How To Book A Gig Yourself…and Be Invited Back

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.]

No matter what anyone tells you, we have yet to figure out a digital musical experience that can equal the fan connections a band can conjure through their live show. There is something in our DNA that is profoundly impacted by live music. Maybe it’s the shared experience with those in attendance or the nostalgia a concert can create for a certain time in our lives.

Or maybe it’s something more primal; the process of syncing our natural rhythm to live drum and bass as it pulse through our bones. Either way, performing is still undoubtedly the best way to create loyal fans and combat the current “musical-flavor-of-the-week” culture we live in.

Still, developing a live following is no walk in the park. You’re going to need to dedicate hours-upon-hours of time to tightening your set and tirelessly promoting your shows. It’ll get tedious, and success won’t happen overnight, but if you work hard you’ll eventually graduate from dingy bars and VFWs to better rooms. On top of that, I can honestly say nothing can match the indescribable feeling you’ll get from performing in front of a room full of people and, if you’re lucky, the dedicated following you’ll gain from gigging out.

Here are some tips on how to book that first gig, and how to get invited back!

1. Be Professional In Your Pitch

Yes, the promoter knows that you’re self-booking. They still want the comfort of knowing you will take the night seriously. Keep in mind that they’ve probably gotten a few hundred other “booking inquiries” that week. Ask yourself what’s going to make them offer you a slot on one of their nights over those other bands? Some ways to be professional include:

  • A succinct, clear subject line (i.e: Booking Inquiry – The Beatles October Date @ MSG?).
  • Be informative in the body of the email. You should include a description of your music, where you’re from and any performance history. It is also necessary to include a link to where the talent buyer can listen to your music and check out your socials.
  • Don’t have typos!
  • Follow up approximately 3-5 days after reaching out if you don’t hear back. Also don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. Sometimes that’s the best way to cut through the clutter of acts hitting up a promoter.

2. Stay In Touch with The Promoter Ahead Of Your Show

Nothing makes promoters more nervous than booking a band and not hearing from them again until they show up at the venue night of. Give the promoter updates on what you’re doing to get people to come see your band. Also share any promotional assets such as Facebook events or flyers with the promoter as well. This way they can take comfort in the fact you’re promoting and maybe even help get the word out as well.

3. Promote On Socials and Ask Your Friends

Actually promote, don’t just show up! Be active on both yours and the band’s social media accounts. Also don’t discount the value of hanging flyers (particularly in the venue) and calling/texting your friends. Sometimes those IRL invites are more memorable than a Facebook invite.

4. Help Book The Bill

This isn’t as important as a lot of the other points on this list but it’s definitely a plus. Promoters are usually booking a bunch of dates at once. If you can book the rest of the band’s on your bill it takes the work off of the promoter’s plate and gives a better chance of the bill being cohesive.

5. Bring Your A-Game

Put in the work before the show to have a great performance. At the end of the day that’s what’s going to ensure people want to see you again and get your band invited back to play on better bills.

6. Communicate With The Promoter Night Of

Introduce yourself to the promoter when you get there and thank him/her for having you. Thank him/her again at the end of the night and let them know you’ll reach out about subsequent dates.

7. Follow Up After You Performance

Give it a couple of days after the show and then email the promoter. Thank him/her again for having you and then see what upcoming dates he/she has available. If you can get in this routine with a few different promoters, you can put a nice little circuit together for yourself.

8. Don’t Overbook

Space out your dates in any given market! If you play too much in the same area, you’re going to most likely divide your draw. Obviously when you first start playing, do as many low profile gigs as possible to find yourself as a performer, but once you’ve achieved a level of confidence in yourself that you care about draw, try not to play your own market more than once per month.

Promoters will not be happy if they find out you’re playing next door in a week. Neither will your friends and fans be as inclined to come out and support if you’re ALWAYS playing out.


Keep these eight things in mind and you’ll be well on your way to building your live career!

5 Reasons It Pays To Collaborate

[Editors Note: This article was written by Suzanne Paulinksi, an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate.]

 

They often say, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” but what does that actually mean? Sure, we all know the benefits of growing our own team to carry out our own vision, but what are the real benefits to working with others who don’t work for us?

In years past, as I tried to get former businesses off the ground, I had been approached many times to collaborate with other business owners. More often than not I said no, afraid someone else would cloud my overall vision or try to usurp whatever I was currently working on and take it for themselves. I also had bad flashbacks of school projects when group work meant me busting my ass and four or five others benefiting off of my all-nighters.

So I pushed ahead on my own.

After two businesses failed to reach their full potential, I realized it was time to get out of my own way and realize the potential of combining forces. It’s one thing to hire internally and have a team help execute your vision – in fact, it’s crucial – but it’s quiet another to work with someone else who is in your same position (the captain of their own ship), but who brings a different perspective or skill set to the table.

Whether you’re a business owner or a songwriter, when it comes to true collaboration, it’s no longer about making your vision work, it’s about doing what works, period.

You don’t have to abandon your vision, but you do have to be open to improving it.

If you can trust that it’s just as important to have people who work with you as it is to have people to work for you then you can profit (in more ways than one) from these five benefits of collaboration:

1. Opens you up to a new or larger fan base: If you’re an artist who is trying to build their fanbase, positioning yourself to be a featured artist on someone else’s track or reaching out to share a stage with an artist who has already established a tour can get you in front of others who may not be familiar with you, but who are already primed to be potential fans of yours. Don’t stay up on other musicians as a way to “keep an eye on the competition,” but stay informed on who’s making moves as a way to keep an eye out for collaboration.

2. Opens you up to more prominent industry attention: Especially if you’re in the songwriting business, collaborating with another writer who already has the ear of industry decision makers can elevate your chances of getting their ear as well. That’s not to say you should only work with people who have reached a certain recognition – working with someone else who is on your same level can be just as beneficial. Not only are two brains almost always better than one, but creating something from two different perspectives can give your project the unique spin needed to make others listen.

3. Gets you a life long partner in this industry who has your back: Creating art is a very vulnerable process. Creating art with someone else can create an almost immediate bond. In an industry that can be very unforgiving, forming a close relationship with someone who can 100% relate to your specific position in the industry can be invaluable as you grow together.

4. Makes you better creatively and professionally: As I said above about not needing to abandon your vision, but being open to improving it, collaboration causes you to reflect on what you bring to the table and push further. A strong collaboration will force you to dig deep and put it all on the table. Much like an accountability buddy when trying to finish a task, when there’s someone to answer to you’ll try harder. On a professional note, knowing how to work with other personalities and talents is never a skill you should let get rusty.

5. Gives you a great story: When you bio is all about you, it becomes a snoozefest. Everyone loves a good love story in the movies, and everyone loves to hear how a song or project came together from a successful collaboration, especially if it’s an unexpected one. It gives you plenty of content to share and drip out as part of your promotional campaign. It makes cross-promotion a no-brainer, once again getting your work in front of a larger audience.

A little bit of skepticism with who you choose to let into your creative world is healthy, but paranoia or being overly controlling has never served anyone in the long run. Remember that in the end, it’s all about presenting your fans with the best version of yourself and sometimes it takes others to bring that out of us.

Here’s to making the dream work!

Creating a Content Pipeline: How To Be Prepared For Anything

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Kendra Gaines. Kendra is a digital music marketing fiend. ‘Like’ her Facebook page, Easy Music Promo for more.]

 

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” – Zig Ziglar

The above quote is cool and all, but I don’t think it means what we think it means. A lot of motivational speakers and Twitter gurus like to use this quote. To them, it’s a way to get you moving. They tend to believe that you must be prepared. You must train. You must get everything right first, and then, once the universe is satisfied with your amount of preparation, you’ll unlock a golden opportunity.

It’s a great thought, and while I believe it to be true, I like to think of it slightly differently. See, in the quote, the opportunity happens first, then that opportunity meets the preparation. In the quote, there are no indications about when and how the opportunity comes about. You can prepare, easily, but you can’t really fabricate an opportunity, especially in the music business.

The Internet is crazy and it never sleeps. While you’re awake reading this right now, someone from across the world is laying their head down to sleep right now, and the cycle turns continuously. As artists, we don’t get to pick and choose what listeners latch onto and how they share it; we just hope they will.

Let me give you an example. Long ago I worked with a friend who’s a singer. He worked long nights and spent a lot of money putting together a fantastic project that was received pretty well. He and I did what we thought was our due diligence and sent out press releases, contacted blogs and radio, and made sure the fan base had enough to keep them busy and entertained for a while. It did well for the moment, but eventually the buzz wore off.

Do you know what went viral weeks later?

An old-ass video of he and a group of friends singing in a Waffle House. Someone whipped out their video phone and got a snippet of them singing.

Thousands of dollars doing the right thing for a project and a potato-quality video is what catches on. Geez.

And to make matters worse, we had nothing else. An opportunity arose and we had no new content to keep newcomers engaged. We weren’t prepared.

So, how do we combat this?

The way a lot of independent artists work is they put music out and hope for the best. Sometimes they’ll plan a release, but they still generally put the music out, do a cool thing or two and then move on to the next project.

While not wrong, it’s just not enough. That’s why artists should be building pipelines.

No matter what industry you’re in right now, content is king. And if you don’t have enough content to get attention, then you’re falling behind.

Guess what? One album every nine months isn’t enough. You’ve got to do more.

Before I tell you how to create a pipeline, I’m going to give you two great reasons why pipelines work.

1. Motivation.​ I have no clue what it is with creative types, but we’ll have an idea and be really into it. But maybe two weeks later, we’ve moved on from that idea with nothing to show for. There’s a theory out there that we only have so much motivation and will power, and when we get the feeling to do something, we just need to do it. The problem happens when we do stuff and want to release it right away. The idea of creating a pipeline encourages you to wait for the right time, while taking advantage of your wave of creativity.

2. Time.​ If you’re an independent artist and you have a small team or no team at all, you’re probably doing a lot of the work yourself. That leaves very little time to do anything else. However, the pipeline theory works like a blitz — you take two or three weeks out of the month to make month’s worth of content. Then as your content is being released in phases, you can just chill, create more or have something in your back pocket for when an opportunity arises.

Creating a Pipeline for Success

It’s important to know beforehand, that you’re going to need to be committed to creating content for the allotted amount of time needed to create. When I mention content creation, I’m not just talking about making songs, though that is away at it. I also mean bite sized pieces of content for social media, whether that be photos, graphics, contests, etc.

To get yourself acclimated to the idea, I suggest taking one to two weeks to create four to six weeks worth of content. ​You want to create so you can release one to two things a week. So, a six-week pipeline, as six to 12 good pieces of content to be released. Make sense?

1. Get a calendar and abide by it. Before you start making the content, you need to essentially create a release schedule. What days and times and what kind of content do you want to release? Do you want to release a new song Tuesday at 6PM? Is it behind-the-scenes studio footage that you release Wednesday at noon? For contests and deals, you want to also consider how the particulars will work. Put it all on an ideal schedule of how things will be phased out (or dripped).

2. Start setting deadlines. This part is super hard, especially if you have a team or outsource some of your work. It’s tough to ask people to give you things by a certain time, but try to build extra time into your deadlines. Ideally, you’re telling your team what you want and when you want it by. If you’re working along, these are just rubrics for when you want to have final products ready to go.

3. Create! There are so many things you can create for content that range from entire new songs or cover songs to footage. Don’t think this all has to be expensive. Something I’ve learned is finished is better than perfect — it’s ok to shoot a couple videos on your iPhone. It’s ok to use a free beat you’ve found online every so often. Most of your pipeline work is just to keep you relevant. When you have specific, original content, you’ll start making campaigns for that. Create stuff that works in-between time.

4. The create some more. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of getting a fluctuation of interest and no way to engage or monetize off that. Even if it’s not on the schedule, get in the habit of recording more, taking more photos, recording more songs, etc.

5. Release your content. Easily. It’s hard to remember when to release stuff all the time. It slips your mind and that’s cool. Use a service like TuneCore Social to drip your content out amongst your social medial channels. This makes it easier for you, as you get to set it and forget it.

6. Reap the benefits. Now, you’ve got content for the next few weeks! That’s great. You can kick your feet up, or, as I’d recommend, get right back into creating. Perhaps your next piece of work is for a campaign around a single or project. You can use the same idea to put something together for it, just make sure it’s all related and has the same feeling behind it.

When it opportunity comes, you want to be prepared to handle it. Making sure you have something to keep people engaged is so important as an independent artist. Try out the pipeline theory and see how it works toward growing your fanbase.

A Hitchhiker’s Guide To Releasing an EP

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.]

 

A Quick Look at the Assets Needed and Suggested Timeline for Releasing An EP as an Independent Artist

One of the hardest thing for an artist to do is wait. Good musicians will spend a year or more writing and recording five or six meticulously arranged tracks. They know when to subtly sneak a guitar solo or drum fill on stage and how many bars to spend vamping on it. But when the time comes to share the music they’ve poured their life’s blood into, release day can’t come soon enough.

Much like the journey shared by Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, putting out music should be experienced in volumes. They had the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to help them plan. The goal of this article is to provide something similar; albeit simpler. By taking these things into consideration, your music will be given the optimal chance to reach as many ears as possible with or without the assistance of a Babel Fish.

Stage 1: Life, The Universe and Everything…Gather Your Assets!

Okay, so after all this time writing and recording, your EP is ready. You’re just a few short steps away from sharing it with the world. Before you decide just when that date will be, let’s talk about what else you’re going to be doing to promote the record.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself at this point:

  1. What’s my budget?
    How much money am I able to spend on this record? Is there enough to hire any help or am I better off going at this alone? Knowing the answer to this question will help figure out an initial content plan. It will also give you an idea of how much time you should spread the release over. The more you’re handling yourself the more time you should give yourself to accomplish everything.
  2. Will There Be More Money Coming In Once The Release Cycle Starts?
    Are you going to be doing any touring? Have you had any luck, or is there any demand, for merch? Album sales are tough and streaming income is great, but the numbers dictate that a considerable number of streams are required to actually generate income. Since you can’t bank on that income, ignore it for now. Other more concrete opportunities for generating cash should be what you’re trying to estimate in this step. This will help you decide if it’s worth elongating your campaign a bit to allow for more content creation or additional help once the first single is out.
  3. What Content Will I Have?
    In addition to the music, will there be remixes, music videos, live content or behind the scenes stuff? Also on a related note, you will need artwork and social media “skins” and “copy” ready to roll at this point.

Stage 2: And Another Thing…Set The Timeline!

You should start pondering timeline once the music enters the mastering phase. However, dates for an independent artist shouldn’t be committed to until you have all assets in hand (or at a minimum deliverable dates). Once you’ve gotten to that point, though, it’s best to nail down when you want to release everything.

  1. First thing to consider are singles. If you have a five song EP, I generally recommend doing two singles ahead of the full release. This will allow you to start generating a buzz leading up to release week.
  2. If you did any videos, you need to decide if you want to do separate audio & video campaigns or premiere the song initially alongside the video. If you feel the video is so integrated into the song that people will appreciate the music best with the visual accompaniment then, by all means, put your best foot forward. If you want to save a few assets for after you put out the EP, it might be best to do them separately and release the video a little deeper into the campaign. Keep in mind that you can’t “premiere” a track from the EP after the whole release is out, so having a video or, depending on genre, even a remix gives you a bit of a longer tail on marketing post-release date.
  3. When coming up with a timeline, you should also consider how much time is needed by your distribution. For instance, if you’re using TuneCore three weeks advanced notice will be required to make use of their “Features Submission” form. There is usually an element of advanced deliverables requirement for most streaming and download services as well.

Stage 3: The Restaurant At The End Of The Galaxy…Time To Release!

Congratulations! You fought the urge to just throw your music up online all willy-nilly-like and, as a result, your release is doing well now that it’s finally out. What’s next? Here are a few things you can do to continue promoting your EP.

  1. Play Shows! –  I can’t stress how important playing live is when you’re trying to establish yourself. There will be thousands of artists putting out new music ON THE SAME DAY that you do. Developing a personal relationship with an audience in a live setting will help you establish loyalty with fans and bring them back to your digital presence.
  2. Continue to Reach Out – Your music is out now, so premieres and “first looks” are off the table. That doesn’t mean that you can’t keep looking for new press. Keep digging for contacts and find people writing about music that may be into your sound. If you’ve had a couple of good press clips at this point, you now have quotes from other tastemakers in your toolbelt to convince this new wave of writers to cover you. Same principal applies to Spotify playlisting.
  3. Get Social – You can always use social media to promote your records and attract new fans. Just because your music is out doesn’t mean you have to stop posting about it. I never recommend coming off as sales-y with your digital presence, but if somebody writes about your music, post it and thank them. Do some live videos you can get up on Facebook and Instagram. If nothing else, keep posting to show your personality. Every little bit helps.

Hope you found this little guide useful as you prepare to put your new music out. Until next month, So Long And Thanks for All The Fish!

Do You Need a Publicist Or Just Some Research?

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.]

 

Building out your team as an artist is a very difficult process. Young musicians often believe having a manager, a publicist or a booking agent onboard will be the core to somehow expediting the process of launching their career. Today you’re playing to ten friends and family members at your local VFW or singing at open mics. Then, viola! Your team has scored you a spot on tour with your favorite band, selling out arenas.

As most of you are probably aware, that scenario doesn’t necessarily match up with the reality of building a career in music. There is no magic bullet. In fact, building out your team too early can lead to getting stuck in business relationships that don’t necessarily make the most sense in the long run or, as is the case with publicists, see you investing what little money you have to spend on your project in areas that you won’t necessarily see the sort of results you’re hoping for.

Here are three questions to ask yourself before deciding whether or not to pull the trigger on bringing a publicist into the fold:

Will I Be Able To Give A Publicist Enough To Work With?

An important key to publicity is having assets to work with. Yes, you have a great EP, but is there anything else that your publicist can give to press? Are there tour dates or live shows in your hometown? Do you have a unique element to your story that could lead to a bigger editorial piece that will serve as a cornerstone for the campaign? Did you shoot any high-quality music videos for the project?

A publicist is going to have to sell a writer on the fact they are getting in early on something that will be bigger down the line. Just having a handful of quality songs does not go a long way to help them sell that idea.

What Are My Goals With This Campaign?

Am I hiring a publicist because I think they’re going to take me from my bedroom to the cover of Rolling Stone? Do I think that I am going to see a significant financial return immediately from doing a few months of PR? If so, you’re probably going to be disappointed with the results you’re going to get.

One in a million projects can break immediately without a ton of work from major industry powers going on behind the scenes. The vast majority of artists need to build out their public presence in stages. Your initial public relations campaign should be about building that first tier of coverage. This would likely consist of grabbing a few of the aforementioned cornerstone pieces and streaming playlists that you can start building a 1-sheet around and getting writers out to see you play live.

From there you can start building anticipation for your next release or, if the campaign goes really well, you can continue to go after additional coverage on the release immediately.

What Is My Next Step?

A standard PR campaign will run around three months. Once that three month period is over, if the coverage isn’t rolling in enough to continue seeking press, what’s your next step?

Are you going to be right back in the studio working on the follow-up or is there going to be a long wait before you release music again?

If this release took a year or two to prepare and you don’t see a next release in the near future, you’re better off handling press yourself and focusing on building an organic following through playing live and direct-to-fan initiatives.

In short, ask yourself if this release is going to set up a bigger push in the next year or is it step one in your career as an artist from which you will decide where you will pivot to next.

It’s best for an artist not to rush to add structure to their project to quickly. It’s usually better to find yourself creatively before looking to start working towards a sustainable career. If you do find yourself in this stage of self-discovery, don’t rush to hire a publicist. You can find the contact information for most of the writers or blogs that will be most likely to cover your project in these early stages on their website or via the writer’s Twitter account.

The more you can do on your own before hiring people around you, the better you’ll understand the process of releasing music and ultimately the more worthwhile your eventual first proper PR campaign will be!

Tips For Getting Your Song On a Spotify Playlist

[Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Janelle Rogers, the founder of  Green Light Go Publicity, a music PR firm which helps up-and-coming musicians reach their audience.]

 

You’re absolutely certain you want, no, you need, to get on an official Spotify playlist. The problem is you’re not sure how to reach the elusive curators and you’re struggling to get past 50 followers on Spotify.

Asking to be on an official Spotify playlist in that case is somewhat the equivalent of wanting to be on the cover of Rolling Stone when the only show you’ve played is the local dive bar on the seedy side of town.

Don’t despair. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but it does mean you’ll have to put in a little elbow grease to build up to it. Just like the mailroom guy has to work through a multitude of career levels before becoming manager, you’ll have to create some momentum to reach your official Spotify playlist goal.

Here’s a few simple steps that are within reach no matter the level:

1. Get Verified

The first thing you should do is get your Spotify band profile verified. This does a few things. It gives you credibility and shows you take your band seriously. It can also help with Spotify algorithms which prioritize verified accounts.

Lastly it can help you get noticed by Spotify influencers, including those who create unofficial playlists, but are influential nonetheless. You can find the five simple steps to get verified on Spotify here.

2. Work Unofficial Spotify Playlists

The best way to reach a goal is to start where you are. You may want to go straight to being featured on an official Spotify playlist, but the truth is that you’ll most likely need to build up to where a Spotify curator will pay attention. The good news is that there are a lot of unofficial Spotify curators who will be more open to featuring bands who haven’t yet built a larger following. At this stage in the game, Spotify curators, both official and unofficial, are heavily guarded and extremely elusive.

Start with the ones who want more followers and help brand them by asking your followers to follow them. In your head you may think they’re not worth the time. Instead think about not where they are, but where they could end up. Isn’t that how you would hope playlisters would think of you?

I can still remember when Alex with Consequence of Sound reached out to me to purchase a $25 ad on his site. Nobody knew who the blog was then, but now they’re one of the top blogs. And almost every band who comes to us for music PR at Green Light Go asks to be featured there. You never know where someone will go so treat them with the kind of courtesy and respect no matter what the level.

3. Promote Spotify on Social Media Platforms

If you want to increase followers and awareness with Spotify influencers, you’re going to need to increase your marketing efforts on your social media. Make sure you have links to your Spotify profile in your about sections. Also, once or so per week ask fans to follow you. But don’t just ask them to follow you without giving them something new.

Be strategic by offering fresh content whether it’s announcing your single release, album release or creating a playlist with new songs. Also be sure to promote the playlists of influencers you want to include you in their playlist. Especially with those who don’t yet have the following yet, this can go a long way and allow you to get in on the ground floor before they make it big.

4. Promote Spotify on Website

Just like you promote your social media on your website with Facebook and Twitter links, you should also include Spotify anywhere you can. They have a great tool to create a follow button so fans can follow you straight from your site. In addition, you should include icons next to your other social media and also include a Spotify playlist so people can listen to your music. Lastly, include a widget to listen to the music you have available on Spotify.

5. Create Spotify Playlists

If you have yet to build a following or create relationships with Spotify playlisters, a good place to start is by building your own playlist including your music. To better your chances with Spotify aggregators, limit it to one song per artist (including your song), a minimum of 20 songs and give the title something catchy that is also searchable based on your theme. For instance, we have a playlist themed around indie folk, which we simply callIndie Folks. We also have an indie rock playlist we call, you guessed it, Indie Rocks.


The above steps can help you start breaking down the barrier to get your songs on Spotify playlists. Go ahead and get started by working on the achievable areas to make you more attractive to Spotify influencers.