You know you’re destined for stardom; your Mum says you’ve a wonderful voice, you reckon you’re better than anything on Britain's Got Talent and you’ve recorded some great sounds, albeit in your bedroom. But hold on! Whilst your family and friends may love you, certain things need to be understood from the start:
You have to be motivated – like really motivated. Grammy award winning, pop singer-songwriter, Dua Lipa, recalled one of her early shows: “My manager had to ask a group of people, if he bought them a drink, would they come and see the show?”
You need to see getting your music out there as a business, not a hobby. That means loads of effort with a proper plan and realistic goals that you can stick to. Not easy when people cant go out because of lockdown!
You have to have friends who are prepared to be honest - brutally honest about what’s wrong with your songs. OK, you might not be speaking to them any more but you have to recognise there’s probably some truth in what they're saying, so...
...be prepared to listen, learn and change.
Still with us? Then let's go! AWTY got some tips from experimental, pop singer-songwriter, Eden Dawn about some of the steps you might need to take.
1. Get on playlists
“I’m constantly trying to get on as many playlists as I can." That it helps, can be shown by her song ‘Coming Undone’, only released in July 2020, which has been streamed over 10,000 times on Spotify.
Whenever I release a new song, the tabs on my computer are full of everyone I can find. I upload to the lot!”
However, only upload to playlists that are relevant to your genre, although still be as wide as possible within that. “I upload to any playlist with the word pop in it, whether it's indie, experimental, dream, or singer-songwriter”, says Eden.
2. Make full use of social media
Remember Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all free, so join groups, and like pages that focus on promoting unsigned artists.
Be prepared to make a regular commitment to post, share, retweet and comment on other people's material.
Like people from your genre who have plenty of followers and then regularly share their material.
Have professional looking photos with good picture quality that are relevant to your content.
Have an identity that is consistent across all platforms; eg, colour, typeface, the way you present content, etc.
Checking your analytics on social media is a good way of knowing which posts are popular and which are getting engagement. Use that to help define your future content.
Finally, if you don't post regularly don't be surprised if people lose interest (even those loyal family members).
3. Find a distributor that works for you
There are hundreds of music distribution companies out there, all offering ways to get onto streaming platforms. Some will offer better deals than others. This is not because they are trying to scam you, but because their offer may depend on whether you’re intending to release lots of music or collaborate with someone (this could mean an additional fee). You also need to consider your financial situation. Some distributors will require a monthly or annual subscription, whereas others you pay for each upload.
Eden changed distributor at one point. “The original distributor I was using, wasn’t bad. but I was a student and paying monthly wasn’t great for my budgeting. I decided to change to one that I paid yearly which worked much better for me.”
4. Make use of your skills and those of other people
Eden, was a graphic design student and had done a year’s photography course before starting graphic design.
“I created most of my artwork myself. I also used equipment I had from the course to create self-promos. They were really just selfies but a bit more arty.”
Despite her own skills she also used a professional photographer to get real quality. If you don’t have everything you need, then collaborate with others or make use of resources that are easily accessible. “I didn't have any live instruments on my songs, because it wasn’t feasible due to lockdown. I had to find ways of using computer generated instruments and buying a lot of sample packs (collections of sounds which can then be used on software like Logic)” said Eden. She also said taking time to experiment was important.
“I had to work out where in the house was best to record, using tips I had read online, such as, attaching a pillow behind your microphone helps sound quality. Some producers might read this and think, 'My god, what was she doing?'”
5. Get good media coverage
Pitching well is key, whether to newspapers, bloggers, radio stations, magazines, or web sites. When you approach people:
Introduce yourself, saying why you're contacting them and be personable. Include links to your social media pages and music. Make life easy for your readers!
Be confident in what you’re doing - big yourself up a little.
Show an interest in who you're pitching to and work at understanding their needs and content. People respond to being flattered (not like AWTY of course!!). But you want to work with people who have done their homework.
Getting someone to read an email, or listen to your music is vital for your career. As an influencer you don’t have time to help those who are not prepared to make an effort. So make sure you appreciate the time people give you. Just saying ‘thank you’ goes a long way!
How did Eden do this: “My partner works in PR for a festival, so he was able to help me pitch my music to gain media coverage as well as help with the Spotify ‘about’ section.” She also says don't give up on any opportunity. “One day I suddenly decided at five in the morning to upload my song to BBC Introducing. I just thought why not.” Eden’s efforts resulted in her being played on the radio. “I didn’t even expect to hear back, as I thought they wouldn’t want my music. It was such a lovely surprise.”
You can follow Eden on the links below.
On the Rocks
A lively stage presence that oozes confidence and a voice like fingernails across glass, you just wouldn’t mess with Courteney Yeoell. But as Bristol’s answer to Debbie Harry reveals, confidence only comes from a lot of hard work, research and a constant struggle to overcome nerves.