7/98 - Jens Moller -
Music Business 105;
Getting Noticed -
Working the Media
Michael Jackson took advantage of the World Press (intentional or
not) by being seen doing odd and some times weird things. He showed
up in tabloid papers and trendy magazines/TV shows all over the
world. You can't buy publicity like that. Was any of it really news?
Sort of - it fed the interest that people have for entertainers. You
may not get world wide coverage, but you can attempt to get noticed
in the local Media. You don't need to buy the bones of the 'Elephant Man'
to do it.
As long as you have not done anything bad, getting free publicity
is to your advantage. In your efforts to make your Music/Artistry a
business, Public Relations is a huge part of getting noticed. You need
contacts in the industry and you need to find ways to get them to discuss
you when the opportunity arises. You have to be on the look-out for
TV, Radio and Printed Press people and find ways to help them get their
jobs done in such a way that you get mentioned, or showcased as a
What are your sources?
- Television - In the United States, many cities have one or
more local TV stations. They cover current events. Even if you are located
in a town that doesn't have a TV station, your town occasionally will
have reporters that cover the local scene. If these
reporters are planning a trip
to your town, you need to find out why and if there is some way for you
to become involved with what they are presenting. Obviously, you can't
plan and participate in disaster coverage (at least you shouldn't expect
or try to), but if you get with your local Chamber of Commerce, City
Hall, or Mayors office, newsworthy events can be found. Outside the United
States, you may have to be more creative, but if you watch TV, start paying
attention to what types of things get shown that relate to your musical
and artistic goals. You may have to travel quite a distance to get 30
seconds of air-time as part of the background music that a reporter uses
during their story - it may be worth it to you. Never miss an opportunity
to get on TV and promote yourself.
- Radio - There are 2 types in the United States - Commercial and
College (independent) Radio Stations. In other countries, the Radio Stations
may be operated by government agencies. You goal is to find a way to get
airplay. Its easier than you think, but your have to find ways to support
that Radio Stations causes, and help them do some things that they wouldn't
be able to do otherwise. Get creative and be prepared to do a lot of things
for free that are musically related.
- Newspapers - The Key here is 'News'. Getting listed in the
weekend entertainment section showing where your are performing is good
to do - it gets your name listed in the paper, but its also very important
to contribute to the community in some way that gets other people to read
about your music/artistry. You do this by participating in something
newsworthy. Newspapers are always looking for local stories, and while
they may not care a bit about local musicians, they are very big on
local events and charities in town.
- Direct Mailing - Keep track of people, businesses and
institutions that use the type of services that you provide. You'll
want to create a mailing list to keep these people informed about
your activities. You may want to categorize the contacts and do
quarterly (every 3 months) mailings, or more often when appropriate.
- Telephone Contact - Nothing beats person to person
communications. If you mail something to someone, its a good idea
to do a followup and ask them if they got the mailing and ask about
any events that you might be a good fit for. Often asking for the job
is what it takes to get it. You might also find that you are a poor
fit for the upcoming event - if so, pass on it and wait until a better
opportunity comes along.
- A Telephone Book - When you have no other place to start,
pick up the local phone book and start looking for businesses that
use your type of services. You might want to drive to other towns
and do the same thing. Internet resources like
can be helpful
in the United States, as they list businesses. Some other countries
also have created online telephone listings. You can call people, or
get a list of addresses to do a mass mailing. Look for Booking Agents
as well as Clubs, Colleges and City Offices - its quite possible that
a Booking Agent has locked down most of the paying opportunities in
the area and you may need to work with them to get established.
- Internet/Web Pages/News Groups - This area is quite new and
there are no rules to follow that might bring in a large number of hits.
I feel that you should have a Web Site. Your Web Site should have
pictures of you and your band/whatever and some personal notes about
your goals and the types of things that you have done in the past and
what you aspire to. A few 'WAV' files would be handy to allow people to
hear what you sound like. Anytime that you perform, you need to include
your Web Site URL. Make sure booking agents also have this available.
You might want to follow an Internet Newsgroup that relates to the area
that you are looking to conquer, or on topics that you might find a way
to get more contacts from. There are thousands of News Groups and you
will need to focus on those that give you the most for your effort. I
Suggest 'lurking' - ie. only reading the News Groups and looking for
contacts and opportunities. You can always reply to individuals who
post information. What ever you do, don't advertise in a News Group,
unless thats specifically what that News Group is set up for (no one
likes a Spammer).
Contacts often lead to bookings, but demand a lot of time and effort.
Direct Mail and your Telephone will probably get you the most work.
People may be more interested in your performances if you have gotten
some sort of coverage in the media. Your task is to figure how to
The things listed below have worked for me, and other people in the
past. You may need to put a new twist on to some of the ideas or
become more creative. The opportunity is there; make it yours.
Getting in Newspapers
There are many different types of publications that can help
publicize your efforts. Primarily, you will be most interested in
the City Newspaper (unless you are in a huge city, then most likely you
will be interested in a more localized Suburban Newspaper) and in papers
that focus on specific sets of people or areas of town - These could
be Entertainment focused, directed towards ethnic groups or primarily
aimed at certain types of businesses. If you have a local magazine, its
possible that you may want to find ways to get noted there as well. Some
will be daily, some weekly and others monthly. All are opportunities.
Most Newspapers publish some form of calendar of events. Try to get into
those events and mentioned. They also list businesses that provide
services. Find out where events are commonly held, when and by who.
People to know:
- Entertainment Editor - Covers Entertainment aspects of the
area. May focus mostly on movies and places to eat and could be
unfamiliar with what you do. There may be a
great difference in the types of things that the person who does this
likes and the types of things you do - don't let that stop you.
Write your 'Press Release' and offer it to them as background
material (don't attempt to do their job for them - this will
get you nowhere fast).
- Social Editor - Many parties and events are social events.
If you have some way of finding out about them in advance, or themes
to be used, it may give you an opportunity to find bookings.
- Special Interest Reporters - They are looking for a scoop,
or sometimes just some local flavor articles to meet their commitments
to covering the news. You may be able to convince them to write up
some location that you happen to be performing at when they write
Things to consider:
- Find a common ground between you and the Newspaper. They want 'News'
and you need to work that into what you are doing. If you are performing
at an Urban center for a good cause, let them cover the whole event and
try to include how you are helping bring a focus to the problem areas it
is solving. This is good press.
- If you are performing at a tourist attraction, try to make sure
that you are covered as a part of the attraction when its being reported.
- If you are performing anywhere, try to help get additional Newspaper
coverage of the place you are performing. This will benefit both you
and the club owner will appreciate the extra publicity too.
Getting Radio Airplay
In the United States, Radio Stations tend to be format driven. Some
examples are Soft Rock, Hard Rock, Album Oriented Rock, Country, Jazz,
New Wave, Rap/Hip Hop, Easy Listening, Oldies,
Classical, Religious, News, Talk or
some combination of any of these. Your act should fit into a category,
possibly many of these. You want to pursue the Radio Stations that
are the closest matches to your style and long term
Some Radio stations (very few)
play what ever they want. College stations often have a great deal
of latitude to play what ever they feel is interesting
and while they don't often have a huge market, they may be an
opportunity to get heard by people
that are interested in your style. Almost all will want a CD of your
performance before they consider granting you any form of Airplay.
People to know:
- Program Director - Decides what can be played and
what can't. Commercial radio stations often have very strict guidelines
to follow. If you don't fit, you won't get a chance. If you can help
them in some areas, they will often give you a break when they
can. This is a good person to know and become friends with.
- Disk Jockey/On Air Personality - The person who would mention
you, and possibly play something that you have done. They may be highly
restricted by the Program Director, but may be able to mention you and
your bookings on the air. Often these people play practical jokes on
other people at the Radio Station and you might be able to provide
something that helps them out. These are good people to know and support
(just buying them a box of doughnuts some morning may open some doors for
- Sales Director - Organizes promotions for the Radio Station
and finds advertisers. If they want live entertainment as a part of
a promotion, they may be able to use your services. You may
get a chance to record a promotion for them that gets frequent airplay.
Sales Directors also talk to local businesses and often co-sponsor events.
- Sales Staff - Like the Sales Director, the Radio Station
Sales Staff sells commercial air-time. Its possible that you may be able to
assist them in selling advertising. Being able to help with ads
(you may provide original music, or just voices) may help them
bring in more business to the Station.
Things to consider:
- Perform (usually for free) at any Radio Station Sponsored event.
This can lead to paying bookings by people who see you performing.
- Write/Perform/Record custom advertising spots for the station.
Initially, you'll have to do this for free to prove that you can do it.
Eventually, it may lead to other work and airplay of some of your
- Write/Perform/Record a theme song for one (or more) of the
Disk Jockeys - something that will get played a few time. If it makes
fun of one of the members of a Radio Show team, the other will tend
to play it occasionally just to tease the other team member. Let them
help you; it will make for an interesting team effort & possibly
some friendships that can help your career. Its also fun to do.
Places you may not have thought of
The following places often use music; some have live performers, others
only recordings. Any of them could be the source of a 'News' event,
and all are attended by people who will notice you.
- Street Fairs
- Planetariums (many of which are quite tired of playing Pink Floyds
'Dark Side of the Moon').
- Store Openings
- Indoor Malls
- Outdoor Picnics
- Sporting Events
- Craft Shows
- Flea Markets/Large Outdoor Sales Bazaars
- City Sponsored Events
Many of these will require that you have your own equipment available
and your own sound person. See 'Playing Out;
Dealing with exceptions' to get some idea of what surprises await you.
Often at a large sponsored event, someone else provides a sound system
and sound crew - you may get a sound crew that is exceptional, however
you might get a sound crew that have no idea what they are doing - help them
by being prepared and giving them diagrams of your instrumentation layouts
and the type of material you will be covering. If your sound is poor as
a result of the sound crews inability to adjust the levels well, you
will appear bad no matter how good you really are. If the sound crew
fails because you didn't help them understand what to do, its your fault.
Look to see what other people in your area are doing. Little things can add
up to bookings. When ever you talk to anyone, get their name, title and
a business address that you can send your promotional material to. You may
alert them to something newsworthy or they may help you find out about
things to do that you might have missed. Help them, and it eventually will
get you further along.
Return to Shavano Music Online Home page
© 1998 - Shavano Music Online