BANG YOUR DRUM. Marketing for Musos #3 Etiquette and Energy
Welcome back! Part 2 talked about the importance of not judging a radio show by it’s perceived audience size and also why making an effort to build a relationship with a radio show presenter is such a good idea. If you didn't read 'Feedback and Feels', and would like to, it's here.
And this post goes into detail about what I do to help that relationship develop. There’s no short cuts here. But it does work, so it’s not wasted effort (if that’s any consolation!)
So this post is going to cover how to find people to support your music, be it via radio/blogs/reviews/interviews and how to specifically approach them and also develop relationships with people who present radio shows, in detail. Before, during and after the show.
HOW TO FIND SUITABLE RADIO PRESENTERS OR BLOGGERS FOR YOUR MUSIC
Having started from ground zero promoting my own music, I can understand the bewildering array of options on social media and it’s all too easy to almost give up before you’ve started owing to indecision about where to spend your precious time. The precious time you’re not working/looking after a family/creating music (sadly for most of us it’s in that order), that precious time where you actually attempt to get your music heard...
First off you need to know your genre, or at least the genre of the release you are promoting.
And of course, there’s absolutely no point in approaching radio shows who do not include your kind of music. At the very least, if the information is not in the twitter biog, or you can’t access the show for some reason, it’s a good question to ask to start engagement.
Then on twitter, as this IS the best place, search for people who are hash tagging your genre or who have @twitterhandles which have the word you are looking for in the name. So if for example, you type ‘@electro’ into your twitter search box you might have some suggestions come up. From there, follow those that twitter suggest and also click on the relevant ‘topics to follow’ options they give you, and so on. You could type ‘electro radio’ in, or just ‘radio presenter’ and see where that took you.
FINDING YOUR TRIBE...It’s also worth researching who the other artists are at your level/creating the same sort of music. Follow them, check out their timelines, see who is playing/reviewing/sharing their music. Share their links (if you like them) and support them. This will be repaid in increased follows and engagements and you’ll be included in playlists and tagged in posts, in time. The only limit here is your time, but there’s tons of opportunities for building a network or ‘tribe’ using twitter in this way.
APPROACHING A RADIO PRESENTER OR BLOG/REVIEWER
I strongly suggest that you do not just email them or direct message or tweet them a link to your music, without any engagement first. You need to build a relationship, quickly and simply. It can happen in a matter of minutes if you catch them when they are online and hungry for interaction. (Most of us then!). Ideally follow them, find something to share on your time line or at least ‘like’, find something to respond to perhaps? Start to engage with them. See what else they are up to, follow those things/accounts and share/listen/read as appropriate. Get to the stage where you can message them and ask for the best method for contacting them – if it’s not where you are hanging out currently (which it is sometimes).
Then when you email or message you can show you’ve put some effort into what they are up to by personalising your approach. ‘I was reading your blog/listening to your latest show/watching a video interview you did with x...’ and thought you might be interested in my music because....
I can’t stress enough the importance of the two paragraphs above.
Simple? Yeah? Too simple? Sometimes simple is best. Well it makes sense doesn’t it? At the point of following someone who presents a show/runs a blog, you don’t have to have listened /watched/read at that point, and I always think to strike while the iron is hot is a good idea. But at that point you may want, after you’ve followed them, to make a note of their show time and station with a view to tuning in, and also have a quick scroll through their feed to see what’s important to them and what sort of music they are most likely to support. There may well be some common threads in how you and they see the world. Something you can retweet or comment on. This is never wasted energy. You are putting something in which will benefit them and you will get the benefit of this positive cycle or ‘law of attraction’ pretty quickly.
If you notice that someone is hardly ever on twitter, you might want to put less energy into this person on this platform. But if their support is important to you, find out where they do haunt – do they have a blog or a playlist or a website. Go on there, find an email and contact them that way.
If they are clearly active on twitter, follow them, make a few comments over the next few days, especially if no one else has commented!
Don’t we just love it when someone, anyone, reacts to a lonely tweet we’re thinking of removing as we don’t want to be seen as a billy no mates? (artists with that handle excepted!!!) People don’t always notice straight away if they have thousands of followers. But if you’re the first to comment (refreshing your feed is a good idea) or retweet some of their posts, consistently, you will get noticed.
So that when you do have something suitable to share with them, message them directly (ie NOT messaging them under one of their posts and hijacking their feed).They are more likely to respond as you are familiar, and you’ve done the legwork, put in the time, made the effort.
A note on that thing above about hijacking a thread. Some radio presenters tag all the artists they are going to be playing. If you are one of those artists, you can retweet, with or without a comment, and comment under the feed.
Artists soon realise that they will get a lot of notifications around certain shows. You just scroll on by. It’s ok. It’s part of the game and it can be good fun and quite amusing to see people’s witty banter and giffs. However, if you’re not being played on that show and you post a link to your music (or someone you are trying to promote) asking the presenter to listen, that is a definite no no. It’s not the time or the place. Comment on the show sure, because you’re listening. But don’t spam threads. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should! I think when I first started out in 2013 I might have been guilty of this.
I was a complete nube at all social media and didn’t know the etiquette. I was also so inexperienced that I wouldn’t have noticed what I was doing wrong, under the misguided impression that someone hearing about the thing I was promoting was good enough. It’s not. It does no one any favours. So that’s why I am sharing these tips with you, to save you ten years of experimentation!
So once you know who you want to approach directly, send them a nice message to ask them to follow you so you can either DM them or email them. Do it by a direct tweet which has no one else tagged. Of course, you run the potential ‘embarrassment’ of being ignored. Suck it up. In actual fact, I’ve found that a polite and friendly message rarely gets ignored, no matter how famous the person. But then I am not messaging Stephen Fry.
Go with your gut and use common sense! If you’ve already commented on posts in the build up, you’ve already engaged with their blog or shared posts you align with, so there’s no reason why they wouldn’t right? If you go in cold, good luck. It’ll probably do you more harm than good to ‘demand’ a response to a direct tweet. Rather like an email with no context. I don’t even open them if I can see they are a generic email to every promoter they can find the email for.
If you make an effort to personalise your approaches, you will have a very high response rate. If you do not, you will be down to pot luck as to whether you get any response at all. Which is very demoralising. We all know that!
WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOUR TRACK IS PLAYED ON A SHOW
Once you’ve sent a track to a presenter, make it clear that you’d love to know if they intend to play it, so you can share about the show and the forthcoming play on social media. Most presenters will let you know if they plan to play it and when.
So immediately you hear about a play coming up, send out a tweet about it. Make sure you
· tag the station
· the presenter
· share with a link to the station or show page
· share the time and date of the play and
· THANK THEM!
In the time between your song being played and when you first hear about it, please do yourself a favour and dip into at least one of their shows and comment on the socials about a track you’ve enjoyed or share the tweet about the show on your feed, perhaps even saying, can’t wait to be played on this show next week, or whatever.
If the show has active ‘live’ twitter or facebook engagement during the show – Trust the Doc on Phoenix Radio and Chris West’s The Tripwire are two such shows on twitter, and Brian Player on Wey Valley Radio and many shows on Blues and Roots Radio on facebook, please join their facebook groups and take part, or at least like some of the tweets/posts to show you’re there, and comment if you can.
You don’t have to be there for the whole show if you’re not able but show willing. It will pay dividends, and you won’t have to wait that long for the reward either. When it’s your turn to get played they are likely to mention that you’ve supported the show and they are playing your track because they love it, so they are more likely to tell their listeners why they love it.
These verbal acknowledgements are invaluable. Apart from being hugely encouraging and motivating, they are also quotable.
THE DAY OF THE PLAY AND DURING THE SHOW
There’s absolutely no harm in tweeting about the show ahead of the play. To remind your followers and to let the presenter know you are excited and worthy of supporting. Twitter is different to facebook in that you can post on there more often without annoying anyone, if your tweets are all different in wording. Just spamming the same message over and over is boring (for you as much as anyone else) so try to pick different angles, links or imagery to accompany your posts.
For facebook, the place to engage is the show page itself if they have one. You don’t need to make a separate post for each radio play on your facebook feed. I’ve found that a nice banner pic telling your followers where and when they can hear your new song, which usually isn’t out yet, so these are the only ways to hear it, with all the presenters and stations carefully tagged goes down a treat and is usually shared by at least some of the presenters on their feed.
If you do individual posts along these lines with tailor made artwork, the presenter will usually reward you with a share onto their own page. So your efforts will be noticed and in general here, the effort and energy you commit to your own promotion and amplifying the efforts of anyone you are paying, will be increased exponentially.
Of course, an image you create to share about a specific show will also be able to be put on twitter and instagram as well as facebook, so make sure you make the most of it.
Use this sensitively on twitter however.
The individual art banners work better on twitter as you can do one for each show and share it, and most likely it will get shared by the show and the station, without it being ‘too much’. Whereas it might be too much on facebook. Different platforms require different strokes. As I am sure you’ve noticed.
THE ACTUAL PLAY
Personally I suggest you get your ‘voice recorder’ activated on your computer or phone or anything you use to record your song ideas. It’s so nice to be able to listen back to what the presenter said after the show. Of course, if you know the presenter reliably posts their show on mixcloud, you don’t need to worry. Or if it’s BBC radio, they have BBC sounds for sharing a month after the play – but when it’s gone it’s gone, so you might want to ‘harvest’ your mention if it’s significant?
What can you do with these recordings?
Personally, and especially if you’re a new artist, it’s great to put them on your website. And to do that, I use soundcloud and make a playlist of quotes – something like this. (my own page example).
Also take words or phrases out of them and live tweet during the show, thanking the presenter for saying x or y. This is very effective and a number of presenters actually thank me for this on air.
This shows you were listening (very important for your future plays from this presenter) and is usually retweeted by the presenter so you potentially reach way more people than you would have otherwise.
If you want to up your game, also tag (honestly, only if you like the tracks, this has to be authentic) some of the other artists which the presenter is playing, and you will get more reach, as they are likely to like and follow you, and possibly share too.
If you want to take this further, and when you’re starting out it is invaluable, follow the other acts on the shows you get played on. This is especially important if you’re in a specific genre. Most shows have a ‘feel’ to them. And the other artists are a great source of support. The independent scene doesn’t have to be competitive. We can all bring each other up with us on our journey and enjoy each other’s success.
Also of course, you can see who is playing the other artists – if you’re following them they will show up in your feed if you’re on twitter enough – and you can then contact these shows saying that you were played on the same show as the artist they’ve played and wondered if they’d like to hear your stuff?
Above all else. Try to listen to the show (most presenters will let you know roughly what time you’re being played if you’ve got other unavoidable commitments and will usually respond favourably to a thoughtful message ahead of the show ) and thank the presenter real time, live during the show on their socials.
AFTER THE SHOW
Thank the presenter personally – can be public or private. Or both. We all need the encouragement and feedback however ‘famous’ we are! They really can choose who they help, and if you are looking like you appreciate their support, and make the most of those precious few minutes of airtime in their show, they are much more likely to help you next time.
You can share the quote about your song in a visual format – with the usual image for the show
You can make a list of the radio shows you’ve been played on at the end of the campaign and thank the presenters, perhaps make it a banner pic on facebook or twitter?
You can share the listen again link in whatever format it takes – mixcloud, bbcsounds, soundcloud, spotify playlist.
Keep in touch with the presenter at arms length. No need to go overboard but the occasional like or retweet, comment on a show page on facebook and listening in to the show when you can will all help you get played next time.
Why not be the social glue within your online community? Put people in touch with each other if you see a connection. I love doing this. Introducing people in threads. It actively builds your network and it helps the world go round!
A note on your follower vs following stats.
Please don’t worry about having a huge imbalance. It’s vanity to have more followers than those you follow. It’s also ungrateful to those who bother to follow you if you don’t follow back. If you’re helping get your own word out, you are necessarily going to have to have more people you’re following as they are your eyes on what the rest of your scene.
What they are up to, where they are being played, where they are getting gigs (heaven help us), who is reviewing them, who is supporting them in general, what hash tags are working for people, what sort of posts are being shared. Invaluable. And please never follow with a view to unfollowing if the other person doesn’t follow you. Follow because you mean it. Because you want to engage with them, like their music or align with their values. Not because it will look good on your numbers.
The more people you follow, the more variety will be in your feed. The presenters you followed last week, last month, will be posting and if you catch their posts, you will be able to share or comment. It’s a bit like sowing seeds and watering them over a period of time. Eventually you will remark on a post and the person will randomly decide to follow you.
Or someone else will share one of your posts and THEIR followers will start to follow you by association. It’s great fun. An ever changing landscape. So don’t worry about your stats. Who’s following you in particular. Just do the work. Put the time in. Make an effort and watch it manifest for you and get your music out there.
I hope you found this helpful? If you did, please feel free to share a quote or screen shot on the socials you frequent. If you have any feedback I would be very happy to hear it. Also the topics you’d like me to cover in future posts.
Helefonix@gmail.com is where you can find me. @helefonix on twitter, instagram and facebook.