Follow me on social media

Facebook is my main news hub where I share upcoming releases, gigs, photos, videos, and blogs. Typically, I post 3–5 times a week.

Telegram and Twitter duplicate what I post on Facebook, with occasional extra content.

On Vkontakte, I write in the Russian language for my fans out of from Russia and CIS.

I also upload vlogs and gigs videos on YouTube and share travel photos, selfies, and studio routine on Instagram.

23 posts tagged

Marketing

Promotion, social networks, market research.

Why music alone is not enough

Vlog episode 002

It seems my vlog pilot episode was accepted quite nicely, so I’ve made a new episode for you.

“Is having just music enough to make a career as an artist? Why producers need an audience? Is it artist’s duty to do marketing?” — in this vlog, I’ll try to answer these questions and give four tips based on my experience, along with taking you on my trip to Greece.

Read also:
Managing social media with Amplifr
A website vs. Facebook for musicians

Sep 3   Advice   Gigs   Greece   Marketing   Social media   Vlog

Futurephonic live with Chris Williams and Regan Tacon

Video summary and highlights

A few weeks ago, Futurephonic hosted a live Facebook video featuring two awesome guests: Chris Williams (Iboga Records, Noisily Festival) and Regan Tacon (Nano Records, Origin Festival).

That was a very insightful talk on career strategies for emerging artists. You probably know my commitment to education and learning, so I wish more people “behind the scenes” could give a talk like that.

The audio quality of the video wasn’t that great though, sometimes made it really difficult to watch. I’ve decided to write down some key points so I could get back to them at any time, perhaps some of you will find it useful too.

There we go.

On changes in the industry

  1. The Internet is the biggest game changer for the music industry, for the better. The distribution is much easier now, you can get music anywhere in a matter of minutes and anyone can access to it.
  2. Psytrance scene has also changed in the last decade, it spread out to more places across the globe. New sub genres come in and out, it’s ever-changing process. Psytrance is a culture, so it will stay here for quite a while.
  3. In the pre-Internet days, the music industry was labels-driven, they have a control over everything. Despite such limitation, it was a higher threshold for quality of music that has been released. Social media now liberated records labels ability to put music out, but the question is whether the quality of music across the board has risen? From the artist’s perspective, entrepreneurs and marketers now have amazing platforms to be creative.
  4. We see now many artists experimenting with marketing, ads, formats of communication. We’re still learning, and there is no right or wrong way. This experimentation itself is what special about this time, it’s fantastic time to live from the artist’s perspective, basically.

It’s fantastic time to be an artist now.


On getting music out

  1. Perfectionists find it really difficult to let it go. They keep polishing, and polishing, and sometimes they polish it so much so they polish away the bits of what was good in the first place. Don’t sit on it for too long.
  2. Finishing tracks is a part of the producer’s talent.
  3. So many people doing the same thing, so much noise is out there. You have to come up with quality. Quality takes a lot longer, much longer than most people realise.
  4. Most tracks out there is nowhere good enough quality as it should be. Artists need to be realistic about what they send to labels. Patience comes along the way.

On getting noticed

  1. Spotify and YouTube channels are new platforms for discovering new artists.
  2. From the new artist’s perspective who’s trying to get noticed, it’s all about presentation. If you have a Facebook page, make sure you have a high-quality design, branding of your product. Even if you put a Facebook video with your branding behind it, it’s very important that this branding is good—if not better—as the music itself. It’s vital.
  3. The first impression matters even before anyone heard your music. It was the same even when the demos were on CDs — it’s like receiving a demo with a marker handwriting vs. CD with an artwork, well-written letter, logo. Same applies to SoundCloud now.
  4. Oldschool way of approaching by shaking people hand at the the backstage still works the best.

Branding is vital. First Impressions last.


On being signed on a label vs. go independent

  1. Labels work as a filter, taking care of the releases, artwork, promotion etc, allowing artists to focus more on music.
  2. Ultimately, all successful artists need a support, and labels are a massive help in that.

On albums and singles

  1. Releasing singles is a great things—it gives a stable flow of music from artists to fans, no need to wait a year or two.
  2. Each single is typically supposed to be a yet another dancefloor-killer which creates a lack of experiments, the cool B-sides. Back in the days, sometimes those B-sides become hits.
  3. Albums give more freedom on that matter, you can have dancefloor-killers whilst also including a couple of out-of-the-box tracks.
  4. Albums certainly add some extra weights, an extra level of value for the artists who are capable of creating those albums.

On commitment

  1. Artists need to be committed to working hard. I don’t think people realise how hard some of those artists work. The guys who work the hardest are the one who gets the gigs, gets the money etc. because they push it all the time.
  2. It’s a lifestyle, you have to be ready for this. And music is just one part of it, with social medias it’s 50–50 these days.

I don’t think people realise how hard it is.


On festivals bookings

  1. There are always some acts promoters keep in mind for the next-year festival lineup.
  2. Once headliners are booked, promoters go over recommendations first and only then to submissions. Don’t send a festival submission in three days prior to the festival, it’s won’t work that way.
  3. There are definitely some promoters who check and evaluate how many “likes” an artist has in order to make a booking decision.

On marketing

  1. If you want to pay to promote your page, do it the right way using legit Facebook mechanisms, not via external “likes’ farms.
  2. Always keep in mind country demographics when starting an ad campaign. For example, for sales-driven campaign always include countries like USA, Australia, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Denmark. However, for a streaming campaign, it’s worth also including Brazil, Mexico, and other countries that don’t usually purchase music, but stream a lot.
  3. Men typically buy more than women, so don’t split demographic targeting 50–50, push it more towards men.
  4. Upload Facebook videos.

We spend a fortune on Facebook marketing, to be honest.


On streaming and sales

  1. Streaming isn’t brining any money, let’s be real about it. It’s interaction with people, this is how people connect with the music.
  2. Anyone who really buying music is DJs. You not gonna get money selling music as a Psytrance artist, although it’s true for other genres as well. There is just not enough people buying music across the world.
  3. Beatport gives 60–70% of sales, another major amount is iTunes, and all the rest stores altogether are basically nothing. That’s how it is.
  4. Linkfire.com is a good way of putting all the streaming and stores links at once and then get statistics of clicks.

On investment

  1. A well-thought advertisement campaign could be a solid investment, eventually giving more gigs in return.
  2. Rather than relying on a photographer that can or cannot shoot while you are playing, you can hire one to be sure you’ll get high-quality photos.
  3. Some artists spend their entire fee hiring photo- and video artists to make a proper aftervideo from the event. Do it at least once in six months.

Invest in your branding.


Jul 31   Career   Marketing   Music industry   Psy scene

“Should I post in every social media?”

As a music producer, should I post on every social media? Is it worth posting the same content on different social channels? Should I treat them differently? How frequently to post?

Mike L.

I used to think that as many social websites you use as better. Several years ago I would say “yes”, you need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Vk, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Telegram, Snapchat, Viber, YouTube, Vimeo, HearThis, ReverbNation, Google+... did I forget to mention anything?

Now, I’m saying this: you should to be only on those social websites at which you certain you can handle it at 100%. And by that I mean constantly posting and working with the audience — not just once in three months when your new EP is out, but daily or at least weekly. Consistency is the key here.

Let’s say, could you post on Snapchat few times a day, every day, without sacrificing your other duties? If the answer is “no”, you probably shouldn’t even start then. Remember that semi-alive public pages are even worse than their absence.

The importance of building a fan base

From my experience, here is what different social channels best for:

Social media Best for How frequent
Facebook Central hub for your social presence 3-5 times a week
Twitter Mentions and interactions with other artists and fans 1-3 times a day
Instagram Studio, travel, and behind the scenes pictures 4-7 times a week
Snapchat Daily life, mostly for a younger demographic 1-3 times a day
Telegram Quick news for mobile users 2-4 times a week
Vk Russian-speaking audience from Russia and CIS 3-7 times a week

If you just started building your web presence in social media, I’d suggest starting off with two: Facebook and Twitter. This is essentials. The rest depends on your time, your audience demography, and your creativity.

If you still have any question, feel free to drop a line in the comment box below.

Read also: my experience of managing social media with Amplifr

2017   Advice   Marketing   Social media

Time traveller’s archive — 14

Some stuff to read (and watch) on the weekend

Aleksey aka Sonic Elysium on sound design
  1. Ultimate Kick and Bass Tutorial by Sonic Elysium. Kick and bass are probably two of the most frequently asked topics, people asking how to synthesise it, how to EQ, how to fit them together. And I’ve written pretty much all about it, see “Kick and bass” tag. However, if you prefer to watch rather than read, I highly recommend watching this tutorial by Sonic Elysium, he nailed it.
  2. TechMuze Academy podcast with Budi Voogt. Interesting talk about marketing, promo campaigns, and automations. “Do you see a benefit in paid ad campaigns for producers? I’m actually inclined to say no to Facebook and Instagram [...] Revenue streams in music are very indirect. ”
  3. Is DJing just about beat matching? Great blog, as always from John 00 Fleming. I’ve also written about it before, see Vinyl vs. Sync button.
  4. A Beginner’s Guide To Audio Cables. If you don’t know what is balanced or unbalanced cable or what the difference between RCA and XLR — this article on DJ TechTools is right for you.

Marketing by sharing

A technique of creating a captivating audience by sharing your knowledge and teaching other people about your domain

Jason Fried, the co-founder of Basecamp (formerly known as 37signals), is the advocate of marketing by sharing. Photo © Intercom

Hi Daniel. I’m learning audio engineering and I would like to offer mastering services. My question may sound odd for your blog, but how to get clients? Maybe you have some advice from the producer’s perspective and your experience in social media and all? How do you find mastering engineers as an artist? Is it worth setting up a Facebook ad campaign or Google AdWords?

Edward Hansen

Edward, I believe there is a better way of getting clients than advertisement — by sharing your knowledge and creating an audience. Tell other people about what you doing, teach them, show your expertise. I know there are some people thinking that others might steal your ideas if you share them, but it’s a paranoid, defensive way of thinking.

I would like to quote Jason Fried’s talk at The Chicago Convergence in 2008 because I couldn’t say any better:

“I think this [marketing by sharing] is especially relevant for small business and especially in creative industry because it’s really expensive and difficult to break out: there is a ton of small design shops, there is a ton of video shops. And how do you get known, how do people find out who you are? Of course you can hire a PR firm but it’s a waste of money and I wouldn’t do that, you can advertise somewhere but I don’t think it’ll work either because it’s hard to advertise design to kind of right people and it’s expensive. You can try some more traditional marketing ideas but I don’t think those generally work either.

What I think you should be doing is thinking about how can you teach people about your domain. If you are a web designer, for example, you can teach people about what it’s like to be a web designer, about CSS, HTML, what it’s like to land a client, you can talk about what it’s like to prepare a proposal or respond to an RFP. And these the things you can do on your website.

So, when you start sharing and start teaching other people, the great thing about it is all of a sudden you create an audience, which is a kind of a secret weapon when it comes to promoting your business. If you don’t have an audience, you have to constantly spend money to tell more and more people about your service, and after they buy something they go away and they don’t coming back until they want something else. But when you build an audience, when you generate a useful content, people keep coming back to you every day for more information. Eventually, when they’re ready to sign up or they need a web designer or whatever you do, they will have you in mind because they been coming back to you every day. And that’s a really effective way of reaching people without spending a lot of money.

Or, let’s say, you a writer. A freelance writer, or a journalist, or someone like that who needs to find more gigs and looking for more people to hire them. You should be talking about what it’s like to be a writer on your site. Most sites simply have a ‘Portfolio’, ‘About us’, and ‘Contact us’ page and that’s pretty much it, but you should have a section where you share drafts that were rejected, words that you left out. You should share one sentence you’re working on, share all different iterations and talk about why you left this one out, why you change these words, why you transpose these two words, what’s difference between final version comparing to the initial one. You need to share this process because people who read this are gonna go like: ‘This guy knows his shit. He cares enough about the words, he cares enough how words sound and structured to share with me the process he went through’. And that mean a whole lot more than someone who simply shares a series or essays or articles they’ve written. That’s how you begin to build your audience.”

The best thing about this technique is it can be used for pretty much any small businesses or services, even in music industry. I highly suggest watching the full video above whether you are a songwriter, a mastering engineer, a film score producer, a journalist, a label owner, a visual artist and so on.

Read also:

2017   Advice   Marketing

What should I post on social media as a music producer

What should I post on social media? Do you have any ideas? I’m also trying to find someone who can help me with posts.

From the previous question of Timothy

Bedroom producers be like: “Ok so it’s Wednesday, let’s see what I can post on Facebook today”. Illustration by Alexander Nanitchkov

Before answering these questions, I’d like to make one thing clear first.

There is no one ultimate winning strategy for social media content that would work for everyone. Some people engage their audience by posting funny pictures, others prefer to make it strictly business.

Whatever way you choose, I suggest being genuine. I know words like “be yourself” sound cheesy, but once you accept where you currently are it’ll be much easier than pretending to be someone’s else. Music producers are different from corporate companies in a way that our communication is much more personal. Behind every alias and track is a real human being, and people feel that too.

Nevertheless, I know where this problem comes from. Look at any successful artist’s social feed and most of the time you’ll see either his upcoming gig announcement or photos and videos from the past gigs. But what if you don’t have twenty gigs a month yet? And obviously you can’t upload a new track every week either, so “I don’t know what to post on social” can be a real issue.

Well, here are some ideas for you. Keep in mind this is not an instruction but rather general categories of a content that you could possibly post as a bedroom producer:

Making-of’s Show what you currently working on or tell how some of your previous works were made of. It always goes nicely, especially with the videos.
Studio Demonstrate your workplace, gear, and tools you use. I find that this type of content attracts both listeners and producers.
Mentions Did some credible DJ played your track? Have your track climbed at the top chart? Did you give an interview? Tell about it.
Share Shout-outs to the other producers you enjoy. Share their music, give them a credit, tell why you like that particular track or song.
Trivia Some episodes of your daily life. Remember that something that seems ordinary to you as a producer might be interesting from the fan’s perspective.
News Official announcement such as signing on a record label, release dates, new track’s preview; milestones in your career.
Hashtags Share content on specific day of the week with a trendy hashtags, like #ThrowBackThursday or #FridayFunday.

But you can go further and create your own sort of series of content. For example, I host a monthly radio show, run a weekly advice blog, and plus occasionally share “Track of the week”, “Weekend readings” and other blogs. It helps to fill the gap between releases as so I always have some content to share. And people know that too so they have a reason to keep an eye on my updates.

Here are some of my posts just to give an example:

As for you trying to find someone who could post on your behalf, read the advice on artist’s manager if you haven’t yet because it’s a quite similar story. If you have no idea what to post on Facebook, how do you think someone else would know it unless you expect some generic phrases and producer’s memes? It might be a good idea to put social media management on someone’s else shoulders later, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that in the beginning because that’s how the learning curve goes, you have to get that experience from the first hand before hiring someone.

I also highly suggest checking out my experience of managing social media using Amplir. If you have the right tools and know how to use them, turns out, managing social media isn’t that hard and time-consuming. In fact, you can have several active social accounts just by spending hour a week if you work efficiently, so time is no excuse even for busiest persons.

2017   Advice   Facebook   Marketing   Social media

The importance of building a fan base

Or why you should have a solid online presence and be active in social media

I had this conversation in Telegram with Timothy recently, we’ve talked about his upcoming EP, the buzz that he’s hoping to get, and his social media that clearly has a lack of activity. In this blog, I would like to emphasise the last one because it’s one of the key components that glue everything together.

Many young producers think that once you get signed on a decent label and your track is out on Beatport, it somehow creates enough buzz allowing you to get an audience. And it’s true at some point, however, this is only one part of the larger mechanism that doesn’t work alone.

In today’s world, music is a marketing tool that helps to reach career goals. I don’t know your career goal Tim, so I’ll assume it is having international gigs. Now let’s try to put yourself in the shoes of a potential party promoter that would like to book you.

The truth about music sales

Let’s say, a promoter is listening to your track on Beatport and think: “Wow, great music! I want to find out more about this guy”. The next obvious step is to search your alias in Google hoping to find your website, social profiles, and any mentions. So he googles “Tim Bourne” and sees this:

To see how search results would appear on someone’s else computer, use “Private window” or “Incognito mode” in your browser

None of the top search results is relevant to you, and that kind of sucks. There is only one useful link at the bottom of the first page, your SoundCloud profile with just a hundred followers, which again doesn’t have any externals links to your networks.

But let’s assume that our potential promoter won’t give up on this and he hunts your name within the Facebook search. Okay, your official artist page, he found in. Then he scrolls down the page to see your recent posts. And turns out, you had just four posts last year. Four!

If I would be that promoter, I’d think you either quit the career or you just one of those producers who simply make music “just for fun”. And that’s it, your potential lead is lost.

Moral of this story: as a music producer especially whose goals are international gigs, you have to build a solid online presence. It is your duty to build a fan base. And by that I don’t mean posting on Facebook all days long, but you have to provide your audience some web space, some connection point whether it’s be a website, blog, or social media.

Online presence management, Wikipedia

Even if you locked yourself in the studio to work on the best track you ever made, tell about it, share it, give other people a reason to care. Otherwise it’s a path leading to the dark side: no public activity → no audience growth → no gigs → disappointment and quitting. I’ve been a witness how producers with absolutely fantastic music quit their career because of this, Anton Chernikov, Cosmithex, Whirloop are just to name a few.

On a contrast, look at successful artists’ social accounts, they share pictures, blogs, and status updates daily (or at least few times a week) because they know it’s an important part of their work too. Don’t be confused, such activity on social media is not done for an entertaining purpose. By sharing you give people a reason to care, you build a relationship and that naturally helps your name spreading.

As for your questions on what should you post (and whether it’s worth to find a person who would help you with this), let’s talk about it next time.

Watch also: Why music alone is not enough (Vlog)

2017   Advice   Marketing   Social media

Telegram channels review

Opinion on a Telegram channels from the marketing point of view, and comparison with Facebook pages in numbers

Typically, Facebook pages occupy the primary slot among social networks for public figures and brands, gathering all news as a central hub. I’m an active Facebook user since 2011, but the more I use it, the less I like it.

As a DJ and music producer, I’m always looking for new ways of improving communication with the audience so followers could get my latest releases, tours, blogs, and other news. This search led me to Telegram channels, and today I’d like to share what I’ve learned about it.

What is Telegram

If you haven’t heard anything about Telegram yet, let’s start off with a quick 101:

  • It’s a fast and free messaging app founded in 2013.
  • It has a mobile and desktop clients and a cloud-based seamless sync between them.
  • It’s ad-free and will remain forever free according to founders.
  • It has a lot of powerful features like bots, secret chats, groups, channels, and more.
  • By the February 2016 (a year ago), it has 100,000,000 monthly active users and 350,000 new users sign up each day, delivering 15 billion messages daily.

I’ve been using Telegram as a messenger for quite some time now, but started my own channel just about a month ago.

Telegram me

What is a channel

Channels are a tool for broadcasting public messages to large audiences, similarly like you do on Twitter. A sort of blogs within the messaging app.

A channel has as a public username so you can search it within the app or access via browser by the direct link, like telegram.me/daniellesden.

Basically, it looks like just one of the chats in the app. You can share text messages, images, links, and even audio and video that playbacks using a built-in player.

By default, when you share a post, your followers will see a push notification. You can also send “silent” messages by clicking on the ring icon, this way they won’t receive notifications but rather just see an unread counter of your channel in the chats list, this is a sort of “gentle” notification. And since all broadcasts organized by chats, you don’t need to compete for the users’ attention in their newsfeed using cats pictures — they will see your messages when they want to.

Here’s how a channel looks in the desktop app

One noticeable difference with Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media is a lack of interaction. There is literally no way people can “like” or comment on your posts, at least for now. The only thing that makes you sure you’re not writing into the empty void is the views counter on the right side of each of your post.

Is it a good thing? Let’s see.

My experience with channels in numbers

I have a very humble experience with Telegram channels as I’m using it only a month now, but here is what I’ve learned so far: per follower, Telegram posts reach much more audience than in any other social media.

I think since it’s a messaging app, people treat channels like a one-on-one conversation and hence trust the authors. For example, if on Facebook people can “Like” your page just to show some support, here on Telegram people follow channels because they really want to read it.

Just to give some numbers to compare with, let’s take a look at my Facebook page which has about 14700 followers.

On Facebook, organic posts reach and engagement is quite suck

You’ll instantly notice these two quite nicely performed posts with 10k and 13k audience reach and probably think “huh, not bad!”. Well, the truth is such spikes happen very rarely, and besides, we know that Facebook artificially gives your native videos higher priority in the users newsfeed in order to compete with YouTube videos.

Theft, Lies, and Facebook Video by Hank Green

If you look at the other posts, they typically reach in between 1–3k, let’s count it as 2k on average. That only about 13% from the total amount of followers.

Just think about it a for moment: you spend a huge amount of time (and sometimes money, too) on getting a solid fanbase on Facebook, but once it’s time to actually speak to your audience — let’s say, you’re announcing a new album or a gig — only 13% on your followers will see your important announcement.

Now compare this to what I’ve experiencing on Telegram:

Stats Facebook page
14 700 followers
Telegram channel
74 followers
Average post reach 2k, or 13,6% 205, or 277%
Top-performed post reach 13k, or 88% 2k, or 2500%

Yes, that’s it. Having only 74 followers on the channel so far, my posts typically reach as twice as the audience I have. And my top-performed post so far viewed by more than 2000 people (once the counter reaches thousands, Telegram only shows short “2k” without specifics). Imagine if I’d had 14700 followers here like my Facebook page has :-)

How is that? Well, It seems that having no ability to “like” or comment motivates people to share your posts — this function is called forwarding here. And people actually do forward posts — to their friends, groups, and other public channels.

Even those posts which under-perform still reach out about 50~80% of your followers, which is equally to the most top-performed posts on Facebook.

Such broad audience reach isn’t unique to my channel. For example, take a look at the Telegram’s own news channel: they have 78k followers while their typical post reaches about 250–400 thousand people. That’s huge.

Telegram News channel’s post reach is ×4-5 more people that the amount of followers they have

Conclusion

Frankly, I have no idea what Telegram will be like in few years. I also have no idea where to get the audience, I’m not even sure how most of these 74 followers I currently have found me in the first place.

What I know, though, is that Telegram is certainly worth to try.

On cover image: futuristic art from Telegram.org. All numbers are taken from the moment of December, 15.

***

Update on January 27, 2017

Last month I’ve been using Amplifr for social media analytics, and turns out I have 20% of the social traffic coming from Telegram. But taking into account that currently my Telegram channel has 10—100 times fewer followers than my other social accounts, it actually means that Telegram has the highest click-rate per follower among all social networking services.

Social networks traffic distribution on my website, data from Google Analytics on January 27, 2017
2016   Facebook   Marketing   Social media   Telegram

Release routes

Pros and cons of self-release, record labels, and promo channels

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I have a track that I think is great and I want to get it out there and played by DJs as soon as possible. Do I go the self published route, set up a label, etc. and release on Bandcamp, or wherever, or send it to lables? 

How do I find the right label, especially if none are releasing quite the same style as my track?

Hamish Strachan

Hamish, first things off I would like to write a comment on the “as soon as possible” part since you’ve mentioned such urgency.

A good promotion is usually a result of thoughtful and long-term planning. You can’t just export a track from the DAW and make it played by DJs overnight, unless you know these DJs in person, of course. Just to give you a sense of context: most record labels plan at least for 3-4 months ahead, some artists wait for release a year. We’ll get to it below.

Now we can talk about the possible release routes. There are many possible ways, but I prefer to classify them into three categories.

Self-release

A free download track from Coming Soon!!! got 322k plays, that’s almost ten times more than a regular upload. But for upcoming artists it won’t work that way

If we think of the meaning of the words “music release” for a moment, basically, it’s a result of creative work available for distribution, and the point of this process is making your product accessible to the audience. And since the internet gives us an opportunity to directly reach the audience, you can self-release music.

Formally speaking, any kind of direct artist-to-fans distribution is a self-release. If you giveaway a track on SoundCloud, it’s a self-release. If you sell music on HearThis and Bandcamp, or distribute via Ektoplazm, it’s a self-release, too:

Artist → Service → Fans

Keep in mind that setting up an own record label is not quite in this category. It’s like traveling from one city to another one on a plane or in a taxi: even if you’ll drive your own car instead, you still go the same route as it would be with a taxi, except that now you have to be the driver. Kind of awkward analogy, but I hope it makes sense.

Since you’re the boss, “as soon as possible” is actually possible with a self-release. You have full control over the process in all details. Want to giveaway a track on SoundCloud? Why not, takes one minute to upload. But would it grab DJs attention? Will DJs play your track in a clubs? Well, it depends.

If you already have a large fan base and you solidified your name on the scene, it might work. But if you just starting out, you might end up having 20 downloads with a half being from your friends, and zero support from the DJs.

Coming Soon!!! often giveaway their tracks on SoundCloud, and it seems work quite well according to stats

Think from your audience’s perspective: how would they know about you in the first place? Even if your track is fantastic, how all those DJs will know about it if the only place it exists is your SoundCloud with a hundred followers, and the only person talking about your music is you? This is something to think about.

Release via record labels

Just the fact your track is out on Beatport doesn’t change anything. Only credible and trustworthy labels make a difference

Stores like Beatport and iTunes don’t accept music directly from the artists, they work with labels. But usually labels don’t submit music to the stores directly either, they do it via distributors. So the traditional chain looks like this:

Artist → A&R → Record label → Distributor → Stores → Fans

As you can see this is quite a complicated process, and partly this is the reason why at first it takes time to get music released, then it takes even more time to get back some royalties, and why those royalties are so small.

Thinking that setting up an own label would make things easier is a big mistake because operating as B2B you will have to deal with even more complicated bureaucracy, papers, accountants, reporting, and more.

Release on a label makes your track appear on the world’s largest stores, and many upcoming producers think this is a game-changer, a goal. “My track is out on Beatport!”, they proudly say.

Well, in reality, it’s not like that at all. The truth is no one cares. Stores are flooded with music and keep getting thousands of new arrivals weekly. So just the fact you get your music out on Beatport doesn’t really change anything, it’s overrated.

You may ask, “what’s the point of releasing on a label then?”. The answer is reputation.

A credible label has its own cult of followers: loyal fans that are willing to buy anything from this label, DJs that are strive for a new material and keeping their eyes open on new releases. And when your music is out on one of such trustworthy labels, it grabs attention from the audience because they know this label already released a high-quality content in the past.

That’s the power of labels: instead of you talking about yourself, now other people talking about you: “Hey, take a listen to this. It has our quality-approved stamp”. And it gives more trust (assuming that such recommendation is coming from a credible label, of course). The hardest part is how to get on such a good label, but that’s another story.

Insights on sending a demo to a record label

Release via promo channels

YouTube channels are a new alternative way of music distribution

This is a relatively new way of releasing music, and it’s a sort of mixture of the previous two. On the one hand, it doesn’t have a traditional “Label → Distributor → Stores” scheme, but on the other hand, it still has a middle-man.

Promo channels are also called music promoters, broadcasters, and has other names, and basically, they are popular YouTube and SoundCloud profiles.

Don’t it wrong, they are not just some individual enthusiasts who upload a random stuff, although it started like that back in 2010 or so. Today, these channels are big companies with a solid income coming through the monetization programs.

Just to show what I mean:

EDM.com SoundCloud 723 thousands followers
Majestic Casual YouTube 3 millions followers

In the underground music these numbers are less, but you get the idea. Think about these channels as a radio broadcast of the 21st century. And no surprise they are so popular: in the recent years, income in the music industry has shifted from sales to streaming, and we’ll see even larger changes in the coming future.

The process of pitching these channels is very similar to the way you dealing with record labels. At first you have to make a research, then find the right contact of a person who curate the channel, then submit a demo, and so on.

Artist → Curator → Promo channel → Fans

The benefit of this release route is pure exposure due to a huge amount of views/listens those channels have.

Summary

Here some pros and cons of each approach:

Route Pros Cons
Self-release Full control over the process
As soon as possible
More income from sales per track
Requires fan base
No access to the world’s largest stores
Low interest from DJs
Record labels Traditional time-tested method
Reputation coming from a credible name
Promo pools with tastemakers
Complicated process
No control over timing
Low income from sales
Promo channels Potentialy, the largest exposure
Streaming will keep growing
Can work with several channels, unless you have an exclusive deal
New, non-proved method
Still has a middle-man
No income at all

I can’t advise which way to go, but I hope this blog gave you some information to make a rational decision.

As for the second part of your question, let’s go over it next time.

2016   Advice   Marketing

Hiring professionals or DIY

Or why bad marketing is worse than its absence

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Your ‘advice’ is completely out of context for the average bedroom producer. Not everyone has money to waste on douche bags calling themselves graphic designers. When in truth you can learn all these things & have thousands on dollars left in your pocket.

From the comment to the previous post by Dude

I totally understand your feelings and where it comes from. In general, I’m up for a “Do-It-Yourself” idea too. For example, in the Artist manager blog I advised being a manager for yourself rather than hire one. And I’m really glad you shared your opinion because I’m sure you are not alone in this thinking. I bet there are more producers think alike, and this is exactly why I’d like to discuss this topic deeper.

And before we’ll move forward, let’s clarify the meaning of the “average bedroom producer”. If you make music just to share it with the close people and don’t have any bigger ambitions, then you certainly no need extra investments. You probably don’t even need a mastering! And that’s totally fine as long as you enjoy it. However if you do have ambitions and goals in music as a career, I suggest you consider the following.

Music, marketing, and management are the three main pillars that altogether can help you reach a success in the music business. It’s very important to understand that this mechanism works properly only when all pieces are aligned together and functioning on top of their performance.

If your music is not great, good marketing won’t help to get loyal followers
If you don’t know how to market your music, you may end up being known to a hundred people only
If you don’t have a proper management, you’ll probably miss the big picture

Now, why I’m telling you all this stuff and how it’s connected to the “DIY vs pay to professionals” topic? Here comes the most crucial part: bad music, marketing, or management is worse than its absence.

If you release several tracks in a row with low-quality mastering, most likely you’ll get a reputation of an amateurish producer among both industry specialists like labels and other artists, and listeners. Labels won’t listen to your demos, DJs won’t play your tracks.

If cover artwork of your release looks really cheap and homemade, people won’t even listen to this release in stores because the internet is mostly a visual media. And the same applies to your logo, press shots, website, and pretty much everything that reflects you as a music producer.

I advise treating to music like a business and invest in what that makes your product better. It might be quite expensive, but I believe a reputation worth much more than that.

Besides, hiring professionals for doing some certain things might be actually cheaper than learning how to do it yourself. Even if it’s “free” in terms of money, learning costs you time. And time is the most valuable resource in the Universe.

Imagine that your music career is a bridge, and music, marketing, and management are the building blocks its made of. If you don’t have enough of these building blocks, you won’t be able to build a long enough bridge to reach the other side. And that’s fine, you simply stay where you are. But if you build a bridge from bad, or weak components, you’ll fall down in the middle of the path. And falling down from the bridge isn’t cool, you know. On cover image: Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Photo by Davide Ragusa.

2016   Advice   Marketing
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