For the last few days I’ve been firing out emails to music journalists, radio DJs and bloggers to let them know about my latest album, ‘The Quiet in the Land‘.
Even in this era of Facebook and Twitter it can still be worthwhile contacting press and radio about my new music but it’s a time-consuming and often thankless task; if I get a reply from one person out of ten that’s usually pretty good progress.
It involves researching who the best people are to send my music to (for example, my new album is not going to get playlisted by daytime Radio 2), scouring the internet for email addresses, crafting a witty & interesting email that I hope will stand out from the million other emails the recipient is going to receive that day, lots of cutting & pasting, hoping I’ve made the email personal enough, hoping mates I have in the media won’t be offended by what could be seen as me taking advantage of our friendship, and always making sure I’ve written the correct name at the top of the email (a mistake I’ve made more than once in the past!).
Of course I could hire a PR firm to do this stuff for me, as I did with my last album, but it’s not cheap, and this time around isn’t something I could afford.
The thing is, as much as journos, DJs and bloggers still have a lot of influence in the music industry (whatever that is) there is nothing quite as powerful, interesting and encouraging as a little bit of word-of-mouth.
And that is why you, dear reader, are so important to us independent musicians. We don’t have a lot of cash, we don’t have big record labels, agents & PR companies at our disposal, and most of us don’t have agents or managers. But we do have you
This lack of your typical ‘old-school-music-industry-backing’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing of course – I totally agree with my friend Steve when he says that now is the best time ever to be an independent musician. We can record our music relatively cheaply, put our music up on Bandcamp for the whole world to hear and download, and we can use social media to tell people about it. It’s really quite staggering how much things have improved even since I put out my first 7″ single in 2000.
But where things get really interesting is when people (i.e. you) pro-actively choose to share our music around simply by telling other people about it.
For example, here’s the new double A-side single by Tall Tales (that I LOVE) which they’ve put up for sale on Bandcamp:
On Facebook, all you have to do is put the website link into your ‘Update Status’ box and a little music player will automatically embed itself into your update (the same thing will also happen if you simply click the ‘Like’ button on their Bandcamp page). Then all your Facebook friends can just press play and have a listen to this amazing single without even leaving Facebook. And if they like it, they can download it, and maybe they’ll even go on to tell other people about it.
And then there’s always Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, your blog, etc etc … and of course you could even revert to actual word of mouth
Another great thing about sharing music is that it’s always incredibly encouraging as a musician to know that your music has connected with someone on a deep enough level to make them want to share it with someone else.
My favourite music gear magazine Tape Op have a rule of only reviewing gear they actually like. If they don’t think it’s good, then as far as they’re concerned it’s not worth writing about (if only all music critics would take this philosophy on board!).
So if you hear something you like, whether it’s my music or someone else’s, please do the musician a favour and tell other people about it – it makes a huge difference to us as indie musicians and, at the risk of overdoing it, it fills people’s lives with beautiful, creative and innovative music. Which can’t be a bad thing, can it?
So here’s some of my suggestions of amazing music for you:
Steve Lawson’s brand new album of solo-bass ambient improvisation, ‘Believe in Peace‘:
Jo Mango’s beautifully quiet 10″ single, ‘The Moth & the Moon / The Black Sun‘:
Chris Schlarb’s atmospheric ‘Twilight & Ghost Stories‘:
This EP by Brooklyn’s Numbers & Letters, who played a gig in my house last year:
This lo-fi pop genius by Pulco:
This spooky piano-led soundtrack by Thee Golden Ratio:
And, of course, my new album (had to get in here somewhere, didn’t I?):
So, what music have you heard recently that is awesome?