Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Indie Music Promoting (just listen... please?)

The last post was about booking. This one is about promotion.

Both are chores that "back in the day" a label would have taken care of. Nowadays, in the age of indie, the tasks are most often taken up by the musician. Both can be more than full time jobs. So what's a bard to do?

Getting people to listen to the damn music is so much harder than writing good songs! You can have album upon album of great songs, "hits" even, but if nobody's listening it doesn't matter.

The advent of home recording has made it extremely easy to record your own music (though simply having the tools doesn't mean the product will sound good). This age of the musical everyman has its good and bad points. The great part is that people who previously couldn't afford to record albums now can. The awful part is that people who previously couldn't afford to record albums now can. Anybody who's spent any time sifting through myriad unknowns looking for an indie gem knows this is true.

It used to be, you at least had to prove yourself in some way to get to the place where someone was going to pay to cut vinyl. Now literally ANYONE can get their music listed along side Top 40 bands on iTunes. I know Top 40 doesn't mean "good," but it does mean marketed. And people are buying it. And that's what I'm talking about. People are being told to listen to your music (and they do).

How do you get your stuff into the hands of people who will love it?

I think most people think that if a song is good, it will float to the top and people will hear it, but you'd be surprised how many great songs are out there that no one knows about. You'd probably also be surprised by how long it takes some songs (or bands) to see the light of day. It astounds me that so many of the musical friends/acquantainces I've made over the years have never "made it big." see: Earwig, Arthur Yoria, Bel Auburn, The Old Ceremony, among many, many others (like ME!)

My most common complaint these days is that it's so difficult just getting people to listen. You'd think that if someone stumbled upon an old college or high school buddy, that person would at least be curious about what that persons music sounded like, maybe even buy an album or two... drop a line and say, "Hey, I heard your music!" You might be surprised at how little I get that.

I'm not looking for sunshine blown up my ass, I just want to know that some of my efforts are at least being noticed. The "lazy musician" label gets old really fast, especially when you're working sooooo freaking hard.

I'm always baffled when a good friend says, "I've never heard that song [of yours] before." I want to scream: "I SENT IT TO YOU A YEAR AGO!" But that would make me appear psycho, so I rarely do that (well, probably less rarely than I'd like to think).

I know the fact is that people are bombarded with garbage in their inbox (and tv, and radio, and etc., etc.) all the time. I understand it's easy for things to slip by.

So how do you get people to listen?

I'm convinced that somebody else has to tell them to listen to it.

So I spend hours upon hours putting together press packs to send off to radio stations, magazines, blogs, local media outlets, etc... Between writing and recording music, booking shows, playing shows, and promoting, it's a wonder I have time to breathe, let alone hold down another job to try and bring in actual money to pay the bills.

I post photos and music on Facebook, MySpace, LastFM, the "official website," and a million other places. I spend hours contacting people, making friends, asking them to listen to my songs (how humbling), trying to get them to tell other people.

You begin to wonder if anyone is listening. And then somebody does.

Somebody like Bill, who came across my YouTube page the other day looking for a cover of The Ramones, which I just happened to have... "I Wanna Be Sedated." You heard it?

Well he posted a comment, and I wrote him back, and it turned into a multiple day conversation. It was great knowing that someone out there stumbled upon the music, took the time to really listen to Amplifier, and then took the time to let me know he was enjoying it and that my efforts weren't going unnoticed.

Sometimes it's just nice to know that people are listening after all.

Now if only one of those people worked for Geffen and could sign me up.


In closing, I don't want this post to upset those people who I know listen all the time. I soooooo appreciate you guys. You rule. Your loyalty (and tenacity) constantly make this all worth it... I just wish you would rub off on the rest of the people I know (and then, in turn, the other 6.8 billion people wandering around this planet).

Rock. And, as always, thank you for your support.


No comments: