Friday, April 15, 2011 • Ask Arie
It's a fact people don't like being told by total strangers to click on random links and pressured to become a co-defendant in the retweet spam train.
"Arie, is twitter an effective way to promote my music?
" - No name
Yes and no depending on the technique and timing. [laughing] No don't worry there is no science to twitter promotion. However, the biggest complaint I hear from twits, twitheads, twiggas, twithearts and what-evers is in reference to the numerous links received from artists they don't know. It's a fact people don't like being told by total strangers to click on random links and pressured to become a co-defendant in the retweet spam train.
Reality check!!!! People know when they're randomly picked for "promo" based on the other "@" contacts bunched together. From personal experience I'm flattered to see my name next to @iamdiddy, @eonline, @unclerush and @barackobama. However, I don't know them..... and I'm sure as hell they don't know the person who chose to place us together in some dilapidated twitter blast. In doing this, artists are basically shooting blind, how productive is that? If you don't take what you do serious, why would anyone else???
So, although twitter is very convenient, like anything else it's important and most effective to do your due diligence a.k.a. homework and know exactly who you're sending your music to. You wouldn't send your hip hop track to a rock station [that would be pointless], twitter is the same way.
My advice, get to know who your fans and followers are and start with them. By working within your ACTUAL network, you're sharing with people who have interest in you.
Also, FYI for your mental Rolodex there are programs that can be linked with your social networks to send out prearranged material for distribution to YOUR followers in an organized and timely manner. Helping to avoid leaving every-one's time line looking like your personal promo page and leading to you being blocked or unfollowed.
Thursday, March 31, 2011 • Ask Arie
Is it still acceptable to submit hard materials such as CDs, and physical press kits?
"Arie, I feel like my music is getting buried in the virtual piles of emails submitted to music editors. Is it still acceptable to submit hard materials such as CDs, and physical press kits?" - f.c.
In one word YES!!!!.... However, with 90something percent of popular media being independent and some even being run out of America's dorm rooms and in the basements of some very understanding parents [laughing] it may be difficult to locate a physical mailing address to submit your material(s) to.
Yes, I said it! Despite the flash and popularity, there's a good chance your favorite music/video site is maintained in the comfort of someones home. At least until they get their numbers up and sold to a larger commercial multimedia conglomerate [laughing]... Nothing like the entrepreneurial spirit - Anyways, I digress.
For those publications that publicly list their mailing address or P.O. Box, definitely submit your QUALITY music and non-spam promos. Heck, some even though not widely publicized... prefer it and I think you may have a better chance of getting your music heard as long as it's not on cassette [wink].
Who knows you may also grab some extra consideration points, cause it takes more effort to package and pay for postage then it does to click a button. There's almost something slightly humbling about receiving an artists CD in the mail; ask any editor that's normally bombarded by a virtual sea of spam.
What say you music editors? Let me know.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 • Ask Arie
Do you think it's important to have a lawyer review my contracts when I work with producers and labels?
Dear Arie, I'm an indie artist and my buzz is getting good where different contracts and stuff are being presented to me. I Would like to know if you think it's important to have a lawyer review my contracts when I work with producers and labels?
As we all know the music industry has a stigma of being very shady and cut throat. Heck sometimes I feel people need contracts just to ensure they walk back out of meetings [laughing]. The reality is as more and more independent artists promote and manage their own careers on shoe string budgets, having the money to hire proper legal representation isn't always at the top of the list.
If you are unable to retain/hire a private music/entertainment attorney, I definitely recommend locating a reputable pre-paid legal program in your city or town and having them review any documents that could legally make, break or bank your career.
The majority of pre-paid legal programs offer a wide range of services, from reviewing the first 10 pages of any contract for free to going to court with or for you. That's a win win if you're working on something with a contract only 8 1/2 pages long and can't make a court date because you're on tour [laughing].
Also, something to remember, most programs only charge a flat monthly membership fee between $18- $35 or more a month depending on what you need. What are the perks of these legal programs?
- You always have a reputable attorney when you need one.
- With membership you get certain services [that normally cost an arm and a leg] for 'free'
- It's cheaper to pay a small monthly fee as you would insurance, instead of waiting until something goes wrong and having to dish out a huge retainer to protect your interests and possible livelihood.
It would stink to be contracted to some BS label for life or not get your points on a song that goes platinum, because you didn't cover you 'ass'-ets.
At the end of the day no one is going to look out for your interests like you. So when the ball starts rolling in your career where it actually counts to have representation. GET IT!
Do you have a question for me or something you'd like to know? I'm here every week answering your emails on industry how-to's and important Do's and Don'ts. Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on twitter at: www.twitter.com/leirapr_ceo
Thursday, March 17, 2011 • Ask Arie
I'm an aspiring actress and I notice the attention a lot of women similar to me receive for sharing their experiences and photos of them with celebrities.
"Arie, I'm an aspiring actress and I notice the attention a lot of women similar to me receive for sharing their experiences and photos of them with celebrities. I've been fortunate to have my own experiences etc. Do you think I would benefit for coming out and sharing that info with the public to further my career?" - Vixxenesk
Are you kidding??
Chatty women with celebrity stories come a dime a dozen. Really think about it and ask yourself, what makes your story different from the next chick looking to come up? and who the hell would care?
The reality is unless you can prove you're having some married "A" list celebrity's kid and moving into his family home to live like a polygamist, and Barack and Michelle are leaving the White House to become your personal nannies.... NO ONE CARES!!! Reality TV and everyone sharing the most personal details of their lives via social networks makes it even harder to wow the public long enough to actually gain from it in the way I think you're hoping to.
Don't let all these video site "urban models" and Twitter girls get you hyped with the number of followers they have and who they're seen partying with, cause here are a few true facts they won't tell you:
- Knowing and partying with thousand and millionaires doesn't make you one.
- The majority still work day or night jobs to support their lifestyles. What, you think those videos pay enough to cover the cost of living on top of retail? If not represented by a legit talent agency [which 98.9% of them aren't] at most the girls bring home $100 a day [union average]. Not the thousands they claim. Hell, half are lucky to get that. The usual bunch just get credit [acknowledgement for being there], the possibility of meeting the celebrity, hard dick and sore gums [no sex in the "green room" my ass] and last but not least....
- Always having to be "on" and ready or risk being replaced by a newer, fresher girl.
Now, I don't know what you think, but that doesn't get you far in life. UNLESS you're able to pull off what I mentioned above [laughing].
And, true if the people and stories are big enough you may get mentioned on a couple gossip sites and open yourself up to predictable groupie slander. But, unless you really and I mean really have some other things going on that are news worthy [i.e. a new movie, book or clothing line etc.] dropping soon that, this obvious publicity stunt could serve to benefit from. Then it's just a waste of time, cause I'm sure based on the basic bitch material you may have to present, there won't be any casting agents or directors banging on your door.
Also, I noticed the double XX in your name, eXactly what kind of actress are you? If you're in the "adult entertainment" industry you better come with something BIG. Cause, porn stars and bus-hoes sleeping with celebs is as common as washing with soap and water; and depending on who you're sleeping with to gain momentary fame, it might be a good idea to stalk up on both [laughing].
My advice, build your brand on what you do, not who you screw. That helps you stand alone and have that security of being truly confident when you walk into a room. Make people know who you are based on your business sense, and as a bonus if hooking up with those same celebrities is something you still want to do for shits and giggles then go for it. But, now the playing field's even and on your terms and not based on what you're trying to gain from them [Get it?]
- Good luck!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011 • Ask Arie
The reality is, a lot of independent artists can't afford to hire the professional help needed to gain the additional exposure they desire. But, don't fret cause this answer is short and sweet!
"What's good Arie, I'm an up-and-coming MC who really wants to gain as much exposure as possible however, I don't have a budget to hire professional PR/Marketing help yet. What do you suggest?
" - Sed
The reality is, a lot of independent artists can't afford to hire the professional help needed to gain the additional exposure they desire. But, don't fret cause this answer is short and sweet!
Don't worry about trying to hire a publicist/marketing rep until you reach the level of people outside of your immediate fan-base i.e. [street, neighborhood, church, family... You see where I'm going with this?] who actually care about what you have going on. Don't take it personal, but the reality is, publication editors and radio program directors won't care to cover you if there isn't a solid fan base that will check out their media on you. It's all about the numbers.
Serious! Even those artists and bands featured in "Indie Spotlights" that seem like they fell out the sky, have a solid fan base in the double digit thousands.
So, until you know you're at this level- save your money, doe, and pesos and put in some elbow work. You are your best representation, role up your sleeves and network, network, network. It's not a science, and you can accomplish a lot on your own.
So moving on....
Based on your personal needs, wants and goals create a PR check list and work your way down it weekly; contacting various outlets that fit your genre of music in hope of gaining interviews, reviews, etcetera. You will save tons of money that you could spend on studio time, printing/duplicates, some marketing and gas for your car to get to worthwhile gigs, that may help gain additional coverage.
Just remember what I always say- Keep your pitches short, direct and to the point. You have a 15 second window to introduce, display and prove that you and your projects are worth the coverage. Don't waste time with a million pointless links, pics and wordiness. Save that for when you make it and people actually care about those additional details. And most important stay professional, no spam and "Check my new shit" in the subject. Even the smallest "hole-in-the-wall" blogs expect professionalism.
If you create a schedule and stick to your weekly check list you should see results. Good luck!
Thursday, March 3, 2011 • Ask Arie
Artists only do well on radio, because people have already had them shoved down their throats by the major labels and their BIG marketing budgets.
"Arie, In today's market, how important is it for an indie artist to get a record played on Radio as opposed to a video on the most popular blogs? My artist is incredible and I want to start building his career nationally but I'm hoping with a record on the radio here in Atlanta, I can get some interest from the label's who can put the money behind us to push the a record nationally. Of course this question is more related to limited resources and what's a better way to spend the money. So many artists have seem to sprung alive from the internet. Is that lane as easy as it seems?
" - Dave
Honestly, don't waste your funds on radio. It won't do any good, at least not at this point in your artist's career. Radio is like the golden arches of music. Try and follow me... [When you see McDonalds golden arches, you already know what to expect without even tasting their fries or burgers that day] right?
Radio is the same way. Artists only do well on radio, because people have already had them shoved down their throats by the major labels and their BIG marketing budgets. You'd be surprised how we "the general public" are hypnotised to know an artists voice before receiving confirmation from a promo picture that, they are the one's who are actually singing that new "HOT" single.
My advice.... Use what budget you have on, online marketing and creating enough worthwhile material to gain attention for your artist via online sites, blogs, e-zines etc. Besides buying banners and video placement (on those sites who over charge, but claim to support indies) We'll leave them nameless- For the most part everything else should be free, [just make sure the artist's music and style fits the online audience you're trying to appeal to]. By doing so, with what you have, you may create your own "McDonalds Effect".
If done the correct way with proper preparation, you may attract the attention of labels and distribution companies. It's no longer the 90's, labels want talent that come with a following, this saves them money and overpriced man hours. [I call this just add water talent].
And let's be real even if you paid to get music played on a major radio station, the money wouldn't be long enough to get your single in the top 15 rotation during popular commuting hours. [Chris Brown, Lil' Wayne/ YM already have that on lock]. It would get placed in some random DJs hood hour mix or something, during off hours. [Being just as effective as paying MTV Jams to play your video, when no one knows who you are to care]. You would just have the pleasure of saying your music was played on that station or network. Don't cheat your hard work and artist's talent.
Go hard with the ground work and I'm sure the "big shots" will take notice and find you. So start laying the brinks on that trail and keep me posted.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 • Ask Arie
...for the most part participating in events such as music festivals can be very beneficial to unsigned artists. Especially, those [reputable/established] held annually.
"I notice there are tons of music festivals during the summer. I was thinking about signing up for a few, do you think this will be a good look?
" - James
Absolutely, for the most part participating in events such as music festivals can be very beneficial to unsigned artists. Especially, those [reputable/established] held annually. These events unlike your local bi-monthly neighborhood show cases have people worth networking with. [no disrespect, but let's be real on the legitimacy and effectiveness of most "promoter" backed talent shows]
BUT, there are so many festivals out here; I highly suggest doing your due diligence aka homework first. It's important to review the requirements and statistics for each festival as they all differ from one and other. Some things to check:
- The festival(s) have a category for your genre of music.
- Level of experience each festival expects all entering participants to have.
- Age restrictions (Some festivals are held in locations that may not allow anyone under 18 or 21 years of age)
- FEES… Many festivals have registration fees (Monies to be paid for participation)
- Sponsors. Usually when events have big name/corporate sponsors it's a hint on the type of crowd the event may attract and possible event size.
These are just a few examples of what to look for.
With proper preparation, artists may use music festivals as their own mini tour [laughing] Seriously! Think about it, you save money on marketing (festivals have great marketing campaigns and once you're on the upcoming roster, you become included in all the promo for that year's event). You travel the country introducing your music to new fans, and have the opportunity to network with people that may be influential in the advancement of your career etc. [IDK just a thought] the possibilities are endless. Anyways....
Here are a few of my top festival picks ---- Good Luck and get moving!!!
A3c Festival (Atlanta)::Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival (New York)::Trinity International Hip Hop Festival (Connecticut)::Paid Dues Festival (San Bernandino, CA)::Portland Oregon Hip-Hop Festival (Portland, Oregon)::The Hip Hop Theatre Festival (Washington DC)::Manifesto Hip Hop Festival (Toronto, Canada):: Audiotistic Festival (San Bernardino, CA)::Cypress Hill Smokeout (San Bernardino, CA)::Hip Hop 360 - Canada Festival (Ottawa, Canada)::Rock the Bells (Los Angeles, CA)::Pitch Fork Music Festival (Chicago, IL)
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 • Ask Arie
As an indie artist you NEVER miss an opportunity to network with people as influential as DJs, NO MATTER where they are.
"Yo Arie, I've been pushing my music to local DJs in my city. It's been somewhat helpful but now I feel like I'm beginning to spin my wheels. Would you suggest I start contacting DJs nationally?
" - Mike
Ummm yeah Mike you think?! [giggles] As an indie artist you NEVER miss an opportunity to network with people as influential as DJs, NO MATTER where they are. You should've been Z-sharing, send spacing (or what ever those file sharing services are called) distant DJs from day one. It never hurts searching for new outlets while building your local fan base and network.
Just remember it's very important to avoid spamming; especially if you're fortunate to link with DJs that actually have the clout to help introduce you to the masses via their mix-tapes, blogs, radio mixes and so on.
So get networking, start compiling a detailed list of DJs [I recommend excel or other spreadsheet format for easy organization] and it's important to make sure the DJs you're contacting are spinning, scratching and Serato-ing, in whatever genre of music you spit, rap, sing or mine. It would be totally pointless to submit a hip hop track to a rock DJ that specializes in techno… [laughing] Yeah, doing that would make just as much sense as that last sentence. - Best of luck!
Monday, February 7, 2011 • Ask Arie
Blogging is very important and is the easiest way to keep your fans & potential followers up to date.
QUESTION: "Arie, is it really effective/ important for indie artists to blog?" - Jeff
Hell yes! Blogging is very important and is the easiest way to keep your fans & potential followers up to date. Truth be told the public has a short online attention span, clicking from point A to point B and so on. Every link clicked leads to a million different sites, leaving artists lost in the mix. By creating a space that integrates all of your social media (Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, Four Square etc.), videos, photos and latest media coverage you are keeping the attention on you where it belongs. The power of "The blog".
Tips for effective blogging:
- Stay consistent! Your blog should be updated as much as possible; a bare minimum of once a week. If an artist or band is truly working on reaching mainstream acclaim there should always be something to update.
- Be entertaining as well as informative. You can be very talented, but if your blog is drab or boring people will loose interest and keep it moving; totally defeating the purpose of having the blog in the first place.
- No one expects you to be a walking dictionary. However, I can't express the IMPORTANCE of proof reading and spell checking your work. Don't assume everyone knows what you "mean" or knows your tone/ demeanor. These two steps are very important, especially if you want to be taken seriously. The appearance of any level of ignorance can and will hinder that.
- If done the right way your blog can bring your independent ass some much needed revenue (dinero,doe, money, cold hard cash). For real, if your blog builds up enough traffic with people interested in what you having going on, that can open lanes for you to charge local and even national companies to advertise on your blog - just a thought.
The reality is, no one's going to give your talent the full coverage it deserves like YOU. So get up, get proactive and get blogging! Plus it's free, how's it get better then that?! Check out these sites for great FREE blog templates: Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress. Good luck!
Do you have a question for me or something you'd like to know? I'm here every week answering your emails on industry how-to's and important Do's and Don'ts.
Sunday, February 6, 2011 • Ask Arie
I've received responses from emails I send out saying that my approach is ghetto. Man, I'm just trying to get my music heard, what do you suggest?
"I've received responses from emails I send out saying that my approach is ghetto. Man, I'm just trying to get my music heard, what do you suggest?" - Jo Dee
[laughing] Ghetto may be a little harsh. However, it is very important to approach people [especially if you don't know them] in a professional manner.
Let's slip on our common-sense fitted caps shall we….
In my opinion, the best way to approach people [media etc.] is to step into their shoes. Imagine being an editor or program director who receives 100's of emails a day, from talented people such as yourself looking to have their music posted or played. Now, imagine every other email is "Yo check my new sh*t out" or my personal favorite "You might wanna f*ck with me, I'm that n*gga"...
PAUSE followed by a [blank stare]
Oh and we definitely can't forget the random single link email. You know what I'm talking about. An email with just a link and no additional information. Really??? Let's be real your email and "hot sh*t" is going straight into the trash and you may now possibly be marked as SPAM.
My advice… Keep it simple stupid! Sorry, I mean short and to the point. Here's a few pointers to help you look like you know what you're doing and be taken serious.
- Dear Editor or Program Director [If you don't know the name of the person being contacted]
- Introduce yourself and the reason for the email.
- If you're promoting a project tell a little bit about it. [Keep it SHORT]
- Enclose a "share" link (in the email body) avoid sending music as an attachment, unless requested. This keeps things all in one neat presentation. Plus most outlets prefer this format.
- Leave your contact information.
- Thank the receiver for taking the time to read your email.
- Sign "Sincerely, _____________" <------ place your name here
- SPELL CHECK
- Press send
There are never any guarantees in public relations, but one thing I know for sure. Following these steps will get your foot in the "door", email acknowledged and possibly the coverage you're seeking. -- Let me know how you make out!