The following blog post first appeared on AudioBlood.com in July of 2014, written by Sari Delmar (@Saridelmar), Founder & CEO of Audio Blood Media. Marcato and Audio Blood go way back; first connecting in the genesis days of both our companies. Since then the Toronto based artist & brand development company has grown to become Canada’s premier music marketing & publicity group. We’re super proud of them!
You email your heart out to target industry people and you are probably used to not getting many responses. This is the life of a hustling artist. Don’t hate it – embrace it. I always tell my bands – if you feel like you’re doing it wrong, you’re not! You’re doing something proactive; therefore you’re doing it right. First things first – don’t get discouraged by rejection (you can read my other blog here with more info on that). Sometimes you might not get any responses. But when you do, they are seemingly cryptic. As a fellow industry person, trust me when I say we aren’t trying to make you rip your eyes out. We are talking in industry speak. We are moving quickly, managing a million things and sometimes the idiosyncrasies can get lost in translation. Sometimes we are too short and a more elaborate answer could help, we know. It takes that one email sent in the right moment to the right person to change everything. Hopefully this blog helps to navigate some of our answers and feedback.
Read as: Please clearly outline what you want from me so I can consider it based on my position and capability to help. Is it a record deal? A pat on the back? A recommendation to a producer… err… what!?
What to do: Be clear and concise with your request. Know who you’re speaking to and how they can be the most use to you. Be realistic and approach professionally.
Read as: I am trying to be kind and let you know that we just aren’t into it. It has nothing to do with right now or later, but we don’t have the resources or interest in helping your band. But in the rare event that you guys blow up, then I want to leave the crack in the door open – so, I’ll just say ‘right now’ to leave that 1% chance there.
What to do: Back off. They are not the right team for you.
Read as: I have some interest in you, but not as much interest as all the other artists I want to sign or release right away. Hang tight while I see how many other projects present themselves with more urgency than yours.
What to do: Create urgency. Call in support from industry champions of yours to apply pressure and express excitement about the band. Ensure the interested party knows you are in demand and having conversations with competitors. Make sure they are hearing about you from a number of other people, other than yourself. Make them feel like they will lose the opportunity to work with you if they do not take action soon. If they still say they can’t do it then back away and find a partner that works within your plan.
Read as: I am not promising anything, I am being a friendly human and saying I will try to get to your music, but it’s really not a priority and don’t expect me to get to it within the next 6 months. I’m busy and get lots of music.
What to do: Don’t harass. Create reason for that industry person to run home and dive through their stash of desk CDs to find yours by focusing on blowing away your fans, building a story with the local media, and having their friends and industry peers sing your praises.
Read as: I genuinely think you will one day be great, but you just aren’t ready yet and I don’t have the time or patience to help you get there.
What to do: Focus on your craft and working on it intensely. Circle back with said industry person in 1 year to keep them updated on improvements.
Read as: I lost track of what you sent me because it is not as important of everything else I have to deal with right now. I am disorganized and despite wanting to be a nice human and get back to you, you are not my boss or my clients so you have to be patient.
What to do: Be understanding. Accept your relevance to them and work on building that in other ways that don’t include bugging them.
Read as: You will probably get exposed to new ears therefore we won’t pay you for your time. Also your band doesn’t present enough value in this situation to get paid and your agent (you probably don’t have one) isn’t hounding me for money so playing for exposure is indicative of how we see your value in this situation.
What to do: Evaluate the opportunity based on your own realistic knowledge of where your band is at. Will this allow you to increase your value and make you look good? Will you build good relationships that will lead to bigger and better opportunities down the road? Or will this hurt your band’s image and relationships? Will this conflict with your other gigs? Do what is best for the band in the long-term and move forward. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the opportunity if you need to, but also don’t be silly and turn it down if it will help you.
Read as: We don’t need your band bad enough to take money away from the other more valuable artists. If you say no to this opportunity we will just move onto the next band. We used up the budget with larger artists of more value.
What to do: See above answer.
Read as: I’m a wiener and don’t like taking responsibility for my own decisions and being confident when I’m delivering bad news and speaking to people.
What to do: Back off. This person lives their life thinking things just happen to them rather than taking control and making things happen for themself. Chances are you don’t want them on your team.
Read as: You confuse my ears and I don’t know where to place you in the market.
What to do: This could be a good thing or a bad thing. Ask for clarification.
Read as: You are not the next Lorde or Arcade Fire so I don’t have time for you right now.
What to do: Back off. These guys are fad chasers and will come back to you if/when they realize you produce solid music that stands the test of time.
Read as: Our boss wants us to sign the next Paramore.
What to do: Be yourself. If you are not the next Paramore do not try to be.
Read as: We have a specific sound in mind and vision for our company (which is a totally healthy thing) and you are not within it. **I like this one!
What to do: Say thank you and move on!
Read as: You haven’t blown us away enough to make us bend over backwards to do whatever we can to work with you.
What to do: Prove your value one show at a time. Put your head down and work hard on your writing, gigs, and building fans one by one. These people will notice if you create a ruckus.
Read as: We have a plan and are very organized. You are not killing it enough to make us change that.
What to do: *See above
Read as: Your song could be good, but it’s not really demanding anyone’s attention. It plays from beginning to end without me being pulled in so you should go back to the drawing board.
What to do: Question who the feedback is coming from and whether you agree or disagree. Do what feels best to for your artistic vision while incorporating feedback from those you trust.
Read as: I don’t know what it is, because I have a hard time speaking but something about this band is not ready. An element needs to be better developed or I just don’t fully ‘get’ an aspect of it.
What to do: Keep working on your craft.
Read as: There is a slick sheen on a well-toured and experienced band, whether it’s seeing them live or hearing a recording – and you just don’t have that yet. You are not ready to market and export to larger audiences because you have to work on your songs or performance more.
What to do: Get to work.
Read as: I want to get a read on how fast you grow to understand where you will be at in 1 or 2 years based on where you are now. If you say 1 year and you suck I am ok with that, if you say 5 years and you suck I need to leave now.
What to do: Be truthful, but disregard their judgement. Work hard and grow as you were.
Read as: Need to bring in some professional help either in a song-writing, performance etc. capacity to improve the existing situation but they are on their way to awesome-ness.
What to do: Work with those you trust to further develop!
Read as: Get rid of X, he is holding you back. I like the band, but would like it better if X wasn’t in it.
What to do: Tell them to F off and stand behind your band mates.
Read as: I have nothing to say to you right now and you haven’t warranted enough importance in my life for a response. But you might one day and there is a chance I have flagged or forwarded it on and will come back to it one day.
What to do: Stay positive and understand that you value is just not there yet. Focus on the things you can control like building your fan base and email replies will come when you aren’t obsessing over them!
Multi-award-winner, singer/songwriter, and suit-wearer extraordinaire David Myles expresses in our latest Marcato Musician testimonial that he “doesn’t know how he could tour without Marcato!”
“It’s what I look to most when I am on the road.”
In the upcoming 2014 East Coast Music Awards, David’s album In the Nighttime is nominated for Folk Recording, Solo Recording, and Album of the Year. His “Inner Ninja” co-write with Classified is nominated for Song of the Year and Fan’s Choice Video of the Year. And, David is nominated for Songwriter of the Year for his “So Blind” collaboration with Classified.
Check out his testimonial bellow, then head over to his website at davidmyles.com to learn more about this amazing guy!
The latest Marcato-powered artist to be featured on our blog is the Montreal-based Half Moon Run.
Hearing these guys for the first time today was such a treat! Definitely one of the most talented bands I’ve heard in a while!
From their bio: Across the globe from NME to Brooklyn Vegan, tastemakers and musicians (including Mumford and Sons!) are all singing the trio’s praises, and Australia is lucky enough to get the year’s first look, in a run of intimate venues around the country.
Half Moon Run’s unique sound fuses together the restless elements of indie, pop and roots with beautiful rhythmic harmonies, delicate guitar lines and a hint of warm electronica.
You owe it to yourself to check out this live-in-the-studio video for “Call Me in the Afternoon” — the dude playing drums and keyboards at the same time is amazing!
The latest Marcato-powered artist to be featured on our blog is the up-and-coming Texas-based country star, Kris Gordon.
Kris was born to sing country music. It’s found in his West Texas Panhandle origins and his family’s musical legacy. You can hear it in his voice and his way with a song, and witness it in his seasoned ability to get crowds dancing at every dancehall, club, and honky-tonk he plays.
It’s also heard throughout the 10 songs on Gordon’s debut album, Don’t Let Go Tonight. Produced by Dean Miller, son of country legend Roger Miller, it strikes a canny balance between the best of the time-honored Nashville sound and the Texas Country spirit. Gordon sings of joys, sorrows, mysteries and passions on emotive numbers with a romantic tick or rocking kick. With the first single and video, “The Upside of Down”, leading the charge, Gordon delivers an assured and winning collection of rooted contemporary country that’s right on time and on par to tackle the Texas scene and well beyond!
Check out Kris’ video for, “The Upside Of Down”, here:
P.S. Marcato’s resident country music expert, Natasha, highly recommends “Colder Than A Bad Girl’s Heart”, which you can hear on Kris’ Marcato EPK!
The latest Marcato-powered artist to be featured on our blog is the incredible progressive jazz-funk trio, 3 Brave Souls.
Three generations of Miles Davis alumni — Ndugu Chancler, Darryl Jones, and John Beasley — have joined forces to create a sound inspired by their Louisiana and Chicago roots, filled with thick-pocket grooves and stirring vocals. This self-titled debut for BFM Jazz is in consideration for Grammy nominations in 7 categories!
Check out this funky gem, “Wanna Get Away?”, featuring Sy Smith:
The latest Marcato-powered artist to be featured on our blog is Nova Scotia-native, Mo Kenney.
Mo recently released her self-titled debut on the prestigious Toronto label Pheromone Recordings in partnership with Joel Plaskett’s imprint, New Scotland Records. East Coast rock and roll hero Plaskett isn’t just involved on the label side, he produced and played on the album, as well as contributing a couple of co-writes.
Mo has already garnered serious respect from her singer/songwriter peers. The list of those loudly singing her praises includes Ron Sexsmith, Brad Roberts (Crash Test Dummies), Gordie Sampson, and Steve Poltz. “To hear those comments from musicians you look up to is so nice,” Mo says.
Check out this great live video for ’Déjà vu’ by Mo Kenney with Joel Plaskett:
Well, it’s time for my monthly music business blog and I just happen to be in the process of working on a record release for The Tom Fun Orchestra, under my label Company House Records. I thought I’d talk about how to put out a record nationally with very little time and a tight budget. My example throughout the blog will be The Tom Fun Orchestra’s upcoming “Earthworm Heart” release.
My golden rule for releasing a record is to have the master in my hand before I give the band an album release date. This gives a nice big window of time to get people excited about the album and build lots of hype for the release. Unfortunately this time, I did not obey my own golden rule! Instead, I let the band convince me that they will be done in a few weeks and figured we would have ample time — of course, that wasn’t the case. I actually just got the master last week, the tour starts in a week, and the release is less than a month away. Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us. We are faced with almost no time to get everything in order and very little money since this timeframe leaves us no time to raise the the kind of cash normally required to properly put a record out. Nonetheless, I feel this is a great tutorial since I know that many DIY bands and indie labels are forced into this situation from time to time.
1. Situation analysis / rough planning
After a few listens through the record, we established that there are not really any tracks that would fit commercial radio. From there, we decided the focus should be on short lead press, CBC radio (the Canadian staple!) and college radio. Due to our tight budget, the focus is on finding a firm that can bundle press, CBC, and college radio at a budget rate. A cross country release tour has been booked for some time, so we know we will have the band in all of the major markets nationally. Between the band and Company House, we have a few clever social media folks. We will be making the best use of social strategy possible. This includes a bunch of live footage and other random ridiculous video footage that we will attempt to package into some form of content. Another bonus is the band has someone going on the road with them to take pictures and video. This will help ensure there will be loads of new content throughout the tour.
The band already has a fan base. They have been touring for a few years and this is their second record. Combined with nearly 3,000 fans on Facebook and over 1,400 followers on Twitter, we have some great stuff to work with. In addition, the band has an fan mailing list with over 2,000 people. We will certainly embrace all of these networks of people to spread the word about the release and tour. The record is a different sound than the last record. This could work to the band’s advantage or disadvantage. Assumably there will be people that will not like the shift in style, and others that will connect better than they did with the last recording. Either way, it is safe to say that the record, for better or for worse, could be outside of the current fan-base’s expectations.
I recommend making use of the SWOT analysis in mostly all of these situations. Though it seems like just a weird thing they used to teach you in school, it truly is a great way to understand a situation. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The first 2, strengths and weaknesses, pertain to internal conditions, whereas opportunities and threats are primarily external. This is what it looks like based on our working example:
I recommend the SWOT analysis mostly because I feel that it is essential before starting to develop a plan/team/release strategy. Everyone needs to share information and be intimately aware of the current situation. The plan can then be assembled taking advantage of the positive elements and creating strategies to mitigate the negative risks associated with the current situation.
2. Assembling a team and assigning responsibility
With the tight budget we have decided to go with an affordable press company that also services college and CBC radio. Someone from the label is going to work with one of the band members to deliver a social media campaign and make use of the photographer/videographer who will be doing the tour with the band. There should be an overall project leader designated. The distributer will help get some in-store performances and encourage the stores (what little are still left) to order the recording. Here is an example of a breakdown of our team and their responsibilities:
Label (Company House Records team):
The Band (The Tom Fun Orchestra):
Tour Photographer / Videographer:
PR & Radio Agent:
Distribution (EMI Music Canada):
3. Weekly team meeting schedule
A weekly meeting is key to keeping everyone on the same page. In our case, everyone is spread across Canada so not able to meet together in person. Skype is our tool of choice! The meetings always have an agenda which is distributed days before the meeting. This way everyone can prepare for the conversation. Additionally, all supporting documents are circulated with the agenda. With everyone well prepared for the meeting we are able to get the job done within 15-20 minutes, so that no time is wasted. Remember, 8 people meeting for 15 minutes is 2 hours of work that is not getting done, so even though meetings are important, it is also necessary to be organized, well prepared and efficient.
4. Team meeting #1 – Refine the plan
Give 40 minutes or so for the first meeting as this will be an introduction of everyone and their roles and a walk through the rough plan with the objective of defining a detailed plan and timeline. The rough plan is used as a guide and a tool to get everyone onboard, but now you should take advantage of these people and tweak the plan out to make the best use of resources. Everyone is part of the plan and it is important that everyone knows their roles, as well as the roles of others. It is critical that shortly after this meeting, a final plan is circulated around to the team so everyone can have a read. One of the key parts is the timeline. This timeline has everything that is going to happen during the project with details on who is responsible. For this we actually use Marcato Musician’s calendar and tasks modules to create every event with automated reminders programmed to keep everyone on point. Every member of the team gets a login to Marcato Musician, where they can all see and subscribe to the timeline, as well as be informed of any deviations from the plan in real time. If someone fails to do their part, it quickly becomes apparent to the rest of the team.
We also use Marcato Musician for communicating all press, radio or other achievements. Here we simply create a message thread, add the entire team and give everyone access to post stuff. As things happen that are relevant to the release, we post them in the thread. Everyone on the team will get an update. These updates are great at keeping everyone up to speed, but also they are great motivators. For example, as the band gets press and radio, the morale goes up and people get excited. As people get more excited, the project will pick up pace. The excitement tends to engage people more deeply into the project and the snowball effect starts to take place. Radio success will encourage press success, which will encourage social medial activity and so on. Since the team is checking off their action items in Marcato and posting successes and project updates in the message thread, the weekly meetings become less about “what happened in the last week” and more about how are we going to pick up velocity this week. It’s also great after the release to have a running list of your achievements to refer to if necessary.
5. Roll out the plan
Keep working on your release and keep track of everything that is going on. As the time goes by you may find processes that need revision. That comes with the territory. Keep on truckin’!
So there you have it! In under 2 weeks we have built a team, put together a plan and have devised a process for the team to collaborate efficiently and effectively. Now, this is not that much different than how I would manage a release with significant budget and much more time, however without those things, this technique may be one of our most valuable assets to this campaign. As for the plan itself, this depends on your budget, musical genre, current level of success and the countries or territories in which you are releasing. Because of these factors I tried to stay away from strategies and focus primarily on management. Managing and delivering a strategy can be much more challenging than coming up with great ideas and plans. This approach forces you to include the entire team in the building of the strategy and track progress as the project progresses. If you stick to this method, you will make the most of your resources and you will be made aware of any problems before it’s too late.
Click here to check out a free track from Tom Fun. If you have any ideas on how we can share this project with the world, please let us know!
The latest Marcato-powered artist to be featured on our blog is the Cape Breton-based Celtic powerhouse, Sprag Session.
Sprag Session, formerly Colin Grant Band, has developed a unique style and repertoire of music. Lingering somewhere amidst the rich, soulful roots of traditional Cape Breton music and the grooves of a thousand branches of rock and funk, Colin Grant embarks on his latest project: a dynamic and thoughtful mingling of beats and melodies from an extensive host of musical influences. Far from the awkward malaise of mohawked bagpipers and kilted punks, the Sprag Session has created a kind of Celtic fusion that is as much Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and Frank Zappa as it is Ashley MacIsaac.
Check out this great live video of their tune, ’S nice-a-tron:
Marcato Musician client The Tom Fun Orchestra just released a new single off their upcoming album “Earthworm Heart”. You can stream the single on Soundcloud. Fans have been anxiously awaiting this 2nd album from the band which is set to release in late October or early November 2012.
And if that’s not enough, check out their music video for “Bottom Of the River”. This is from the last release You Will Land With a Thud. It was nominated as Best Animation in a Video for the 2009 UK Music Video Awards.
This week we have four of our amazing Musician clients releasing new albums. Congratulations to Jenn Grant, Tim Chaisson, Mo Kenney and Charlie A’Court. We’re so excited for them (and for the new material to listen to!). We know what an exciting and stressful time this can be in an artists career. Just remember to stay organized and enjoy the ride. Check out their info below:
Jenn Grant – The Beautiful Wild
The Beautiful Wild is Jenn’s 3rd album released by label Six Shooter Records. This album is said to be a depart in style from previous record “Honeymoon Punch” and captures a more dense, exotic sound from the singer. The album reflects finding the courage to lose oneself in the wilderness, in all of its savage and sublime experiences. Get it here.
Tim Chaisson – The Other Side
25 year old Tim Chaisson is a singer-songwriter from Prince Edward Island. His latest album “The Other Side” was recorded at Woodshed Studio in Toronto (operated by Blue Rodeo) and produced by Colin Linden (Bruce Cockburn, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings). The album is said to blends Maritime roots and folk music with a lush yet minimal arrangement creating a heartfelt listening experience. Interested? Buy the album here.
Charlie A’court – Triumph & Disaster
A Rudyard Kipling poem stems the inspiration for the release of Charlie’s much anticipated 4th album, ‘Triumph & Disaster’. Charlie is an amazing and electric performer. If you are looking for a blend of blues, soul and folk then this album is for you. Charlie hopes to reflect with this album that balance is the best approach to life. We completely agree. Buy it here.
Mo Kenney – Mo Kenney
This is Mo Kenney’s debut release. She’s been making waves on the East Coast for the last year or more under the direction of the East Coast’s finest, Joel Plaskett. Mo’s style is fresh and takes influence from classic and alternative rock and combines it with her pop-y singer/songwriter style. We think you’ll enjoy so give it a listen. Buy it now!