We don’t usually talk about Artist promotion in the Song Talk Radio Newsletter. You can find lots of places on the web that cover that.
But we do see a lot of submissions so we see all the different levels of “promotional” abilities in artists – and some could really use a few pointers.
Understanding your target
The people you want to reach in the music or news industries are pretty busy folk. They’re constantly bombarded with random pitches of varying quality. They’re not going to spend 15 mins trying to decipher a vague description or your artist photo to figure out what you do. You need to be clear and grab them quickly – otherwise it’ll just be the circular file cabinet with your submission. They have a ton of other things on their desks.
1) Building your Arsenal
The first step is to spend a bit of time getting some basic marketing pieces together. Once you have it all ready to go, it’s easy to jump on any opportunities that pass your way. Meet a reporter for a local newspaper? Get his email and send them your description and photo when you get home.
These pieces would be
Artist Promotional Photos
Marketing Materials (so printed junk)
Today, we’ll cover Artist photos.
So, where do I get off telling you all this stuff?
I’ve been working in advertising and design for far longer than I’d like to admit, and have worked with countless photographers on countless projects. Some successful, others less than fully, um, “satisfying” lets say. So you’ll get to learn from my mistakes.
It’s the person behind the camera that counts
Technology these days is incredible. The difference between a consumer level camera, pro-sumer and professional camera is less now than its ever been in the past. Ironically, this makes the actual person behind the camera more important now than ever.
Back in the day, there were quite a few photographers that were in fact not very good. But they were cheap, and had some high-end equipment so there was a good-sized market for them: customers needing photography but couldn’t really tell if what they were getting was good or not. I know – I spent countless hours trying to take their out-of-focus, poorly framed work and make it into something usable.
These days, the person behind the camera is key, and believe me, the ones who are great are truly, truly magic.
The awesomely talented former recording engineer Bob Guido shared some absolutely mesmerizing sounds with the Song Talk Radio audience. With his guitar and effects he played Letting Go, a dreamy instrumental which showcased Bob’s mastery of melody and form. His second tune Wake Up Call featured Bob’s vocals and lyrics in a haunting arrangement that called for more love in the world. Some of the topics that came up included:
Songtalk Radio welcomed multi-talented artist The Sun Harmonic (aka Kaleb Hikele) back to the studio for a second sharing of his song writing skills. “Born (I Have Awakened)” is a stream-of-consciousness, spiritual/traditional style a capella song that captures the losses we all endure as we grow up. “When the Well Runs Dry” switching from 4/4 to 2/4 and back again, prompted lots of discussion among the hosts about its meaning. Here’s a hint – it’s something all writers fear – have a listen! “I Will Sleep Again” was written on a long commute and sung into a cell phone. Its powerful bridge near the end is just one of the highlights of this song.
Often on Song Talk Radio, this question arises. Sometimes, it’s fun for the hosts to try and guess. “Your song sounds very cerebral,” or “Your song sounds very intuitive.” The guests themselves tell us how well considered every decision in their songwriting process is, or tell us “It just came to me.” This question of process in creative endeavour is as old as the creative endeavours themselves. On Blair Packham’s show, he talked about his own journey on both the intuitive and the cerebral roads.
Millions of songs have been written and I imagine millions more are written every day. So why do I think it’s a good idea to add a few of mine to the mix?
Most importantly, it’s a way for me to be creative; like air, water or food – it is essential to my happiness. And all I need is my guitar, a piece of paper and a pen. In fact, I don’t really need my guitar. So it’s something I can do anywhere at any time; portable creative expression. It’s also a way for me to be more in touch with my feelings and, if I have a place to share my songs, express those feelings with others. That saves me hundreds of dollars in therapy sessions; which can be very helpful too.