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Do we need to do more self promotion?

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  • Do we need to do more self promotion?

    In the past year or two, I've worked on six CD's for folks eager to record their tunes and spread their music. Yet only two of the artists have had CD release parties, and one never even pressed the music. I myself don't even have a CD to flog. Are most musicians just too humble? Do we need to get better at tooting our own horns?

    Here's a link to a fellow I work with, and a tune I played guitar on. I did a duo with him a couple of weeks ago, and have known him for years. This is what he posted in various places It would never occur to me to promote that way, but I'm thinking I better at least start trying.

    BTW if you like smoothish jazz, check out the tune.

  • #2
    I made a CD a few years ago. I don't use it for promotion but I will give it to friends or sell it to acquaintances. And it's on iTunes, too. I did it to have a record of my songs and music, not to put up a happy face for management.

    I had a release party and sent out the CD as part of the invitation. Got together a band and performed the whole thing. A very big night by my standards with lots of friends.

    If I was doing a promo thing, it would be a medley of old pop songs -- something that reflects what I actually play. I'd probably record my live playing using midi, port it onto my computer with a thumb drive and then record the vocals at home. But for that to be useful, I need to command management's attention for three minutes while they listen. Not so easy.
    Last edited by pogo97; 05-15-2018, 07:43 PM.
    There is more than one way to do this. Notes Norton


    • #3
      I honestly don't even know what the game is anymore when it comes to promoting original music.

      I've seen some bands I've liked playing gigs that probably didn't pay all that well with CDs they "sell" in exchange for a tip in a jar. If I like the band and want to support them, I'll usually leave a ten or a twenty and take a CD. I'm sure most are 'selling' for less.

      But what are they getting out of it? Getting their music "out there"? Building the fan base? More return patrons the next time they play? I suppose that's the game. Are record deals even a goal any more? Is live performance profitable on that level? Are there 'bigger gigs' that sort of promotion might lead to?

      I always try to be supportive when I see young, good musicians out there trying to make go of it. And I'm always really glad it isn't me.


      • #4
        Originally posted by guido61 View Post
        I always try to be supportive when I see young, good musicians out there trying to make go of it. And I'm always really glad it isn't me.

        That's the thing... I wouldn't want to be starting out now, but on the other hand I know a bunch of older musicians, that need to work for the money - I include myself in that group. Having to work on websites, create videos, amass a social media following, make and sell CD's, pound the pavement for gigs - it seems like overkill, especially for the money and type of gig. However, I'm finding that if you don't do it, you get left in the dust.

        On one of the CD release parties I did (back in September) the leader got press in the local news, went on our local CBC jazz radio program and "had to" drop names and awards like crazy, all for one gig - nice as the gig was, that's a lot of promo work.

        Is mega promo the future? I know solo guys and gals that post live shots from their gigs, and tell folks to come on down; they're missing all the fun... .As I've mused before, do you need a Juno or Grammy to get a solo restaurant, or bar band gig?

        Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm trying to talk myself into doing more promotion, or not, but I am wondering if it's something that's becoming more and more necessary.


        • #5
          I would think that mega promo would be about the only way to get heard above the noise floor of everything going on in the world today.

          If the venue itself doesn’t have a draw and regular clientele, then you have to hit it from every imaginable angle. CDs, radio, TV, websites, social media, community bulletin boards, etc etc.


          • #6
            The bulk of the recording I've done has been a 'sax for hire' at a local studio. I don't know if any of the CDs have been released. I just showed up, played to the best of my ability, tried to make the first take a keeper collected my money and went home. Most of the time I only needed one take, and that's why I got called back a lot. They called me "One take Jake". But the owner had a stroke and closed the studio. There are some smaller studios around, but I haven't pursued them.

            I make the majority of my living by gigging. I do self-promote my duo with a website, but we've been around so long and doing a good job that most of my work is either referral or repeat business. An agency adds to that with a few gigs per year. It's a good place to be.

            I've had one weekday gig for 10 years now, and I've been playing for the same yacht clubs, country clubs, retirement communities, and other venues for much longer than that. They aren't weekly, but a few times a year apiece, but I have enough of those to be very busy during "the season".

            In the summer, when things get slow, I write aftermarket music software for Band-in-a-Box. Before I discovered that, We did cruise ships in the slow season.

            So my self-promotion is not what it used to be when we first started out.

            I have no desire to cut a CD. I don't have the acoustic space, the recording gear, or the knowledge to produce one myself. At least one that would be as good as a major label, and if it isn't that good, I don't want my name on it. The expense of recording it vs the number of local buyers before the market is saturated doesn't seem like it would be a good cost to benefit ratio for me.

            But that's me. There's more than one right way to do this.

            I've been gigging since I graduated high school and have no plans of stopping until either I can no longer fog a mirror or can no longer get a gig.

            Insights and incites by Notes
            Bob "Notes" Norton
            Owner, Norton Music
            Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
            The Sophisticats >^. .^< >^. .^<


            • #7
              I didn't bother, because I knew no one would give a **** anyway. These days, if I release music it's really for the convenience of having it on Spotify, LOL.


              • #8
                Self publishing has always been rough.

                My cousin wrote a book and had it printed by a "Vanity Press" house. The book was decent, but it went nowhere.

                I've played "Sax For Hire" on a few locally produced CDs that also went nowhere. I was first call at a local studio.

                There is just so much new material out there that it's difficult to stand out. In the 'old days' you shopped it around to radio stations and bribed DJs, then when the majors bought all the indies it was given to "the Network" who pushed songs to program directors at radio stations at a cost of millions of dollars to make a hit (which came out of the artist's royalties), and now? I have no idea how to stand out.

                But fortunately, I make a living playing live to hopefully appreciative audiences. All my promo is at

                Some local musicians make CDs, but there is a limited market here, pretty soon that will be saturated.

                When I worked on the cruise ships in the late 1980s I sold cassette tapes. New cruise every week = new market for them. It was technically frowned upon by the company, but we were bringing all-time record revenue for the lounge we were in, so the cruise director said, "Don't tell anyone I said you can do this and I'll ignore it."

                We carefully logged all sales and paid appropriate taxes and made a few bucks at it.

                Thankfully I've been a live performer all my life and don't have to depend on selling CDs or the occasional studio work. I like playing live better anyway.

                Bob "Notes" Norton
                Owner, Norton Music
                Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                The Sophisticats >^. .^< >^. .^<