I’ve worked within the creative industries for most of my life, but had never had so much day to day contact with musicians. Take 5 minutes to look around MySpace, Soundclick, Reverbnation, Bandcamp, Bandglue, Virb, Bebo or any of the other number of music websites out there and you will find 1,000s of solo artists and bands trying to get their music out to a bigger audience. The internet and technology has changed the way the music business works, to the extent that it is now changing on almost a daily basis, rather then being run by a few big companies in the way it was before. The big companies still have the money for marketing and promotions, but it is possible for bands and solo artists to make some money from their music, possibly even make a living if they are lucky.
Maybe it isn’t really about ‘luck’, if some of the things I’ve noticed are anything to go by.
The first thing I notice about bands and musicians is their approach and attitude to their music, although this also applies to most other businesses I deal with.
If someone sends me an email from a free service, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail etc, it looks like spam and will often get picked up by my spam filter. Get a domain name, they don’t cost much, you can have the email re-directed so you can use your favourite email client, but it really does look better and you’ve a better chance of your email getting through.
If you’ve gone through the process of getting an account on a website that enables you to make an EPK (Electronic Press Pack) then send that out, not an email with a link to it. By the time I’ve read the email, I could have read the press pack.
When sending emails for all communications with your music, always use the same email address!
Don’t use one address and then change it 2 months later and wonder why it looks like people aren’t replying. I really don’t care that your mail inbox was full of spam because you used a free email account. I’ve done my bit and replied, why should I do that again if you can’t be bothered to tell me you’ve changed email addresses?
Get your own domain name, it’s more professional and it’s easier to control the spam.
While you’re in the process of getting your domain name, get a website, not a MySpace, Reverbnation or Facebook page. Yes, lots of people use them, but if you want to make some money from your music, you really need more control than they offer. Every time you point someone to your MySpace page, you are making MySpace some more money. OK, you’re not going to make millions from having Google Adsense ads on your own website, but there are loads of other things you can do, that can make a difference to your income and success.
Look at your music as a business. Your own website is having your own shop on the high street, a MySpace page is a concession in a corner of a department store.
If you’re sending any mp3s to anyone via email, please make sure that the mp3s are correctly ‘titled’(song title and album or ep title if applicable) have your band name on them and if possible an email address in the comments section of the id3 tag. Digital files do get separated from the original mail and emails get deleted. Some days I have hundreds of emails and mp3s sent to me at Somojo and it can be a nightmare trying to find who an artist is just from an mp3 with a song name.
That also applies to photographers and bands if you send out any images. Please make sure the photographers name, website and email address are in the iptc info. Why people send out images without this amazes me. I’ve been working with digital images as a photographer for over 12 years and the last thing I do before any image goes out via email or on disc is check the iptc info is correct.
From a different point of view, if a photographer is sending out promo pictures of bands, ask the photographer to include the band web url and email address in the iptc info and at the same time if a band or solo artist is sending out mp3s and they have some promo shots, add the photographers url or a url where the images can be seen in the comments section of the id3 tag. Anything that makes life a little easier this end helps get you noticed has got to be a good thing.
It may seem trivial, but if I’ve looked at 50 digital images that day and they all have no iptc data and the next one I look at not only has iptc data, but also includes a bands url, I will be so surprised, I’m going to take a look!
I’m sure it will have the same effect on other people too.