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D.I.Y. Musician: Publicize Yourself

February 1, 2011
Randy Chertkow

Randy Chertkow

Jason Feehan

Jason Feehan

One of the most dreaded tasks for musicians to tackle is generating publicity. Fortunately, it''s simpler than you may think. Start by understanding the three types of media, and then tailor your approach to get coverage. You can start out small and build on each success. Each mention you get helps you get more coverage, bigger publications, and more buzz on your social networks.

Traditional media is usually the only type that people think of, and it includes TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Unfortunately, people with money and access have the best chance of getting coverage. Also, these outlets have been downsized. They have fewer journalists to research and write stories at a time when there are more press releases and news demanding attention.

To get covered in the traditional media, send a press release at least three months ahead of the event you want covered so the publication or broadcast outlet has time to schedule the story. To really stand out, send a link to a video to improve your chances of getting covered. However, unless you have some real money, media contacts you can already use, or a publicist, expect to need prior stories or coverage about your act to get traditional media coverage. If you don''t have any, don''t worry: Use the new media to build up a history first.

New media includes blogs, podcasts, vidcasts (video podcasts), and websites. These outlets vary in audience size, subject, and professionalism, especially because most are run by people who are passionate about the topics they cover. New media is a great place to begin getting coverage for your music if you are just starting out because quotes from blogs can help you to establish credibility for larger outlets, and eventually traditional media, which will do a search on you when they haven''t heard of you. Any new media coverage that you''ve had can help establish your history.

There are no set rules for working with new media—it''s best if you just start with an email, not a press release. Another advantage is because new media is web-based; they often link directly to your website giving you new visitors and a way to track the effectiveness of the coverage.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are the newest development in getting publicity. They also have the fewest number of rules. The primary advantage of these sites is how they amplify word of mouth. In some ways, each of your fans has an audience that you can reach: their friends. The posts that you share can be shared by others with a few clicks, getting your music and message out to a large audience in an entirely new way.

With these three media in mind, how can you organize a publicity campaign around all of them? Get that initial coverage in the blogs or podcasts that are within your reach. Start with anyone you know with a blog or a media outlet. Then talk about the coverage through your social media so your followers can get the message to new fans. Next, use that first bit of coverage to reach up to media with larger audiences, showing them that you have some buzz and momentum. Before long, you''ll have a media quote page that can be used to show that you have some substance.

And then, just keep building from there.

Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are the authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide.

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