Text: Tirza de Fockert
For many artists, promoting their music is one of the toughest aspects of the job. In her career of fifteen years, Megan Slankard has picked up a few tricks when it comes to successfully getting her music noticed by radio stations, magazines, and most importantly a receptive audience. The singer-songwriter – and creator of the hilarious web-series inDIYe – played her first paid gig when she was only fifteen and sold over 35.000 copies of her four albums. She shares with us some of the most valuable marketing tips she learned along the way.
Megan Slankard performing Show up live
Make sure you have a name that is findable. Because people are going to want to find you. Say you call yourself Toast, which is a cool name. Toast is delicious. However, if you type in Toast in a search bar, you will find pictures of bread. People won’t find your band. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of the best stage names, either. But I can say it is unique. I sold a lot of CDs because I was on a fashion make-over show on TV, and they played my music in the background. They only said my name once. But people are smart. They would type in Megan and the name of TV show and I would come up on Google. I am pretty much the only person with the name Megan Slankard. It is not a great like stage name or anything, but I have been marketing myself under Megan Slankard for fifteen years, and it works well enough.
Your website has to be your home. Social media like Facebook and MySpace and Friendster are amazing and super important. But they always change. For the longest time, MySpace was my website. What happened to MySpace? People weren’t able to find me, because I never updated my actual website. So keep your website updated and fun, and make sure everything is on it. Your best music, your best pictures, everything. Facebook can be the place where you interact with your fans. But it should always point back to your website.
A good mailing list is more effective than how many friends you have on Facebook. Social media always changes. You need a place that is safe, where you can control the content completely. You control who it goes to. When you put something on Facebook, it won’t show to most of your friends. But if you put it out on your mailing list, everyone who sees the email will at least see the title, even if they delete it. That is why at every show, I ask people to sign up to my mailing list. That said, one has to do more than just collect the names. A mailing list is a constant work in progress. You have to keep adding the names to your actual electronic list and regularly send out news about news about your band and about future shows. I found that keeping mailings to about once a month is a good way to keep people updated and interested without annoying them with too much info.
inDIYe part 1
Not being able to define my genre is one of my biggest marketing issues. Not so long ago I was playing a big music festival in Austin, Texas. People from Pandora asked me: “If we would play you on another channel, what band would we play you with?” I froze. I had no idea. I need to figure that out. It is important, because you want to know where to push your music. If you’re pushing your music to everything, you are just a little fish in a gigantic pool of music. The easiest way to find out is ask other people. “If you would compare me to five other bands, Who would it be?” Ask a bunch of people. If a couple of them name the same artist: use that band.
You have to figure out what your demographic is. Who are you trying to sell your music to? Who are you trying to sell you as a package to? Figuring that out takes time, so take notes after every gig. Do market research, and put it in a document on your computer. “When I play in these kind of bars, people don’t pay attention because there’s a TV. And when I play in these kinds of bars, people don’t pay attention because it is the wrong kind of demographic. Maybe bars are not for me. Maybe I should play in coffee shops.” It helps you pick and choose what is good exposure. Say you get offered a small gig that pays $150 for three hours, but nobody listens to you. You can also play a big unpaid gig in front of 3000 people who are in your demographic. They could buy CDs. Maybe you won’t make 150 dollars, but maybe you will make more! Maybe you will not make anything, but maybe 200 people will sign up on your mailing list. That is 200 people who are interested enough in you to want to know more. They might come to other gigs. I think that is the ultimate goal. To have someone come up to you and say: “I saw you at your last gig and I am coming to this gig because I love what you do.” And sometimes that is more important than money. Building an audience takes time, but in the long run it will mean a healthy career and more money in the future.
When you release an album, give yourself enough time to promote it. With my first three albums, I wrote the music, recorded it, and released it straight away. It is a natural impulse. I was really proud and excited, and I wanted to show it to everyone. But I never got many reviews. For A Token of The Wreckage, my fourth CD, I finished it, and sort of sat on it. I had my album, I had beautiful artwork, and I wrote a business plan how to release it. My publicist sent out hundred albums with press releases to magazines and radio stations. We got a bunch of great reviews and write-ups that we got to use in the initial release of the album. If you have some good reviews, you can put them on your website. Put a quote on your album packaging or promo material. People will see that quote, and it helps legitimizes what you are doing. People are busy. They first need the opportunity to find you, so they have the choice to listen. You have to show them you are worth it. Grab their attention before they have time to put your CD in a pile. Getting press and radio play will help people hear your music. It is like a little ladder. Every step helps you further.
Do you have some more questions for Megan about how to promote your music? Drop her a line at email@example.com or through her Tribe of Noise profile
Major IT distributor starts streaming music service for businesses -
(Press Release in Dutch)
Goed nieuws van rechtenorganisatie Buma Stemra (zie hieronder)!
Wat ons betreft fantastisch nieuws, duim omhoog. Direct voordeel voor Buma Stemra leden? Op één of meerdere van de categorieën kan het collectief beheer dus uitgezet worden en kunnen bedrijven als Tribe of Noise je alternatieve / additionele verdienmodellen aanbieden die misschien beter aansluiten bij jouw repertoire.
Buma Stemra leden kunnen bijvoorbeeld voor de categorieën Podia/Events en RTV & Simulcasting hun repertoire laten vertegenwoordigen door Buma Stemra en Tribe of Noise strategisch inzetten op achtergrondmuziek, mechanisch en/of online.
Weten wat we voor jou(w repertoire) kunnen betekenen?
Bel (020-7754411) of mail Els Bond, onze community manager.
We nemen graag jouw persoonlijke voorkeur en opties met je door.
Directe link naar het wijzigingsformulier exploitatie auteursrechten (PDF)
"I always register my songs with ASCAP/BMI/SESAC but these songs are still mine. I can direct license them to whoever I want, whenever I want, it’s my (copy)right!"
Does this sound familiar? Is this something you could have said yourself? Ok, let’s set the record straight because there is much more going (wr)on(g) than you think.
Opt-in/out repertoire on track level
If you are based in the USA and do not want to miss out on any royalties collected on your behalf you turn to one of the three performance rights organizations (PRO): ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Right?
So far, so good. It even gets better because these PROs allow you to opt-in/out repertoire on a track level. So if you have written 100 songs but only think 10 of them will ever make a chance to generate some decent money because of (digital) airplay you will make the obvious choice to only opt-in those 10. Right?
Hm, do I hear some hesitation in your voice? Many composers and singer-songwriters opt-in all their songs because they never gave this a thought. Why bother making selections? What if one of the other 90 songs becomes an overnight success? Well, the easiest answer to that question is you can always opt-in a song when this happens or record something similar even better suitable for airplay on radio or TV. BUT, there is a very strong argument to not register all your songs with a PRO…
Performance Rights Organizations have sister organizations around the world
The reason why I am asking you to really, really, really think about the consequences of opting-in ALL your songs with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC is because they have sister organizations around the world who might not be as flexible as you think.
In theory they will do exactly the same thing for you on an international level as your PRO is doing for you back home: collect royalties. But what we have noticed over the last five years with Tribe members aka “the real music rights holders” is that several European PROs treat ASCAP, BMI and SESAC members similar to their own members. Their members with NO option to opt-in/out repertoire on track level but instead hand over their full repertoire when signing. This can result in lengthy (legal) discussions with horrendous arguments from some European PROs like: “With the rights holders’ approval or not, we collect anyway. By national law we are the only one entitled to do so”.
HUH? But it’s MY intellectual property and my ASCAP/BMI/SESAC representative tells me it’s ok to direct license a song (e.g. to be used in a Tribe of Noise sync or in-store music deal) as long as they are informed
Sounds fair, right? If you have a song in the ASCAP/BMI/SESAC catalog and for whatever reason it’s not generating any money you should be able to opt-out this song with your PRO and opt-in with direct license services like Tribe of Noise offers.
Be aware! If your song is in the ASCAP, BMI or SESAC database and therefor also in many other databases of sister organizations around the world it will take time, patience and persuasion to convince them you’ve opted-out the song for direct license deals.
So do yourself a favor and keep it simple. Separate repertoire for PROs and for direct license deals as soon as possible for the right reasons
I’ll give you a reason to consider direct license deals. Tribe of Noise offers a subscription based in-store music service with several (custom build) streaming music channels. All material is directly licensed (“all rights included”) by artists like yourself. The business model is simple: Music is provided by Tribe members, we do our magic, build playlists, broadcast to our business clients and in return we receive a monthly subscription fee shared with the participating Tribe members. Short value chain, low on overhead costs, fair moneymaker for the artists and Tribe of Noise. Because it’s all digital streaming and managed by us and our partners we know which artists to pay and how much. In the process we will keep convincing the European collection societies that we have the same goal: figure out fair & future proof business models for musicians.
Will Europe in the future open up? Will they start using more flexible licensing opportunities where songs can individually be opted-in and –out as opposed to your full repertoire in/out?
It seems we are heading in that way. This, for example, is promising: EU Parliament Passes Directive On Collective Rights Management, Pan-EU Licences. But in the meantime do yourself a big favor and be very specific on which songs to register with a PRO and which songs to direct license with others.
I do not have all the answers either but together with the team we are welcoming everybody to share their views, insights and suggestions. We are shaping the future together.
Hessel van Oorschot
Chief of Noise