Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How To Be a Musician - The Press

Now if you know someone who blogs about bands or music, good for you! Perhaps you can get them to write up a review about you and your music. If you are friends with someone who works at your local newspaper, great, try to get them to write something up about you. If you don't have any friends in high places things are going to be harder for you, but not impossible. You'll just have to work extra hard and not let rejection get you down. Remember I was talking about rejection on the very first page? This is where you'll get the bulk of it.

You need people to write/say stuff about you. You need help from the press because you can only do so much and every band's bio says "we're super awesome and the next big thing". You need someone to verify your hype. Additionally, you can make all your accounts online and join a ton of forums, but you still won't have the reach that blogs, review sites, radio, newspaper, or TV has. However, getting those places to write/say something for or about you will be a pain. You will be ignored. You will be told "no". You might even be told "yes" and then get a stinging review. It will hurt. It will suck. You will get over it. If anything, it should make you angry and then you use that anger to keep you going. To prove to the naysayers that you were right and they were wrong.


There are a ton of sites and blogs out there that review Independent and unsigned bands and artists for free. Some reviewers will only review you if they like your sound. Some will write a review for you no matter what. Those reviews won't be very good, accurate, or helpful. It will just look like something you wrote up about yourself. There are even sites that will write a sparkling review for anyone, provided you hand over some cash. Don't do that. If you can't get reviews based on the quality of your music, you won't fool anyone by purchasing a good review and you'll waste your money. Many sites have ways for you to submit your music to them for the chance of being reviewed.

Other sites will ask you to email them with your info and a couple MP3s or link to download them. If you are sending out emails or conversing with a blog or site in any way, you'll be tempted to make a generic email that you can send out to a bunch of people all at once. DON'T. That's a great way to NOT get reviewed. Be unique with each email you send out asking for a review. Do some looking around on the site to show you're interested. Knowing the name of who you're emailing is a huge bonus. Be personable. Be funny. Think about it: These sites are probably getting 100s of emails a month from musicians begging for a review. You've got to stand out from the pack. You're creative - figure something out.

Local Newspapers

If you have a local newspaper, maybe find out if they have some writer who checks out local bands and artists. Many do, believe it or not. If they have such a writer, ask if they'll come check out your next show. If they don't have such a writer, ask if you can buy an ad-space. They should be pretty cheap. In your ad-space put your next couple shows (assuming they are local venues), your band name (clearly and boldly), and a very short description of your music or a very short excerpt from a particularly good review. Don't forget, Indieonthemove.com gives you a list of newspapers that you can contact while you're touring. Use them. Get some press away from home.

Independent Radio Stations

I am pretty fortunate. St. Louis is a great place for musicians. There are all kinds of music related websites, papers, zines, etc. around here. People love music in St. Louis. And one of the best things about Independent music in St. Louis is that we have a friend in KDHX. KDHX is a radio station that caters to the Independent musicians and artists off all kinds. They've been talking the talk and walking the walk for over 25 years now. If you're lucky enough to have a radio station who serves the Independent musician, go to them. They will help you in some way. I promise.

Local Television

Go to your local news station(s) and see what they can do for you. Maybe they are hosting a party or fundraiser somewhere and could use a little live entertainment. Maybe they'll use your music as background music in a broadcast. Maybe they'll even let you perform on live TV, like Barley Station, Beth Bombara, and Miss Jubilee were able to. You'll be surprised how much you can accomplish with a well-phrased email or polite phone conversation.

When you get a review from a blog or review site, a local newspaper, or if you get airtime on local radio or TV, you need to share that on your site. Have a Press page and put all your reviews and good things said about you there. You can even put Press reviews on your ReverbNation page. Showing the world that other people like you creates validity to you saying how good your band or music is. Without that proof, it's just hype. Flaunt those positive reviews!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You Have To Share To Grow - Tools for Growing Your Indie Fan Base

Finding a hidden gem of a song, isn't it so satisfying!? Being able to be the 1st of your friends to pass along something you know they will love, and probably would have never found on their own, is glorious. Now being an indie musician, this is your dream every morning you wake up. You are praying for people to share your music. You want little viral bugs out there working for you.

People find new music in a variety of ways. Some wait for the music to hit popular radio, some search the internet and music blogs, and Pandora is one way many people find their music, but for songwriters and musicians just starting out or with limited fan bases, it can be tough to get added to their rotation. Now don't get me wrong, Pandora is an absolute fantastic way to discover new music, and put your own little playlist together. But what if there were cool services like this for newbie Indie musicians. Insert Noisetrade, Tweetforatrack, and Tweetmysong. There are also apps for Facebook like Bandpage, and you can also allow people to download your playlists or songs through Soundcloud.

Where these sites, and apps excel, is in taking the process a step further than say a Pandora, and puts Social/viral sharing on hyper drive. The sites essentially encourage, and allow potential fans to download your music for free, for sharing it with their social network. Because who else is better to tell people about music, than their friends. Noisetrade, does a little more, in that it has a whole site dedicated to new artists, and is like your best friend that has the best music. It also allows for tipping, if someone really likes your music.

For independent artists sharing is like liquid gold, and for fans, it's a safe easy way to discover new artists, and share that with their friends.

Don't like the idea of giving away your music for free? Just look up what Derek Webb did with this model. Bet you rethink your entire strategy.

Give your fans something, and they will take over the work for you! Simply remember that the goal is to be heard. Concentrate on letting people hear your music, and build a relationship with them. People want you to succeed, but if your brand new, they want to know what you are all about. Offering them a free track, or EP, will entice them to help you along your journey. And allows you to have a new fan to approach with each new masterpiece you produce.