploaded your content to the web, it’s time to start reaching out to blogs to get your music covered. Don’t spam them! Instead, learn about them and make sure you think they will actually like your music based on their previous posts. Always read the ‘about’ section on every blog and understand who you are talking to. Bloggers get hundreds, even thousands of submissions every day. Keep your email short and to the point. Use your subject line wisely so you’ll stand out. Talk about their blog and tell them what you like about it. Maybe highlight a specific post that made you think they would like your music. Attach a .jpeg of your album art and link to your bandcamp. Look at the format of their site — if you can size the photo you send them to fit perfectly with their layout, they are more likely to blog about you.
As I mentioned before, many bloggers prefer to receive submissions in their Soundcloud dropbox. Make sure to do that, but a follow up email is always a nice touch and it gives them another chance to see your name.
4. Follow them Religiously
Dedicate your band’s twitter “following” section to only blogs that are relevant. Follow them on twitter, soundcloud, instagram, tumblr, and everywhere else. Make them see your name as many times as possible, make them know who you are. Don’t harrass them, but stay in touch with them. Interact with them on twitter about everything, not just your music.
5. Thank Them and Keep Records
When someone writes about your band, share the article on all of your social media outlets, making sure to tag the blog in every post. Write them a short thank you email for featuring your song.
Compile a spreadsheet of bloggers who have featured you. Write down their site, name, email address, twitter handle, the link to their post about you, and their geographic location (the location will come in handy later when you decide to tour). Once you have a list of bloggers who have featured one of your singles, you can hit them up again in the future when you have new content, allowing every new release to go smoother and bigger than the one before.
How To Write A Music Press Release
Written by Aidan Rush
Increasingly, artists are restricting their announcements to social media. While it’s all good and well to announce things like tour dates and new releases via twitter or Facebook, you’re selling yourself short if you don’t make a legitimate press release to send out to established media outlets.
The template below serves as reference on the anatomy of a well-written press release, explaining what information you should put where and how it should be worded. Read about the debut LP release of our favorite fictional and tragically hip band, Lady Abadishes, in the release and start drafting your own! As always, questions are welcome in the comments. Thanks to Cheryl Rafuse for the awesome photoshop work!
Click for a bigger image:
How To Approach & Contact Music Press
Interview by Ben Maitland-Lewis
Ben sat down with PR man Adam Ritchie, of Adam Ritchie Brand Direction and guitarist for Boston-based, The Lights Out. Adam has been at the pulse of the media industry for nearly a decade. His work spans from big name brands to budding bands.
"Everything has to have some kind of a hook in it. Everything should relate to something and it’s never too early to bring that into your creative process.” -Adam Ritchie
As musicians and professionals operating in a creative industry, we attempt to create art drawn from emotion, inspired by our surroundings and experiences. While this can be hard enough for some, promoting it and getting press for it is an art in itself. You can sit in a cube, rehearsal space or studio, writing, creating, or building anything you want, but when it comes to getting covered in the traditional or indie media, what makes it stand out from the rest? What makes someone want to write about it? How is it that some bands get full page spreads in ‘zines while others don’t even get a blog mention? What lies on the other side of that big stone wall of media? How do we break through?Have you had some success with the press? Leave a comment below!
- Give yourself plenty of lead time. That is, time to approach press. The magazine that you’re reading on stands today was conceptualized 3 to 4 months ago.
- Know what you’re pitching and know what section you’re going for, i.e. concert previews, mp3 of the week, etc. Look at who writes those sections and send material specifically to that author. If you send your materials to an organization’s generic mailing address, you’re sending them to a black hole that is bound to end up in a landfill. You don’t want to litter do you?
- When sending materials to press accounts, your packaging is very important. If you see a creative, colorful envelope sitting next to a blah, manila envelope which one are you going to open first?
- The biggest icebreaker you’ve got is a sense of humor. No one likes a form email that sounds canned. If you write something specific and funny to that person you’ve already taken the first step.
- Be careful to not burn your bridge before it’s built. You can’t really hound Indie media (blogs and social media), from 9 to 5 like you can traditional media because it’s probably not their day job.
- If you’re written up in a publication (physical or online), you should maintain a professional relationship with the author, but don’t over do it. Be sure to let them know you appreciate their piece, but it’s best to wait a few months before pitching additional article ideas to them.
- When the time is right, it’s important to build your team and bring on experts and specialists to contribute to your career accordingly. Ideally, you should be focused on making music, so when responsibilities start creeping in you can silo those off and put them in hands that you’re confident in.
- Always remember that you’re a band and your product is fun. Be creative!
How To Write An Effective Musician Biography
Written by Jem Bahaijoub
Album finished? Check. Tour dates? Check. Press photos? Check. Press release? Check. Biography? Urgh!
If you’re not a spectacular storyteller or wondrous wordsmith, then the task of writing or updating your biography can seem like an arduous task. However, a biography is an essential item in any musicians marketing tool kit. It positions your brand identity, communicates your key achievements and provides background info to fans and media alike. Here are a few pointers to help you on your way…..
If you’ve not yet put pen to paper, the best thing to do is put yourself in the position of a journalist. Devise a list of questions covering your career and interview yourself. Gain ideas and angles by reading up on blog Q&As, or identify interview questions you would ask a favorite band or artist. This will make the process of gathering your bio content a lot easier. While you are interviewing yourself, write down as much info as possible. You can edit this all later.
Plan Your Structure
Your bio is not your life story. It’s a concise and well structured over-view of your music career. This is why planning the format is key. Think carefully about what you want to include in each paragraph and keep the following in mind:
1. Define your key achievements. If you have performed with well-known artists or received awards or accolades, then now is the time to rave about them. List them according to their newsworthiness.
2. Your bio does not need to be chronological. In fact the first couple of paragraphs are often the most important as they’ll determine whether a journalist or fan will read on. Ensure that the beginning of your bio provides an effective summary of your sound. For example, the Mumford and Sons bio conjures an image of their offering from the outset.
3. If you’re in a band, stick to writing about the band’s overall story, rather than each individual member in detail. It’s okay to dedicate some space to each member as long as the bio starts and ends with the band. Don’t kill the reader with detail - keep it focused.
Find Your Narrative Style
If you’re not a naturally gifted writer, than discovering your “writer’s voice” is one of the most difficult tasks. But don’t panic! If you write with passion and personality you are half way there. If you get stuck, utilize press quotes or even quote yourself. Adele’s biography is a good example of this. Alternatively ask your friends and family to provide descriptors, and get feedback from them on your writing style. If in doubt, keep it short and simple. Balance style with substance.
Create a Work In Progress
Make life easy for yourself and write a biography that is easy to update on a regular basis. Adopt a style and format that is timeless and easy to add additional information to as your career progresses. Keep your bio as concise as possible — make every word count. If you struggle fitting all relevant information in to one page, create both a short and long version that can be used accordingly. Now get cracking….it won’t write itself.