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How I promoted my CD on the net
By John Taglieri - 06/06/2007 - 10:51 AM EDT

Hey there. So how can the electronic media of today help your career? I am a solo singer songwriter. Like most of you out there reading this, I've spent my life chasing down a dream that I thought was always just beyond my reach. Having been in bands for about 15 years and always thinking that each one was going to make it, I have always felt the let down and disappointment as each project broke up or ended, wondering, "Was the band not good enough or was it me? What didn't we do? We had the best songs in the world, (don't we all!!) , we had the right look, we played constantly, we promoted, so why didn't it work? Why aren't we rich and famous now instead of starting back at ground zero with no band and nothing to show for all the hard work?"

I can now look back on all those years with a different view. Gone are the rose colored glasses that I seemingly wore in my youth. Gone are the days of thinking we deserved a record contract because we wrote mediocre songs that only our friends liked. One thing you get from playing all those years and being able to look back on it all is experience and a sense of all the things you did wrong. OK, maybe not necessarily wrong, but just not 100% right. I had burned out on the original scene and needed a break. After a couple of years, however, the itch came back and I needed to play originals again. Only this time, I wanted it my way. The thing that wore me out on the scene the first time was always having to give my creative control away to others. I'm a singer and songwriter, as well as a multi-instrumentalist, but my songs never quite sounded right after others had their input and say in how the songs should be. So, about 2 years ago I decided that it was time to write, record, mix, edit, master and produce my own CD. After much strain, exhaustion, and just about everything else you could imagine, on January 12th, 1999, I released "Leap Of Faith". The CD, aptly titled, was my leap of faith to see if I could really make it in the business.

One thing I want to point out from the start is how times have changed from just a few years ago. The Internet has made a whole new world out there for singer/songwriters, bands and musicians in general. What I learned over the next 18 months, and still learn as I write this, is just how valuable the Internet has become. I have sold almost 2,000 units independently, toured, performed at music conferences, landed 2 major sponsors and have been signed to a label. I also have investors paying for my next album and my upcoming tour. When I released the CD, I took out ads in the local papers, got the CD in all the major local stores on consignment and tried my hardest to promote it. I did all the traditional methods of promotion. It was doing sort of OK. I managed to get myself on the Scott & Todd Show on 95.5 WPLJ in New York, the biggest morning show on the radio. My sales went through the roof that week, with almost all the stores selling out their stock at least once, some stores twice. But as the appearance on the show faded into memory, so did the sales. The only problem was, I couldn't figure out how to keep it going. As a solo artist, I had no band to go and book clubs with, so touring was not an option at that point.

I had just recently gotten a computer and was just learning what the Internet was all about. What I was about to learn was that it was about the future of music and that all the opportunities for me to make a success of myself were right there at my fingertips. All it took was a lot of time, pleasant persistence, patients, and determination. That's it. Nothing special. No magic potions, no secrets, just hard work. I've done what anyone can do and many others already have done.

I am a pop rock songwriter. My music has been compared to Journey and Bon Jovi. It has an 80's styling with a newer rock feel. So what I started doing was searching the web for any websites that catered to this type of music. I also placed myself onto many of the generic music websites, but felt as though I was going to get lost in the mix on those. I was on them for the "just in case" scenario. I felt that the genre specific sites gave me more of a chance at exposure and also, and a better chance at good reviews to build up the press kit with. I would find one web page for my type of music and contact them about the possibilities of reviews and promotion, then go to their links page and go to every site on that page. I kept this routine up for every web page I went to. For every one I visited, I wound up on 25 more, which led me to 75 more. Before too long, I had made contact with many websites that were willing to help out and do a review. The good thing about the net was the willingness by web sites to take a chance on independent music. With the rebellion against the major labels really beginning then, it wasn't hard to get the first few under my belt. Within a few months, the ball was rolling. The first few reviews had come out and they were very positive. This opened the door to other sites who were reluctant to let me in. Once they saw me already getting good reviews, they were willing to give it a try. I spent anywhere from 6-8 hours per day on the net, while carrying a full time job. Every moment I wasn't at work, I was on the net.

Over the course of the next 12 months, I managed over 50 reviews. The key to the reviews wasn't so much getting them, but getting the webmasters to go the extra mile and do features on me and the CD after the review. Everything in life basically works on the same principal, customer service. You have to treat everyone you come in contact with as a customer. You want to be treated well for the things you do, and so do the webmasters of the sites we all beg and expect reviews from. Give them every courtesy you can. After every review, I would send the webmasters a thank you e-mail telling them how much I appreciated the review, good or bad. Luckily none were too bad. Now this may seem silly to you, but I can't stress enough how important it is. Many of them e-mailed me back saying how much they appreciated it. Their common complaint was that artists take them for granted, and once they get the review, they never hear from them again, except when they need something else. You have to remember that you are establishing relationships here. If you blow someone off after they do you a favor, you can pretty much forget about any more favors in the future. And you never know when you're going to need someone again.

I make it a point, every month to 5 weeks, to send a hello e-mail to everyone who's ever reviewed me. This serves two purposes. First, is just to let them know that I'm thinking about them and stopping by their sites, which I do. I can never forget who's done things for me because I see it every time I look at my press kit. Second, it keeps you in their minds. If you're in their minds, the chance is there for more promotion. They are also all on my e-mail mailing list which goes out monthly. This keeps my name in their minds at least 2 times per month. When it came time to do interviews each month, I was inevitably contacted by someone almost every single month. I've done over a dozen feature interviews, both on the web and in print, and that's in just the last 6 months. I wound up winning "1999 Male Pop CD Of The Year" on one website, Kweevak's Tracks. I've won the Global Muse Website "Elite Artist Award" for 2000. I was in the Top 10 on many lists at the end of the year as "Best New Artist", Best Song", etc. Things like this enhance your exposure because now you are front page news on the websites, instead of just a listing in their databases. What it also did was create a buzz for sales. My website began taking many hits and my sales stared picking up dramatically.

I also saw new avenues for touring and wound up booking a 23 city tour. The tour was self booked and self promoted, with press in 14 of the 23 cities on the tour. I landed a tour sponsor in an upstart web radio company named NoWhereRadio.com. By the end of my tour, they weren't upstart anymore, but had great traffic, and we broadcast my shows on the web. This was great exposure to a world wide audience. The tour not only garnered me new press, but new fans in new cities and I sold over 400 CD's during the tour. As my press kit grew, so did my opportunities. With my name on many websites and magazines, I was beginning to get approached by small indie labels both in the US & Europe. That's the other beauty of the Internet The world is as close as right next door and there are very few barriers. One label, A2 Records, impressed me very much and I pursued them. I landed a gig at a music conference they were cosponsoring called The Ultrasound 2000 Expo. It was held in Las Vegas, NV. Because they were cosponsoring the event...A2 was in attendance. After my performance, and due to the press kit I had acquired to date, they signed me after the show. After being signed, and with the press that created, plus a successful tour behind me and another one to come, Ovation Guitars decided to sponsor me.

It all comes down to one thing - how bad do you want it and how much are you willing to sacrifice for it? I gave up going out and partying, having a huge social life, and many other things because it was way more important for me to be working on making a name for myself and getting my career off the ground. You can't be afraid of promotion and you can't be afraid of trying. The only thing I lost was a few hangovers, and in my book, that's not such a bad thing!

I know this whole story sounds a bit self touting, but you know what, it is. I wasn't sure how to present what I've accomplished over the last year and a half. I felt silly writing down what I'd done, but I was not sure how to start doing what I did, so maybe it can help someone else starting out. I sat down and looked at my press kit and realized that I had accomplished a lot - more than I ever did in bands, more than I ever expected to, and it is something to be proud of. Anyone who goes after their dreams and let's nothing get in their way can be proud, even if you don't get there. As long as you tried. Awards, accolades, great press, interviews, sponsorships, record deals - it's all out there for the taking. It wasn't about the music. It's about the experience to know how to go after things. Nothing is handed to you and if it is, it generally won't last. But if you work for it, and do it right, it will last and it will mean so much more because you'll know that you put your heart and soul into it.

******

John's album is set for release in Europe on 7/31/00 and here in the US in August. He'll be extensively touring the US & Europe with a full band this fall and winter, with a new album due out next year.




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