While sharing your music has become easier, getting it into the ears of those who matter has become increasingly difficult. Here we look at four steps for how artists can make their music stand out and catch the interest of industry tastemakers.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
Everyone wants to discover the next superstar artist, and every young artist wants to be the next big thing. We’ll help you stand out in four steps or less. Just make sure the music is good.
It has never been easier to share your music than it is right now. At the same time, however, it has never been more challenging to reach the people in positions of influence. With the barrier to entry into the music marketplace at an all-time low, aspiring talent has flooded the industry with music they believe could change the world. No one has time to listen to everything, but everyone who is anyone receives constant requests for their attention.
As a music critic and journalist myself, it is not unusual to receive more than one-hundred emails per day. During busier times of the year, such as October, that number can quickly rise above the two-hundred email mark. I want to claim that I find time to listen to everything, but that would be a lie. I look at what I know first, and then I try new things, but only if there is enough time (and there is rarely enough time).
When I speak at conferences and colleges, musicians and aspiring music professionals ask how they can cut through the noise. They yearn for a simple, secret solution that the public doesn’t know about, but no such tool or trick exists. What I tell them instead is what works for me, which is not unlike what works on everyone else. The advice may seem simple, but it is useful.
First impressions matter
You would not believe the number of artists who blindly send their music to tastemakers every single day without as much as an introductory email. These releases, by and large, go unheard. Why should I spend time listening to someone I don’t know who shows no interest in knowing me? People prefer to work with people they know and believe in, so make yourself known and give them a reason to believe in you.
Email is an excellent place to start, but social media might be even better. Engage with posts from tastemakers you hope to reach and let them know you appreciate their work. Don’t worry about selling yourself as much as making a good impression. If you can do that you will be miles ahead of the competition.
Send links, not files
As I said before, most tastemakers receive over one-hundred emails a day, and those explicitly working in artist discovery tend to receive countless more. As a result, everyone’s inbox space is limited. The only thing attaching song files to an email will accomplish is earning your letter a one-way ticket to the recipient’s trash can.
Comparisons can be enticing
Artists like to believe they are the only person/group on the planet capable of making the kind of music they create. There may be some truth to that, but you probably have more in common with other artists than you realize. Everyone is writing about either themselves versus the world, themselves versus nature, or themselves versus themselves. There are only so many stories to tell. You are likely influenced by many who have written songs about the same things you now hope to discuss. By using smart comparisons, you make it quicker for industry professionals to understand the type of music you’re creating. The faster they can understand you and your sound, the better.
Use a promotional distribution platform
The concept of “faking it til you make it” is a good approach to the music business. Industry professionals want to work with artists who know how to sell their music and how to manage the business of music.
There are numerous ways to send music to industry professionals. You can use file-sharing services or streaming platforms, but most don’t make a great lasting impression on listeners. If you want to present your art in a manner that reflects who you are as a creator, then you need a promotional distribution service.
Haulix offers a secure way to share streams and downloads of your latest release through email invitations and promotional web pages customized to reflect your talent. Not only will you be sharing your music using a service that the industry recognizes, but you will be doing so in a way that places the focus on you. Your promotional page will have no third-party ads and minimal Haulix branding. Your pages will represent you, and they can be customized to do that in many ways (cover art, background images, videos, bio, tour dates, etc.).
James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.