This is part 1 of an article written from the perspective of a program director/MD focusing on the creation and submission of materials for college radio – as a radio promotion company, and independently – though many of these points can be extrapolated and applied to areas both inside and outside of the music industry.
1. It’s called a one-sheet for a reason.
Things may be different now, but the one-sheet being one page in length hasn’t changed. The one-sheet, known in other industries as the pitch-sheet or sell-sheet, when executed properly, provides program directors and others with absolutely essential information about you and your record in an easy-to-read, concise format no more than one page in length. You can find these things piled up in the trashcan at most radio stations or squeezed in between the casings of physical promo CDs. More and more often they’re coming via download packages with the record’s .mp3’s/.wav’s or even directly inside of emails linking to content.
If you can’t stand to have only one sheet, just don’t send anything – it will be ignored.
2. Know your objective – catch, keep, inform.
Typically the objective is to get the record played on air, added to the library, charting, or to coordinate interviews and performances.
Whatever your objective is, make it clear; don’t just send in materials – tell the MD exactly what you want to happen.
In order for your one-sheet to make an impact, you need to catch, keep, and inform. Catch the attention of the music director, keep them reading, and inform them of any unique details, dates, records, contact information, etc.
There are many different approaches to catching, and keeping, the attention of a program director/MD – find out what works best for the project and it’s artistic vision.
A story, humor, visual art, absurdness – the list goes on; make it an experience.
The Heath Bros. authored a phenomenal book, “Made To Stick”, in which they illustrate that the most effective ideas and pitches include more than one of the following attributes: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Story-telling (http://heathbrothers.com/books/made-to-stick/).
3. The layout is crucial – make it easy.
The layout and content must be complimentary. Everything must be easy to find, and easy to read. Great content with a poor layout will be ignored. A great layout with poor content may make it a bit further, but will ultimately be ignored. Think of it as the home page of your website, front page of a magazine, or even the first date – you want someone to care, to keep reading, wanting to experience more, after a very quick glimpse. A great layout (whether clean, unique, etc.) is an excellent way to catch the attention of a music director inundated by mediocre materials.
4. Aesthetic alignment.
Your one-sheet should look like you.
5. Watch the text.
Say only what needs to be said, and remain tastefully consistent with fonts, colors, and sizes of text on the sheet.
If you don’t care enough to take the time to proofread, I can’t even imagine how little you care about the art you’re sending me!
7. If you’re not playing within a 100-mile radius of my location, please don’t tell me about all of your tour dates.
Create another version of your one-sheet, for example, one without any tour dates or stating that the band is not touring in the stations general territory, but that more information can be found at [bandname].com.
8. I don’t care what WFJN, WKAK, AFNV, LocalCityNews, Friendsblog.com, or any other mediocre, run-of-the-mill “media” outlet has to say about you.
Unless Rolling Stone, SPIN, Pitchfork, NPR or some other hugely influential media outlet has something to say about you, I really don’t care. And even they’re beginning to lose traction.
9. Your music is the reason I should care, not because of someone who worked on the record.
Especially when that someone has no track record.
10. What’s really necessary?
- Artist name.
- Record name.
- Concise, unique, captivating, and vivid description of the record.
- Date adding at radio AND date of release.
- Concise bio – may be tied into record description.
- Similar artists.
- Recommended tracks.
- FCC Warnings.
- Tour Dates (if within 100 miles of recipients location).
- Easy-to-read link to website.
- Contact information – name, phone, and email – for artist contact (as well as radio promotion contact if promo company has been hired).
This is part 1 of “Submitting materials: one-sheets and college radio promotion.”
The biggest thing in common between these types of acts, aside from the volume of drugs consumed, is the level of mastery in connecting fans with fans.
Let’s take a quick look at three different types of fan interaction:
Artist >> Fan
This is how you make and keep fans – usually. They see you play a show, or they find your record somewhere and connect with it; they decide that it’s had a profound impact on them, changed their level of enjoyment/happiness, understanding, perspective, or life, and the relationship begins. They come back, follow you online, sign up for your mailing list, buy merch, and more as the relationship grows.
Fan >> Fan
A satisfying interaction – this is two people experiencing something they’re both extremely passionate about; listening to records, dancing, singing with another fan; conversations about the artist both in-person and online (fan sites, groups, forums, etc.). This is incredibly enjoyable for fans when it happens; they can exchange thoughts, opinions, live recordings, talk about best shows, new tours, records, and much more. Social objects – such as t-shirts, merchandise, vinyl, etc. – help greatly in igniting fan-to-fan interactions.
Artist >> Fan >> Fan
The less understood – a combination of the two aforementioned types of interaction. This is going to a concert and experiencing not only the artist, but the fans and other like-minded members of the tribe as well – all having a great time. People talking, communicating, dancing – oftentimes costumes, beachballs, eccentric outfits, etc. – it’s a party and when you go, YOU are helping to create that experience, YOU become a part of something much bigger than you were before arriving for that show. And in both improvisational-laden styles, the fans (especially fans moving other fans) are an absolutely integral part of the live event!
Artists feed off this energy in the moment!
And the fans do too!
When Artist >> Fan >> Fan exists, you’ve successfully begun the formation of a Tribe/Scene/Culture.
This is what successful electronic artists and Jam bands have mastered. It’s about connecting people and having a great f*^#ing time! People don’t go to these shows to simply see and hear the artist, they go to be a part of something much bigger… and to have a great f*^#ing time!
And yes production has a lot to do with that now, but your production, lights, etc. can only be so effective – most people want to connect with others! They want to have a great f*^#ing time with other people and know that everyone else, including the artist, is having a great f*^#ing time! It’s part of the experience!
These artists’ fans are small reflections of the artist’s themselves. They live similar lifestyles, share similar beliefs, philosophies, likes and dislikes, etc.
They all know that going to a live show is about having a really f*^#king great time.
They all know that the music has to be great, but that there is more to it.
Your fans are a part of the culture.
Your fans are a part of you.
Are you in it for the experience?
Someone who’s going to spend 5$ on your CD, likely would have spent 10$.
But this shouldn’t be the argument.
Live music is about being in the moment. Those that are going to pay for that piece of plastic are not doing so to retrieve your music, they’re doing so to support you, to build a relationship, to possess a social object of yours – something that will spark conversation – to connect with you and your story!
It’s about building relationships and moving people!
If you’re not mingling after a great show, you’re missing opportunities!
And sometimes you give away records for free – when the act of doing so contributes to the aforementioned.
But most listeners won’t be enticed by free CDs that are oftentimes psychologically devalued.
If you move people they will want to reward you!
Maybe you’re good enough — maybe not.