Music promotion, like all marketing, is part science and part art. Getting a release into an influential inbox is only half the battle: making sure it’s heard and supported is the real challenge. Creating brand awareness, garnering positive feedback, and converting promotional efforts to revenue are also key goals, but arriving at them requires intuition and strategy in equal measure. FATdrop has been in the promo business since 2007, and over the last six years we’ve gleaned some valuable insight on what works — and what doesn’t. Here are five tips to help you find that ever-elusive winning formula.
A little planning at the start can help ensure your music is ready for the moment that will make it shine. Work backwards from your planned release date to create a timeline for the promotion process. Certain online retailers may require a specific amount of lead time to to prepare the release for sale. Once you’ve added the crucial dates your calendar, start planning the promo campaign. You may want to send the campaign out around six weeks before the official release to receive feedback and work on press opportunities.
Imagine the inbox of your most influential contact: it’s more than likely full of emails requiring their time and attention. When they check out your promo, everything should be easy to understand. As you upload tracks, make sure that all music is properly named, tagged, and organised, with correct information in the titles for WAV files, and correct ID3 tags for MP3s. If DJs download a promo with the title ‘Track1.mp3’ with no artist listed, it will be impossible for them to find it in their collection, and the music just won’t get played. Believe it or not, this remains a common complaint among promo recipients, so some simple preparation can make all the difference.
3) Organising and Targeting
Having an easy-to-manage system of mailing lists makes it easy to keep contacts current and accessible. Updating email addresses for contacts you may have established years ago is an essential routine task to ensure your music will be heard. Use good judgement when selecting who might respond positively to your promo campaign. The key here is focused quality over random quantity. Engineer exclusivity. Sending a release to thousands of people is not good promotion, because the general interest level will actually be lower if people don’t feel like they were chosen carefully to receive this music in advance. Review your list of contacts carefully, be sure to include your strong supporters, and consider adding new recipients that would respond well to a particular release. It is equally important to remove people from the list who you know are unlikely to play it. Doing so will hold their attention from one positive reaction to the next, and be respectful of their time. If you keep your mailing lists appropriately targeted, you’ll maintain a select group of top DJs and journalists who are excited about supporting your release.
4) Relationship Building
When you check in on your promo campaign, look out for specific requests that require your attention. If a contact from a media outlet mentions that they are considering the upcoming release for review, or would like to air it on a radio program, it is a great opportunity to ask if they would like any additional information about the artist or the label. Thanking them for their interest and taking time to respond helps build rapport and is the foundation of a valuable relationship. If a DJ has left exceptional feedback, thank them for the support to show your appreciation. Don’t chase people that have listened but not downloaded or commented. They may simply not be interested in this release and didn’t have time to respond. Focus on the positive feedback that you already have. At the end of each campaign, take note of who responded well and who didn’t to build a better understanding of what your contacts prefer, and consider their preferences when editing mailing lists for future campaigns.
5) Presentation and Distribution
Position the release for top placement in shops by highlighting praise from tastemakers who are recognised by retailers as successful and relevant to the genre. Once your campaign is finished, gather the positive feedback from these notable recipients and move the most enthusiastic comments to the top for easy viewing. Supporting comments can be filled in below, and neutral or undesirable feedback should be edited out. By using the reports provided by a promo service, it is easy to export an attractive presentation for retailers and distributors.