This week I have been LEARNING about How To Do ROCK Promotion In The Twenty First Century and it has been MOST illuminating, and also CONFUSING.
I first learned about this sort of thing way back in the last century, thanks to Sean Fortuna Pop!. Back then promoting records involved posting ACTUAL RECORDS, the use of Fax machines, and paying plugging companies to get your songs onto local radio stations for you. It was all very exciting and fun, especially on a (I think) Friday when I'd get a pink FAX printout in my pigeonhole at work telling me that British Forces Broadcaasting had played my song, or that Bradford Community Radio wanted a session. I'm still in touch with some of the lovely people I got to know in those far off days, not least John The Publisher who used to work for Overground and now publishes our SHEET MUSIC via Wipeout Music!
Things soon changed when The Internet happened, and it all started to become about email lists and Social Media Presence, although you did still need to buy a whole heap of JIFFY BAGS for posting CDs out. Luckily Mr G Gargan of Damnably told me where The Secret BBC Window was (on a sidestreet near Broadcasting House), where you could hand in ALL your jiffy bags for BBC shows and save TONNES of money on postage. We started doing our own VIDEOS too, which was GRATE!
It all took a lot of KEEPING UP with though, which I have always found difficult. Around the time of Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez I hired a PR COMPANY to do it for us, and they were UTTERLY DREADFUL, so I returned to self-promotion. This was all right when we did Dinosaur Planet because I could send it to lots of SCIENCE FICTION places that I was interested in, but after that I must admit I lost touch a bit, especially as we did LESS stuff.
SO when we put out our new single last week I was somewhat TREPIDATIOUS about what I was actually supposed to DO, especially as I knew that this time there was no point in sending it to UK radio stations, as they are BANNED from playing Political DYNAMITE during an election campaign. THUS I forced myself to dive into the world of SPOTIFY, which has turned out to be initially MYSTIFYING and then surprisingly FAMILIAR.
It was MYSTIFYING because I don't really USE it much myself, so all the talk about Artist Profiles and Playlists didn't make an awful lot of sense. HOWEVER, once Mr Ian Watson of How Does It Feel told me that I had to GET my Artist Profile on Spotify it started to become a little clearer. We do all our online stuff with Emubands (who are ACE), and it turns out that this means I was automatically RATIFIED for our Spotify Artists Profile. I read further and discovered that the way to get onto Official Playlists is simply to SUBMIT them - as it happens I am WAY too late to do it properly for this single, but it is PEASY and VERY do-able, so I will VERY DO it when we put out the next batch of singles in the new year. It turns out that all you need to do is log in and SUBMIT the new song, and then it automatically/algorithmically goes to ALL the relevant Spotify Playlist people. It's a virtual Secret BBC Window!
There also turn out to be loads of OTHER playlists you can send stuff to. I paid $10 (i.e. spare eBay ca$H) to have a go on a site that lets you SUBMIT to various playlists, which did no good whatsoever, but did introduce me to the fact that they EXIST, and led me to search out various others that didn't cost money to do it with. Yes, it was a virtual PR company wasting my money, and then a virtual ME googling for the email addresses of virtual Local Radio!
I've even watched some SPOTIFY VIDEOS about the whole thing, which were Surprisingly Pleasant although VERY MUCH targeted towards YOUNG GROOVERS and not GRIZELLED VETERANS like me. Still, one interesting point it made was that you need to do "CTAs" or Calls To Action i.e ASKING people to do stuff to help you, with one of the KEY ones being asking people to follow you on Spotify. This would BUMP us up the listings for playlists, apparently, so if you have a chance, please follow us!
It has all been VERY interesting - I just hope that it doesn't all change AGANE before next year!