INDUSTRY RELEVANT: How to WIN at the Indie Music Promotion Game and Not Get Ripped

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Got Indie Music? Before Submitting Music to Music Promotion Companies for Radio Promotion … read this

As the owner of Radio Facts, I have dealt with all kinds of clients trying to push their brand to radio. From established major label artists to the most independent. Quite often the majors know exactly what they are doing when they promote music to radio but the independents quite often make some extremely costly mistakes. First and foremost they are often not prepared and they trust the wrong people.  Believe it or not, this is not always relegated to strangers.

indie music

Many times, it’s family. The artists bring them into the fold to build his brand but they are not experienced.  Now he’s got a frustrating label and a house full of people who know absolutely nothing about the music business. I believe in giving our clients the most for their money and some of the tips I give to them, I’m sharing with you here so that you can save time and money when your goal is to promote your music to the industry and beyond. Here are some tips on getting the most out of the industry when you are new to it….

Be Prepared Before Hiring Music Marketing Companies to Get Radio Play

There are many if not MOST opportunities that will only knock once… and NEVER again. The best way to be prepared for an opportunity?  BE PREPARED FOR AN OPPORTUNITY!!! Be bold in your approach, ask questions and make sure you know as much as possible to take you to the next level of success. You see it all the time, especially in sports and it happens to artists too, poor planning leads to a dismal and financially flawed future if you want it to last do the work NOW so that you can make sure there is no turning back.  

Research Music Promotion Companies

When it comes to music promotion services for radio promotions know who you are dealing with. There are people in (or who USED to be in) the industry that will tell you that they went to high school with Jesus and ate lunch at the same table as President Carter. if you are stupid enough to believe it without doing your research you will get ripped.

Know what people think of themselves FIRST when it comes to business. How is this going to benefit me, the BEST business deal in my experience is where it is a win/win situation which is my philosophy.  

Understand, the BEST price is not always the best DEAL nor is it the highest price. You want the best PERSON…FIRST. Make absolutely sure you have several sources that you can bounce information and questions about the person you are looking to hire. They should also freely offer you CURRENTLY WORKING references. Don’t hesitate to call them.

Quite often many of our indie music clients from the states and abroad will ask us about a particular indie music promoter, for example. I’ve been in the game well over 20 years and I have never HEARD of some of these people I believe our job is to look out for our client’s best interest. What I do is refer them to a qualified indie music promoter.

One of the greatest disadvantages to being young is you have not figured out how unscrupulous and underhanded some people can be when it comes to music promotion and you may trust the wrong people which, in the music community we use one bad experience with one bad indie music person and relegate ALL music promotion companies to be dirty business people when the blame is on YOU. Keep in mind, con artists don’t get you by their greed … they get you by YOURS. Good music promotion is not going to be cheap.

Ask questions, then more questions

Contrary to popular belief, the music business is actually NOT about hype, it USED TO BE but now it’s about RESULTS. The greatest advice I can give to aspiring musicians is BEWARE the man or woman who uses hype as a way to lure you in. These are the people who brag about all they have done to help promote indie music but YOUR job is to ask for proof.

They are the types of “indie music promoters” to look out for

  1. The ones that talk about how they got screwed by a major star who they gave their start to
  2. How a successful artist star stole their ideas
  3. If they are under 40, they tell you they can get your indie music played on the popular radio stations

My suggestion, if you run into an indie music promoter like this RUN.  For those of us who are experienced in the industry, indie music promotion hype is a MAJOR turn off and we look at people like that like used car salesman because we are aware that the person is usually full of shyt. We want to know

  • How many spins the song has,
  • What are the social media numbers,
  • What markets is the artist hot in,
  • What other radio stations are playing them,
  • What is the research on the song,
  • What do other programmers think of the song
  • What kind of budget do they have
  • How is it doing in the club etc.

When it comes to music promotion, we don’t care about who the next Beyonce is, we already have the original one.  The greatest indie promoters are industry people that you have been referred to by other WORKING CURRENT industry people.  Click “Next” for the next advice”

For Indie Music Promotion, Get to know someone at your local radio station

When it comes to Radio program directors are often very busy and burdened by heavy workloads but they could be your BEST ally to get into the music industry with your indie music if you can get to know them. DJs (mix show DJs NOT radio announcers) usually also have a lot of power and influence but not on the radio station when it comes to playing their own songs in most markets. Some do, but most don’t so be careful in this area too.

An idea is to make a way to get to know either a PD or a DJ at your local radio station or even club (make sure you can stomach the club business scene, it’s not for the weak). Go see if they need interns (they usually do, black stations love to for people to work for free).

Don’t go in talking about your goals, nobody gives AF nor do they have the time to hear your dreams and aspirations about your indie music. Time is of the essence when it comes to promoting your indie music. Don’t blow the first opportunity to develop a relationship.

Look at indie music promotion like college and go in and earn a degree in your field, for music promotion services. In addition to being an artist, this is something that you need to learn or you will waste a lot of money.  Today’s indie music artists know how to go about finding music promotion services and they are entrepreneurs in their own right. Today, you have to be.

Be ready to learn how the industry works and do the work. It is how I started in the industry and I got sidetracked into doing radio for years when I actually wanted to be an artist. You would be amazed at the contacts you can develop in just a few months.

Watch what you say

I was watching a video of The Breakfast Club Radio Show when a well-known rapper was on the show stating that he had paid to be on the show. He was joking but the hosts made SURE the audience KNEW it was a joke.  There are three words that are industry kryptonite when it comes to indie music and music promotion services pay for play.” Do business wisely.

Surround yourself with the right people

Uncle Caught-a-Case and Auntie EBT are not business people and they should not be doing business for you if they don’t understand it. It is understandable that you want to be around people you trust but keep in mind that family will often turn against you in the WORST way in certain situations … beware.  Click “Next” for the next advice”

If it sounds too good to be true… IT USUALLY IS

If you are an independent artist and an independent promoter whose last project was an MC Hammer record tell you he can get you on major market radio stations with your first project. RUN…. don’t just run, I mean run till you get to the freeway then RUN to the next STATE. In all honesty as a new artist who is not on a major label, your radio airplay is going to be limited.  Click “Next” for the next advice”

Create a Buzz

Just make sure it’s with the right people. For example, RadioFacts is the leading urban radio and music industry site. We deliver the most news, email blasts, and a podcast about the industry along with updating our site daily with the best rankings, and if our clients don’t ask we show it to them anyway because these are things you need to know.

If you are going to spend money on a campaign realize you want the MOST exposure. There are a LOT of small so-called industry sites that don’t put in the work and will take your money and not reach the target they claim they reach. I have sent clients to other sites to buy ads if I can’t help them but do your homework. Look at the site Alexa.com rankings.

Anything above 500,000 is going to offer you VERY limited exposure. Anything BELOW that is much better.  Also, can they do a report of how many impressions your campaign got at the end of the campaign?  This is the information that you need.  We do it for our clients per ad and they love it.  Click

Beware of the Money Mongers

As stated above, when it comes to indie music and music promotion services, there are people out there who will take all your money and bring you zilch results. Once they have paid their rent they are out looking for the next person to screw. Compare prices AND services. Ask them what was the last project they worked on.

If it was something from more than 2 years ago… move on. A great promoter is CONSTANTLY working on NEW projects. That’s not to say some great promoters have not worked in a few years but I have never seen an industry that is more out-of-sight-out-of-mind. If you are not working, you are forgotten about in less than a week.

You don’t have time to weigh the pros and cons of someone who was working and is working. I would always go for the one who IS working.  

Unfortunately, it’s just a factor of business the man who is working has more perceived value… For our independent clients, we have a few of the top independent promoters that we refer to for work.

It’s all in the Presentation.

Just because everybody else doesn’t care about the way they present themselves doesn’t mean you should do the same. As a matter of fact, it may work to your advantage to be the opposite of what everybody else is.  

Today’s indie music artists MUST also be an entrepreneur which means you have to be able to walk into a room with great confidence and esteem and you need to understand how the industry works which is why I stated earlier to find a way to work in the industry locally so that you can be around the wealth of information others are often not privy to.  

Take someone out to lunch or meet them in their surroundings.

If you want someone to help you then you need to go to them. Even if it’s a quick meeting at McDonald’s make sure you go out of your way to go to one close to them or ask them where they want to meet if you have a chance to get a meeting. Getting a PD or a DJ on the phone is a challenge in itself but getting them to meet you? That’s damn near unheard of.

If you get the opportunity, respect for one’s tenure in the industry goes a long way. We work in an environment where everyone is coming to you for something, what can you BRING to the table? if you do get a meeting make sure you are prepared. Don’t get too friendly or familiar with the person  

Never put established artists Down

Nobody gives a loaded baby diaper what you think about Lil’ Wayne or the current state of Hip Hop. That’s NOT going to get you the gig, your project is, but in order for a real industry person to even listen to it, they have to feel good about you. You are your own walking resume. Why would someone trust a person who says negative s*it about other artists?

Understand business people know that what you do to others behind their backs is what you will do to them behind theirs so avoid the negative banter. Know that the artist that you are talking about has arrived and you are still knocking on the door and they are where you are trying to go…You would be SHOCKED at how the person that you are talking about could be the person to introduce you or work on your next project.

Don’t Over Hype

Tell the person what you have, don’t build it up or put it down, let THEM be the judge. Ask them what they think of it and how much you would appreciate their opinion. That will go much further in the long run. The first meeting if for them to get to know YOU not your project.



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