The ten essential Sentric posts you should know about…
The Sentric Music blog has increased in readership quite a bit since I started penning my grammatically suspect ramblings a couple of years back and thanks to this there may be a whole host of educational goodness that you may be missing out on. So this post’s purpose is to hopefully bring to light any posts that may have slipped your fickle 21st century concentration spans.
Now for those really regular readers who don’t miss a post I can only apologise as you may have just come across with a feeling of being cheated; like when you turn on your favourite American sitcom only to find it’s a clip show, but alas, you can use this post to tell others about the blog and therefore you’ll have someone to talk to about it other than your internal monologue who, despite putting up a good argument at first, always appears to agree with you by the end of your debate.
So using a mixture of hits and positive feedback from both artists and industry alike, here are the ten essential Sentric Music blog posts for you to get your senses around:
The post that has received the highest amount of traffic and had proven to be the most viral with artists from as far away as New Zealand and Canada getting in touch to comment about my arguments. You may also notice that through these ten posts I also link to some other posts within these mentioned posts for which I can only apologise for being so eager to get you all to read my blatherings. I still stand by all eight points I mention in this post despite a couple of them being ripped to shreds by a few artists but I feel I should add a little extra to each post entitled…
With the beauty of hindsight – there would be a few more things I’d obviously include that weren’t about when I first wrote the post, Twitter being the main one. Rather foolishly I’d also add a ninth point regarding where artists can get money to help fund their work via people like us at Sentric Music, although a point like that is included in post number two:
A post which is similar to the one above but a bit more focused on achievable goals within a 12 month period. They laughed when I said I could tell the unsigned and independent artists of the world about Search Engine Optimisation, but I proved them wrong! I even tell people to look at some old Sentric Music posts which is what I’m doing here isn’t it? Mmm, will people tell me I’ve jumped the shark? Please do remember people that I do often blog on topics suggested by the readers so if there is something you think I should delve into then please get in touch and let me know.
With the beauty of hindsight – I should have included something about industry showcase gigs: South By South West, In The City, Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape etc. You need to pick the ones you feel best suited for and, if indeed you’re ready at all, go about researching how the artists get picked and how you can better your chances of attaining a slot. That said, the next post argues that said industry showcases could actually do you more harm than good:
3) Ask the A&R
I received a lot of comments from artists who had their eyes opened somewhat by this blog which was the main reason I set about creating it. It’s remarkably surprising how many artists see the finishing line to be an offer from a major label when today’s industry can offer so many alternatives. I was chuffed with the answers I received from the A&R guys who didn’t hold back with their honesty and gave some answers that even surprised me at times.
With the beauty of hindsight – I’d have liked to have asked another two or three A&R people their thoughts as well but unfortunately they were unable to give me the answers in time. Also it could be a good idea to do this post again but from the perspective of A&R guys at indie labels rather than majors?
This post never received the love I felt it deserved which may just be the geeky side of me coming out. Studying some form of business from school through to university meant I constantly had to churn these things out and apply them to various things and it was when having a debate in the office about the validity of them (“you never use them in real life; what’s the point in learning them?” etc) that I thought about applying them to an artist’s perspective. It would be interesting to discover how many artists out there have actually sat down and done a PEST/SWOT analysis after reading this blog and if any good did come of it, but hopefully it’ll have at least made a few people think outside the box in regards to what they have at their disposal.
With the beauty of hindsight – I probably wouldn’t have included the drummer joke in the second paragraph as I received a complaint about that. From a drummer of course.
A pretty much ‘does as it says on the tin’ post which should be read by any artist who emails their fans no matter how sparsely. It’s borderline gobsmacking how many ‘email etiquette’ rules are strewn to one side by artists who email hundreds of people all in the ‘CC’ column informing me of uninteresting news about something I don’t care about as I never asked to be on their mailing list in the first place but they just stole my email from the ‘CC’ column of another idiot who made the same mistake the week previous. Grrr.
With the beauty of hindsight – I’d have somehow gotten in touch with Gordon Brown to introduce some sort of law which means ALL artists have to read this post or a post of a similar ilk as it’s common enough sense really and once you’ve read it once it should stick. It’s not rocket science; it’s email.
One of my favourite posts due to the inherent geekiness of it. Arguably one more for artists managers than artists themselves, but anyone with a touch of web savviness should be able to stumble their way around it to utilise all the free web tools mentioned within the post. I don’t think I can put into words just how impressed I was with Google Analytics when we first added it to the Sentric Music website; if you don’ use it on your own website then get on it A.S.A.P. If raw data makes you as happy as I (granted, it’s a bit of a niche fetish) then this will make you one jolly bunny.
With the beauty of hindsight – not much to say here. Apart from Twitter again I suppose but you know about that by now right?
Press releases are a tricky thing to get right and this is at no means a ‘be all and end all’ guide on how to write them; it’s just my personal opinion. I’ve no doubt there are people who do press releases for a living who may read that post and spit proverbial feathers over the advice that’s given, but so far it’s received decent feedback and is actually the second highest viewed post.
With the beauty of hindsight – I would probably argue that unless you have something to flog, ie. a new album/EP, then it’s probably not worth doing a press release whatsoever. When I receive a demo all I really need to know is any future gig dates coming up so I can catch them live if I enjoy the CD and maybe a photograph so I get an idea of what they look like.
Eight) Gig + etiquette = getiquette
A post that was pretty much therapeutic for me as the artist who got in touch to compliment the blog was one of the worst I’ve ever had the displeasure to work with. I’m now out of the promoting game and if I’m honest I don’t miss it one bit, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it at the time and I learnt quite a lot of things during but it’s not something I’d ever like to get back into. I can only imagine at every level of gig promotion; from 100 capacity venues to Wembley Stadiums, you’re going to come across the same problems of egos and arseholes. Again, it’s worth me pointing out that I worked with some bloody lovely artists as well and I made some genuine friends, but if you are an artist, do have a gander at this and if at any point you realise you’ve been a bit of a numpty to a promoter in the past then drop them a cheeky MySpace message and let them know you’re aware of your shortcomings. It’s endearing to hear.
With the beauty of hindsight – I would also add to the list ‘do your bit; share your kit’. If a promoter asks you to share some of your kit then please don’t look at them as if they’ve just asked you to donate a kidney.
This post has some interesting responses from artists: some agreed wholeheartedly and others felt that I was being unfair with my comments. The fact of the matter is: if you are an artist then you need to be prepared to invest in yourself at the beginning of your career at an absolute minimum. It’s all obviously up to each individual artist how much they believe they should spend, be it the bare minimum to get them to gigs and back and cover equipment costs to spending thousands of pounds on posh studio time, merchandise, a mini bus for touring etc. Of course there are companies like SENTRIC MUSIC that can help you earn a few bob on your way.
With the beauty of hindsight – I would argue that merchandise isn’t the best way to make cash as an unsigned/independent artist but ensuring you’re on top of your various royalty income streams is of upmost importance to make sure you’re not missing out on any money that is rightly yours. Again, not to sound like I’m plugging but that is exactly what Sentric Music is here for and this leads us rather nicely too…
I’ve blogged it before and I’ll blog it again: ignorance towards performance royalties within the UK is dangerously rife. You are owed money EVERY time your music is played in public: gigs, radio airplay, TV airplay, discos, clubs, restaurants and bars, discos, gyms etc. It may be pence or it may be pounds but at the end of the day is cash that is owed to you.
With the beauty of hindsight – The PRS have since dropped their £100 membership fee to join their service so it’s now free but at the same time I should point out that using Sentric’s service still has several benefits that arguably outweigh joining independently; back-dating claims (whereas when you join you can only claim from your membership start date), we do all the admin for you (which, I assure you, is worth the 20% by itself alone), we put your music forward for TV exposure and international advertising campaigns, we can knock your music up onto iTunes and we’re here for any music industry advice you need in general. Hurray!
So there you go, please fire this around to whoever you feel would benefit from it and if you have any suggestions for future topics then don’t hesitate to get in touch.
What I’m reading this week; mainly verbs