15 July 2006

Few tips for local and independent artists

Doing the show as I do at Bush Radio gives me a prime spot to see how many things happen within local music industry/culture. I also feel that having followed these music and radio things in few different countries gives me just enough authority to write down few tips for the artist trying to get their music heard. You may disagree with me and you have got the democratic right to do so but this is how I see it.

1. Funnily enough my lecturer made a similar list for the students in university and his list started with "show up in time". That is the most important thing. I had people coming to my show to promote their event and they never came and never informed me about it. I hate to sound like too important media person, but it may be pointless to complain about not getting support from radio if you can afford a no-show without informing the station or the producer. Do you think I am making arrangements with you again? I know I come from the northern European background where one is taught to be five minutes early instead of being in time but in radio the time is very important. My show starts at certain time and ends at certain time and news are every full hour. If you come one hour late and five minutes before my show is over I cannot take you on air because my show ends. Next show starts and life continues – you missed your chance I am afraid.

2. Think about different ways of getting your music noticed. World is full of artists and songs and major stations and shops are likely to support the corporate friendly mainstream music. It is industry and not a cultural activity so you need to find different platforms. If you cannot get a gig then try to organise one yourself. Promote it and try to make it an event. The first one may not be but if you keep on doing this at some point someone will notice that you are worth their time and money – that is if you are worth their time and money.

3. Get online and do not be afraid of people getting your music for free. It is called promotion. How can anyone, except your mum, buy a record they have never heard of from the artist they know nothing about. MySpace is naff, I know, but it is the best available. Try that and start networking with people who can benefit you. Maybe the ones who you can organise an event with.

4. Try to make your product, whether it is website, blog, CD or a flyer look professional. If it is demo and even when it is not, make sure that the name of the group and the songs are clear enough. Sometimes I see Hip Hop crews bringing in burned CD’s with cryptic tag style marker scribbling which may or may not be the artist or the song or neither. It is hard to support a track that you cannot name. Also make sure that your contact details are available. It would be silly to send a demo to a record company if they could not contact you back.

5. It is tough business. You must keep on trying and approach people you need to contact or find another way of doing things. I personally think music industry is evil and that is the reason I am not trying to make money out of it. People are arrogant and especially many, who work for bigger companies are rather full of themselves because they feel that free VIP parties are actually making them VIP. I recommend finding another ways of getting your stuff out. Read about the business and learn as much as you can about it. Don't wait to be found from your living room while you are watching eMpTVy.

6. Studying radio stuff I meet several people who feel that in order to be a radio presenter/DJ/journalist you don’t need to know your way around the technology. I try to avoid working with people with that attitude and as a musician, unless you have the money to get sound engineers and professional studios, you must also learn to be creative with the equipment. Use mattresses and whatever you can find to create mic booth and beware of the mic popping and resonating vocals. Sound quality of your song is possibly more important than the song itself if you want it to be played in radio. Don’t screw your chances just because you didn’t want to learn how to record properly.

7. Support other local artists. This one should be obvious – how can you expect anyone buy your record if you don’t buy their records or other local records. If you religiously go and buy the flavor of the month R&B CD then why would anyone else think differently. Behavioral change needs to happen and you must be in its first wave as a role model.

8. I am sure that there are millions of other things to consider but I will keep mine in eight. If you feel that things that I have mentioned are out of your reach or capabilities, don’t lose your hope. Just find someone who can help you out with these. You don’t have to know about all these things but network and find people who can design CD covers and mix tracks and record good quality. Being an independent (note not unsigned) artist or a band is great but hard work if you have to do everything alone.

If you are keener on just doing art, which I find just as great, then you do not necessarily have to worry too much over these things. I recommend you to, and let’s face it, why to record poor quality just because you want to make art. Not many of these thoughts, actually none of them are something that I have invented and that is why I am not trying to take credit on them but all of them are common sense. Feel free to take these as your thoughts and tell them to the next people.

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