A music industry insiders tips for promoting your band
This is currently a WIP.
For years I have co-hosted a metal radio show alongside my wife, Maria (https://sexto9.com) on Totalrock (https://totalrock.com). Here are a few observations about things we’ve encountered with promotional materials, and some thoughts of how to make everyone’s life easier and push your band even further. This is a long read, so be sure to bookmark and finish it later (or to refer back to anything you find useful!)
So you’ve decided to start a band, put together a few tracks from some riffs you’ve been toying with for a while, had rehearsals, and decided it’s time to leap into the fray, to make your mark, book worldwide tours, and sell millions of records. If you’ve already chosen a name, one thing I might suggest is to google it, and also have a look at https://www.metal-archives.com. Try to stay away from commonly used single word names. It makes it much harder for both media and fans to find your material. We have followed the Swedish band Avatar (https://avatarmetal.com) for nearly as long as they’ve been putting out albums, but obviously, there’s some confusion when searching for them to do with the movie franchise. While Encyclopaedia Metallum is a fantastic database of bands that already exist, there are some that have existed for a long time but aren’t included in their list, so don’t rely on it as the be all end all listing of band names. Another thing you may encounter is several bands with the same name from various countries, in the past I can see why this would happen, but in today’s internet age, there really isn’t much of an excuse. Do your research on the name you choose. Another thing that may cause some confusion is a single letter change to a standard word unless you are Kreator (http://www.kreator-terrorzone.de) who did it over 30 years ago, even then, on occasion I see dance club posters with a “DJ Kreator” (who obviously didn’t do much research before they chose that name…) that make me do a double take when I spot it out of the corner of my eye. There’s nothing wrong with trying to come up with a non-traditional compound word or something where the initials are easy to remember and roll off the tongue, in today’s world, this is probably your best option as most good one word names have been taken if not used several times (see the Metal Archives link and search for “Nemesis” as an example). If you are in a foreign country and opt to use a word from your native language most of the same rules apply, I would try to make sure it’s still something someone who doesn’t speak that language can pronounce without difficulty and when in doubt include phonetics and possibly a definition/translation of the meaning, it’s only a few extra words and only works in your favour.
Now that your band name is sorted, on to the music itself. Albums and singles will benefit from having the same rules, with easy to pronounce, (possibly in English) titles, especially if you’re aiming at a global recognition, and not only local. I’m not going to say much about the length of tracks, as metal radio itself is already rare as hen’s teeth and the traditional rules of radio don’t really apply. Most metal radio shows are Internet-based as is, so they aren’t overly worried about not hitting the ad breaks exactly on time or needing to be as frequent as traditional commercial radio.
So you’ve now spent your hard earned money on studio time, or perhaps DIYed it at home (with today’s available technology amazing things are being done with very little), recorded/mixed your material, sourced some artwork, put the whole package together to unleash it on the world with hopes and dreams of hitting it big. Maybe find someone in a band you like to guest/collaborate on a song, it doesn’t need to be much, but having their name associated with you may attract positive attention. Or maybe approach that producer who mixed an album you feel the sound is what you’re after to help out with a final mixdown, you already have a no and have nothing to lose, you may be surprised at how many might be willing to help out or give you an extra pointer or two to make it that much better.
Press Package Preparation
Make sure you put together a decent press package, with album artwork, band logo, band photo, social media/web/contact links and while it may not be important to include every little event about the band, a short biog relevant to who the band is now and where they started out, some upcoming tour dates and obviously a blurb about the inspiration/meaning for the album etc in a PDF included with the tracks is always welcome, it’s better to have it available and not need it than need it and not have it. Make sure the links are correct (and working before sending it out), double check spelling! In fact, make sure at least 2 or 3 people properly proofread it, if possible, native English speakers or advanced level at least, this is for your own benefit! If you can befriend someone with such language skills, it can’t hurt to run lyrics by them as well before recording… (we have done this for friends bands in the past).
As part of the press pack, you will likely include files or links for music clips, tracks or even the entire album. As a radio show, track clips are useless to us, as are youtube links for your single (but it’s ok to include the single/video link in the press pack for promotion) but the bottom line is that it’s hard for us to promote you without something to play. We get loads of material sent to us via labels and promoters either directly by email or via i-pool downloads. We also typically stay away from playing live tracks unless it’s something special. A few of our biggest headaches are files named oddly, without any tags, or odd file formats. Take the time to name the files to some sort of pattern, make sure they are all some sort of matching format. In our case, our broadcast software won’t recognize a track with special characters in the file name, but in the tags it’s fine. Getting files that are all MP3s (as much as we appreciate the quality, please don’t send us WAVs), with a filename format like “Band – track number – track title.mp3” is golden, even more so when they are all correctly tagged files with the album title, year, label, cover art and genre etc info included. With all that in place when we receive the music, we get to spend more time listening to the material to choose something to play which I assume is much more valuable to you as well. As a radio show, track clips are useless to us, as are youtube links for your single (but it’s ok to include the single/video link in the press pack for promotion). We also typically stay away from playing live tracks unless it’s something special.
Another thing is to check your audience. It’s pointless to send AOR material to a show that primarily plays Melodic Death Metal, but we might be able to recommend you to another DJ who does cover that material, but that is not always the case. If you have any doubts, check previous playlists for similar artists, getting your music directly to the right person helps.