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Need some advice from knowledgeable people

Posted By: hardworker

Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 01/08/09 01:44 PM


I have a new project that consists of 2 pretty accomplished songwriters. We will not be doing any live shows, it's just a recording act. Our CD is nearly finished and I really feel like it turned out quite exceptional.

How would you go about promoting a CD if you don't do live shows yet you feel it is just something beyond most of what is out there?
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 01/08/09 02:29 PM

Unfortunately there's no easy or obvious answer. It's already very tough to build a fan base for an act who will support the band via CD sales. When there's no interaction directly with fans at shows then you have to work extra hard to make real connections with people.

Simply posting music on the various networking sites isn't enough, though it's something you should do. You need to seek out people who might be into what you're doing. Does your act have any gimmicks you can play off of to get people's interest? (i.e. is there anything unusual or interesting you can focus on to get attention?)

All of this is tough without hearing the music, knowing the genre, or having any background on those involved. The bottom line is you have to manufacture ways to connect with fans and get them buzzing about you. You likely don't have major label marketing budgets to work with, so you can't pay for legitimate airplay promotion (don't waste your money unless you can play with the big boys there). If you don't play live, doing in studio appearances at radio stations is also out.

You say you're accomplished songwriters.. have either of you written a well known hit? That might be an angle you can use to promote the project and get some interest. If you haven't then your options are further limited.

So give us more info and some links to the music and perhaps we can give you some ideas that would fit for your material. But on face value, you have a very long uphill battle if you're starting from zero to try and get significant interest or sales. If the songs are legitimate hits in some genre, then it's possible through sheer talent and music quality to get interest. We'd have to hear it to know if that was reality.


Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 01/08/09 02:42 PM

Hi Hardworker and welcome. Most folks here have a first name. My name is Jim. I do not really have any specific advice because your question is the million dollar question. If we knew the answer we would all be millionaires. Seriously you have to do your homework know the market and who to pitch to. A lot depends on your location and the type of music you have to offer. No point in trying to promote rap to a country producer. It might be the best rap since sliced bread but you stand no chance. You have to identify the market place research and pitch to the correct people. More info here might get you a better answer. Everyone thinks they have killer songs and should make it in the bigtime. It is not as easy as it looks but I wish you the best of luck. Perhaps posting one of your songs on the Mp3 board will get you some feedback and advice.
Posted By: CincyIndiesMusic

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/18/09 01:33 PM


My name is P.J., and I have experience in several different areas. I have formal training in voice, piano, and the viola. I've worked several years as a lead singer in several different bands in greater Cincinnati. One thing that I didn't want to be guilty of is being a spoiled diva singer, so I used my creative arts and communication talents to promote my bands, build our web site, create hard-copy press kits, advertise our shows, create flyers, book our gigs and keep our calendar, cold calling venues, etc. Basically, the guys just had to come in and set up the gear and play...then tear it down and pack it up. I did EVERYTHING else, including singing lead and harmony vocals.

Luckily for me, I had some musician buddies that were way ahead of me in the game, and some who had worked in the professional realm. I spent several years learning the business end of things before attempting to front a band and promote it. I picked up from there by becoming computer literate, learning how to create web sites, blogging, and reading everything I could get my eyes on about the music business.

Because I did my home work, and because I initially worked with some very dedicated musicians, my first band won a regional competition after our 1st year together. We were then sponsored to compete in the IBC in Memphis. We went on to do festivals, radio interivews, newspaper interviews, music cruises, poker runs, bike shows, and gigged every weekend for 2.5 years.

Even though I have not worked on a national scale, I have a fairly good idea of what's expected from labels, and how to start to promote a good music project. The only thing that has kept me from taking anything a step futher is not having access to competent available musicians to execute the music I wish to perform. In greater Cincinnati, most of the better musicians are already over-taxed with music projects. And the independents are either weekend warriors or not educated enough about the business of music to have a realistic attitude about it. And many simply just aren't accomplished enough, or have no idea what professional work ethics are...or self dicipline. Because of all of this, I stopped working my ass off to build a project, because I couldn't get any follow-through from the people I was working with. So, instead of griping about the "slim pickins" of competent musicans, and other local music industry problems, I decided to become a part of the solution. I founded THE GREATER CINCINNATI INDEPENDENT ENTERTAINERS ASSOCIATION, or, to start getting all the local independents on the same page professionally, to help those who need to "polish" their acts, and to help promote local independent music.

From what I've read and learned, I agree with the guys here that it is a tall order, without even a listen, to know what needs to be done to market your CD. But, I can give you some basic marketing strategies that can be expanded upon over time.

There are several things that come to mind right away:

1. Create a public presense for your CD. Even though you may not be performing live, you still need a web page...just like movies have. If you'll notice, when you Google a movie title, you'll almost always come across a HOME page for the DVD movie, and instructions on how and where to buy it. The same should be done for your CD. The site should not only provide your CD for sale, but you should have bios of the songwriters, and perhaps annecdotes about certain songs by the songwriters who wrote them. Any other information about the project that the public can connect to is good. You should also have an account at MySpace Music, and some other similar networking sites. Go visit some pro sites for examples of presentation, and then present your CD as professionally as you can.

2. Create accounts for your CD at SonicBids and CDBaby

3. Create a digital album, and sell your CDs & Mp3s on Amazon, Rhapsody, and Real Media, and iTunes.

4. Find an online Music Publication (or several) to review your CD.

5. Market your CD online utilizing links to your other accounts, and your home page. Online marketing can be very effective if you use the "tried and true" sites that have a lot of traffic. Create a hype about the CD, provide a link to song clips of the tracks, and then provide a way to purchase online.

6. You really should do some limited live performances, and have a CD Release Party to officially launch your CD. If you had a band that was perfoming regularly, I'd have put that near the top of the list. But you need to create a presence PRIOR to the official release, and then have all of your marketing in place, before officially launching your project. Have the CD release party where you know you'll have the best turnout for the genre you are presenting. You don't want your party to flop...not a great way to start out. And you want some local press there, too, if you can get it. Invite several publications that write about local music to the party. The more good press you get out of the gate, the more information you have to attest to the "awesomeness" of your CD. You need to at least play to a full room of enthusiastic listeners. Get pics, videos, anything you can use later for promotions. If it's good, it will help.

7. Market your CD on nationally known community web sites, such as Craig's List and There are a bunch of upstart sites out there that don't have the reputation of those 2. Don't mess with them, as you most likely will be wasting your time until that site builds a rating and following. Although Craig's List may be more known than Backpage, CL doesn't offer the marketing that Backpage does. Both sites allow you to post in multiple cities, but Backpage supports html tables to be used as a template ad, where Craig's List only supports simple html and text. Both of these sites are constantly monitored by the search engines, and your ad will show up on them if you post on those 2 sites.

Here are some examples of promotions we are doing on in Cincinnati:

1. A CD Release Announcement

2. A Band Weekly Performance Schedule

3. A Tribute Band Gig Advertisement

4. Our Organization Ad

5. A Writers Night Promotion

(We used PageBreeze html editor to create these ads -- free on

We've also done concert promotions for the Madison Theater in Covington, Ky that were quite successful, and promotions for other bands at other venues. These are all posted in the Community Events area of And you can post the same ads in cities all across the country and outside of the country.

The CD Release Announcement was originally created to advertise the upcoming CD Release Party, and was later adapted for sale of the CD. It was originally run as a Sponsor Ad in 33 cities across the US. The target cities were chosen for industry and the most likely public interest. The ads were run for nearly 4 months straight, and gave a good kick-off to the CD sales.

Other community sites where you could post in your local area would be sites like roadrunner's home site. is our page here. There is a community bulletins area of their site where you can post entertainment events. You should do a search of your area for what sites are available to you there.

8. You really should have a good video to showcase your material, without giving it away for free. You do that by using clips played to a video montage, or live performance footage. Enough to strike watchers' interests, but just enough to leave 'em wanting they'll go buy the CD. Aways put a text frame in that gives a place to buy the CD...or several places.

9. Continue to "create a buzz" about your CD. You want folks buying and telling their friends about you, too. It's very easy to pass information along on the internet. On, there's a link where you can directly email the ad to your friends and family, and believe me, those that use those sites use those referral links. Word of "fingers" can be very powerful, once you've created a buzz and marketed in the right places.

10. Make sure you keep track of your sales (CDs, hats, tanks and t-shirts, etc.). If you later want to pitch to a label, producing decent sales stats (while not being marketed by a label) should catch some notice. Remember, music is a business, and you need to conduct your project like a business. If you want label interest, you have to be able to show them that you can make them money.

Now mind you, that's just to get you's up to you how much work you put into it. Just remember that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Make sure that everything you use to market your work is of quality. If you use crappy photos, videos, graphics, will hurt you more than help you.

I'm sure there are others more qualified than me to answer your question, but I don't think I've steered you wrong in getting started as an independent.

Good luck to you!

P.J. Robinson
Posted By: Everett Adams

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/18/09 04:48 PM

Welcome P.J., you seem to know a lot about the music scene from all angles. Hang around, I'm sure you will be a wealth of knowledge for many on this site.
Posted By: Tom Shea

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/18/09 04:53 PM

PJ, great advice - and welcome here.

Posted By: Marc Barnette

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/20/09 05:18 PM


You have gotten very good advice here. But the first thing you have to do is understand reality. Recorded music has always really been a vehicle of promoting live performances. Even in groups like Steely Dan, who were known for their studio as opposed to live work, they did many things in the live realm, special shows for the press, etc. and were well known in many circles in conjunction with their musical releases.

The primary money made in an artists career is from merchandising, as the cost of production and distribution of a CD usually falls far short of any money you can clear from that CD project.

So you have essentially built a billboard in your living room. Your challenge is how to promote that among roughly a billion Internet communications a day. There have been many people since day one trying to figure out how to promote product from the Internet alone. Even the huge conglomerates with millions of promotion dollars would love to be able to promote an artist or project without "having to leave the living room." But the fact of the matter is it really doesn't happen.

The Interenet is a wonderful tool for communication, yet getting paid for anything on the Internet is the fight of all of our lives. If you read other forums here, you will see the difficulty people are having with an entire genreation of people who have never paid for a CD or music in their live, and intend to never do so.It is generational.

So you are faced with a couple of options. Use it as your personal promotion tool, get it on as many search engines as you can, and in as many avenues as you can. But be aware, you will probably not ever make a dime off of that. Or you can do as music has always been done, get out among the trenches and start working the way everyone else has to.

We all have to constantly measure ourselves up against the realities of life. And it has been my experience, that most of us are never quite as different as we would like to think we are. And convincing the general public to believe in us as we ourselves do is a feat that is much easier said than done.

Good luck to you and learn as much as you can.

Posted By: CincyIndiesMusic

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/21/09 01:18 PM

Marc is correct in saying that you can't do all of this from your living room. Although internet marketing is becoming more and more important as digital works can now be protected, there is still no substitute for live performances to sell your work. And even though the artists we do online promotions for DO sell their CDs and digital tracks online, they still sell the most CDs at their live shows.

I basically explained what you need to do to launch a marketing campaign on the internet (without regular live performances), but IT IS difficult for the public to "connect" with you without live performances (and videos of those performances). You need PEOPLE to help promote your recorded work. And the only way to do that is to "get out in the trenches", as Marc said, and start connecting...

Of course, then we'd have to get into how to properly present yourself in those live performances. And I don't know enough about your background to know what it is you do know about that.

However, the best rule of thumb is to go and find professional presentations in your genre as examples, and then develop your own original style that is in keeping with those pro examples. Video is a great tool for tweaking your presentations, as you're bound to see things that you need to change or improve. This site is a great place for in the Video Feedback Forum. But that is another thread.

Once again, good luck to you!


P.S. Live performance marketing tip: The most effective medium I ever used to promote my band performances was to set up a private voice mail box as the "band hotline" number. Then I had business cards printed with our logo, web address, and the band hotline number for people to call about our upcoming shows. A business card is way more effective that 8x11 flyers, as folks tend to leave the flyers behind. A business card can be tucked into a wallet or purse easily, and all the patron has to do is pull it out and call to get a message about upcoming show dates. We distributed the business cards to all the band members, and then used our breaks to talk to folks and pass out the cards. Very few cards were left behind, and we built our following substantially that way. I personally updated the announcements each week for the hotline, which seemed to help in the "connecting" process with our following.
Posted By: WriterTomYeager

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/21/09 02:58 PM

Hi Hardworker

I was trying to think of anyone who ever accomplished your stated goals without live performances and the only group I could think of was one called The Alan Parsons Project-back in the 80's.....I cant offer any help or suggestions myself-but obviously its not easy to be successful and build a fan base without live performances....they were the only one I could think of that did it....

best of luck in your music career.....

Posted By: Marc Barnette

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/21/09 04:22 PM


Again, even with things like Alan Parson's project there are other extenuating circumstances. Alan Parsons was an engineer on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", which is one of the longest running records in history. That is kind of like being involved with the Beatles or Stones. You are going to have an entirely different set of friends, supporters, etc. that will get you into doors you never could by yourself.

In the 70's there was a club called the Troubadore in LA. There was this whole cadre' of people who hung out there on all the open mics, writers shows, etc. Those people were Joni Mitchell, Jackson Brown, the Eagles, Joe Walsh, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, pretty much anyone who was in the California scene in the 70's were there.So they were all scene and promoted in the music industry. About everyone there got record deals.

Things have changed now with the Internet. It is much harder to get noticed because so many people are doing the same thing. There are thousands of You Tube postings a day and millions in all. So I can't imagine how anyone who doesn't have some element of live performance and connection with fans even getting a foothold.

There is an element of music that is politics. You are out kissing babies and shaking hands. Like CincyIndies is saying (good suggestions by the way) there HAS to be some element of pressing the flesh. Very few people are just sitting around surfing the net looking for music. Most are looking for something to start with and then stumble upon people they like. It is very random. In Nashville, there are dozens of clubs out there that people are doing shows in every night. It takes a lot of performances, to build fan base, then have that base build more and so on and so on.

But it has to start somewhere. And while the Internet is a part of that, I can't imagine how anyone is going to get known from Internet alone. I don't know how they would get seen to begin with. It is something so many record companies are spending millions on trying to find out. What search engines work best, what markets you can go to first, how to you build the better mousetrap?

Like I always say, there are millions of things going on in the music business I don't understand or to be honest, even care about. But I do know people. And they want to be attracted to an act. The act has to go get them. And in an age filled with e-mail viruses, and identity theft, I don't know that people are going to open too many notices from someone they don't know to begin with.

People are trying very hard how to get the most out of the Internet. It is just a lot of supply. That is what the challenge is.


Posted By: niteshift

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/22/09 04:17 PM

And the internet really has changed the face of music marketing.... a piece from the NY Times

Note that touring is still the basis for angel investors to put up the cash. Even EMI has a prouducts and services division for unsigned, or rather unwilling to sign, independent artisits.

cheers, niteshift
Posted By: Marc Barnette

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/22/09 05:56 PM

If you want to know the power of live performance? Susan Boyle, the singer on Britian's Got Talent, from one performance, led to 278 million in You Tube Views. There simply is no substitute for live performance, ever.
I think the moral of this story for the initial poster, Hardworker, is that without some form of live performance and pressing the flesh, there is simply no viable alternative even with the power of the Internet. So I would either rethink the strategy, or be satisfied with what you can get through Internet marketing. And in an era of people being totally unwilling to pay for music, particularly from someone they don't know, don't expect much financially out of that.
A lot of things are changing, but the live performance componant is not one of them.


Posted By: Mike Dunbar

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/22/09 06:44 PM

If live performance wasn't important, Michael Jackson wouldn't have been rehearsing up until he died. He could wiggle his little finger and get thousands of hits on the internet, but that didn't translate into sales, so he was going to hit the stage.
Posted By: Marc Barnette

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/22/09 07:35 PM

I rest Mike's Case.

Posted By: Joe Wrabek

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/22/09 07:51 PM

SAnd I agree with both Mike and Mark. (hey, is that a milestone of some sort? Should we have cake?)

A thought, though. If live performance is the only way to make a living in the music business (Madonna said so, and I think she's right), if you don't perform, is it possible to get *other people* to perform your stuff? I wouldn't expect it to be an easy road (at least, I haven't found it so), but possible, yes? That way you get the live performance quotient?

Posted By: Marc Barnette

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/22/09 08:35 PM


That is what a "Cut" is. An artist recording your material. And is what half the songwriting world is shooting for. But with the ever decreasing market share of being paid for CD's and downloads, it is getting harder and harder to make money from music sales.
The recent case of Susan Boyle, bears witness to this. She came out on the "Britian's got Talent" TV show about three months ago. A frumpy over 50 woman,she proclaimed she wanted to be a "singing star" to an audience that immediatly broke out in gales of laughter. Until she opened her mouth. Her incredible rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical Les Miserables, was quite honestly the You Tube Video heard round the world. Within 24 hours, it had been viewed by over 5 million people.
She became an overnight sensation on every news show, talk show, etc. and took the world by storm. To date her videos have been seen 278 MILLION times. She is a legitimate star and currently working on her CD.
The problem is the three writers of "I Dreamed a Dream" Herbert Kertzmer, Bouble and Shomberg, have not recieved ONE DIME from the song's performance. You are not paid for videos. They are all promotion.
That is the problem with recorded music and particularly on the Internet. You may have it heard or seen by millions of people but never make a dime.

Recorded music has always been a promotional tool for artists. The real money is made in merchandising and touring revenue. And as the music field gets more and more crowded, with so many people doing it, it is very less a viable way to make income. At the end of the day, we may have to face the fact that recorded music will be free and we are going to have to find other ways to make money from it.
Being a part of an artist's overall "ride" is one of the few ways to be on the ground floor now. That is why we are all trying to write with young artists. If you were to write a song that was a major artist's theme song, you would recieve money not only on the song itself, but on the resulting T-shirts, hats, coozies, etc. Two friends of mine have made a cottage industry based around one song, "Redneck Yaught Club". They have bumper stickers, club parties, shows, web site, etc. all around the writing of that one song.The artist, Darryl Worley, is really not even involved in those ventures. He didn't write the song. The same with "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" which was a hit for Joe Nichols, written by my friends, Gary Hannan and John Wiggans. I think there is a brand of tequila about to sponsor a bunch of events.

So that is the future, and has been that way a long time. Another friend of mine Beverly Ross, had a song in the 60's called Lollipop. You know "Lolli pop, lolli pop, la la la lollipop" She made more money from the Life Savers commercial, the usuage of the song in "Stand By Me" and now has a new one with Hewlett Packard computers. She made much more money from the usuage of that song than she ever did from the song itself.

That is where we are. And if you don't have some form of live performance, you don't get it past your living room.

Posted By: Carrie

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/22/09 09:56 PM

I'd suggest finding fans/friends in various cities and having them host a listening party. Provide them with plenty of CD's to give out, money to throw the party, and media to get your image out there. Just sell them on the idea of throwing a party which you'll provide the funds and music.
Posted By: yijin

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/30/18 06:25 AM

I'd suggest finding fans/friends in various cities and having them host a listening party.
Posted By: Kolstad

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 07/31/18 02:38 PM

The contemporary way to promote is called content marketing, which means that you build a fan base by providing free content that the specific target group you know will be interested in the style of music you do. You build the fan base over time, and occasionally put in exclusive paid content.

Like MAB said, recorded music is a marketing tool, and even more so today, where recorded music is free to stream. So getting people to pay for recorded music will be an uphill battle. If you use it to promote live shows, you can get your equipment, time and efforts back that way, though.
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 08/22/18 05:44 AM

Originally Posted by yijin
I'd suggest finding fans/friends in various cities and having them host a listening party.

That's advice I have been giving since 1985. And ironically, that may be the only useful advice that still works all these years later. There were mostly times in human history where that is the ONLY way musicians EVER made money. But back then there were 2 routes: Have wealthy benefactors pay big bucks to have you play for their guests (which still happens, I have a friend who makes 10K sometimes to play a single song on Yachts or at big events and he's not remotely famous, but he has built the connections and he has unique talents that allows him to do so, OR... you mimic the wandering minstrel who went from town to town and played for the "common folk" for pennies and food/rooming). I actually survived myself doing just that for decades on the road, though in a different format. But if I had the health/energy, I'd be right back out on the road doing it now, even for free because those were the best years of my life.

Playing music is the goal, so you can make a life built around giving you chances to do that while not starving. Making money is a different thing entirely and so much easier doing many many other things. Decide what is most important to you and there's a pathway. Or, you want both. Many people WANT... but few have the will to go out and GET IT.

Posted By: Perry Neal Crawford

Re: Need some advice from knowledgeable people - 08/27/18 10:53 PM

I found a producer who liked my writings to the point that he has done four CDs with me. We worked together in synergism on many of the cuts, and have a million combined internet hits on over 150 radio and CD sites. But money? We are members of ACAP, have contracts with websites for royalties, and get fractions of pennies for each cut played. The producer is a full time nationally known performer and does gigs of our material in large and small venues. Even then the money is slim after expenses and taxes etc, etc, etc.

For my part, I am happy that my writings move people (as the JPF mantra goes). I am a writer, and I write. I have written materials (as a result of the CDs) for other artists, to include Eric Burden and found fans in Rita Coolidge, and Gladys Knight, and on Dr Demento's show and on NPR. It is a treat to hear our stuff on local Southern Cal and Mojave Desert radio stations, even at 2am.

Music today has become a greater conversation than ever before in history and JPF plays a ground breaking role in spreading the conversation worldwide.

Be a part of the conversation. You may never know the full extent of your music's influence. Don't let that stop you from making your contribution!
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