First you need a press kit that you can use to market yourself to people in the industry, different performing venues, etc. A press kit consists of the following:
- Several promotional photos.
- A bio/fact sheet.
- A three song demo of your music.
- Your contact information, including your website address.
- Any press you've received from news papers, websites, etc.
Next, I would recommend setting up a website with pictures, some samples of your music, and a bio (basically an online press kit). You can easily do this by creating a profile on some of the websites listed below. Then you can link to it from other music websites. These are just a few websites that you can check out:
- Artist Now
- Artist Gigs
- Pure Volume
- Artist Launch
- Artist Now
- D Music
- Band Jams
- Sonic Bids
While you're getting some attention online, start searching for managers to represent you. It's nice to have someone who is well-connected in the industry who can shop your material to record companies. You might want to purchase a copy of Song Writer's Market.
It is a directory of the contact information for managers, producers, labels, contests, agents, and more. Labels rarely look at your material unless it comes from a solicited source who is connected to the industry. Also get out and start performing some at coffeehouses, clubs, bars, colleges and other venues in order to build your fanbase.
At your performances, you can also promote your website and sell CD's once they are finished.
Also try to enter some songwriting competitons. These will get you direct exposure with the industry who often are contest judges. You will also be able to get press more easily if you do well in these contests. ASCAP and BMI are two national songwriting / performing organizations. They regularly have showcases which are highly attended by the industry. The websites for these organizations are ASCAP and BMI.
If you do all of this, it should give you the opportunity to get lots of exposure and meet people who could help you further your career.
These ideas are by no means the only way of going about advancing your career. This is just the basic plan that I've followed. Just use this
for some ideas.
To get further feedback, advice, and to make more connections, consider joining your local or state songwriter's organization (if you have one).
Creating a Demo on a Tight Budget
Concerning creating a demo on a tight budget, here are a couple of suggestions:
* Where I live (Raleigh, NC) there's a performance venue called Six String Cafe that has an open mic night every week. They have a great sound setup and offer to record your performance for $10. There might be something like that near you. You might want to check it out at least. You wouldn't have any production, but at least you could get some very inexpensive recordings.
* Another option is to check around at different studios and see if they have any deals on recording demos. Just make sure that you and any other musicians have the material perfected before going into the studio. You are usually charged on an hourly rate (usually between $50 and $75) and it can get very expensive if you don't have it together. I met my producer at a local studio and he did some production there on my earlier songs. A lot of people who run the studios only do engineering, though. That's something else you might want to check out if you're looking for a producer.
* Sometimes studios have workshops where they teach people how to use the equipment. When they do this, they usually need a band to record.
The quality won't be as professional since it is more of a learning process, but you will still be recording through the studio equipment.
* If you are comfortable with computers and know how to play the keyboard, you might want to consider a home studio setup. That's getting a little more expensive, but if you're planning on recording a lot of songs, it might be the way to go. At my house I have a MIDI setup (keyboard, recording software Digital Performer, and my macintosh computer), which allows me to do some preproduction on my songs before showing the songs to my producer. A mixing board would be very helpful if you want to use this setup for the final recordings. I'm not quite sure how you would set all of that up, though.
* Check around at some local colleges that have music recording programs. Sometimes the students there need bands to record.
Finding a Manager
Here are some tips for finding a manager:
* Try and find one who has worked with artists that have had some success.
* A manager who works near a major music scene (LA, NY, Nashville, etc.), will be able to make connections more easily.
* I met my manager through the internet. I saw his website, sent him an email asking him to check out my website and then he had me send him an MP3. Before you get a manager, you will probably need a press kit with some of your songs recorded. If you can get someone from the industry to come out and hear you perform without hearing your music previously, then that's great. It usually doesn't happen that way, though.
* If you do get a couple of songs recorded, you might want to consider joining the following website: www.sonicbids.com. For a relatively
small fee, you can create something called an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) that you can email to people. You can also enter competitions, and submit it to a list of management, media, etc.
* Get a list of managers that cater to the genre that you perform. Check out their credentials and then start sending out press kits. After about 2 months, you might want to give them a followup call/email just to make sure that they got the press kit and see what their response is.
By Jessi Hamilton
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