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Promotion -- SMP Hot Links Supreme
Radio - Airplay - Charts -- SMP Hot Links Supreme
Publicity and Marketing -- SMP Hot Links Supreme
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The typical ingredients needed to enable
a successful record promotion campaign are:
If these are present, it is beneficial for the promotion campaign itself to have:
1) A planned course of action, and
2) A promotion man (or agency...independent
record promoter) with a good track record, contacts, experience,
clout, persistence, personableness, good health, and the ability
to cope with the stress involved in working an irregular schedule
with long hours.
Ordinarily, the course of action starts
with initial promotion and later with national promotion. Unless,
of course, the artist is a superstar and can implement his promotion
at the national level at the outset. Or, if he is so established
that large quantities of records can be manufactured
to record stores without initial radio airplay. See Cross-links: AIRPLAY,
PUBLICITY, PUBLICITY-A CLOSER LOOK,
PUBLIC RELATIONS, MANAGER-A CLOSER LOOK.
More often, however, the main objective
of the promoter, both initially when breaking a record and on
an ongoing basis, is to get radio airplay. The promoter must attempt
to get his record added to a station's playlist and rotated on
a heavy basis. Stations that play contemporary releases will only
have a playlist of 20-40 records. That is to say, they only play
past, current and up and coming hits.
Since there are hundreds of records released
across the nation each week, airplay time is always at a premium.
Competition for this time is, to say the least, fierce.
Initial promotion of a new release (especially if the artist is not known nationally) is usually directed toward a few hand-picked areas (called "breakout markets"). The geographical locations and number of areas picked could depend on many factors:
The breakout markets picked are often "secondary"
cities or areas where radio stations play new releases and unproven
artists. This is because broadcasters located in primary markets
(e.g., New York and LA) will not usually program a new record
until it has reached hit status in a secondary market. Atlanta,
for example, is often used as a breakout market for pop, Cleveland
for rock, and Austin and cities located in mountain regions for
country and country rock.
If the artist is not well known in the breakout area, the promo man would first educate the people about the artist. "Kick-off" publicity as it were. Of primary importance is to educate the programming directors of the local radio stations. This can be conducted:
1) Through online advertising and wire services, via trade publication and other advertisements, gossip columns, broadcast news programs, current event editorials, record charts, etc.,
2) By mailing out press kits,
3) By staging media events, or
4) By getting involved in events that attract
and public relations
only of initial and ongoing importance in a record promotion campaign,
but they are of ongoing value from a career standpoint. See Cross-links: PUBLICITY,
PUBLICITY-A CLOSER LOOK,
PUBLIC RELATIONS, IMAGE.
The next step is to ship promotion copies
of the CD. The
record company or
manufacturer would supply the
artist with the previously contracted number of promotion copies--usually
1,000 to 5,000 copies. Each CD would be clearly labeled "promotion
copy." They would then be shipped to radio stations, program
directors, record librarians, DJ's, area distributors (wholesalers),
record reviewers, other artists, industry VIP's, etc.. It often
helps to send copies to local talent agencies, recording studios,
record companies, and music publishers. If they like what they
hear they may relay the message to their clients, contacts, and
music business friends. The business contacts that may generate
could be surprising. See Cross-links:
CONTRACT clauses #35 and #41.
Now, it is time to start working!! The
promo man must try to get the artist's CD listed on published
radio station playlists, tip sheets, and mentioned in trade publications
as trade picks. He would visit DJ's and try to get the song picked
as a hit. The promo man would send the DJ's a gossip sheet about
the artist's current events. He might do the DJ's favors or visit
late night DJ's to keep them company through those weary graveyard
shifts. He might arrange to have the artist meet the DJ's or schedule
appearances with them. Or, have the artist drop in on the DJ when
hosting a media event to "lend a helping hand." The
artist could bring along some CDs, T-shirts, buttons, or other
"gimmicks" bearing his likeness or identity to give
away to the crowd. If the DJ then feels he owes the artist one
The DJ might even play the artist's record more often.
The promotion man might send pre-recorded
messages thanking the DJ's or the radio station for picking his
artist's record as an up and coming chart buster. The idea is
to make the record easy for the DJ or radio station music director
to choose. The trick is to appeal to their needs
and to the needs of their audience. In addition, the promotion
man might offer to have the artist do a live studio or phone interview
on the air. Or, have the artist tell them his rags to riches or
other interesting personal story. The intent is to try to get
them interested on a personal basis.
Initial promotion efforts would last at
least 8 weeks or more. It is impossible to predict ahead of time
if a record will be a hit or a bomb. Most hits, in fact, bomb
in some areas initially. A good commercial record hardly ever
Also, even when a record bombs, the cost
of promotion is not a complete loss. It has partially paved the
way for future hits by introducing or retaining an artist in the
If the record breaks in one or two of the
target markets the promotion effort can be expanded to the national
National promotion is carried out with
many of the same tactics utilized in the initial promotion program.
However, the strategy is a little different and some new tactics
would be employed. The national program, in general, is vastly
expanded compared to the original targeted market push.
With such a substantial expansion, the
first step quickly becomes apparent. One must change the mode
of contact. Where contact at the targeted market level may have
been personal, now it will be by mail, telephone, or telegram.
It is imperative to have the addresses
and phone numbers of the right people BEFORE one embarks on his
national push. It is essential to use proven advertisement copy
and expression techniques to enable profitable communication.
The approach so far has been to use the
breakout market tactics and de-personalize the mode of contact
to facilitate the expansion a national promotion campaign demands.
But the overall strategy of a national program is also slightly
With initial promotion most of the effort
was directed toward creating a demand. The supply of the record
simply followed the demand created. Although creating demand at
the national level is essential and predominant, a much increased
proportion of emphasis is directed toward supply--"pushing
supply." This idea of pushing supply centers around the record
If the promotion campaign is being launched
by an independent record company with minimal operating capital
and a limited distribution network, the promo man would have to
weigh his situation and obtain the most cost effective means of
The promotion man would try to lure the
distributor(s) into stocking his record by making them aware of
the sales in the breakout areas. He would inform them of listings
on any tip sheets or radio station playlists, etc.. Promotion
copies would be packaged to draw attention. It must be remembered
that all distributors receive more records than they can handle.
It is the job of the promo man to break the ice. This is a key
function. The more innovative he is, the better his chances are
Acquiring an established distributor is
very important. This is because it can bring some long awaited
promotion help--and at the right price
free! That's right,
a good record distributor could shoulder much of the promotion
of a record! He has established contacts and clout. He can "push
Even if the distributor accepts a record,
the promo man must still keep in mind that the distributor has
so many records to push that some will only get his passive attention.
So, the more he feels the record is a potential monster the more
active will be his input.
Therefore, the promotion man must make
him a believer!
If the distributor believes, he will try
to place the record in as many locations as possible. He will
do his share of contacting radio stations, etc., since his profits
also increase with sales. The more he believes the more he will
push, push, push.
At the national level, these are the promotion tactics that are implemented
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