Nov 19

Music has no expiration date

 

I believe that Jazz is just an artist taking music and doing with it what they want to do with it. Not being limited to popular chord progressions or phrases. Jazz is true expression and this piece, Walk the Walk is a true expression of my soul when I created it in 2012.

Walk the Walk by Stephen Jerome Ferguson

Nov 13

How to make your music career profitable: 10 business rules for DIY artists

shutterstock_200574287Most people hear terms like “the Film business” or “the Music business,” and they only focus on the first part. To be successful in business, any business, you need to be business savvy. If you want to be a working artist, you need to be as smart as any business person in a meeting, or at least smart enough to hire the smartest person in the room.

If you started any other type of business without an accountant or an attorney to guide you, you would be looked at as crazy; however, in the world of art, you are looked at as crazy if you start with them. This is a big disconnect, and you should approach your artistic career from a more logical point of view. Many great artists have lost it all on bad business decisions. The most successful artists have their most successful ventures after they have worked out the business of their art, and put everything in place before their next opportunity. Unfortunately, most starting or “indie” artists try to make a push with only their art, and the business part can be a crushing blow, causing them to feel burned out.

Starting as an indie artist myself, I worked hard, had some luck, and my accomplishments led to me serving as a consultant to many successful entertainment artists and companies. While doing so, I found a lot of repetitive issues. Here are ten tips to help you handle your business properly. Follow them with the same passion as you followed your art, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

1. Start with a mission statement and a business plan

A passion project will be contagious for everyone that is exposed to that passion, but at some point, if you want to make a living doing your art, you must work it like a business. Start by writing down a mission statement that will remind you about the passion you want to share, and help others to align to your cause. Having a business plan in place will also help you to focus on your day-to-day operations and what you need to do to make money living that passion, and sustaining it.

2. Analyze what it will take to make a profit

Be able to calculate your expenses, know how much to sell to cover your costs, and make sure your mark-up is normal.

Many artists follow the average value when selling a product, while some are delusional about the product’s value. Others, especially road musicians and comics, start to take what they can get for a multiple item sale after a show. This is where knowing the limits from your business plan, which was well-researched, will help you to live under normal business conditions, and hence be able to sustain your art as a living.

Take an indie musician in the following example. To sell a CD after a show for $10 is normal, while asking for $30 makes it much less probable for point-of-purchase sales as your audience walks out the door. Setting up a profitable studio arrangement, or producing your music at home will allow you to keep costs low, hence passing on the savings. If someone wants to play “Let’s Make A Deal”, then be a great salesman: “I see you really are a fan and want some of my music to share, and I would love to help you out, so I can give you a digital download card for $5, and I’ll even sign it for you!” The last time we ordered download cards we got a great deal, which expanded our ability to make a profit at live shows. You can still meet your needed mark-up and please your fans; you just need to be smart about it.

Also, don’t forget when you make your expense sheets, it needs to be for everything, not just your business costs, but your life. If this is going to be your job, you need to pay for life as well. Factor in your day-to-day living expenses and savings so you know how much it will cost to be profitable from your business. Most indie artists look at what it will take to make their business work (or to just make a living as an artist), but in a normal job situation, you look at the paycheck. Look at your role as an employee of your own business. Are you getting paid enough to pay your bills, save money, and have a vacation? Just because your company is profitable does not mean it can support you; if you want to be supported by your art, make sure your salary and life is figured into the business plan. As my own CEO, I am guilty of underpaying myself a lot. If I was working for someone else and they started underpaying me, I would quit. Set yourself up so you love your business, and pay yourself a fair wage so you won’t want to quit.

3. Self-finance if possible

With modern technologies, most artists can start with little overhead. Most artists already have the basic equipment for our art. My wife produced an album in our living room that made the Grammy Consideration list; with the right equipment and a decent computer, art is getting much more accessible by the indie market.

Taking out a loan is a normal way to start a business, but paying back loans with interest can overload a small business, and is one of the top reasons small businesses fail. Set yourself up for success and also control your own destiny without investors trying to nudge into your art.

If you need to get additional money for studio time or a film, do it like a good business person. Get many quotes, from different sources. There are many types of investors and bank options available. I would suggest asking an investor for advice. They will be able to steer you in the right direction. Other artists that have had to get loans in the past are a great resource as well. If in doubt, ask someone you know and trust; there are plenty of people willing to give advice. I once asked an MBA student to help me with a business plan; he had to make a business plan for school, so it was work he had to do anyway, and we both gained from it. The Small Business Administration is a free resource of retired business owners that are funded by the government to advise small businesses at no cost, and are in all big cities.

4. Limit your risk

A new business is a risk, as is every new venture. Treat your new album, film, or art exhibit like a new business expansion. Never expand beyond your successful model and means. If you are doing well, don’t invest all your money and time into something else that had minimal or slow growth for you in the past. A scenario I have seen too often follows: A musician will have some success touring and selling their indie CD, then they go into the studio and invest all their money in a quality production, and their fans are claiming they have lost their edge and sound “over-produced,” and suddenly that artist is in debt over their means, and has no extra capital.

In small business, a lot of problems come from rapid over-expansion, or a company reaching too far. If your success comes from making a $2,000 CD at your house, selling CDs at $10, and driving to gigs, do not take your success and make a $20,000 CD, fly to some gigs, and try to sell CDs for $15; that will be enough to break your business model.

Incorporate every venture as an offshoot of your main business. Keep yourself and your business protected; remember a musician cannot play if their instruments are repossessed. Film studios make every film as its own venture, and then distribute it. It helps limit the businesses’ liability, and insures if one venture is not profitable, it will not take down their business as a whole. Grow logically, expand when there is room, and make sure your business is protected by being incorporated and insured. Never let your debt exceed the total value of your business, and you will be okay. A company like Apple does not go out and make 1 million iPhones unless they know they will sell them. Artists, especially my fellow filmmakers, like to go out and make a million dollar film, not knowing who their market is and which distributor will pay what for which markets (even that phrasing sounds complicated, but that is why you need a business person to do your business plan, and keep yourself protected).

5. Simple starts

This leads me to my next point: start small. Every artist would like to be an overnight success, but a fan base needs time to grow. If you spend everything on a project, you might get stuck with lots of boxes of product. Most of the time, artists need time to grow not only their style and art, but their business sense. Never overextend yourself beyond your means financially and emotionally. I have seen many comics in particular that get famous too fast and get crushed emotionally and quit. A business plan will help you to not over-reach your financial limits, and will emotionally help you to prepare for any success as you can see things as an expected outcome. If Apple’s new iPhone turns out to be the best selling phone, it was expected, and is not crushing. Likewise, if Janet Jackson has a wardrobe malfunction the day before her new album comes out, then it is not crushing, it is expected that she will be in the news and her album will be a “breast-seller” (like what I did there?). A plan lets you know what to expect, plain and simple.

6. Get everything in writing

Most mom and pop businesses have a personal feel, and it is the same with artists. Knowing a booker personally makes it seem logical to take a gig over the phone. But it only takes one bad gig to take out a lot of indie musicians and comics. A small discrepancy on who pays for travel can devastate an artist. Having clarity through something that is in writing will save you. A quote I used to have above my desk saved me many times: “A contract helps preserve the friendship that the relationship is based on.” My wife is one of the best Entertainment Attorneys out there, and it is unfortunately a daily occurrence for her to hear about a small misunderstanding that led to an expensive lawsuit. If you get nothing else from this, remember, one lawsuit will take down a small business or artist – so get everything in writing.

Also, if you are an artist of any type, the most important thing to get in writing is the ownership of your Intellectual Property. I personally know a musician who played a song live for years, and even sold his CD with that song, and even more, had that song in a movie, only to have it stolen, by the same producer who made the CD, who gave it to a famous artist where it went to the top of the charts – with not a penny or a credit to my friend’s name! Sadly, his copyright was never registered, and hence he had no legal grounds to stand on. Make sure you get all of your art protected in writing from the Library of Congress. It is easy to do online, and no other source will stand in a U.S. Court as well as a registered copyright.

The last point here: don’t just get it in writing — understand WHAT you’re getting in writing. TLC sold over 10 million records and yet they were over $200,000 in debt. They were amazing, breaking every record, barrier, and heart; but their contract broke their bank.

7. Stay competitive

Stay on the cutting edge of your business. Artists are blessed to have fresh creative ideas flow, and most businesses would kill for this talent. Many indie artists I meet stay creative, but don’t stay in the loop on the business side. Be aware of the latest technologies to streamline the production of your art, and even the day-to-day operations such as your accounting. Small things can make the biggest difference; for example, filmmaking technologies now allow for much smaller crews than 15 years ago. You can now use an accounting service for paying bills and payroll instead of having a full-time business manager. You can easily live in a cheaper location thanks to remote concerts with things like Stage-It. A friend of ours, Shannon Curtis, is making a lot more money playing house concerts instead of traditional venues in Los Angeles; the business shifted, and she sharply had her eye on how to capitalize on the trend, with her fan base and style of music in mind. Her competitiveness gave her an advantage, and now she even makes money teaching other musicians how to do it. The phrase “don’t quit your day job” applies in so many ways; if you get some success, keep going! Sitting around resting on some laurels of gained fame is not how you got famous in the first place; keep that competitive edge that got you there and keep working. Small businesses that don’t stay competitive in their markets go under.

8. Get the right team

Staying competitive means you will need to hire people. An upcoming musician will need a host of things, including a quality audio production, music videos, photos, album designs, press releases, and more. Hire the most qualified people you can afford, and make sure they align with your mission statement. Finding another artist that you click with will produce far better results than simply hiring a great technician. It might take a while but do not use the first person who offers you a great deal. If they are not a good fit, the final product will not match your mission statement, and soon, your artistic vision that defined you will be lost, and you will start losing your fan base as a result. A lot of artists take what they can get; this is not the way a business is run, and it will lead to your business failing. A small business does not take a commercial because a fan offers to do it for free. If you are serious about advertising and marketing, make sure it is done in exact alignment with your business plan and mission statement. You might get lucky with a free music video or film trailer from time to time, but a lot of small businesses do worse by having bad commercials and advertising. Your art and image need to be protected.

On the flip side, hire the correct manager, agent, accountant, and attorney. Make sure they have current clients that are similar and understand what you are doing. Don’t hire a lawyer that handles car wrecks, but a legitimate entertainment attorney who understands the business and the contracts you will need. An attorney and an accountant are two professional services that can not only save you money in the end, but save your business. Ask them to read your business plan and mission statement and tell you how they might be able to help with achieving your goals. If the budget is tight, look for fans who are experts in their field, and ask them for help. Find the best film student to do a video with you, or ask a professor to pair you with their top film student for their next round of projects. This will lead to better results than hiring the cheapest person in the yellow pages.

Whatever you need, get the best that you can get; taking your time to do so will insure business success. The artists on top got where they are by doing the same.

9. The right rules for the right team

In business, if someone works exclusively for you full-time, they are your employee. There are a lot of temporary jobs that are normally for independent contractors around the art world. These are meant for people to do specific jobs for a limited amount of time. Be careful. You don’t want to get in trouble with the IRS by claiming your business has no employees, when you have people working full-time hours exclusively for you and at your direction. Save yourself time, money, and a possible IRS fine by knowing that if someone works for you exclusively and full time, they may be considered your employee under the law. If you have an accountant or an attorney, they can help guide you in this case. Having a professional team or service manage your business correctly can save you a headache in the long run, and keep you focused on your art.

Trying to save money by hiring independent contractors might cost you more in the long-run if it is done incorrectly. Small businesses have to hire people and have to follow the rules; this is no different for artists. I see this as one of the main stumbling blocks for an artist’s business growth. It seems to me that this is the point where an artist realizes it is a business, and it freaks them out. As your business grows, so will the need to grow into a more traditional business model. Going from a solo gig, with only you getting paid, to a real business model with payroll, accounts receivable, 1099s and things of that nature will often freak out the average solo artist. This goes back to the business plan and expectations of what and how you’ll grow, and with the right team in place, they will make the transition from indie to empire easier. Remember, business has rules and laws, and the right team will know them.

10. Be professional

It might sound odd to even have to mention this, but it is paramount. When you go to a business, you expect a level of professionalism. If you go out to eat, you expect them to follow the laws of the Health Boards, treat you nicely, and give you a fair price for what you get. A lot of artists are eccentric and forget about being professional. Artists who have their business solid and play well with others get more gigs. Whatever circle you are in is small, and people will talk. Word of mouth can make or break you. I had a booker once tell me,

“I heard you always bring a small house and show up early.”

I replied “Always.”

He said, “I’ll book you anytime you want!”

I asked “Have you seen my act?”

“No,” he replied, “but I don’t think you realize what a booker’s job is.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“To book acts that are professional, that will help my business, nothing more, and nothing less.”

We had a great working relationship for years, and he even named a cheeseburger after one of my comic characters. If you ever visit HaHa Cafe in North Hollywood, order the Uncle Clyde’s Cheeseburger, and you’ll taste the sweet flavor of professionalism.

In short, a businesses’ reputation will make it or break it, so make sure your business pays its bills on time, shows up on time, and does what it needs to maintain a good reputation. That will outlast any spike in fame, and maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll even get a hamburger named after you.

Oct 31

The Art of Networking: 5 steps to making better music industry connections

[This post was written by guest contributor Dave Kusek of New Artist Model.]

shutterstock_196599026-300x300We’ve all heard this piece of advice time and time again – in the music industry, it’s all about who you know. However, meeting influential connections can seem a rather daunting task. Connections with major record labels or publishing companies can seem completely unreachable and it can be difficult to identify the independent players in the industry. We’re here to tell you that any connection is completely within your reach as an indie artist, and with those connections come opportunities. Here are five tips for networking in the music industry.

1. Networking on Social Media

The most accessible way to network in the music industry is with social media. Sometimes it can be much easier to reach out to people online. The first step is identifying some industry people you’d like to connect with. Don’t just pick names out of a hat – choose people who work in a field you’re interested in. As an example, if you were a jazz songwriter you’d want to connect with publishers, music supervisors, and jazz bloggers. Also, try to stick with people who work with artists at a similar career level to you or just above.

Next, you’ll want to start engaging with them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or their blog. The key is to avoid pushing your music in their face right off the bat. Contribute to their conversations in a valuable and interactive way, give them your opinion if they ask a question, and consistently engage so your name becomes something they recognize.

It’s about building a relationship. Once you have that foundation you can start tying your music into the conversation.

2. Get Out There

Networking and connecting on social media is something you should be constantly doing, but if you want to take the relationships you create to the next level you need to meet people in person. In fact, talking face-to-face is probably the best way to connect with people.

With that in mind, you need to be actively going out and being a part your local music community. Go to conferences, workshops, festivals, and concerts. Play as many shows as possible, especially open mic nights and events that book multiple bands. Other musicians are often the best connections you will make as they most likely know or have worked with other people in the industry like publishing companies, music lawyers, and booking agents.

You should also try to play at venues and events that may not even be music related. Charities, local fairs and festivals, and hotel performances are great ways to get your music in front of a new audience and give you the opportunity to stand out in a less crowded market.

Of course, if you want these events to be truly beneficial to your career, you need to be talking to people and networking. Just like social media, you want to engage in conversation before pushing your music at them. Talk to them about the show or event, ask them what they do, and then bring up your music. Before you go to these events, make sure your web presence is in order. If they go check out your website and it looks sloppy or out of date they probably won’t follow through.

3. Every Conversation is a Networking Opportunity

Not all music connections come with a fancy business card and title. Your biggest opportunity yet could come in the form of a manager at a charity you support, or another local band that wants to team up for a few gigs. With that in mind, don’t dismiss any conversation and always be prepared with a business card with contact information and your website, and maybe even a demo CD or download card. Not every connection will lead to opportunities, and many of the opportunities may fall through, but if you don’t make the initial connection you won’t get any opportunities.

4. Follow up!

When you connect with someone, try to get some form of contact information and take the initiative to follow up. No matter how good people’s intentions may be, sometimes they just forget to follow through. It’s up to you to rekindle the conversation! If it helps you, jot down or make a note in your phone the date and location you met the person and what you discussed. Including little details like this in your follow up will show them that you really care about what they had to say. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

5. Give and Receive

Especially today, the music industry is about forming mutually beneficial long-term relationships, and relationships are as much about giving as they are receiving. Every time you meet someone, think about what you can do to help them before jumping in and asking favors. After all, you can’t just expect people to help you out for nothing.

If you’re talking to a blogger you could give them an exclusive preview of your next album. You could offer to record a backing vocal track for a local band. When you go in for a radio interview give them some free tickets or albums to give out to their viewers. Give and you shall receive.

Opportunities and relationships that are built on a mutual benefit also tend to last longer. One performance at an event for a charity you support could lead to your music being featured in the charity’s commercials down the line. One show with a band you like in New York could lead to a spot as headliner on their national tour.

Of course, in addition to networking, there are many more strategies to get your music in front of a bigger audience. In the New Artist Model online music business courses you’ll learn how to turn your music into a successful business – a business where you’re the CEO! You’ll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you achieve a career in music, and you’ll be able to do it all with the resources you have available right now.

Oct 26

New Smooth Jazz from the coming album “Soaking Wet”

This is the 10th and last cd from smooth jazz recording artist/producer Stephen Jerome Ferguson.

Stephen will continue as a producer, writer and arranger for independent recording artist.

Check out some samples of his latest work.

 

Oct 08

“Do Unto Others” Brand New Track from Stephen Jerome Ferguson

We make things so hard sometimes. We spend years trying to figure out ourselves. Why we as a people do the things we do when all we have to do is treat everyone that we come in contact with the same way that we ourselves want to be treated.

We all want to be treated with respect, dignity and love.

This song, this composition of mine is dedicated to the hope that all of us will figure this out one day…

Sep 29

The Artists Intent is the Most Important Thing

Slide2Writing, recording, mastering and producing my own music is easy for me because there is no one to answer to. The only person that I gave to satisfy in every phase of the project, is me. It’s a little different when my services are required by other artists.

Most indie artists approach me to make their music “sound” better. They have listened to the products that I have produced and they want that same type of sound. This is easier said than done.

As a producer, I have to listen to what the artist wants for their music. I don’t want to add too much of myself to the project because that can over shadow the intent of the artist. Communicating with artists can be difficult sometimes because many artists trying to break into music really don’t know how to explain what they are actually looking for.

Most of the time, I try to listen to what the artist has done on their own. If there is a certain song that they want me to work on, I want to hear it as it is right now. After I get a feel for the song, I have to find out from the artist just how much creative freedom I have. Can I arrange the project? Can I change the orchestration? I need to know just how far I can go.Slide3

Most times, I will come up with 2 and sometimes 3 versions of the song and allow the artists to choose how to proceed. Sometimes one of the versions is good and sometimes it’s a combination of versions that the artist likes. I do the different versions because I don’t want to try and explain to an artist what I believe their project should sound like. I want them to hear it. After all, music is still an audible experience.

Sep 12

How to write a press release (and get press)

September 5, 2014

pressreleaseIf you have never received press, there is a very slim chance that you will get an album review in a popular blog or nationally distributed magazine. Your best chance for media coverage is your hometown papers, magazines and blogs or local publications in cities you’re touring to.

The difference between Rolling Stone’s music editorial staff and the La Crosse Tribune music editorial “staff” (person) is one of them has a backlog of tens of thousands of CDs waiting to be reviewed and the other is in constant need of material. Can you guess which is which?

The reason it’s, dare I say, easy to get press when you’re on tour is because local publications are always looking for material – especially the daily papers. Even blogs with a local focus need material. Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and the bunch get inundated with more music than they have bandwidth for.

There is a different way to approach local, national, digital and print outlets. You always want to keep in the back of your mind when reaching out to any outlet: “What can I do for them? Why does my story deserve coverage?”

Sometimes just being a touring band playing a reputable venue in their town is enough to get a few paragraphs. Other times you’ll need an interesting story that sets you apart from every other band playing a show in town that night.

Obviously, if you have received zero press, then it may be worth your while to book some shows at well-respected venues in small towns and contact the local newspaper. Chances are, being a touring band in their small town will be enough to get you some ink, and possibly even an included photo.

Save all the early reviews you get. Add the best to your website. If a bigger publication wants to review you, they’ll want to see that you are a band on the rise and have been garnering press wherever you go.

Don’t expect album reviews

They are boring to read by the majority of the public. Very few publications even write them anymore. Yes, I know you’d like every publication to talk about how this new album of yours will be generation defining, but the local newspaper is trying to bring the most interesting story to its readers. And right now it’s that you are going to put on a great show in their town. Notes about your most recent album can be included in your press release – especially if you’re on a tour supporting it – but it doesn’t need to be more than a couple sentences.

The Press Release

The beauty of the digital age is that most publications rarely ask for hard press kits anymore. Some music editors (especially the older ones) do ask for you to mail your CD to them, but many are ok with a BandCamp link. Regardless of how they listen to your music, they all want a press release.

A press release is a one-page, objective (ish) fact sheet illuminating the who/what/where/why/and/when of your event.

Contact Information

Make sure it is very clear who the reviewer should contact. Publicists will brand press releases with their letter-head that has their email and phone number. You should put a contact email at the top and the bottom of the press release.

Title

Every press release should have a title. Put the title in the subject line of your initial email. Titles should be to the point, but exciting enough for a reviewer to look further. “Touring Band To Play Birmingham” is boring. “Red Pills Bring Their Fire/Rock Show To Birmingham” is better. “This Band Lights Stuff On Fire…On Stage” will definitely get a read.

Old school publicists may disagree with the sensationalist approach of the title, but we’ve entered into a new era of press. Upworthy and Buzzfeed are masters at click baiting and are trumping nearly every traditional news outlet’s digital traffic.

Re-Printing Word For Word

Many times a publication will reprint your press release word for word. So make it readable and enticing. I’d say about 20% of my press coverage has been a publication (online or in print) literally reprinting my press release. These sometimes will get added to the digital edition’s calendar or “Upcoming Events” or “What To Do This Weekend” section. Oftentimes the music reviewer runs out of time and needs to fill content. So your press release gets reprinted. If you have a kickass title, people will click through to your What To Do This Weekend press release.

It MUST Be An Event

There’s no use sending a press release to let a reviewer know that you have a 3 month old album out. And, uh, how bout a review? No. The only way you’re going to get press is if you’re pitching an event. A show. A release. The birth of your baby (if you’re a celebrity). A charity event. A Dance Off. The release of a music video. Something newsworthy.

1st Paragraph

Who, what, where, why, when, how much. The facts. This needs to be first so the reviewer (or reader) can easily find this information and they immediately know what this event is.

2nd Paragraph

This is where you list the background of your band, your interesting story and accolades. What makes your band unique? Only include the background info that’s most interesting. 1-2 sentences. Include your most impressive accolades: who have you toured with, opened for, TV shows/movies your songs have been placed in, quotes from celebrities about your band, awards/contests you’ve won, festivals you’ve played. Be careful not to make it seem too braggy. If this press release is sent by you, the reviewer will know you wrote it. Keep it objective(ish).

You can use adjectives, but no superlatives.

3rd Paragraph

Information about the event. Why should they cover this event? What makes it special? If this is a general tour press release, you can discuss the tour here (50 date US tour with stops at local children’s hospitals in 20 cities).

Last couple sentences

Other interesting information. This is your final effort to showcase to the reviewer why she should cover your event or band and to the reader why he should come out to your show, watch your music video, listen to your album.

These are loose paragraph guidelines, but this is the order. And remember, never make it longer than a page. If the reviewer needs more info, she’ll ask.

Never Attach It To An Email

When you contact a reviewer over email the subject line should be your title, you should write a brief personalized, introduction paragraph, link to the album on BandCamp or SoundCloud, a YouTube video, Facebook Page and your website, and explain that you’ve included the press release and promo photo below.

It can be something like:

Hi Kim, Minneapolis based, The Red Pills, are stopping through Denver on October 3rd as part of our 50 date US tour. Our new song, “I Hope I Never Know” was just featured on Parenthood on NCB last week. Let me know if you’d like to setup an interview with the band for a piece in the Denver Post. I’ve included a link to our album, new music video and the press release below. If you like, I can put our vinyl record and/or CD in the mail for your consideration.

Thanks!

New Album: http://linktobandcamp.com
Music Video: http://linktoyoutubevideo.com
Facebook: http://linktofacebook.com
Website: http://linktowebsite.com
Promo Photo: http://LinkToHighResPromoPhotos.com

-Ari Herstand (The Red Pills manager/guitarist)

**Directly below your signature should be the press release beginning with the title. DO NOT ATTACH IT TO THE EMAIL. Do not clutter up their inbox or make them download an attachment. Not a press release, not a promo photo, not a song. If they want a word doc or a promo photo they will respond and ask you to send it over as an attachment. But most want everything contained in the email and want to just copy and paste and click through links. Downloading is too slow, takes up space and is too much work.

No Response Does Not Mean No Coverage

I can’t tell you how many times I have reached out to press outlets with an email very similar to the one above, where I have never received a response, BUT I got either a full preview of my show in the paper/blog or they copy/pasted my press release.

Always check the publication in print and online when you tour through the city. Sometimes their print edition will list show previews which do not make the digital version – and vice versa.

“For Immediate Release”

You see this statement in many press releases sent out by companies announcing things like a new iPhone or what not. However, when you’re contacting music reviewers weeks before your show, you don’t want them to print a show preview in the weekly newspaper a month before your show. So list at the top of the release when you’d like it printed/posted:

“For release the week of October 2nd.”

Lead Time

For local press, contact them about 4 weeks before your show. Many times the music reviewers will have stuff cued up a couple weeks in advance of printing, but sometimes they are scrambling looking for content for this week. Sometimes (depending on how organized they are) they’ll ask you to get back to them a few days before they go to print (or post the blog). If you’re too early (2 months), they’ll ignore it as it’s not pressing, but if you’re too late (less than a week) you may have missed your window and that edition may be already set. If the reviewer only reviews physical CDs (some still do), you need enough time to get it in the mail to her.

If you don’t get a response, follow up a week later. Giving yourself a 4 week window allows for followups. Giving yourself one week does not.

Publication Research

Before contacting the reviewer, make sure you do a bit of research on the publication. Make sure they actually cover Arts and Entertainment. Find out how often (weekly, daily, monthly). And, of course, make sure you get the contact email and name of the music or community events reviewer.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Phone

If you can’t find an email on the website, most likely they’ll have a contact phone number listed. Pick up the damn phone and call and ask. You’ll most likely reach the receptionist. All you need to do is then ask “Hi, I’m looking for Kim Smith’s email.” Yes, learn the name of the music reviewer before calling. This is not tough to find. The receptionist will have this information and gladly give it to you. And if you haven’t gotten an email response from the reviewer, give her a call, ask if she got your press release and if she needs anymore info from you. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to sift your email out of the pile.

Sep 05

Free Downloads from SJF Music Music!

free downloadsFrom me to you. Some FREE MUSIC! Listen or click the link to download the jam you want.

Just my way of saying “Thank You” for all the love and support that you have shown to me.

 

 Just Right click the title to download.

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 24

Cause and Effect

I have been thinking about posting this for a long time. Because of it’s subject matter, I didn’t really know how it would be received.

It’s not about my music at all. It’s a social theory that I have been thinking on for a while now.

Watch the video. It only takes 6 minutes of your time but the theories expressed in it may open your eyes.

You know, cause that little light bulb over your head to turn on.

Aug 16

Looking for Artist to Spread a Positive Message

Slide1SJF Music LLC is looking for artists that want to create projects that are uplifting, positive, encouraging and full of the truth. It doesn’t matter what genre.

I will help in any way that I can. I can provide music, arranging, production and help with promotion. goldviolin

For a long time, I have been looking for a way to combine my ministry with my music production service. I looked at many different scenarios and different genres of music. I was completely lost and confused about how to do this so I prayed and asked for guidance from my Father.

First, I had to define just what my ministry is. That was the easy part. My calling is geared to my fellow men. I need to remind my brothers of their true responsibilities based in the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Man was created in the image of God. Man was meant to lead according to the Laws of God. Man was meant to be the teacher, the leader and the one that set the example. This is my ministry. To spread this knowledge to every man. To let them know just who they really are.

_facebook_-339148629The music? Well, I also came to the realization that the genre means nothing. The message is the key. The message needs to be positive, encouraging and truthful. Any genre of music can provide that.

Because this is my ministry, I will not charge anything for any service I provide. The only thing I require is credit for whatever I do for your project. The project belongs to the artist totally and it’s up to you what you want to do with it but if the artists wants to make a donation then I will not turn down a Blessing.

If you are interseted or want more information, email me at stephen@sjfmusic.com

 

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