Coming back from the Folk Alliance International Conference, I kept thinking about all the wonderful music I heard; all the truly talented people that I experienced and I realized that in this day and age, talent isn’t enough.
It’s true. Many of us are talented and deserving of respect; deserving of an audience. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll ever get such recognition.
If you are like me, then you are essentially a one man show (with a little help from my friends) and you are doing it all on a budget that doesn’t exactly exist.
For me, the budget is what I feel I must do to make something happen as best I can and usually that means I take the money from some other place that needs it just as badly. Perhaps it is that way for you?
So what kind of promotion can we do? Where can we go?
If you are in a union, that might be a place to start. Check and see if your local has gig listings or jam sessions where you can network with other musicians. Also check facebook and other social networks for groups, gigs, and other musicians that might be in your vicinity.
Networking is one thing you can do that doesn’t really cost any money.
Secondly, you need an internet presence (but you know that or you wouldn’t be here reading this).
Thirdly, might be to think about who you sound like and then join the sites that support that band, because they are supporting the kind of music you do. Then begin posting there, create some dialog and then, after a bit, mention that you are in a band that is very similar to “the famous band” you are all supporting.
And like it or not, you really do need a label. People have to know what kind of music you do. I always call mine, “music for bright people with jobs” but that really doesn’t inform anyone. It just makes them laugh. They need words like jazz, rock, folk, hip hop, etc
And you can even make up a category if you want. For instance, I came out of the folk music scare of the 1960’s. But I kept learning and practicing and I’m anything but folk now, but that’s still my roots and that still informs what I do. Now I listen mostly to jazz or classic rock by the really good players, (Police, Lindsay Buckingham, or the Beatles) but because of the sophistication of my chord progressions my music leans more towards jazz, so I made up the category, faux jazz.
Faux, meaning false and also a derivative of folk coupled with jazz. Faux Jazz.
Now the trick is to use that in all the press and advertising on me. As in, “Faux Jazz artist James Lee Stanley will be performing tonight at Club KaKa.”
Although, I am not certain it wouldn’t be more effective if I used a label that already existed, like “blues artist” or “vocalist” or “composer”.
If you use this in the first sentence of your press release, then the media guys know exactly where to put you in their periodical and they know it immediately. That’s got to help.
So you get all the media lists you can from the venues you are playing. And you need only ask for them. Every venue has them, keeps them updated and is only too happy to share that list with you. Then you have the current email and snail mail address on every single media outlet in that market.
There are also on line services like Airplay Direct (www.airplaydirect.com) that can help you disseminate your info and music at a really reasonable rate.
So this is a start. I’ll try to think of more to say tomorrow.