I’m not great at promoting. I do try to take advantage of any great idea I stumble across, however. For example, I ran into a bunch of artists like myself who had an idea to all follow each other on Spotify. This worked great. At least, statistically speaking. I got to nearly 300 followers, saw a modest bump in plays, and made contact with some bands I never would have known otherwise.
The only drawback, if you would call it that, is that I get emails from Spotify anytime any of these 300 other artists release anything. Maybe some of the other people were smart enough to use throwaway accounts, but not me. Anyways, no big deal really. These are easily ignored. Except for one thing. It seemed as if one out of every three emails I received was from the same band. It wasn’t difficult to remember their name, because it was a bit crude. Their song titles weren’t exactly PG, either.
Now, for comparison, I released my first album, 40 Acres, in 2008. Number 2, Just What the World Is Looking For, came out in 2013. Almost Alive will be released New Year’s Day 2017. So, who are these guys releasing 3-4 tracks per week and how are they doing this??? Curiosity got the better of me, so I clicked on one of the many emails I received featuring their new music. I didn’t see their faces, but the artwork reminded me of early Motley Crue.
“These guys really have something happening here.” – What I said in my head
These guys succeeded in doing something none of the other 300 artists had accomplished – genuinely making me interested enough to want to listen to their music. And the way they acheived this was by constantly producing product.
I may be good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people may actually like me, but I had to take a long, cold look in the mirror and realize, at least on this issue, I am clearly failing.
Later, I complained to my wife during one of our daily coffee sessions about the drudgery of promotion. I even quoted scripture!
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.
– Proverbs 27:2 (ESV)
She agreed, “If it were me, I’d release the album, say, ‘BOOM, there it is,’ and move on to the next one.”
I chuckled and played it off as wishful thinking. I mean, turn on your television at any hour of the day and you will see an endless parade of celebrities doing promotion for whatever God-awful movie they were just in. Hollywood certainly takes promotion seriously. I doubt I know something they don’t regarding the issue. Diving deeper gave me an alternate viewpoint, however.
If Hollywood could only get their “star” in front of a few hundred people, instead of the potential millions available to them on Jimmy Fallon, they would probably prefer they spend that day making another less God-awful film.
Now, I’ll admit, it’s easy for me to accept excuses to promote less, and produce more. I mean, I didn’t start writing songs so that one day, I could become my own amateur public relations firm. Talking to strangers about how great you are isn’t as fun as it may sound, as true as it may be. 😉
I didn’t start writing songs so I could become my own amateur public relations firm.
I had ‘written off’ the final months of 2016 as being a bit of a dead zone. Oh, I would find time to write and maybe perform, but I had no plans on actually producing meaningful content. Realizing that, Yes, I can! And it is actually not shirking off my promotional duties in any way, is incredibly liberating and freeing to me. I should have realized this sooner. Having a 4-5 year lull between albums puts me in a hole that is difficult to repeatedly climb out.
So, momentum is my new keyword. Heck, that may actually make a great album title! Promotion is great, but momentum is better. It had been so long since my last release, many media contacts I had worked with previously have moved on to other things. Despite having 2 moderately successful albums under my belt, I currently have no cultivated contacts in the radio, blog or podcast world. Lack of production has hindered my capability for promotion.
God used a donkey to speak to Balaam. (Numbers 22:21-39) Maybe He used a band (whose name I can’t even mention in good company) to teach me something about music promotion, and life in general. And, now, hopefully this will help you, too. Stay busy about that which God has tasked you, and let strangers promote you with their own lips.
Pre-order your copy of Gregory’s new CD, Almost Alive, on iTunes.