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Q&A: What do you think of all the MP3 sites popping up everywhere? Are they useful?
By John Taglieri - 06/06/2007 - 10:53 AM EDT

Hi.
I was both captivated and horrified whilst reading you bogus manager story. I'm really glad I'm promoting myself on a small scale at the moment.

My question to you is what you think of the mp3 sites that are springing up everywhere, and whether you feel that these are damaging songwriters as most require free tracks. I feel that I don't mind giving one track free for download as long as I retain ownership but I don't know if I am being naive.

Also, I would like to open the question that is the internet overtaking the creative process of writing, as I am finding that in order to promote myself, I have creative dry periods due to time taken up 'fiddling' with my website.

Sometimes I feel like cutting the plug off my computer and locking myself in a room with just an acoustic!!! Also,Also I am at a stalemate at the moment in terms of how I promote my own music further. I have a website which is gaining several hits per day but I wonder if you may be kind enough just to give me some other pointers. I am looking to write for other artists, mainly.

Please, please let me know your constructive opinion if possible on my music/website - address below: -- Mike S. http://www.woden.com/~mikey

Hi Mike! Thanks for the compliments. Yeah, it was not an easy thing to go through and if I can make someone else think twice and really make sure it's the right decision, it makes me feel better. But hey, you live and learn and don't let it get you down. It was a good lesson and now I know beter for next time.

AS far as MP3 is concerned, it is as good as any promotional tool there is out there. We songwriters who are in the beginnings of our careers have to make a choice as to whether letting one song go to a few folks for free is worth the potential exposure or not. You're not being naive at all. There are some writers who won't give anything away for free. Then there are those who just want the exposure...it all depends on what you're after. MP3, and the sites that utilize it, work great for some people, with artists getting as many as 8-10,000 downloads a month, or not so great, with some getting hardly any downloads. It all depends on if you know how and can direct traffic to your MP3 so that it gets downloaded. But this comes with any promotional tool you use. If you can't get the word out and make people know about you, nothing you do will matter. You can be on 1,000 MP3 sites, but if you don't drive those site's viewers to your page, it's as good as not being there. What it really comes down to is what you feel is the best promotional tool for you to use to get your music out there and heard by the most amount of people possible, and how hard you are willing to work at the promotion. That could be radio campaigns, internet campaigns, or full press campaigns. But if you are like most of us who are struggling on a shoe string budget, you have to do it yourself, and that means research and choices. A friend of mine, and a fellow writer on the Muse, Christina Fasano, has always hesitated to even bother with MP3 usage not feeling it was worth it. She now is giving it a try, but the jury is still out. Like me, she has found so many other avenues for promotion that have been greatly sucessful, that being lost on an MP3 site didn't seem like a worth while venture or use of time that could be better spent on things that you know are working for you. But, I happen to think that MP3 can be a great promotional tool, if you want to really work at it and use it to it's fullest. I guess we'll see!

As far as how I promoted my CD, well, it just comes down to a lot of work. I spend hours every night, usually 4-6, at my computer linking to every independent site I can find and emailing everyone I can find asking if they will review the CD, do an interview, etc. Most sites are willing to give it a listen, and most will give you a fair review. This has helped build my press kit considerably with great reviews. I haven't been to your site yet, so I'm not sure what kind of music you play, but it doesn't really matter...if it's good, it's good and these people will generally be glad to get the word out. The nice thing about the independent community is that most people want to help others who are in the same position, which is why this community is growing larger everyday and the support system for independent artists keeps getting stronger.

I know you are in the U.K. so this may be a little different, I'm not sure, but as far as college radio and radio in general is concerned, that is a lot of work. Lots and lots of phone calls...I mean about 10-20 just to get them to take it in, then another 30-40 to make sure they are playing it so you don't get lost in the mix. And this is per station!! If you are patient and polite enough, it will usually get you in the door and on the air, then it's up to the music to keep you there. I have had some stations put it on and pull it after a few weeks because it wasn't doing well, and some that still have it in rotation after almost a year. If you are pleasantly persistent, you'll usually do ok. I am an animal when it comes to my promotion, but you have to be a businessman as much as a musician. For me, it's gotten to the point of hiring a company to do a radio campaign for me because with all my Internet work, I can't keep up both ends anymore. I still have a day job, so all I have is lunchtime and evenings. Plus I still am a musician and I have gigs, bookings, practice and all the other stuff associated with that also. As you know, we have to be our own booking agents as well, so that eats up a lot of time following up with clubs and such for bookings...almost as much as for the promotional needs. So it came time to get some help, except this time not a manger...that I do myself now. Look around the net for Internet radio stations also. I have been finding that they will give most artist a listen and usually airplay and it only take an email or two to get in the door. You have to be a good writer to get your point across, though, because you can't schmooze them with verbal charm like you can on the phone.

Keep one major thing in mind though. If you are going to actively promote yourself, be ready to have creative dry periods. You can't keep your mind going 1,000 miles an hour to promote and follow up and then have the time, concentration, and focus to write really good songs. I can say that when I am promoting myself, I don't write nearly as much. And the quality of the songs is less then when I am relaxed and ready to let go and write. I'm a spontaneous writer. I'm not one who can say..."OK, I'm going to sit down and write a song right now!" For me it just happens. So the problem is, I have no time to be spontaneous when I'm doing a million promotional things at once. But there really isn't much of a choice. I made the CD, now it's time to make a name.

All in all it's a lot of work, time, effort, aggravation, you know...all the good things music is about! I hope this helps you in some way. Please feel free to email me any time and let me know what you are up to and I'm going to go and look at your site and check it out!!

Check out my site if you can at www.LeapDogMusic.com

Keep The Faith!

John




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