Sunday, December 30, 2018

5 Music Marketing and Self Promotion Tips

Music Marketing, What's on Offer, Offers


As an indie, you have probably listened to successful artists and wondered what is so special about what some of them do. You have heard plenty of great songs by unknown artists that are much better. The truth is unless you are really lucky, it's all about marketing and promotion. Your music needs to be found and heard by your prospective fans so that you can build your fan base and get noticed by the right people.

To be found you need to market your music which means connecting with listeners who may turn into fans. One way is to engage the services of specialist music marketing companies if you have the budget. Otherwise, there are things that you can do to self promote your music.

Before starting out on self-promotion you need to have a theme or musical story which will be consistent across the platforms you use. This will enable you to start to establish a recognizable brand that you can cultivate to help you stand out from the crowd. So focus on these  two things:
  • What is unique about you or your music? This is what sets you apart from others in your genre.
  • The uniqueness factor should be authentic. To cultivate this and for it to be something that fans can relate to, it should be authentic. It is easier to maintain consistency across platforms and continue the story if it is real.
Once you have the story you want to tell you now have the basis of your brand. A visual logo helps to translate this idea or feeling and helps brand recognition and brand building.

Your Musician Website

worldwide web, website, my own website, band website, artist website,

In order to maximise your marketing effort, you need somewhere that is home base. Somewhere to drive traffic to, somewhere you control. Having your musician website is the ideal focal point. This is where you can have exclusive content, sell your music or merchandise and most importantly build your fanbase by growing your email list. Your email list is a direct route of communication to your fans and can be much more personal than other forms of communication.

Make Music Videos

Music video, music player, play,

Firstly, It is now an inescapable fact that in this one click world that visual content is king. In the world of the scrolling screen having visual content will vastly increase the chances of engagement compared with a text link. Secondly, this is a great way to define your brand and set you apart from the competition. It doesn't need to be a big financial investment there are services that offer affordable visuals, for example, rotorvideos that use clips and your own music to create high-quality videos.

Set Up Your Own Video Channel

Video channel, Youtube channel,
Youtube is still one of the biggest databases in the world and still the go-to platform for music. If you reach a certain level of subscribers then revenue sharing becomes possible. Having your own channel is a great way of having somewhere to direct your fans and share your videos. It also makes it easier to subscribe and engage with the channels of influencers in your niche.

Engage With Influencers

social media Influencers
As well as engaging with fans engaging with influencers could take your following and visibility to another level. For your niche, do a search for the top 10 channels or pages and starting engaging by adding value by giving constructive comment. Something more than just 'awesome' or 'nice song'. By adding something meaningful this will attract the notice of other commenters and the influencer who will be tempted to check out your content which may lead to more views, shares and other engagement.


Paying to gain reach, when you have a product to sell, is something that is going to become standard on many platforms. Facebook, in particular, has already changed its algorithm to make it difficult for 'Pages' to have any worthwhile reach without 'boosting' a post. 

Depending on your expertise in using music promotion apps or platforms, you may feel that it is more effective to engage marketing professionals. There are many music promotion services out there so do your research. They need to be offering something more than ' I have 1 million followers'. So what! None of them may like your music. So look out for these points.
  • What are the artist reviews saying about their services? Are there any independent reviews?
  • What are they offering other than tweeting, posting to their followers? For example, interviews, blog or magazine placement, playlisting etc. 
  • Are any placements permanent? 
  • What platforms will their music promotion cover?
  • What is their reach, national or global and where is their main catchment?
  • Can they offer a targeted promotion for your genre?
  • Is the music promotion campaign organic (Important!)
Having the above in place will get you off to a good start but will still need plenty of hard work and perseverance. But if you believe in your music you will succeed.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Reggae Music Review: Jah9 Heaven

Jah9, reggae, reggae artist, reggae music, in concert


Jah9 Born Janine Cunningham, from Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica. She grew up in a family where the deeper meanings and injustices of life could be reasoned and this aided her inner growth. 

Her father was a preacher and her mother a social worker. She subsequently moved to Kingston and at the University of the West Indies, her exposure to the teachings of Rastafari and roots reggae dub music was the catalyst for her to take the next step in her music career. Janine adopted her childhood nickname, Jah9, as she learnt the real significance of the word “Jah” and the number “9” (the symbol of creation and womb of the universe, divine completeness, universal love).

Her music career began to take shape driven by her spirituality and her own 'Jazz on Dub' style of reggae. With assistance and guidance from keyboardist Sheldon Bernard, the legendary Beres Hammond, and producer Donovan Bennett she released her first singles. This led to her debut album entitled “New Name” which was produced by Rory ‘Stone Love’ Gilligan.

'We Ready Fi Di Feeling"

The song immediately presents celestial like horns calling for the attention of the listener and Jah 9 gets straight to the point from the first line 'Tell me what you ready for' and then the song goes straight into the chorus laying down the core message for the listener.

'We ready fi di feeling no' 
'We never gonna be let down no' 
'We ready fi go seal it no' 

This immediately sets a positive vibe drawing the listener in who is then primed for Jah9 to then expand on the message.

Jah9, reggae, reggae artist, reggae music, in concert

The lyrics set out and reason the challenges and strengths that can be experienced before you can be a soldier to 'Battle for a Brighter Day'. Jah9 drives the sentiment with a genuine quality that makes the listener feel these are not just lyrics but a heartfelt call to action. The driving riddim helps to underpin this call to action and Jah9 uses the energy of the track in her vocals so that the lyrics feel meaningful even before you absorb the message behind them.

Jah9's love of dub is reflected in the production. Mainly drum and bass with some colour by the piano and Hammond sounding organ give a platform and space for Jah9's lyrics to be clearly heard and not clash with the riddim. This style is reminiscent of dub instrumentals from the seventies and eighties like Bunny Lee's Aggrovators but the electronic bass gives the riddim a modern feel.

This is a song that I would listen to with no distractions so that I could fully absorb the lyrics. You need to play it several times to capture the essence and meaning of the individual lines. Jah9 does not pad out this song all the lyrics are meant to impart knowledge or enlighten. For fans of Jah9 and fans of conscious reggae, this song delivers the content and elements the listener would expect to find.

A conscious song, listen to clear your mind and focus on your potential so that you can be 'ready fi di feeling'.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Reggae A Global Cultural Treasure UNESCO


So, finally it's official, reggae is a global phenomenon "worthy of protecting and promoting".

UNESCO Announcement (youtube video)

Reggae has been added to a list of international cultural treasures by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) The UNESCO committees meet annually to evaluate nominations and decide whether or not to inscribe them on the list, which began in 2008.
Many of us will be wondering what took them so long as we have been preaching that reggae is the voice of the people for many years.
reggae global cultural heritage
In UNESCO's opinion reggae music's
"contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual".
I think what they mean is reggae is the voice of the people and from its creation to the current day stands for inequality and injustice. Peace, love, overstanding and Jah Rastafari!

  UNESCO also added: "The basic social functions of the music - as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God - have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all."

Jamaica can be truly proud of this formal recognition, Olivia Grange, Jamaica's Culture Minister said "Reggae is uniquely Jamaican," "It is a music that we have created that has penetrated all corners of the world." 
She also added "This is a historic day. We are very, very happy," "Anywhere you go and say you're from Jamaica, they answer 'Bob Marley'."

For all the praises that the Jamaican government has now showered on reggae music, I hope this also translates into tangible support for the industry and the artists themselves. Many of whom could use some funding.

Reggae global cultural treasure peace love
The music grew from the inequalities that existed in the 1960s in Jamaica and became a vehicle to express these issues. Many of the foundation reggae artists are no longer with us but their legacy truly leaves on.

Although reggae now has sub-genres like dub, dancehall and lovers rock. Conscious roots reggae is still at the heart of reggae's DNA.

This is because the world still has many issues to resolve and many people are touched by these issues one way or another. So when the lyrics and music of reggae speak to them there is a genuine connection. That is what has made reggae unique, it is GENUINE. When reggae songs of unity, equality and peace are created, people know that this is not a 'joke ting' reggae was born with the intention to be the voice of the unheard and bring these matters out into the open.

As issues of social injustice are not likely to end any time soon, conscious reggae is still relevant now and will be in the future. To me, after nearly 50 years, UNESCO's inclusion of reggae in its list is a statement that the ideals that conscious reggae supports are "worthy of protecting and promoting". I hope this is recognized globally and nationally.

BBC 1Xtra reggae presenter Dave Rodigan said "it (reggae) speaks out for the underprivileged, it speaks out against social injustice. Reggae music is the original rebels' music immortalised by Bob Marley at the Wailers."

As mentioned before, many reggae artists have left their legacy on the history of reggae music, but Bob Marley took the exposure of reggae music to another level. As both Jamaica's culture minister, Olivia Grange and David Rodigan hinted, Bob Marley is synonymous with reggae the world over.

In 2016 Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was awarded to Dylan for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition" If Bob Marley was alive today I think he would have also have been awarded the prize as his legacy mirrors reggae's contribution to the world.

As UNESCO stated, "The basic social functions of the music - as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God - have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all."

Amen to that.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

How to be a Successful Music Maker

music maker


"Your dream of turning your lyrics, song or beat into a real product that you can unleash on the world is a reality"

Once upon a time, the title of this blog post would have been fantasy. However, technology has enabled consumers to listen to music in different ways and music makers can have direct access to their fans.

Fans want music on demand and they want good new music. There is a market out there for your musical ideas. You just need to be able to turn it from idea to a digital product. There are different skill sets required to achieve this and certain decisions need to be made but we’ll discuss this later.

We’ll discuss 5 key points that will be the foundation for your success. The takeaway from this is that your dream of turning your lyrics, song or beat into a real product that you can unleash on the world is a reality.

1. Having the Right Mindset

I am sure that you have heard the phrase ‘It’s all in the mind’ but the truth of the matter is that to be successful, it is, all about the mindset. If you read any of the ‘how to be successful’ or motivational books out there, they will all emphasise this point so I won’t dwell on the research here.

The reason why it is so important is that it will decide whether you complete your musical journey. The downside of technology removing technical obstacles is that the relevant tasks will be your responsibility to fulfil. Unless you hit the jackpot very early, the journey can be a long one. It takes determination to continue when things aren’t going your way.

quote about making music

2. Evaluate Yourself and Your Ambitions

So you know you have what it takes to see it to the end. The next step is to evaluate. The modern-day artist and producer are not only music makers but the owner of a business. Some things to evaluate are:
  • Do I have the level of skill needed 
  • How will I acquire missing skills 
  • Is there a demand for my genre/style
  • How and where will I produce my music 
  • What budget can I allocate to the project

The answers to these questions give you a picture of your undertaking, what lies ahead, who else you may need to assist you. It is important that you have this picture as this will enable you to set realistic goals. This last point is important be REALISTIC.

3. Start Improving Your Skill Set and Knowledge

Now that you have your goals set this is the time to do some research. None of us has the answers to everything (if you do you are wasting your time reading this post). Your goals could be achieved in different ways so this is the time to find out your options.

Whatever your goals it is highly unlikely that you are the first person to try, so put in some research.
  • Join Facebook groups and Google+ communities of your niche
  • Reach out to fellow artists and producers that may already have travelled your road (but be mindful their experience does not mean the same experience for you, positive or negative)
  • What skills do I improve and what do I outsource e.g. mix and mastering.
It is important to evaluate your options as the wrong option could incur you needless expense.

4. Create and Implement your Plan

Planning to make a song

This is the key to delivering the goals you previously set out. This doesn’t have to be on a special app or in a special format, a spreadsheet will do or a word document or even post-it notes. It is the content that matters. It should contain: 
  • A list of activities and tasks, 
  • Each activity is given a completion date
  • Each activity is assigned to someone (in many cases yourself), 
  • Estimated costs for each activity.
The key here is to stick to the plan. When you devise it make the dates and costs realistic. Don’t make the tasks large, make them small. It is amazing the lift it gives when you can tick off tasks as complete. It is the best motivator.

5. Get your Music Out There

To build your reputation, brand and following, your music needs to be out there. Don’t take yourself too seriously because at the start no one else is. If you try and create perfection and take two years to fix that last 2% you may well be pleased but, your journey is going to be very long.

crowd waiting for the music maker

Do the best you can with the resources you have but get your music out there! You must mix and master your track to compete and also for submission to radio stations, but regular output is the key to gaining a following. A quote that's worth remembering:

quote about being  music maker

Good luck with your project.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

David Rodigan Reggae Fever BBCFour

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Firstly, I 'd like to congratulate David Rodigan on 40 years in the business. That is some achievement in the fast changing world that we live in. For most reggae lovers living through the period, David Rodigan would definitely have played a part in your journey.

Reggae Fever Back in the Day 

The film and the commentators definitely gave a feel of what it was like at the time being young and black and even David Rodigan's re-telling of his interview for BBC Radio London gave an indication of the political and social environment at the time. 

Let me explain, I have no doubt David Rodigan's knowledge of reggae was deep but, the fact that he got the job when the station was specifically looking for a black presenter, says more about the parlous state of the black community, confidence was low, especially among young blacks, but this was about to change (I'll come back to this later). However, thanks to David Rodigan's drive to play the latest reggae his weekly show was a highlight of the week.

This period was also the time that my love for reggae moved into something more tangible with the forming of a band with my brothers and friends called The Instigators.

black echoes, fatman, sound system, tottenham, reggae band,
Exert from Black Echoes Newspaper
We had a strict Jamaican upbringing. However, our father always instilled in us a pride in our Jamaican heritage and a confidence to succeed. My brothers Leroy and Dave had no doubt that we would be successful, though being the eldest I had my doubts.

the instigators, reggae band, british reggae, mafia and fluxy,
The Instigators

Homegrown British reggae, at the time, was still finding its feet and was looked down upon as not being authentic, even by the British reggae media. 

This is where David Rodigan first made an impact on our future. As David Rodigan mentioned, one of the big sound systems at the time that he followed was 'Fatman' sound system. It was Fatman who took us under his wing and brought us to the studio to record.

We laid down the rhythm tracks for Fatman's album 'Late Night Session' with two DJs from Fatman's sound Roy Ranking and Raymond Naptali. As the press cutting shows, no-one believed the tracks were laid down by a British band even the renowned David Rodigan.

This reticence to believe by David Rodigan raised awareness of the band. This was his influence in the British reggae arena and as the film showed he was not afraid to enter the Jamaican reggae arena to make his mark. That takes courage and confidence I can assure you.

Roots Reggae - Rise in Consciousness and Confidence

As mentioned before, the film showed some of the social background during the rise of British reggae. There were periods of rebellion but a growing identity which increased confidence and was being reflected in the music by bands such as Aswad and Steel Pulse. As the film stated, this was accompanied by the rise of Rastafari in Jamaica and the influence this had on the music with the emergence of 'Roots Reggae'  or 'Conscious Reggae'.

This confidence in taking on the system and the demand to hear reggae music led to the emergence of 'pirate' radio stations. These were unofficial radio stations broadcasting reggae to local communities. Eventually, with a change in government policy, some of these became licensed. But, as ever, David Rodigan was still there.

Jamaica was still the centre of reggae creativity, but British reggae was growing in confidence. So, it was interesting seeing David Rodigan going into the lion's den of Jamaica to take on the great Jamaican sound systems in sound clashes and holding his own. This mirrored another step into the lion's den by my brothers Leroy and Dave who had now become Mafia & Fluxy, the most prolific drum and bass 'riddim' section in Britain. 

David Rodigan, Mafia and Fluxy, reggae artists, radio dj,
David Rodigan with Mafia & Fluxy
A sub-genre of reggae had emerged 'Dancehall'  led by Steely & Clevie from Jamaica. Hit upon hit was being produced by the Jamaican duo. British reggae was playing catchup and this continued the myth that authentic reggae could not come out of Britain.

Mafia & Fluxy were alive to the new sound and accepted the challenge, starting to produce their own dancehall productions. Soon, however, the reputation of Mafia and Fluxy had caught the attention of Jamaican studio owners and they were brought over to:

" mek wi see wha de English man dem can do"

The story is for another time but ends with Mafia & Fluxy in high demand and the myth that authentic reggae could not be played by British musicians disproved forever.

Breaking the Mould

To me, this is the story of David Rodigan a white male who loved reggae music and Jamaican culture in a time of social upheaval, divisions and suspicion and just did his thing, breaking the perceived mould of a 'real' reggae music lover.

Now, reggae is truly global, with white reggae bands like Rebelution in the US having huge followings. Reggae is now no longer 'owned' by a racial group it now belongs to everyone, as it should be. It has spawned new genres like Drum and Bass, Dub Step, EDM. Reggae itself has sub-genres Roots & Culture, Dub, Lovers Rock, Dancehall, Reggae Fusion. 

David Rodigan is still here, still loving reggae music, still doing his thing for over 40 years. No one can say he hasn't earned the respect of his peers and reggae lovers globally. He gave us the opportunity to hear reggae music on radio during a time when reggae airplay was almost non-existent. 

For that, I salute you Mr Rodigan.


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Sunday, November 11, 2018

New Music and the Story of the Song Lyrics

New music stay tuned
        website logo


I thought it was time for an update on what's going on, as Marvin Gaye and Delroy Wilson would say.

Well, Dingazz Music released the song 'One' in October which is a collaboration with Jackie Scales a vocalist from the US. I wanted a bit of an urban feel to the song and Jackie's singing style was what I was looking for. If you haven't heard it the theme is that we can all make a difference 'it only needs one to make a stand'.  You can hear it here.

If you follow my music you know that my songs normally have a message. Not an in your face message, that's not my style, but more in the way of ' have a think about what I just said'. Anyway, the next single is in production and is another collaboration.  

The last two singles have been collaborations as I wanted them to have someone else's spin on the lyrics. Also, to have a different dynamic in the vocal. For me, it just adds to the creative content of the song. However, this time I am collaborating with a Jamaican vocalist and musician with great talent. 

I was trying to decide on the vocal style for this song and had a few vocalists in mind when I came across a couple of his demos. His style suited the song so we made contact and went from there. As part of the pre-release promo, I'll be doing an interview with him so keep following this blog. You'll also be the first to see a preview of the video. Hopefully, to be added to your YouTube music playlist 🤞.

The song is a roots reggae track and the working title is 'Every Decision'. I originally wrote the song lyrics in 2014 but I was never satisfied with the verses and the storytelling. So, I moved on, it was in my list of songs and I came back to it every now and then. However, I liked the chorus and wanted to finish it so the verses have been re-written and it's pretty much a new song. If you are a songwriter you will understand the struggle with song lyrics, if not, this is a little insight into my creative process.

The song idea really came from some the dramatic events that were occurring at the time worldwide like terrorist attacks, mass shootings and air crashes. In all these events you would always hear a comment from someone who made a decision or circumstance dictated an alternative action which meant they avoided the event. This led me to the first line of the Chorus:

"Every decision that I make still shapes my destiny"

 From that one line came the rest of the chorus. I then just had to write the verses and that is where the struggle started.

The song is not melancholy, in fact, its mid-tempo with a hook and is more about taking control of life and making the most of it. The last line of the chorus is:

"Live today like it's the only day I'll see how life turns out for me" 

So that's the story of the song lyrics. I am really looking forward to finally getting the song out there. I feel it is a message worth telling. More details in upcoming posts. 
Here's to more music and new music.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Is Dub Music the New EDM ?

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Dub music is one of the great reggae inventions believed to be created by legendary Jamaican innovator and mixing engineer Osbourne Ruddock better known as 'King Tubby' in the late 60's. With the early reggae singles (this is the time of vinyl) it was common not to have a 'B side'. Instead, there would be a 'Version', which, was basically an instrumental version of the vocal A side.

dub visual in red gold and green

These early innovators took these instrumentals and 'remixed' them using whatever effects were available at the time, mainly reverb and decay or 'Echo'. With the drum and bass centre stage small extracts of the vocals were then mixed in. In these early days of Dub the mixing engineer was the creative force. They were eventually held in as high or greater esteem than the singer or composer.

Dub music become a reggae sub-genre in its own right with albums of roots reggae Dub only tracks created by sound engineers and producers, like the legendary Lee Scratch Perry, King Jammy and Errol Thompson. This creation of mainly instrumental music by sound engineers and producers spawned many similar music genres that exist today. This early remixing was the forerunner to music genres such as hip hop, trance, techno and EDM.

This leads me on to the question 'Is Dub Music the New EDM'? What I mean by this is that dub as a sub genre of reggae would be considered niche and has its core following in sound system culture. EDM (Electronic Dance Music) has moved into the mainstream with a huge following and events like SEMF (Stuttgart Electronic Music Festival) where tens of thousands of followers attend.

The popularity of electronic music has meant that dub music has attracted followers who may not have come via the reggae route. The dub reggae producers have not been slow to recognize the opportunity available and there has been a move towards producing tracks with a danceable tempo. One of the great sound system owners and producers, Jah Shaka, has been doing this for years and he is now in high demand all over the world. So, is dub music finally reaping the rewards from its innovations to reach the popularity of its derivatives like EDM music?

Well in Europe, in particular, dub music festivals are springing up. One of the best was a great festival held over the Easter period in Bigastro, Alicante, Spain, The International Dub Gathering dedicated specifically to dub music and  the sound system culture. It was a three day event and included sound systems from Europe, UK and Jamaica. including Jah Shaka, Channel One, GreenLight, Mafia & Fluxy and Blackboard Jungle to name a few.

dub festival

I was there on day three of the festival and it seemed very well organized, which was to be expected, as the organizers included the Rototom reggae festival team. Thousands of dub lovers attended with the 2018 edition being its third year. You could move around freely listening and dancing to the 'riddims' played by different sound systems.

For me this was great to see. A form of music created nearly fifty years ago that gave birth to other music genres, finally coming into its own on a global scale. Long may it continue.
King Tubby would be truly proud of his creation.

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Robert Nesta Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981)

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So much has already been written about Bob Marley. Thirty six years after his death his influence still lives on all over the world. Personally, he has had the greatest influence on my musical journey for many reasons. I clearly remember when Bob Marley got shot seeing this as a news item on the BBC news. It was at that moment that I realized what a global star Bob Marley had become.

As with many great people their time in this world can only be put in context when they are gone. The influence Bob Marley had on reggae cannot be understated and even now there is no one artist who can claim to pick up the mantle he left and take reggae to new heights.

One of my early memories of Bob Marley, which really sealed his greatness in my eyes, was seeing Bob Marley on the main news bulletin. Back then, a black man with dreadlocks on the news was less frequent than a lunar eclipse. Anyway, the main impact he left on me was the power of music. He proved that music really can change things, it is some thing that can bring the most diverse personalities together. It can be a banner to focus the mind as we saw in the UK with the 'BandAid' concerts. This is something that is always at the back of my mind when I am songwriting. The song isn't just words it is creative energy that can grow and lead to change on a personal level or any other level.

In 2016 Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was awarded to Dylan for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". There's no doubt that for 50 years Dylan has been writing songs that include socially conscious topics. However, if the award was to be based on conscious lyrics, then, I am sure that Bob Marley would be right up there.

Although, he is no longer with us physically Bob Marley's words of wisdom are constantly quoted on the internet and are still a source of inspiration. One thing this all proves is the power that music has to touch people and from this feeling can come forth action. 

When I review the news with the focus on the negative stuff going on in the world. It reminds me of my formative years, similar to now, a lot of focus on division. Then reggae was a voice for positive energy and Bob Marley was at his peak and reggae was spreading all over the world.

It is different now reggae has many sub-genres, Dancehall, Lovers Rock, Roots & Culture, Dub etc. But the time has come for us reggae songwriters, musicians and producers to put even more focus on sending positive messages, no matter how hard it is to get exposure for the music. With the help of listeners, fans and like-minded people we can succeed.

Thank you Bob Marley for the enlightenment, you live on in the songs of peace, love and reggae. As you once said "Love the life you live and live the life you love"


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Music Promotion Paid or Organic Traffic

music promotion pain or organic traffic blog post

Being an indie artist can be an enlightening experience but sometimes delusional.  Click to Tweet

To succeed we definitely need real self belief. It takes a lot to put so much into a creation and then put it out there to be praised, criticized or worst of all ignored. I know when I release a track I want to see it reach the four corners of the world ( just a metaphor, round, flat, square earth is for another blog) . We all have a goal for our creative work that is not always reached, but one thing I try to remember as an indie is the following quote.

quote indie artist music promotion

However, in trying to meet that goal there are options when it comes to music promotion and in this blog post I will discuss some of these.

Music Promotion Paid or Organic Traffic

Paid (non-organic) or pure organic traffic what does this mean?

  • Paid traffic is when you have decided to pay for your creative work to be boosted (this may be to real or fake listeners) 
  • Paid organic traffic is when you have decided to pay for your creative work to be boosted and it becomes visible directly to potential fans who may then engage.
  • Organic traffic is where  consumers of music happen across your work on their usual platforms without any direct prompting which leads to some sort of engagement e.g. play, like, comment.

Which of these options you choose to pursue depends on your objectives and where you are on your marketing timeline. So let's take a look at some of these.

Early Plays and Likes

Personally, I have made a decision on this topic, which I'll come to below, due to my early experiences promoting my tracks. I remember for my early singles looking at the Soundcloud plays and not being happy with the numbers. Then thinking, I'll give the song a boost with some paid plays which then made the Soundcloud plays look better. But my objective was to grow real fans so I knew I was only deluding myself. I have read some blogs where they say having a base number of plays then helps organic growth, this may be true in some cases, but personally, I can't confirm this. In the end your stats become meaningless.

This is the same for non-organic paid likes, other than trying to give an impression of fan engagement to others, they offer no real insight.

However, there us definitely a place for boosting plays but, I now only use paid organic services. Then at least I can get some insight from any engagement and use this going forward. 

Increasing Reach 

music promotion visual

Paid Advertising Services

As you know there are many social media platforms out there enticing us to use their services and spend money advertising our product. I first used paid advertising on Google Ads, Facebook and Twitter Ads to generally try and increase brand awareness. For me, due to a limited budget, I didn't see any real gains. Now I use them for specific projects or events as I think this is the best use of my funds as the advertising is targeted. This is a matter of judgement and depends on your status, marketing budget and fanbase. 

Paying to gain reach, when you have a product to sell, is something that, I believe, is going to become standard on  many platforms. Facebook, in particular, has already changed it's algorithm to make it difficult  for 'pages' to have any worthwhile reach without 'boosting' a post. At the end of the day this something we cannot get away from unless we pursue pure organic traffic, which I will get to in a moment.

Engage Music Promotion Services

Depending on your expertise technically and / or in using music promotion apps or platforms, you may feel that it is more effective to engage marketing professionals. There are many music promotion services out there so do your research. They need to be offering something more than ' I have 1 million followers'. So what! None of them may like your music (worst case scenario 🙂). So here are some things to look out for:

  • Check out their websites ( if these don't look professional, need I say more)
  • What are the artist reviews saying, are there any independent reviews.
  • What are they offering other than tweeting, posting to their followers. For example, interviews, blog or magazine placement, playlisting etc.
  • Are any placements permanent.
  • What platforms will their music promotion cover
  • What is their reach, national or global and where is their main catchment/
  • Can they offer targeted promotion for your genre
  • Is the music promotion campaign organic (Important!)

These are all points you need answers to before you invest your hard earned cash. This will help maximize your return on investment (see the side bar for useful music promotion services or click this link Music Promotion

Radio Airplay

This is still an important outlet for our music and there is nothing quite like hearing your song on the radio. You can cold call radio stations or pay for airplay. You may want to read an earlier blog post specifically on radio airplay for more information on these options. Radio Airplay

Generating Organic Traffic

Social Media

This is something that is an ongoing learning experience as everyday, if you search the internet, there are tips on how best to generate organic traffic. The thing is, as I have stated before, we indies have to wear many hats, only one of which is the marketing hat. So there is only so much time we can spend on music promotion, no matter how important it is, so we have to make the best use of this time. Or get someone else to do it.

However, generating organic traffic is probably already part of your routine, the success of which, usually depends on how much effort you put in. There are some main areas of focus that seem to be aligned among commentators, including myself.

  • Identify Key Influencers in Your Niche. These tend to have many followers and this asset can be used to increase your own following. There are apps out there that enable you to follow the followers of your key influencers e.g. Tweetdeck. As you are in the same niche a percentage of these will follow you back and continue to engage.
  • Join Groups or Forums in Your Niche. If you are part of a larger group with the same interests, then it is likely that what you have to offer will be of interest to at least some members of the group.
  • Be Active on Social Media. In order for the actions taken in the above points to be effective you need to be active. By this I mean you need to comment and like on the posts of influencers and fellow group or forum members. Be seen and contribute, this raises your profile and standing.
  • Add Value.  This means giving value and quality. A comment to a video of 'Awesome' doesn't add value and can appear to be 'bot' driven. Give a meaningful contribution like ' I liked the way the vocals added a twist to the solid rhythm track. Great production'. Add value rather than sell. This will lead to curiosity about your channel, blog or website.
  • Call to Action. On your own platform, whether this be a Facebook page, blog or website, this is where you should shout out loud your call to action. As the saying goes 'Don't ask don't get'. Make sure visitors have and can see a clear request from you whether this is to buy your song, like the page, visit another of your sites. This also works well when adding value by, maybe, offering something free in exchange for taking the action.

The above points are activities that can be done without incurring any costs, all you need is time and resources. This can work just as well or even better than paid services.

The Personal Touch

The relationship between artist and listener / fan has changed over the last decade. Where once the main contribution of a fan to the artist was the purchase of singles and albums we all know that with the advent of streaming technology an artist can't just rely on these sales (I also cover this in another blog post Free downloads! Is this the future? ) . However, engaging more with your fanbase can add so much more to your music promotion campaign by getting music promotion free from your fans.

  • Competitions By creating a competition  around a song or album you create a buzz that will be shared between friends especially if you can make this based around an image or video. For example,  an image taken at gig with a caption competition or best photo with the band logo t-shirt or best fan cover version of your song. This is social media in action driven by your fans.
  • Engagement in the Songwriting or Production Process. This can be anything from naming the title of the song, including a line in the song provided by a fan, doing a couple of mixes and getting feedback on the most popular version. Fans like to share and the more they share the more buzz that is created.
  • Create an Event There are concert and event apps including Facebook where you can publicize upcoming gigs or an album launch. This gives you the chance to offer giveaways to top fans but also lets your fans start sharing the event and creating a buzz.

Obviously, the above depends on the size of your fanbase, but the personal touch is also a great way to increase your fanbase. In fact, a smaller fanbase allows you to spend more time offering your top fans the insight they are looking for.

Music promotion whether paid or purely organic has its biggest impact when the product, your creative work, is the best you can make it with the resources you have. So at the end of the day creativity has to come first and remain something you enjoy and are proud of. Otherwise, you won't have the drive for all the other stuff. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

FREE Downloads! Is this the Future?

example of the music service


Free music downloads is this where the music industry is heading. As Sam Cooke once sung 'A Change is Gonna Come'. The music industry is unrecognizable from 30 years ago as technology has been a catalyst for change, an enabler. As with all change there are those that fight it and those that embrace it. However, history has shown that those that embrace change are likely to benefit from the upheaval and as creators of music, I believe this is the best path to follow. I'll explain my reasoning in a minute.

As I said above technology has been an enabler and not just from a music production perspective. When I first got into the industry the executive power, the makers and breakers, was in the hands of the few. This included

a) How business was conducted
b) In what form music was produced
c) Where you could listen to it.

Because of this many signed artists did not benefit as they should have also talented creators of music were excluded and were just not visible. Fans could not get access to the music or their heroes as much as they would like and there wasn't a mechanism for change. So the industry model was, the labels made the stars and controlled their revenue streams, the fans hear only what the labels put out and pay for the privilege.

As one of the reggae greats Delroy Wilson sung ' Better Must Come' and I think it did and will continue doing so. Why? Technology and knowledge has advanced at a rate that meant music production and music broadcasting was within the reach of many (better). Music creators could communicate directly with those that held the purse strings, the fans (better). Now the next point is where fight change or embrace it comes in. Because of technological innovation fans had options around where they could listen to music and whether they wanted a physical representation of the music (maybe not so better). Historically, this was the main way that fans showed their appreciation to the artist, buying the single or the album.

example of future direction

Those that monitor music trends seem to suggest that music downloads are on a downward spiral. However, as creators of music let's embrace it. So the fans may want free music downloads, does that mean we are all doomed? I don't think so. 

There is an insatiable desire for new music and those of you with a strong fanbase know those fans want more and more importantly are willing to HELP you deliver more music to them. Be this by paying to go to your gigs, buying merchandise, crowd funding your new project, market your songs (social media sharing), paying for personalized productions, meet and greet etc.

The power balance has shifted and everyone is trying to keep up with the trends in music production and promotion. The time when buying the artist's single or album as the main contribution by the fans to the artist's success is over. Fans are still with us we just have to embrace their needs, where we can, as well as the change that they drive. Then 'Better Must Come'.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

How To Get Radio Airplay

radio airplay


How to get radio airplay? I can tell you that was the first question on my mind when I was near to finalizing the production of my first single. This is where belief in your creation can waver, when your rational mind starts throwing doubt about:

"there are millions of songs out there", 
"I'm competing against established stars", 
" the DJs don't know who I am".

This is when you need to hold firm and BELIEVE.

"Hey there are thousands of radio stations out there"
"There are radio stations specializing in new indie music"
"I've come this far I can't stop now"

Once you are at this point you are ready to roll.


How to Get Radio Airplay

Let's start with the main radio station types out there.
  • There are the big national and international stations whose playlists are pretty much dictated by their big clients
  • Other FM stations that my be monitored by the charting companies
  • FM stations un-monitored
  • Internet Radio stations monitored / un-monitored
  • College Radio
  • Community Radio
So right away we can see there is no need for reliance on the big stations to get exposure initially. So, how to get radio airplay depends on your objective and your status. In this blog I am going to assume 1) you are not already a superstar and that most of the marketing effort is being carried out by the artist/band 2) the main objective is to just get airplay.

The Cold Call

This is always an option and I found that a two pronged approach is best for efficiency rather than doing everything yourself.  As with ALL marketing some things you can do cost nothing other things need you to invest some cash.
As an Indie I did not have time to collate and send out mass emails to hundreds of radio stations who probably have spam filters on. You have to do a bit of research, but I start out with a campaign with one of the music promotion service companies out there. This does not cost an arm and a leg and the better ones will usual include a mail shot to hundreds of DJs and radio stations. This leaves time to do some specific and more personal cold calling to radio stations. This will be to either niche radio stations that I know about or radio stations that I know play my genre. This makes it easier to be relevant when you make contact.

Not all stations have submission pages. For example, if you do an internet search for, say, 'submit music' a lot of stations may not come up as a 'hit'. I found an alternative approach more useful which was to use Twitter. Do a search on Twitter for radio stations in your genre and 'follow' them. Then, when you have your marketing hat on you now have a 'database' to start from.

Time is precious, so this approach enables you to a) see if there is any activity on Twitter (when last did they tweet, no activity for months would put them way down on my list). Also, there will usually be a link to their website on their profile. From there you can see if they have submission or contact details. In many cases it is just a contact / message page. But don't let this stop you as I have had success from just sending a message. Remember there is competition for good new music.

I use links in my messages not attachments as this is quicker for sending messages and easier for the recipient to preview and download if interested. Use whatever cloud based storage is appropriate e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. These should be links to, the song, cover art, website if available. If you have these links on a document, then. it is easy to cut and paste these into the messages.

Paid Radio Airplay

This is another way to get radio airplay and using this option will depend on your budget, objectives and timelines. It does work however, this can be fraught with danger. Not physical, but the spend my hard earned money with nothing in return type of danger, as I have found to my cost. This option doesn't need to blow the marketing budget. The services / stations are actively looking for Indie submissions and will have several promotion packages available one likely to suit your budget..

Many services advertise radio spins, radio promo, guaranteed radio airplay but there is an element of trust when procuring these services as there are those who are quite willing to take your money for minimal or no return. At the same time, there are some really good services out there and below are the things I look for in order to reduce the reliance on trust. If you can tick the boxes on most of these, then, it's a good start in ensuring you will receive the service you expect.
  • Do they have a twitter @handle
  • Have they posted recently? When was the last time they tweeted
  • Do they offer to tag you in a post when the song is playing (check their posts for other artists)
  • Will they actively promote / mention your song? (check their Twitter and Instagram feed for other artists)
  • Do they offer you the schedule for the spins? (which show, how many times a day).
  • Do they mention the artist or just include the song on rotation? (this depends on what exposure you are looking for)
  • Are their shows available for download e.g. on their website, Mixcloud, Spreaker etc?
  • Do they offer proof of delivery?
  • Are the reviews good? What are other artists / producers saying? (it's unlikely you will be the first to use them)
I am not saying that everything listed above must be in place but, in my experience, the best services will have a tick against most of the above.

Check out these examples ( I have no stake in these services or receive any remuneration from them, only that I have used them successfully for my genre).

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What's Space Got to Do With Digital Music Distribution

website logo


Well, I'm not talking about the last frontier.  While doing a bit of an audit on the digital music distribution platforms that my songs are on, I realised I couldn't find all my tracks on my artist page. I did a search of the missing tracks and they were there on the stores. So what was going on? 

At first I thought this was a mess up by the store. So I started comparing the major platforms, iTunes, Amazon , Spotify and Deezer. Except Spotify, they all had the songs on a separate artist page. So, then I logged into my account with the distributor and looked at the release details for each track. When I looked closely at the track details there was a subtle difference some had 'Miss Tun Pickney' and others 'MissTun Pickney'. One with a space between 'Miss' and 'Tun' the other without. Just a missing space but what problems it created!

MP3 Download-Artist Page
Miss Tun Pickney Artist page
I contacted the distributor and asked them to rectify this as the artist page was wrong for four tracks and I could not believe that I would have made the same typo four times. However, they begged to differ and made it clear that what was done was done and that I only had two options, explained below.

I still do not believe that I made that error four times and looking back at the release process it really was a check the details, click the send button and that's it. Now I know the onus is on the artist to get the details right but, it would have been nice to have a 'Are you really really sure' pop up window  like they have on most apps when you are going to delete something.Anyway, we agreed to disagree, though I knew that I only had the two options I was given. However, this didn't stop me from deciding to change to a different distribution company.

The process with this new distributor was much more robust. You entered the track details and clicked send as usual but, this was just an interim step. You then received an email confirming your wish to release the track with a request to double check the release details. Finally, you received a final email asking for you to approve the track for release with another request to check the details. For me, this was a much more artist friendly approach.

So what Are the options to Fix an Artist Page?

A. Contact each store individually. This as you can imagine would be a nightmare unless you only distributed your song to a small number of stores. Even then, unless, they have Artist services e.g. Spotify for Artists, it is difficult to get a response.

B. Take down the song and distribute again.  This means cancelling the distribution with your distribution company and creating another distribution (another fee and UPC). The stores take down the original entry and add the new entry. 

I tried A. with Apple Music and they sorted it. But I had subscribed to their beta Apple for Artists. So contacting them was easier. In the end option B. was easier for me. I was told that  the streaming stats would be lost. But I found that the history continued on the new distribution, in the case of Spotify anyway. But it was a lesson learnt. I now TRIPLE CHECK, CHECK and CHECK AGAIN all the song details before clicking that final approval button.

Keep feeling the vibe