A couple of weeks ago I published an article titled ‘Fan Interaction: Why successful EDM Artists and Jam Bands are ahead of the game.’, where I covered artist»fan»fan interaction, the formation and importance of tribes/scenes, the necessity to include and connect the audience now more than ever, the belief that it is more than just the music, and the idea of your fans being a part of the culture.
Tonight, April 16, 2013 Bob Lefsetz published an article titled ‘Electronic Music’ and though he may have never laid eyes on my article, he expresses strikingly similar realizations. Here are a handful of direct quotes paralleling just about everything mentioned in my article weeks earlier:
“It’s about the experience.”
“Don’t think music, think culture.”
“…be thankful your tiny cult appreciates you…”
“And you wonder why festivals are today’s live entertainment kingpins. Because it’s not about the talent so much as being there.”
“The era of going to the show and standing in the corner alone, knowing only the band, are done.”
“And these festivals are giant networking parties, where they get to mingle and have a good time. And it’s all about the good time. Sure, the music is an element of the mix, but if you could go to the show with only ten of your best bros, you wouldn’t. Nobody wants a legendary DJ to play for ten people like the oldsters hire Elton and the classic rockers for privates, that’s a dead scene. They want to be party with thousands, they want to feel the energy, electronic music is not about being exclusive, but inclusive!”
”But what’s important is the scene. The inclusivity referenced above. Now performer and audience are in it together.”
”So if you want to succeed in the new world of entertainment, you’d better let your audience inside.”
“Being in the back with your buds dancing is just as fine as being inside the velvet rope, oftentimes it’s better. That’s where your friends are, that’s where the opportunities are. You’re not looking for anything connected with money, rather you’re looking for raw connection. The music is just the grease.”
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?
South by Southwest through the unfiltered lens of a current mid-level artist…
Hi Austin. Fuck SXSW. There… I said it.
Here, the music comes last. 5 minute set-up, no sound check, 15 minute set. The “music” element is all a front, it’s the first thing to be compromised. Corporate money everywhere but in the hands of the artists, at what is really just a glorified corporate networking party. Drunk corporate goons and other industry vampires and cocaine. Everyone is drunk, being cool. “Official” bureaucracy and all their mindless rules. Branding, branding, branding. It’s bullshit… sorry.
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.
ProTools is the new guitar.
We’re in the age of production.
Almost everyone’s participating.
Live concerts, the recording process, the number of “production” educational programs, electronic music, and much more.
Computers have been shaping the future, innovation, culture, art, and more much in the same way rock and roll once did. If you’re a part of the youth you want in – the lifestyle, the absurdness, and the endless possibilities – it’s the same for programmers as it is for electronic musicians!
Anything is possible!
And today, a digital recording setup is cheaper than most guitars, and plug-ins are shared almost as freely as records now! You didn’t know that? Or you didn’t know what a plug-in was? How are you going to make it in this business…
It’s exciting, yet most people insist that it’s terrifying.
Yes, digital recording lowers the barrier of entry, and yes, it does add noise to the preexisting pile of clutter ignited by affordable digital recording, but, it does another thing too when used properly — it allows artists to create, and to connect, to explore sounds, dimensions, creations never before possible, to record anywhere, to be anywhere; it allows us to become omnipresent!
Great art will always seep through the cracks – and today quicker than ever because people are starting to talk again, and it’s powerful!
I just can’t align with all of the complaining – let’s face it, your music’s not going to go anywhere if it’s NOT GOOD!
And by “good” I don’t mean that I like it or think that it’s good, I mean that 2,000+ other people think that it’s good – meaning they listen to you regularly, connect with you, buy tickets to your shows, tell their friends about you, sport your social objects, etc. In a week or month from today that number should’ve increased considerably!
And if you complain about decreasing record sales, get out now! If you don’t tour, forget about it, you’re not a real artist anyway – real artists are in this for the feelings, the connections, the experiences, NOT THE MONEY!
If it doesn’t touch people in some way, if it doesn’t change their life, their view, their perspective, or their level of enjoyment/happiness, then it isn’t working!
This is unbelievably difficult for artists to internalize – the last thing an artist wants to experience is a lack of people connecting with their art. In a world where I can listen to anything I want at any time, and choose exactly what shows I want to go to, there is absolutely no room for mediocrity.
Hundreds of records come across my desk every week in the same way hundreds of records come across your computer screen every week!
Work harder and get better or just stop.
The music industry is not dead –- our willingness to tolerate anything other than what we want, when we want it, is dead.
The audience has upped the ante.