Music Promotion: Doing It Right...the First Time
by Kenny Love
The ongoing sad shame of the music business is that, even as more recording artists become wiser in the business aspect and learn to maintain controlling interests through the establishment of their own music enterprises, there still seems to be an ever-increasing number of new artists who are ready to throw caution to the wind at a moment's notice by signing with the first company that shows interest.
Needless to say, for the most part, they often live to regret it lifelong. On the other hand, doing it yourself, is quite admirable, but you had better know everything the majors already know...and more. I'll begin this article by revealing some of the mistakes I made when I chose to self-release my first recording.
Back in 1990, I released a single that achieved national radio airplay and press coverage, but had absolutely no distribution. It was my dumb gambling idea, that since I could not afford distribution on a national level (I had no financial backing or a P&D deal), I could gamble on this recording being quickly picked up by one of the major labels. Talk about a 'pie-in-the-sky' plan. This was a perfect example of not having all the bases covered.
I even sent copies of the national press coverage I had managed to get to the majors, but didn't include the recording in an effort to further play "the baiting game." The crazy thing is, all of the majors called and requested a copy.
Well, by this time the record was "dying" on the air because there had not been, and there was still no distribution to support it. And, it would have been useless, from a business perspective at this point, for the majors to even get involved.
The point that I am trying to make is that I had, indeed, put "the cart before the horse." While I had the desire, and a little knowledge of how things generally worked, I was not prepared for or aware of the vital business details that I needed to know in order to make it not only be competitive, but keep the entire process working.
Back then, if you were fortunate in getting your recording played, you had about 2-6 weeks before it was "killed" for lack of distribution activity. Well, I was completely unknowledgeable on how long it would actually take to review, negotiate, and sign contracts, even if I could be fortunate enough to get a deal and have the production end thoroughly covered.
In my naivete, I believed this would be, basically, an overnight thing. If they liked it, boom, we had a deal. Ultimately, through my own lack of thorough preparation, I ran out of time and lost the record. Let my experience be a lesson well learned. Do your homework! Thoroughly!
Do NOT make assumptions or under-estimate the importance of any area of your marketing campaign. Do NOT slack at any phase. Before you submit your CD to the radio music directors, program jocks, club jocks, or even the press, you had better have enough coverage in the distribution area in regard to anticipated sales.
Now, this article has assumed that you have already established your business from a legal standpoint such as obtaining a business license, getting a post office box, a separate business telephone line, business cards, and any other necessities.
The absolute worst thing you can do is appear unprofessional in any phase, or have a "runaway" hit that you can't deliver to your fans. And, isn't that what you want? Isn't that what this is all about? Sure, it is! So, don't skimp! Do it right...the first time!
Since releasing his initial recording, Kenny Love, a former Music Education Major, has had the rare opportunity to work in many varied aspects of the music industry; recording artist, producer, author, journalist, promoter, booking agent, & public relations specialist. He has also appeared in television, radio, & print interviews as a music business consultant. His new report is titled, "Alternative Routes to Recording Success."