Blowing Up from the Basement is a series of articles and resources written exclusively for the IllMuzik fam, designed to help the bedroom producer/artist increase their exposure and make industry contacts that will get his/her music heard. These articles will run bi-weekly or monthly and will cover the wide spectrum of topics in this business of music from selecting managers, setting up your business properly, networking, and the list goes on and on.
In the latest series of Blowing Up From the Basement, I'm presenting a two part article that will allow you the artist to move from the basement to the stage! Don't expect your career to blow up next Tuesday, if you treat your music as a hobby or "something you do after work". To make it in this business, it requires sacrifices and the willingness to be told the word "No" for years of your adult life, do YOU have what it takes??? This Blowing Up article will focus on the marketing for independent, unsigned artists. To shake things up a bit, I decided to step off the soapbox and reach out and interview Alison, a marketing consultant from Prana Marketing based in N.Y.C.
What exactly can good marketing companies provide for an independent artist seeking exposure?
Alison: The most important thing a good marketing company provides for an independent artist is direction and guidance. A lot of independent artists have the desire and drive to get themselves out there, but have no idea what the grind really entails. Angela Thomas, CEO of Prana, has a great deal of experience in the music industry having spent years at Def Jam, RCA, and Columbia in the marketing departments and I have relationships with important members of the press that enable me to get the word out to those who can get artists the exposure they need. Beyond the guidance we provide, we also give the artists all the physical tools they need - write the bios, the press releases, get cd's duplicated, one-sheets made up, make up sponsorship decks - all of the day-to-day items an artist needs. We also make sure that our clients are at all of the right events - to be seen and talked about.
What different types of campaigns can a company like Prana set up for an artist?
A: We do a variety of things at Prana. Because of our relationships in the music industry, we can provide our clients with unique opportunities. In the past, our artists have been featured in Cingular mall tours, hosted club events, performed at Hot 97's Who's Next events, been featured in magazine shoots - it really depends on where the artist sees him or herself and we can usually make it happen. Prana's clients go beyond music acts though. We produce a lot of events (i.e. DJ Mars' Car Show, Artist Empowerment Coalition's Pre-Grammy Lunch, etc.), do all the marketing and publicity for Englewood's Bergen PAC theater, work with Missy Elliot and her Respect M.E. clothing line - because of our varied clients, sometimes we are able to merge them. For example, we booked one of our artists for an August show at Bergen PAC that is a co-promotion with Hot 97. You never know what opportunity will arise!
How does the internet benefit a good marketing company and how does Prana use the internet to benefit its clients?
A: The world of online marketing right now is HUGE. I think we're on the verge of a digital revolution honestly - I see the end of record companies somewhere down the line and people getting contracts with companies like iTunes, Yahoo. People just experience music differently these days - it's not necessarily about how many physical records are sold because often times fans are getting the music off the web. Prana makes the most of this by posting artists' music on various sites like AOL Music, Audio Street, etc. We also create an online press kit that we give to members of the press so that all of the artists' information is readily accessible. We make the artist as available as we can online because honestly that's where most listeners/potential buyers spend most of their time.
When is the artist supposed to sign the contract, after services are performed or what?
A: Our clients sign the contract up front, before the services are performed. However, what's great about Prana is that we work with the clients, not against them. If we feel we haven't been able to offer them as much as we had originally hoped, we cut it back. If there's something more a client needs, we factor that in. It's not about when the artist/client signs the contract, it's about who they sign the contract with. They have to feel confident that what's-in-writing isn't just bullshit.
There it is IllMuzik, marketing advice from someone who does it everyday. Marketing independent acts requires a different approach. There are certain fundamentals principles of marketing and promotions that work on all levels, but good marketing companies typically offer lower prices for independents You can be the best at what you do, but if nobody knows about it, it's time wasted. Implement a marketing strategy into your business plan (if you have one) and fine tune and adjust as needed. Putting your plan in writing gives you a roadmap and reference point to learn what is going right and what definitely is going wrong.
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