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My Dear SAC Blog Challenge-Takers and Blog Readers:
It’s my 9th blog of the 9 week challenge I embarked on with the Songwriter’s Association of Canada. What a whirlwind of a few months!
Remember in week one when I was alllllll skeptical about the title of the book we were to read for the challenge? Ariel Hyatt’s Music Success in Nine Weeks ? Excerpt from week one blog:
“Full Disclosure: when I learned the title of the book I scrunched up my face and thought twice about this “social media challenge” I had signed up for. Joining a supportive group to learn much-needed web based and mobile technological skills? Yes. Buying into the doomed idea that if I just do this one thing, then my life will be set? That ship has sailed (loaded with a cargo haul of self-help books and scam diets)…”
Well. Here is today’s Full Disclosure: The book simply couldn’t have been called anything else. How far have I come in 9 weeks? Just as Ariel wrote: “I’m not saying that your entire music career will be made…What the title refers to is this: If you can…wrap your head around marketing, fan engagement, and, yes, some self promotion, in 9 weeks you will see a marked difference in how your business looks.”
And is there a marked difference? Well, let’s stock:
in 9 weeks, I have:
Created a blog with weekly updates; signed up for, read and commented on music blogs weekly; increased twitter followers by 80 people; created a pitch that is being used in my press release for my upcoming tour; made my first homemade music video that included stop motion animation (220 hits in 3 weeks!); researched, understood and signed up for over 10 new important online social media sites; updated social media daily; was played on a podcast; made a list of over 30 blogs to target for CD review; set up an entirely NEW website (see below) that includes all relevant links plus a newsletter sign up with free download; created a continuum plan for the future; hired a publicist and graphic designer … and had an eye appointment to make sure all this computer work wasn’t burning out my retinas (it wasn’t).
Tips from the reading has even helped me over the last 9 weeks through decisions like taking a deep breath and deciding with my producer that my EP needs some more time opposed to rushing through that process to “get it out there”. I want the highest quality work to promote with all my new-found promotional skillz!
So, yes. I would very easily say that this course would be the single most influential thing I will do this year concerning my music career – and the best part of it is that it is NOT over! Oh, the places we’ll go!
Week Nine: The Real World: This week we looked at real life networking tips, doing your own PR, and hiring a publicist.
Here are some action steps that I have taken from this reading:
Networking: There was some fab In Real Life networking and following-up tips in the reading this week. Most notably how to strike up/follow up IRL conversations.
Cards: I love love love the idea of postcards. I’m a postcarder – I send them out all the time, usually for no particular reason except that getting snail mail is one of the best small surprises and little pleasures life has to offer. Action Step: work with designer to have business cards and postcards printed for April with new album art. Dropcards: Because our EP will be out a bit later, we’ve had some download cards printed to give away/sell at the shows, featuring 3 of the 6 songs from the upcoming EP:
Publicity: For past tours, I have been my own booking agent, publicist, manager, etc. Through my own efforts (and steep learning curve), I’ve booked a few Canadian tours, gotten press in print and online and some internet and college radio play and have played some festivals and industry events in the past year. I have learned a lot. (I tell you though – I would have done some things differently if I had read this week’s reading first!) About a month ago I decided to take the next step and hire a publicist to help with my band’s upcoming tour in April 2012. Reading through this week has helped me to direct the conversations and reshape my goals alongside my publicist. My publicist will help me to get the word out for this April tour in 4 cities, and get some pre-release press and college radio play. I’ve started to look around, however, for a publicity firm to handle further publicity and an online campaign for the release of the album (4-6 months from now, depending on the firm).
Press release/one sheet/bio: Using the tips from week 2, I sent my pitches to my publicist. Today I received a working copy of the “one sheet” she’s creating for me – she’s taken my pitch themes (“Sue Newberry is closing night at the carnival…” and ran with them. Going to be great. Action Step: I’ve taken the press release from my publicist and am measuring it up against the very tangible tips from this week! We’re making adjustments as we go.
Press kit: My sonicbids kit has been the EPK I’ve been sending out thus far. Action Step for this month: make a .pdf of my new press release (one sheet, high-res photos, music, links etc) to have available on it’s own page on my website. boom! The written exercises this week were helpful regarding this as well.
The Home Burn Question: also helpful this week was the reading about sending out pre-release home burns. Since my EP is coming out later than expected, my publicist suggested sending out home burns. After reading the publicisists’ opinions this week regarding home burns, I’ve reassessed what we want to do with the home burns and paired down the list of who it is okay to send home burns to, and who will only receive the final, finished product.
Saving some dough: Great intro to what exactly it is that publicists do and can charge for. I’ve been able to cut some corners doing some things that interest me and that I have time for. For example, today I picked up posters I had printed and mailed them out to April tour venues. (See our incredible posters featured here).
Photos: I am very fortunate to have a super photographer that I work closely with. I really like the photos he’s taken thus far, and I’m sure the quality of them have helped me to get press and get into some events. I’ve been using these for the last year or so:
Action Step: Full-band photo shoot is booked for April 6th, 2012!
Go beyond your bio (great phrase!): The most helpful part of this whole 9-week course is that it doesn’t end. There are seemingly endless opportunities to take all the week’s topics further. “Going beyond your bio” is one example. Action Steps: March & April: design layout/format/graphics of my press kit – I’ve sent all album art mock ups to my publicist, and will be sure my publicist and graphic designer are working closely together to make sure the press release syncs up with the new look of my brand. We’re working right now on developing a niche angle and gathering stronger press quotes.
Syncing up: with the launch of my new website, and the launch of facebooks new Timeline for bands, my Action Step by March 31 is to sync up all of my online social media sites to reflect the new spelling of my band: “Sue Newberry & The Law”. Right now we are found under “Sioux Newberry” in many areas, so by March 31st, we will be all together, with the art and branding of the new EP!
Sneak peek at website, mailing list
Last week I promised a sneak peek at the new website! I’ve been working closely with the good people at Bandzoogle, my graphic designer, and most of all this course to add the essential elements to my new site. The site will not be publicly launched for another month as I await final album designs, and a final mix of the track that will be my *exclusive giveaway* for the newsletter – but I wanted to show off all Ive learned to my fellow bloggers. Please keep in mind that this is an outline of content – graphics, fonts, and all else to make the site “pop!” will be coming soon. There is still a long way to go to get what I want from the site, visually but the content is getting close to being what I want! When you visit the site, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for a free download! (there is a download from my upcoming EP you can get now. The track will be changed later for the official launch – you’ll get that one, too!)
My final thoughts:
This challenge has been super. I took so much out of the readings, and will continue to work closely with the book. I am so much more comfortable with the idea of self-promotion, and shopping for/talking with a publicist. I believe that even with know-how and practice, there are simply some things that need the expert help of a publicity firm – such as certain online and print reviews, as well as radio play. I’m now more confident in approaching publicity firms knowing that I’m continuing to looking after ‘my side’ of the publicity, and doing it with great interest and fervor!
Finally, I know that without the support, musings and community of the other bloggers, that it’s likely I would have let a few things fall to the wayside along the way… I’m raising a champagne glass to my fellow S.A.C. Challenge Takers, and making a commitment to continue to post and update my blog bi-monthly. Can’t wait to hear what’s happening with you all via your monthly newsletters, and to meet some of you in person at CMW in a few weeks!
Read your way through all of the blogs in the 9-week challenge:
WEEK ONE – One blog make one a blogger?
WEEK TWO – Presidential Pitches
WEEK THREE – Cheese or Font?
WEEK FOUR – Baby’s…got…Klout
WEEK FIVE – Video Killed the Radio Star
WEEK SIX – blogs from a diarist
WEEK SEVEN – No News isn’t Good News
WEEK EIGHT – Funnel of Love
WEEK NINE – Oh, The Places We’ll Go!