A big part of a project like this is telling people how excited they should be about it. I could happily record these tunes and tap away at my little blog here without anyone knowing, but it’s unlikely to lead to the astronomic sales figures I’m hoping for. So I have to get the word out. And as an independent musician, there are two ways of going about this.
The first option is to hire a publicist. These people have a network of industry connections in radio, print, and online media, and will contact them on the artist’s behalf. It’s effective because media folks are more likely to take a chance on new material if it comes from a source they trust. It also takes the burden of publicity off the artist, leaving them free to lie on the couch all day and be artistic. The downside, of course, is that publicists charge like a wounded bullshit artist. Actually this is hearsay, because I’ve never tried it, but I’m told a standard campaign will run about two to three grand. That’s a lot of one-dollar downloads.
Or, you do what this idiot does, and handle the promotion yourself. A few years ago, a very generous colleague gave me his media contact list. This was a spreadsheet with the names, addresses, phone numbers, and companies of about 350 jazz-related journalists and radio folk. In recent years, I’ve edited this list, adding and subtracting, until I now have about 250. For our little experiment here, I spent a few caffeine-fueled days emailing everyone on the list, with a few words of introduction, and a link to a press release. Those who responded were then added to a mailing list, to receive each track as it’s completed. It’s relentlessly tedious work with low yield: of my original 250, I’ve convinced about 40.
The upside is it doesn’t cost much, and I’ve now built ongoing relationships with some of these people. Here are a few articles and radio spots that have appeared since the first track: