Specialty Radio Promotion Takes Common Sense and Hard Work

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Hipgnosis Promotion Man from Wish You Were Here

Hipgnosis' faceless promotion man from Pink Floyd/Wish You Were Here.

To do promotion well takes common sense, good taste in music, ability to communicate about it honestly and a strong work ethic. I was recently approached for “advice” on how to work a specialty format, and the opportunity to work as a sub-contractor at a diminished rate.

What an amusing phone call. How could I be expected to give away information built over years, either over the phone that day or via shared contacts over the course of working a record?

Is it the right thing to give the information on Earbender.com instead?

How to work a specialty format (or any other):

1. Find the constituents by trial and error. In this case, use Google (instead of a telephone, the FM Atlas and the Broadcaster’s Yearbook). Sometimes there is a chart with a panel of reporters.

2. Make a list, let people know they are on it and what you’re trying to do. They will ask to get off the list and/or recommend other people.  It helps to be able to speak knowledgeably about the artist, specific record and genre too.

3. Send people the music.  I know it sounds simple but it’s easy to screw it up in a number of ways, so be careful and don’t underestimate any aspect of the process.

4. Follow up with concern for specific timing and mores of that group. For example, is it a weekly or monthly cycle?

5. Let people know new info about your artist as often as appropriate given #4.

6. Make note of all feedback and convey it to co-workers and other constituents.

7. Repeat

Over the past 25 years, in working with a long list of artists and labels, I have developed relationships with underground radio’s decision makers in genres like Blues, Americana, World, Reggae, New Age, Progressive Rock, Guitar and Indie/Eclectic. I also integrate social media and blog promotion to maximize my efforts with radio and other traditional outlets.

It’s not that technical of a process, but it does help to know the people that make things happen. It’s also important to be able to innovate and meet new people. It’s a cool vibe and everything, but Thomas’ English Muffins formula is still secret and so are parts of Earbender!

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