Category Archives: iTunes

Timeline For Promoting A UK Single Release, A Radar Rough Guide

Buzzsonic_Vinyl_distributio

By Caroline Bottomley, Radar Music Videos.

A lot of promo people we talk to say artists and managers often don’t know what professionals do to promote single releases.

So we asked for help from some real professionals (see credits below).
Then we made up an indie band with an established following and a few previous releases. We made up £5,000 to spend.
Then we wrote this rough guide – enjoy and feel free to add your own tips. 

14 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Commission single artwork, even if it’s for download only. Designer £300
* Commission artist photos. Photographer £500

TIP: “Commission nice/weird/cool COLOUR band photos, the brighter the better” David Laurie SiC Records
Start social media engagement. Digital Promotions £500 – £1,000

NOTE: Social media work continues from here up to and after release date.

12 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Engage PR £500 – £1,500
* Release advance copies/links to share to monthly press, for review, eg Q, Mojo, Clash, Uncut.

Start with sending out a simple press release announcing the single and put the single into context, eg from an album or a stand-alone track? Will there be associated shows? PR TIP: There are very few print outlets for singles, a couple of dozen really. It’s ALL about online for singles. David Laurie, SiC Records.

NOTE: Press work continues from this point up to and after release date

TIP: “The press release needs to be straightforward and attention-grabbing “artist releases great new song/album” just isn’t enough. What’s your story? What’s special about you/the song/album and why?” Gillian, Million PR and Naked Press.

* Engage Agent 10% of gross
* Engage Radio & Video Plugger £500-£1,500

NOTE: “I would separate Radio & TV costs. Radio Promotions £1000-2000 and TV Plugger £500-1000 per release. They might be able to get it for less, but this is much more realistic of the going rates.” Prudence, Rocket PR

* Commission the official music video, the aim is to create a stand-out, remarkable video. Producer/director (Radar) £2,000

TIP: “The video must be one that compels you to hit SHARE at the end, that is the idea. Not the new Bammers video but the video where the guy turns into a monkey and eats the aeroplane” David Laurie, SiC Records
TIP: “Commission the video now so it can be ready to service at least 6 weeks before release” Prudence, Rocket PR
TIP: “All video people take longer than they say to deliver, so I give at least 2 weeks ahead of my deadline as the actual deadline” David Laurie, SiC Records.

* Create a lyric or packshot video, the point is have this video on the band’s YouTube channel when radio play begins ahead of release date, capturing early views and interest. Producer/director (Radar) or Digital Promotions £0 – £200

8 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Track/remix completed.
* Book banner/Facebook/Google advertising. Digital Promotions £500
* Advance copies/links to share released to weekly and daily press, for review. PR
* Release show/s booked. Agent
* Radio promotion begins. Single and album promos are presented to radio producers and presenters with a press release and list of forthcoming live dates. Plugger

TIP: “Almost none of them (radio producers and presenters) listen to albums or anything after the first track on a single promo unless there is some headspinning remix” David Laurie, SiC Records
* Build up support through plays on individual radio shows, working towards playlist consideration. Plugger
* Social media begins to focus on the release campaign. Digital Promotions
* Digital store promotions set up. Digital Promotions

4 – 6 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Service video to TV for playlist rotation consideration. Plugger
* Radio playlist consideration. Plugger
* Digital store promotions set up once you have provable ammo from press. Digital Promotions
* Soundcloud stream premiere on a top site followed a day or two later with a blast out to other sites for more embedding, start adding up those NUMBERS to convince radio you are POPULAR. PR

2 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

Securing Music Press

* Secure a video exclusive with a popular music site and general coverage in music media. PR
TIP: “Securing exclusives is PAINFUL and you have to (more or less) only ask one at a time – Pitchfork; Fader; Guardian; Stereogum in that order.

Each one takes at least 24 hrs to get back even if you have a shit hot PR, so running through those top four will take a week and likely they will all pass” David Laurie, SiC Records

* Fan special offers; exclusive tracks, early order discounting etc. Digital Promotions

RELEASE WEEK

* Digital store promotion. Digital Promotions
* Music media coverage. PR
* Paid advertising live. Digital Promotions
* TV rotation. Plugger
* Radio sessions and interviews. Plugger
* Release show. Agent

POST LAUNCH

Post-Launch Promo

* Follow up press campaign to generate further press coverage. PR
* Album and tour news to be associated throughout if appropriate.

NOTE: “It might be an idea to mention that there will be VAT on top of all costs as this seems to come as a surprise to many unsigned acts as they are most likely not VAT registered themselves.” Prudence, Rocket PR

Companies providing these promotion services can be found in Radar’s resources.

This rough guide has been complied with the help of David Laurie at  Something in Construction Records (SiC); Gillian at Million PR & Naked Press**; David Riley at Good Lizard Media**; Prudence at Rocket PR and Caroline Bottomley of Radar Music Videos.

** Willing to advise new artists and labels about promotion strategies.

PS: An important note about paying for services. It’s possible to do just about all these things for free. You do it yourself, get friends to do it, pull in favours. The reason these services are worth paying for is good professionals will do a much quicker and more effective job.

More to the point, people will actually listen to stuff from reputable PRs; press and pluggers are personally connected to press and playlisters; promotions people know which advertising is cost-effective; experienced directors make attractive music videos that get featured on blogs. All that should result in more sales of your single and more tickets sold to your gigs.

Special Thanks to Caroline at Radar Music Video.

This post originally appeared on Bzzzsocial.com

The Digital Music Distribution Handbook

Signup for the Buzzsonic Digital Music Distribution Handbook PDF

OK, this one has been ‘in the pipeline’ for ever and a day but is definitely in the final drafting stage at last. ‘Music Industry Hacks Vol:1-The Digital Distribution Handbook 2012’ is a more professional (I hope!) version of my previous digital distribution round-ups I did way back in three parts right here. The three lengthy posts were cobbled together as one PDF rather crudely a while ago (which you can still grab here) for reference purposes. Looking back at it now its all quite haphazardly edited and quite out of date now.The Buzzsonic Digital Music Distribution Handbook 2012

So, I felt it was time to get something together that updates everything and goes a little bit deeper with the ‘Digital Distribution Handbook 2012’, which should pull in every digital music distributor on the planet, including some direct-2-fan services (like Bandcamp) as well as the expected aggregators.

It will be in PDF format only, simply because that’s a more universal format that can be read on Mac’s, PC’s and handhelds everywhere.

Its completely free and is expected next month and if you want to get it first simply add your email address (click the clumsy looking red box above) and you’ll get a download link before everyone else. If you dont want to share your email address that’s fine too, there will be a direct download link at a later date. So make sure you keep your eyes peeled on the @Buzzsonic Twitter feed.

Meanwhile feel free to add any suggestions in the comments. Great stuff!

 

The Buzzsonic.com Ultimate Guide to Digital Music Distribution, Extra

Phew, well now I’ve actually finished a blog post for the first time in over a year (hey I’ve been too busy over at Twitter) I thought I would ‘weld’ together my three lengthy posts on digital music distribution and put them out there as one lovely PDF!

Now take into account that I haven’t reorganized anything so you’ll be getting them in chronological order from the top. I’m going to post it at Google Docs so feel free to grab. This is just the rough’ beta mix’ as I do intend to tidy it up and reorganise very soon. Feedback please!

Grab it here: The Buzzsonic.com Ultimate Guide to Digital Music Distribution Extra!

Exploring The Digital Music Distribution ‘Jungle’

I’ve touched on music distribution issues here before with Tunecore, Bit Torrent and even good old analogue vinyl but thought I’d dig around a bit deeper as there seems to be new distribution services springing up on a regular basis these days. Be they aggregator or ‘widget’ type tools. Ill be covering digital music aggregators here first and covering website widgets later in the week.


The Music Void – Denzyl Feigelson on MUZU

Things To Consider When Choosing Digital Music Distribution

With the Internet its easy to research background on companies these days. Thats what Google is for. Do it. Search around the distributors website. Look for the names of people running the company. Put a shout out on Twitter or music  forums if you need user feedback on any service.

What is the distributors background, how long has the company been around?  What is the revenue model ? Upfront yearly admin fee (like Tunecore) or a percentage of sales (CD Baby take 9%).

Which digital retailers do  the aggregators distribute too? Also, check the distributors  list of bands, artists and labels that are using their services. Always a good reference point. Its reassuring to know that Tunecore (who I use) also handle digital distribution for established artists such as NiN,  David Byrne & Brian Eno and Jay Z and newer MP3 blog faves like MGMT.

Also you need to know that you wont be signing away rights to your music and that you wont be tied down to any lengthy fixed terms

Music industry scribe Moses Avalon has a good breakdown of distribution terms for a few aggregators on his website. Its a couple of years old and as such covers only the longer established companies but is still very relevant. Continue reading

Off The Wall Music Marketing Tips And Ideas Pt.1

Old School Marketing

My experience of marketing my music was started back in the late 80s I guess when my idea of ‘marketing’ was spending time stuffing envelopes full of cassette demos and posting them off to indie radio shows in the UK, major record labels, venues and indie fanzines.

vinyl-lives

Out of a mail out of around fifty tapes (yes tapes!) we got three positive responses. One was a phone call from Steve Lamacq (now at BBC Radio 1) who was helping out at Radio London at the time on the Gary Crowley Demo Clash show. We were being played on air in London as part of the demo clash show, which we were winning too. The DJs would play four new bands, the listeners would phone in and vote for their favorite.

As a result of that airplay we had some major label interest and a London showcase gig. Nothing came of that band (the archive is on MySpace though) though it was fuel enough for me to pursue other musical ventures with some commercial success in the UK some time later.

hooked

I’d managed to blag my way into some free studio time at a small studio in London by doing some work as a label runner and promoter and as a result we’d secured a P&D deal with a distributor. An unknown artist presenting a new track on a pristine piece of 12 inch vinyl drew more attention than the old method of the cassette tape and it eventually lead to a deal with a Warner’s sub-label.

Welcome To The New School

Killer marketing tactics will only get you so far but if the music isn’t up to scratch all the effort and money in the world is ultimately going to lead to failure. Get the song right and the breakthrough will eventually take care of itself.

Having said that you can help yourself make some noise using the tools available online today. And being a bit clever about it to set yourself apart from the herd.

One of the things I did that helped re-launched my music was to offer up various parts (vocals, hook, Midi file) of two of my tracks for remix. Its nothing new nowadays, in fact its positively de-rigueur. You can offer parts of your tracks up for download on your own site and MySpace or even newer web communities like MixMatchMusic.

With DIY remix culture exploding and related software becoming more powerful and affordable, sonic manipulators are growing hungry for disassembled pop music, and the music industry is beginning to see the benefit of increased exposure through releasing remix stems directly to the public.

Release a limited edition vinyl single. Its going to cost you around $900 for 500 7 inch singles but the prestige that would add to your release would be invaluable. Since the rise of Napster and, later, iTunes, a market for single songs has been reborn, and one of the unintended benefactors has been the seven-inch. Even Sub Pop Records’ famous singles club has been reactivated.

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Singles are also highly collectible. “The punk and indie-rock undergrounds have always been particularly fond of the seven-inch as a badge of fanhood, something doled out in limited quantities and often specific circumstances – on certain tour dates or on labels available only in a certain region.” (from the Toronto Star)

A DJing contact of mine came up with an excellent idea for sending out DJ mixes of his in an effort to get club bookings (if you haven’t released a 12 inch single that’s kicked up some dust!). Rather than do the usual task of sending out CDs he spent something like $200 on iPod Shuffle’s, put his mix on there and sent them out to promoters. It got an immediate reaction just for the original way he presented himself. He also happened to be a great DJ which helped too of course but the bookings he got back as a result paid for the outlay.

Makeamixa do some great looking cassette USB drives which would be great as limited edition albums or to do a cheaper version of the above DJ tactic.

Other Music Marketing Tipsters

Digital distributor Tunecore have these tips to help you promote your release once you get it placed on iTunes and other major distributors. They’re also doing video distribution nowadays too. They also have a bunch of free PDF marketing guides.

Andrew Dubber’s New Music Strategies give some useful insight with How Can I Sell My Music Online? “There are variations on this theme, but essentially it boils down to this very simple question: now that there’s this internet thing, where’s the money and how do I get at it? What’s the best way to sell music online?”

Tom Robinson explains the answer to the questions, Should I Put My Future Hit On MySpace? and Does Your Music Have Value? on his excellent blog.”The more seriously artists treats their own work the more seriously other people will take it. A series of full commercial releases gives you a better chance of airplay at radio. It also gives you a discography.”

Max Lowe writes, 7 Tips To Writing A Crowd Drawing MySpace Blog, “You must write frequently and often for more than one reason. First, the search engines will pick up your blog quicker and more often if you post every day or two. Second, your readers will return more often if they know there is going to be new content every day.

And I couldn’t write this without mentioning something from CDBaby founder Derek Sivers, in particular his much quoted (worth another mention here), Derek Sivers 7 Rules Of Marketing. “Stop thinking of it as Marketing and start thinking of it as creative ways to be considerate. Think of things from the other person’s point of view”.

We’ll have part two later this week. Ideas and suggestions please leave comments!

Related Links

Steve Lamacq (Lamacq Central) MySpace
Tunecore Music Survival Guides (Tunecore.com)
Tips For Playing SXSW (Tom Robinson, MySpace blog)
How To Send CDs To Radio (TomRobinson.com)
BBC-One Music How To..Fat Guides (BBC Radio 1)
30+ Essential Music Industry Resources And Links (Buzzsonic.com)
Should I Put My Future Hit On MySpace? (TomRobinson.com)
XFM Uploaded (XFM Radio)
Radiohead Remix (RadioheadRemix.com)
Remix Culture Is Exploding (Evolving Music)
The Mash Up Revolution (Salon.com)
Record Label Resource (RecordLabelResource.com)
How To Get Your Music Distributed On iTunes (And Keep Most Of The Money) (Buzzsonic.com)
Vinyl 45s Make A Come Back (TheStar.com)
Facebook Music Marketing Tactics (NotEvilMusic.com)

Step By Step MP3 Distribution Project

Before I started producing dance music I used to strut my stuff as the lead singer of an alternative rock band called the Fruit Eating Bears, who’s main claim to fame seemed to be the ‘unpredictable’ nature of the live gigs (ie: things tended to depend a lot on how much we’d been drinking that day). We also discovered another Fruit Eating Bears which meant we had to ditch the name as well.

In our rare sober moments we got a bit of a following in our local area of South Yorkshire, UK, played the legendary Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, London, appeared on Gary Crowley’s Radio London show, Demo Clash and even had (the then) Phonogram Record company A&R guy ringing us.

Uptempo Tantrum EP The Buzzsonic

Getting to the point a little, we recorded a four track EP which never saw the light of day but which we have decided to get uploaded to iTunes to see how things go. So, starting today the ‘Uptempo Tantrum EP’ experiment begins. We decided to use the band name, the Buzzsonic seeing as its the only thing we could think of that hadn’t already been used for a band.

I got a contact to design the cover (which looks pretty neat) and am signing up for distribution using Tunecore, whom I also used for my 99th Floor Elevators remix project release.

So, step one. Encode hi-bitrate MP3s from my CD master using the CDex Lame encoder, add tags and upload to Tunecore as we speak. Now to put together some kind of readable PR sheet!

To help the project with some much needed PR, one of the tracks, ‘Remember’ has been picked up by an independent film company for usage briefly in the film, ‘Behind The Scenes of Total Hell’. BTSOTH apparently gets it premier at the Curzon Cinema in London sometime next month and is the work of film maker Andy Wilton. I think the film is going straight to DVD but there’s supposed to be a CD tie in which should be good.

Related Reading

Fruit Eating Bears (MySpace)
Get Your MP3 Tags In Order (Wired.com)
Bob Bakers Indie Promotion Blog (Bob-Baker.com)
Cyber PR (Ariel Publicity)

How To Get Your Music Distributed on iTunes (And Keep Most Of The Money)

Back in the 90s when I self released my first twelve inch single the main problem I had was trying to physically distribute the product. I remember trailing around London’s (then thriving) network of vinyl stores with a box of white labels trying to drum up a buzz with retailers. Around London it was physically possible to leave ten copies of a single at each individual retailer. Problem was you then had to go back and chase up money from each and every one (if they actually sold any).

 

The easier alternative was to get your product on the vans of one of the many (at the time) vinyl distributors. If you had a track with a club buzz on it this was pretty easy, you’d drop off your boxes of vinyl at the warehouse and wait for the orders to flood in. Well in practice, at least. What happened to me (three times) was that I’d commit to a distribution deal with a company and then they’d go bust right before I’d ever get paid or get my product back. Great.

Nowadays of course everything has changed to the extent where there doesn’t actually have to be a physical product to distribute (no inventory to lose) and your customer/the consumer actually takes care of any physical manufacturing (CD burner).

So, where to start? Like it or not Apple’s iTunes is the biggest music retailer on the planet so if you want to sell downloads it pays to have your product in the biggest shop window. That is not to say that its the only shop window you should concentrate on but you have to go where the shoppers are looking. Much the same as I’d want my 12inch single in the hip little record store in London’s Soho, I also wanted it on sale in the Virgin and HMV megastores on Oxford Street.

 

A newer breed of distributor has flourished in the current music industry climate, a digital music aggregator, where the artist or label submits/uploads the content and the aggragator queues it up for placement with the main online retailers, which in mainstream terms means iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, eMusic (for DRM free indie music) and more recently AmazonMP3.

So. There’s a number of aggregators around now and they seem to be multiplying weekly so its important, nay, essential to choose a company with a nice ‘shiny’ reputation. That means a company that is reachable, reputable and accountable and of course, a company with some solid music industry background. I use Tunecore for digital distribution, though you can see a useful comparison of services here via Moses Avalon.

Tunecore digital music distribution

The biggest pull for me that made me choose Tunecore over CD Baby DD was simply one of percentages and control. CD Baby has a much wider list of stores it sends your music too, but you cant discern which ones you want your music on specifically. With Tunecore you can. CD Baby also take 9% of any money from each download. Tunecore take nothing. After iTunes (to give a specific example) takes its own cut I see 70c per download which goes straight into my Paypal account (if I choose that payment method). Bypassing any distributor cut or record label share.

Consider back in the 90s I had no concrete way of keeping track of what my distributor was up too. Now I can have data tracking each individual sale on a monthly basis.

Do remember though, that despite all the hype about download stores, they still only account for around 10% of music sales so having music available on iTunes is an ‘as well as’ rather than an ‘instead of’. People are still buying CDs, even vinyl.

The sign up at Tunecore (or CD Baby if you choose) couldn’t be simpler. There’s a sign up fee of around $25 for Tunecore, with an annual maintenance fee of roughly $20. Sign up at CD Baby is $35 with no annual fee. You’ll need a finished mastered copy of your release, which you can either upload or physically post in to the distributor. You’ll need CD artwork too, even if its only a digital release. Either diy, get a mate who’s a whizz on Illustrator or pay someone else (or here).

iTunes Digital Download store

Your album, EP or single also needs a unique UPC (barcode number) and each track needs a tracking number for sales called an ISRC, (“International Standard Recording Code”). Tunecore take care of both these services free of charge at the moment, CD Baby charges $20 for the UPC barcode.

And a one (or two) final points to remember, the number one thing to look out for in a digital distributing partner is a non-exclusive licensing agreement. Make sure that you will continue to own all rights to your own music and also, don’t forget to promote your digital downloads!

For even more options you can get your own download store to paste on your website or MySpace page via companies like 7 Digital (in the UK) or Snocap (in the USA). Though take into account these services are separate options.

And yet another option if you’re without a physical release (CD or vinyl) is actually selling downloads at gigs using a download card service like Dropcards or Disc Revolt.

Related Links

Tunecore vs. CD Baby For Digital Distribution (CNet Blogs)
Digital Distributors-Choose The Right One For You (MosesAvalon.com)
Why Most Digital Distribution Start Ups Will Fail (CNet Blogs)
Tools For The Stay At Home Musician (Coolfer)
iTunes Store (Wikipedia)
Drive-By Truckers Founder Seeks Vinyl Glory (Boston Herald)
Apple Accused of Stifling Rivals with iTunes (Guardian UK)
iTunes No. 2 Music Retailer in the US (Business Week)
So, One Week Later is the Album Dead Yet? (The Seminal)
MP3 Cover Design (Simon Idol)
The Rise and Fall of Snocap – What Did We Learn? (Penny Distribution)

Other Distribution Services

If you want to add more services besides the already mentioned mainstream download stores.

SongCast Music (USA)
KJER (Scandinavia)
Artists Without A Label (AWAL) (UK)
Consolidated Independent (UK)
Wild Palms Music (France)