As lots of folks who do music, record and tour and enjoy some measure of “success” (that’s another blog post for sure… how you define that term!) I get a LOT of peeps asking me how to get their music “out”. They want to know how to get their songs heard, received, get booked into live shows, tour, figure how to best promote their music and most want to make a total career of it.
Here is my best shot at answering such a question:
I am convinced live shows and the Web are best.
The more you play (nearly ANYwhere!) and the more people like what you do and who you are, the more they will talk you and your work up and out.
It really gets down to word-of-mouth, people so excited, who so relate to what you bring (music, art of any sort, worship, you-name-it) that they then talk to others, in one or another way share your work and that’s how it happens.
THEY are the key “publicists” who help build a following. Yes of course you can assemble an official “street team” and perhaps you should and can in time, but it boils down to what I have just written. Why? Keep reading.
It ain’t about high-price p.r., or even your AMAZING talent, skills, heart and personal charisma. There are likely thousands who do what you do, do it better and work with this or that agent, manager or production company, record co. etc., who spend far more time, loads more money and are SATURATING the “market”- whichever market that may be.
If you are willing to face the reality of that and then do what you are committed to doing -regardless- if 10 or 10,000 people dig it, you’re on the right track. If that’s not your heart, quit and do something you believe in to that extent.
Numbers alone don’t mean much. They may mean more money and wider support, I admit that, but there are crosses involved an aspiring artist rarely even imagines and any longtime veteran of “the industry” and their mates can tell you war stories sky-high. The key is heart, calling, gift and commitment on your part to be who you are from the guts and not allow math to dictate what you do.
I know, it can seem counter-productive, maybe even counterintuitive, but not only musicians but other artists also have competition. The audience has a thousand options on the given date… what to do, where to go, even just who/what to listen to on their mobile device. Art junkies have more options that ever in the history of the world. Consider the Web, sites like YouTube, Pandora, SoundCloud, the photo sites, on and on… there are a zillion more internet “outlets”, more festivals large and small, static and even mobile as well as individual concerts like never before.
If you haven’t already quit reading here are a few more practical matters 🙂 :
Sending your best out to any Web-based magazines, radio and anything related to your music/art style is good. Web search using various words to be thorough. Then click on the site and see if they are still really doing it (radio, web-radio, music of that genre, local shows, open-mic if what you do might fit that, you get the picture).
Send a brief note and a song or three to ’em or even possible full project if they are open to reviewing anything. Show up at a venue and actually see what the place, booking person and vibe is all about before even handing them your recorded music, asking about a gig, etc..
In the end there are no shortcuts though a load of people will tell you otherwise… it is in their financial interest to do so.
I have also gotten a LOAD of folks’ music and other art essentially asking me to help publicize their work. I very rarely do so for a whole list of reasons, but if and when I do you still can’t count on getting anything sold or a gig booked as a result of what may feel like my (or another artist’s) endorsement.
Art is not only judged in a technical, but an emotional and “multi-layered-other-factors” way by each and every individual who notices. You can be Hendrix or Segovia or Picasso and still largely dis-liked by people. That’s the nature of art and society- any society.
This is the real-world! “A man’s (or woman’s) gift will make room for him (her) and bring them before the great.” (Proverbs).
Lastly, how is it anyone is reading my words in this blog post?? What I just wrote above… and many years of doing my best at being faithful to my calling, and trying to do my best in doing the work. After doing so your own website may be part of the publicity stream.
BUT- give people more than adverts! Really CARE about them as people and try to serve God and the people via your art offerings, music or whatever it is you create. If it is only about seats in the seats and money and acclaim, I can tell you it will be impossible to get me to care. This is likely the same for others as well. Check your motives and your offerings as you publicize what you do.
Pray, really face the hard truths, then get on with what you do best and don’t lose sleep over the numbers.