To follow up from my last article on musicians seeking endorsements, I thought it might be helpful to talk about some items that are essential for a musician’s “publicity toolbox.” One of the most basic items a musician should always have is a musical example – plain and simple. I know this might sound a bit silly, but while working in artist relations, I often received unsolicited requests from musicians who were interested in becoming endorsing artists. My first question to them seemed pretty elementary in my opinion, and it was, simply, “Can you send me an example of your playing? An MP3 file or video clip?” It was surprising to see how few people actually had something to submit. I’d often get a link to a grainy YouTube video where the musician is in the back of the ensemble, obscured by a lead vocalist, additional band members, and various pieces of equipment.
Oddly enough, I used to spend hours scouring YouTube for the next greatest star, and I was amazed at the number of videos out there – from kids. So, it seems to me that if today’s youth can create engaging and creative videos, professionals should be able to as well. If you think about it, when you were in high school, you probably had all the time, talent, and creativity – yet little on the side of monetary funding. I know this was the case when I was that age, so I think it is safe to conclude that the production of a video to post on YouTube is quite achievable.
Do it! If you are performing, you may need to have a friend videotape you, but in this day and age, it is possible to videotape with everything from the most expensive semi-professional video cameras to one’s very own smartphone or Blackberry. If a video is not possible, you should at least consider recording yourself. I could sit down and record a practice session on the same MacBook Pro that I am using to write this article. It is amazing how accessible these resources are.
So, think simply and be resourceful. Get together with friends to get your music recorded. If you are looking for something a bit more professional that is also cost-effective, you may want to collaborate with students in photography, video, and sound engineering programs. Check out the local colleges in your area. If they have these programs, research the name of a program chair to help you contact the students. This is a very cost-effective and mutually beneficial solution. When I was a graduate student at Eastman, I was taking a public relations course where the final project was to create a press kit. Our assignment was to contact students in the photography program at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). It was a perfect solution to help us acquire the materials for our press kits while providing the RIT students with a chance to build their portfolios.
Also, think about using as many social media platforms as possible to gain visibility. Social media seems to constantly change and evolve, but the one steadfast element is free accessibility. You can create a “band/musician page” on Facebook, a Twitter account, blogs, a YouTube channel, a Tumblr page…and the list goes on and on. Remember the days when everyone asked you for your band’s website address? That may still be the case, and if you can build your own page at little to no cost, you definitely should. I would recommend connecting yourself to the free social media channels previously mentioned, because the potential for quickly expanding visibility is incredible. Since our favorite legendary rock bands are out there Tweeting and on Facebook, it makes sense that rising stars should as well!