Success you say? Isn’t that playing at Wembley? Or being on Billboard top 40? For some it might, but not for me. The last six months I have developed a lot both as a musician, artist and producer, and that’s one part of my success. But the absolute biggest part is that in the last six months I got in touch with so many great people, both other artists, radio hosts, bloggers, music fans, managers and what not. This has lead to two great things, I got my music heard by a lot of people, getting airplay on various radio stations, mentions in various blogs but I also got aware of the abundance of great music that’s out there to discover.
That’s why I use this platform, my Facebook page and my Twitter both in the purpose to promote myself and my own music but also highlight other bands and artists that I believe makes great music and deserves more exposure. I also add them to this Spotify-playlist to help boost the number of plays and give people the possibility to discover some music outside the commercial stuff that’s on the radio.
But today I’m not gonna talk about other artists or my own music. Instead I’m gonna tell you about my journey the last six months and give you some tips on how you also can connect with others and in that way succeed with your artistic goals. I’m also gonna list some of the radio stations, blogs and other sites that are genuinely interested in independent music and doesn’t make you pay for being played.
First of all I realized that no one’s gonna “discover” my music. Since there is so much great artists making great music out there, just making great music wont make you famous. The stories about artists like Lily Allen who got discovered on MySpace over 10 years ago are exceptions to the rule, and I guess there’s a lot of hard work behind these discoveries as well. But hard work doesn’t sound as compelling as being discovered and famous over a night.
Realizing this I needed a new strategy and that’s where I found my guru D Grant Smith and had the luck to win a copy of his book “The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook“. I’m not gonna go in to details of the content, but I strongly recommend you to buy a copy or a electronic version. It will be the best investment you can do. The most important lessons I learned from this book was, besides the practical tips, two things:
1. It’s all about building relationships.
2. People that are genuine and are willing to not only help themselves, but others as well, will win in the long run.
There is a lot of other great tips in this book, and if you wanna dive even further in this philosophy you can subscribe to D’s newsletter or apply for his Indie Radio Course that builds of the knowledge from the book.
After reading the book I had to wait a few months to get my music finished and then the real work started. I started researching radio stations and blogs. A really important thing is not to send generic e-mails to a bunch of stations (I’ve been there, it doesn’t work out well). My way of working was when I found a station or blog that seemed interesting I started with reading some posts/listening to some of the programming. Then I wrote a personal e-mail to each and everyone of the station (sometimes via Facebook or Twitter). Of course I have a standard template with links and stuff, but I always adapt it to fit into the receiver of my message. Since then I also evolved my way of writing messages, and that’s something you have to figure out for yourself, it’s really important that your message comes from you and is genuine.
I was really careful to answer everyone who responded. Even if not every station added me for rotation a lot of them came with great feedback and for me it’s natural to show appreciation for all kinds of help. And who knows, maybe they will like something I do in the future, and then I don’t wanna come of as an ungrateful idiot. I also keep track of everyone that responds no matter if they add me or not. I use a Excel spread sheet, but how you do it is optional.
All this time I realized new angles to use in my message to various media persons. One thing I found that’s really appreciated is to make it as easy as possible for the person receiving your music. So now I add both links to SoundCloud, Spotify and a Dropbox-link with all the songs in Mp3 format (with correct ID3 information), a press release and cover art. Sometimes people require Mp3 to be send as an attachment but I usually don’t send this in the first mail. And one other thing, if it’s not clear that the person you mail to takes submissions you better not sending a lot of links in your first e-mail, instead pay some attention to the station/blog and ask on how to send submissions.
And if a station/blog picks me up I’m really careful to thank them for their work and also help them reach out to new people by writing about it in my blog and share them on Facebook and Twitter (or whatever social media you use). I also became friends with a lot of these people, a really nice side effect of my work.
Another guru when it comes to build relationships (but maybe a bit to advanced for a total beginner) is Steve Palfreyman from Music Launch Hub. Follow him on Facebook and sign up to his newsletter and you will definitely learn some great stuff and get great tips about going forward with your musical career and getting better building relationships.
I have some tips on how I use social media to get more exposure. Most of all I try to keep active and posting things about both my own music and others music and also other stuff that I find interesting to share. I use a little bit of Twitter automation via Jooicer but i ALWAYS (again ALWAYS, this is really important) use it as a tool helping me to connect organically with fans and other artists. That means I don’t just put a automated DM out and then don’t give a crap, I make sure to answer everyone that connects with me and also to keep my Twitter updated with content. It really bums me out receiving a nice automated DM and responding to it and then nothing comes back, so don’t be that guy. Never use automation in a lazy way, use it as a way to help you connect for real.
I also wanna stress the importance not only to connect with radio folks, bloggers etc but also other artists. My greatest source for this is Atom Collector Records where you for free can add your SoundCloud, Spotify or YouTube songs and earning credits by listening to other independent music, credits that you then can use to get real people to listen to yours. The chat room at the site is also a really nice place to meet artists for moral support, collaboration or just to kill a few hours of your work day. Be prepared for some bad jokes and puns though. Another great place to meet both artists and other people involved in the independent music scene is the Facebook group Riff Taff Music Networking.
At last here’s a list of stations/blogs/podcasts etc that I know for sure accept submissions by independent artist and are hosted by people who have a genuine interest in helping independent artist. I won’t add any contact information because I don’t want you to just send an e-mail to each and everyone of them without doing the proper research before. So check these out and good luck. And since I’m trying to be the nicest guy in the business, make a comment, connect with me on Facebook or Tweet me.
Ear to the Ground
Under the Pavement
Radio Kaos Caribou
The Premium Blend
AC Rock Reviews
Dr Bones New music Saturday
Music Matters IRR
For The Love Of Bands
Pete’s rock news and views
Valley FM 89.5
John Cronin’s Music Blog
North Highland Radio
My Daddy Oh Radio
The Big Fat Indie Show
Northern Quarter Radio
Ipswich Community Radio FM
I will keep adding stuff to this list as I find new great places to submit music to. I will not ever give you direct contact information or sort them according to genre, format etc since I want you to figure out that part by visiting the different sites, I promise you that you will benefit in the long run. So keep making great music and #KEEPOUTOFTHEMAINSTREAM