Every day I get 50 e-mails from Producers that are taking baby steps in their music career asking me if I can get them into the Top 10 on Beatport or booked at Tomorrowland. Because we live in a fast moving world that occasionally comes up with artists that come through with six figure marketing investment and ghost producers, people often think that bypassing the whole “up and coming” process is a realistic move. Unless your dad’s an oil baron or you’ve got a seriously influential contact list in the industry – you’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way. Below are a few pointers that should help both new and well-practiced minds make informed decisions. This is not a bible – just a series of tips that I find myself offering on a daily basis.
Make yourself easy to find and contact
The one thing that that puts me off an artist or label is not being able to easily track them down. Let’s be realistic here – Universal is not going to send you a Facebook message asking you for a deal. If you have a social media page or website, make sure it has an e-mail address there and it doesn’t cost much at all to setup your own firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address. This will help you look professional and most serious labels aren’t going to be impressed with email@example.com. Look at your online presentation like you would do at someone else’s. Do they look serious? Do they look like someone you’d like to have an involvement with? I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve decided against making an offer to a potential client because they’ve failed to make themselves visible online. This is 2015 guys – come up – keep up now.
Work on your product before your promotion
If you’re a casual producer just making music for you and your friends, then fine. If you’re trying to get the attention of bigger DJs, Labels, Managers, Promoters, and Producers – please don’t upload “New track I started 07” on Soundcloud. It looks terrible, it usually sounds terrible and as soon as one person leaves negative feedback, you’ll probably decide you don’t like it any more. Treat your new releases like Apple treat an iPhone launch – build, improve, tweak, perfect, package and then BAM – hit the world with a complete package.
Engage with relevant sites, blogs and social media channels
Read your favourite music sites, leave comments both on the site and social media. For some reason people seem to think that successful music industry folk don’t get involved in discussions online. Unless you’re Aphex Twin – don’t be afraid to get your points across if you see an interesting article. Leave feedback on Soundcloud – after all you should know how to talk about music. Talk to artists and fans on Facebook – you’re not Barack Obama – people will appreciate the fact your getting involved in the conversation. I can tell you for a fact that 90% of the top musicians, producers and DJs regularly follow the leading music sites. They spend 30 hours a week in airports – there are only so many arcades and walks around duty free that a man can handle.
Don’t master your own music
If you can afford a £60 pair of Nike trainers, you can afford to get your music mastered properly. You can honestly spend as little as £30 to get a decent job done and it really does make a difference. I don’t care how good you are, there are very few people out there that can do this perfectly and if you’re one of those, skip this article and get back to being a superstar like you deserve to be. Take a step back, ask yourself does your music sound as good as the competition – if the answer is no – get back to practice.
Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ states that it takes around 10,000 hours of active practice to master something. Now we’re not talking about one track here, but if you’ve been producing for just a month or two – don’t try to put yourself on the global spotlight – you’ll take one step forwards and ten back. If you’re taking this seriously, it’s a career. Don’t try to become the CEO before you’ve worked up the food chain. The world moves fast now with the internet and technology, but you still need to put in thousands of hours of work to become proficient in any discipline.
Grow social media organically
I learnt this the hard way through various business endeavors – even Facebook’s ‘legitimate’ and expensive adverting features are fake. They send you batches of likes, followers and comments that are ineffective and worse than that – damaging. If you’ve got 1000 real organic fans and 1000 attained through Facebook ads – your 5% reach for a post is now down to 2.5% as the other 2.5% of your reach is either non existent or not interested in what you’re doing. Like other pages that are doing similar things to you, make friends, offer feedback and if we all try to bring back real human conversation into the internet and social media, it won’t die – which it will if we don’t do something about it soon. The industry is now educated enough to know that 1,000,000 fans does not guarantee success.
Drop the iPhone press shot and MS Paint Logo
Getting a nice pro press shot, or a few if budget can allow will do you the world of good. Getting your buddy to take a photo of you sitting in front of your laptop with your headphones on and not even plugged in sitting there in front of your cracked copy of Sylenth is not the way to go. Think creative; get in touch with local photographers, contact people studying photography at college or university – they have access to high-end equipment and might even be willing to do it for free to add some ammo to their portfolio. Same thing applies for logos – branding is important and getting a good looking one is more important than those new Skullcandy headphones you’ve been looking into.
Spend time working on your bio
Just because you’ve not headlined the world’s biggest clubs or sold 1,000,000 copies of your music – that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an artist bio. People want to know more about you and if you don’t give them a story – you’re just another ‘artist’ doing it wrong. Talk about your influences, how you got into music, and your approach to making music, your favourite tools, why you’re different from the thousands of others doing what you’re doing and why people should listen to you.
Prepare pre-rerelease promo and release your new music on Monday
Especially if you’re releasing via Beatport – Monday is the day that labels, managers and DJs go looking for new things. Check it out for yourself, there are tenfold more releases on a Monday and it’s for good reason. Firstly announce your release, send it out to DJs – try to find a blog to premiere it – they love exclusivity – then send it out to your target blogs and sites. On release date, follow up with a news article stating the release has been released and continue to share the news with your followers and anyone who could be influential. If you’re promoting pre-release – send Beatport your supports and let them know you’re taking your release seriously – you’ll be a whole lot more likely to get yourself a feature – which equals sales and exposure.
Go local – then national – then global
If you can’t get your hometown excited by your music and career, you need to go back to the drawing board. There are exceptions if you’re from a place with no music scene – but don’t try to get yourself booked and Glastonbury if the local pubs and bars aren’t interested yet. Get back to work on improving your sound, profile and presence and try again. Don’t give up – this is a world that can be cracked, it just takes hard work, dedication and talent. Some people just haven’t got it and if that’s you – just take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and perhaps consider taking this music thing as a hobby and see where it leads to.
Words by Matt Caldwell.
About the writer
Matt Caldwell is the founder of Matt Caldwell PR – one of the world’s leading PR agencies for all things electronic music. Having come through just about every role in the industry from street promoter for back-end bars, DJ, Producer, Journalist, Blogger, Editor & PR Specialist – he’s seen how the industry works and how it changes. From promoting nights for Ministry of Sound, producing music that’s received airplay from BBC Radio, Kiss 100 and global club support, managing promotions at the world’s biggest club Privilege in Ibiza, writing for some of the world leading electronic music medias and starting one of the largest PR agencies in electronic music with no investment and just a laptop on startup – he’s seen how the industry has evolved in the last ten years.
For more information on the writer visit www.mattcaldwell.co.uk or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org – he’s always willing to offer free advice to up and coming music industry enthusiasts that need some tips and questions.
Please share this at your will – the advice is free and is intended to help educate those looking to make their music career a little more effective.