As an independent artist you want to make sure you’re constantly doing everything in your power to push your art as far as it can go. You don’t want to feel like you’re stuck in one place, continuously being productive can help your music moving forward. Check out SoundFly’s steps to a daily routine of perfecting promo.
“1. Come up with a list of goals.
Establish and try to frequently consult a list of goals. What exactly are you trying to do with your music, at this moment? Do you want to route a tour (meaning, building your band and venue contacts)? Do you want more press? Do you simply want to book more local gigs to work on your live show, or improve your online presence? Defining your goals will help you organize your tasks in a meaningful way. Sometimes it’s useful to whip up a 3, 6, 12, and 18-month plan as well, which can help you keep your mind focused on long-term goals and prevent band tunnel vision.
2. Update spreadsheets.
I’m a geek for spreadsheets. My entire Google Drive is chock full of radio, blog, and label contacts, color-coded and organized into different folders. If you’re interested to use my spreadsheet template for your list.
3. Talk to the press.
I try to send at least two press inquiries a day. I maintain a spreadsheet of press contacts, generally an “info” account, but also specific editors’ emails if they are listed on the blog’s website or are accessible otherwise. Researching and contacting the specific writer you’re interested in is optimal.
In your email, include links to your music and photos and a short bio. Don’t include any attachments, except for a press photo and/or press release, in specific cases. Try to offer the blogger something new to exclusively premiere. Explain what drew you to the blog (did they interview one of your favorite artists? Did they cover a band with a similar sound?). Be ready to back up your interest by following the blog’s social media accounts and engaging with their content. I like to keep a “Twitter Handle” column for each blog in my spreadsheet. Always offer to comp the blogger at your next show! Keep track of the dates you submit so you can plan follow-up and avoid spamming.
4. Reach out to venues.
When I’m in a booking period (I try to book about a full 4-5 months ahead), I send two emails to venues per day. I keep a spreadsheet of venue names and booker contacts. I add about two entries (venues) a day. When I email bookers, I tend to pitch a full bill of 3-4 bands to make their lives easier, even if the bands haven’t yet confirmed a date. That way, they know your draw will be maxed out and the evening will be full without the booker having to do additional outreach. Generally, I’ll ask a few friends’ bands if they’re available in the time window I’m writing about before sending the email, and use their names on the potential bill. If you’re reaching out about a tour date, include local bands when you can. Don’t lie about your draw, but do link the booker to examples of major press, social media following, and any other accomplishments.
Try to stagger your emails, time-wise — I would advise sending no more than ten emails for each month you’re booking, or you might end up with too many dates in too short a window to draw well in your area. I try to stick to the “two shows per month” rule when I can.
5. Talk to your band friends.
Remember that gig you played when the opener was really nice and brought a ton of friends out? What the heck was their name again? To alleviate frustration trying to memorize the multitude of local and out-of-town bands out there (I mean, I live in Brooklyn, it can get pretty hard), I keep a handy list of local bands and contact information. I try to add one band a day, and update it whenever we play shows with acts we’ve never played with before.
6. Discover new radio stations.
This is a fun one. I add two college radio stations to my “Radio” list per day. Most indie bands kind of forget how essential college radio play can be for developing young fans in cities across the country, and most are too lazy to work on this anyway. Keep sending out tracks and making your presence known in this circuit, and you’ll be surprised at how many times random stations play your music, plus the online playlists really help your SEO, too! If they accept digital submissions, I’ll send 1-2 emails with download links. Otherwise, I wait until I have a day free to put together a hard mailing of CDs and a cover sheet including links, a photo, bio, and contact information to each college radio station on my list. Try to find a main email or snail mail address, as DJs turn over every year (and sometimes every semester!). Remember to include a clean edit of any songs that contain curse words. A great way to look up colleges is to go down Wikipedia’s comprehensive list of U.S. Colleges.
7. Email record labels.
I write about two emails submitting my demo to record labels per day. In my “Labels” spreadsheet, I keep a column for “Relevant Roster” to remind me why I’m submitting in the first place. If you’re a hip hop artist, but are submitting to a label that solely puts out hard metal, you’re going to have a hard time. Knowing which artists have a similar fanbase or aesthetic is a great way to start a demo email to a label, so you can explain what it is that drew you to them. Also be sure to talk about what you’re looking for — tour routing? More plays on Spotify? Vinyl cost coverage? Be as specific as possible. I like to send a private SoundCloud link with 3-4 of our album’s best tracks, along with a list of relevant accomplishments (festivals played, # of Facebook likes, press coverage, etc.). Same rules apply as for press submissions — don’t include attachments, and keep track of when you submit so you can follow up and avoid bugging label reps.
8. Research studios.
When I was trying to figure out where to record our album, I kept a simple spreadsheet with the names of several local recording and mastering studios, their hourly rates (sometimes I had to email for a quote), and links to reference tracks, so I could hear their work. It really helped us narrow our choices down, and we were super pleased with the result!”
Don’t sit still and make sure take advantage of every opportunity to promote.
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