Getting your band noticed can seem like a daunting if not impossible task. Promoting your art and getting publicity are things you know you should be doing but it can be hard to know where to start. Fortunately, we’ve broken it down for you into four distinct sections: Image, Radio, Publicists and the One Sheet. So let’s dive in!
Part I: Image
If you want to have an impact on your audience you must take the time to think about your image and accompanying artwork. You will surely find examples where image didn’t matter in someone’s career but, generally speaking, image is very important. Your music and image are often intertwined and send a message about who you are. Regardless of the genre of your music, your image should be an honest and accurate reflection of who you are. Your music should suit your image and not leave people confused and guessing what kind of music you perform. Here’s an extreme example to help you get the point: if you’re in a modern rock band, it isn’t a good idea for the band to be photographed wearing cowboy hats and sitting on hay bales…and yes, we have seen this! If you are not comfortable looking a certain way, don’t do it. When it comes time to hire a photographer you will probably also need to hire a wardrobe stylist who will make you look your best and help you look like a cohesive unit if you are a band. Similarly, your artwork can have an impact on shaping your career. Here are some classic album cover images that will instantly appear in your head: “Nevermind” by Nirvana, “Abbey Road” by The Beatles, “London Calling” by The Clash. People often do judge an album by its cover. Your cover can have a lasting impact, as should your music.
Part II: Radio
Is the song great? Is it as good or better than anything being played right now? Be honest with yourself. You may think some artist’s suck but if they’re getting widespread radio play, then they’re doing something right. It doesn’t mean it is better than yours but it means it fits those specific radio station’s formats.
Do you have a story to tell? Are you selling out shows? Is your song on a tv commercial or movie? Is there any press? Are people in your area familiar with you? Are people who don’t know you calling the local radio station on their own asking them to play your music? Do radio stations even know you exist? How are your YouTube views? Are your social numbers big? Are people engaging with you online? Are bloggers talking about you? Are other artists talking about you? Is your song available for purchase on the dsp’s and is it selling? Are there labels and publishers involved with your project? If not, why not?
These are the types of questions that radio programmers will ask before even considering playing your music. Be sure to include them in your pitch.
You must be prepared. Radio play is only one component of a bigger, balanced plan. Depending on your style of music, you may be the type of Artist that never gets (or wants) widespread commercial airplay. If that’s the case, you will still want to look at local station’s indie hours (if they have one), non-commercial radio, campus radio, specialty shows, internet radio, and more. They are all examples of ways to eventually get on radio playlists but ALL the above questions still stand.
Part III: Publicists
Are you ready for a Publicist? Well, a Publicist can be an important part of your team or a colossal waste of your money, this depends on you. Generally speaking, you need to have a good reason to hire a Publicist. It typically circles around a new release. If you have new music coming get your tools together: artwork, bio, photos, videos, and more. Think about a lead time of at least three months for your Publicist to set up your campaign and attempt to confirm long-lead press. Even all of this is not enough to garner much attention; you need a story. If you’ve played a bunch of shows and have built up a decent following you need to have your Publicist talk about it. Have you played with other more well know bands? If so, you need to drop their names. Do your lyrics come from a dark place due to something that happened in your life? If so, you may need to tell the story. Think of what people will find interesting about you and your artistry. With a Publicist, you typically pay for a specific time period and there are no guarantees that you will get any press. Shop around. Speak to as many Publicists as you can. See if there’s a natural fit. Do they specialize in your type of music? Which other artists do they represent? Have they had good placements for their clients? Talk to those artists if you can. You will want personal service and the best advocate for your brand. Be ready, choose wisely, and don’t waste your money.
Part IV: The One Sheet
What do you need to accompany your music? First of all, we at Coalition Music feel there’s no need to print anything or manufacture something elaborate. Save your money and use it for something else. We usually like to see a PDF one-sheet (or sometimes called a hype sheet) that contains a short bio, photo, links to videos, relevant press (we don’t care who you’ve shared the stage with at a multi act festival), list of past/future tour dates, links to your socials, links to music, etc. Basically, we want to be able to get to know you without sifting and searching for and through tons of material. Tell us what’s really going on with your project but don’t hype us with bullshit. Do you have a story to tell? A one-sheet should literally be one sheet.
Coalition Music, a full service global music management, record company and artist incubator, has been helping musicians facilitate their own success for over 23 years, cultivating an internationally renowned artist roster that includes Our Lady Peace, Simple Plan, USS and Finger Eleven. Besides representing an exceptional breadth of successful Canadian talent, running a record label and overseeing a world-class recording studio and rehearsal space, Coalition Music also runs an incubator/education facility which offers a variety of professional development and education programs that incorporate unique networking, collaborating and mentorship opportunities. such as Artist Entrepreneur, the Coalition Music Tour and Tech Academy, and “The Music Business”, a registered high school credit course which is run by Coalition Music’s charitable arm, TEMPO (Through Education Music Provides Opportunity). The high school course complements traditional high school music education with business and entrepreneurial skills, and is offered at Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts, and through the Toronto Catholic School Board’s Continuing Education Department, in both night and summer school programming. The course is also offered at Wasse Abin High School of the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve on Manitoulin Island, and will be expanded into Nbisiing Secondary School on the Nipissing First Nation Reserve in 2014. Coalition Music’s cross-functional business and facility have been recognized throughout the music industry and beyond, and were recently featured as a case study for music education development in Music Canada’s recent publication on the state of the Canadian music industry, The Next Big Bang.