Promotion, Plugging & Playlists

Man shouting into a megaphone

WHAT DO REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS LOOK LIKE?

Article by Neil March & Tobisonics

Introduction

The following article is broken into two parts.  The first part is a brief overview and collection of simple tips and advice; intended to serve as a fasttrack, easy to read, barebones guide to help you navigate the difficult journey of a modern independent artist. This applies whether you are the artist or you are involved in supporting or representing [an] artist(s) in some other role. The second part is much more in depth; providing you with a comprehensive picture of promotion across the modern independent music scene.

PART ONE

Today’s [popular] music industry and media can be confusing and contradictory. The situation is not helped by the vast array of, all too often, poor and misleading information out there. While we cannot claim to know all the answers, we can at least provide some simple, clear tips and advice that will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls, mistakes, and scams that cause struggling artists so much grief, confusion and financial loss.

First we must start with a reality check.  It is all well and good to have dreams and ambitions; having your sights set on the heady heights of major labels and chart success, but in order to stand any chance of getting there, you must first understand the music scene right outside your front door.  We need to get you playing in the little leagues, before you can even begin to hope of playing in the big league.

Lesson 1:  The Road is Long (aka, There Are No Shortcuts)

Far too many artists are preoccupied with the idea of getting onto a major national radio station, frontline playlist, or tastemaker publication.  The harsh reality is, for the time being, you stand little or no chance of achieving this.  Not least because many of the national radio stations and frontline playlists are owned by the major labels and/or international media companies, where content is programmed at a corporate level; but even in the rare cases where it is not, ratings require artists to have first established some degree of public profile.

In order to build your public profile, you must build from the ground up, not simply reach for the sky and hope.  Let us take a moment to explore some of the options out there for grassroots artists to begin to build a fanbase.

Lesson 2:  Small is Beautiful (aka, Build From The Ground Up)

The independent scene is alive with countless radio shows, podcasts, blogs & playlists curated by passionate supporters of independent music dedicating many hours of their time (and often their money too) week on week, all to help aspiring artists like yourselves and those supporting and representing you to get your music out there.  Make no mistake, these individuals are the lifeblood of the independent music scene.

When submitting music to these hardworking curators, be it radio, playlist or blog, it is important that you observe the following best practices:

  • Make sure your music is a good fit before submitting
  • Read and follow the submission instructions
  • Provide all the information they ask for and no more 
  • Never submit via DM, reply, or comment, unless expressly asked to
  • Check for a contact person and refer to them by name
  • Working from a template is okay, but try to personalize it for each submission

Specifically when Submitting to Radio:

  • If possible contact the DJ (or producer if it’s a big station), not the station
  • If contacting the station, the contact person will often be the Head of Music (or Music Director – American English)
  • Submit in the media format requested
  • If making a digital submission, make sure to use Meta-Tags

If you are successful in your submission, here are a few more best practices we strongly advise you to follow:

  • Be sure to share and support the show, playlist, or blog across your socials
  • Make an effort to thank the curator.  It only takes a moment.
  • If possible, take the time to listen or read (in the case of blogs)

Lesson 3: Don’t Believe The Hype (aka, Use Your Common Sense)

On January 1st 2021, Spotify purged 750,000 tracks from its platform on the basis that the tracks in question had benefited from fraudulent streams (it is against Spotify’s terms & conditions of upload to artificially generate streams by any means).  The whys and wherefores of this are for another article; however with so many tracks removed in one go, it left many artists regretting having trusted (and paid) the wrong promotional services, and many more bewildered and heartbroken.

The independent music scene is rife with promotion services, the vast majority of which are either useless or criminal; or, if you’re really lucky (and you often are), both.  While it is true that any one of us can fall foul of a well-worked con; there are, nevertheless, some commonsense principles, artists can apply when attempting to establish the legitimacy of a promotional service.  

Before you decide to hire plugging or PR services, you should take the following steps:

  • Make a realistic assessment of where your career is at. Are you even at a stage where you should be paying for promotion? What have you done to build your reputation and following? Gigs, followers, social media activity etc?
  • Ask around. If possible, talk to other artists in similar musical territory to you and get their advice about people they have worked with, good and bad.
  • Speak to three or four pluggers at least. Find out the full extent of what they are offering, compare prices and don’t be afraid to ask questions especially about track record.
  • Don’t make your decision based purely on price or on lavish promises of success. The plugger who is honest about the limitations of what can be achieved with an unknown artist is more likely to be trustworthy. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Ideally, seek advice from trusted sources including the Grassroots Music Network and others like us who you know are supporting people involved in independent music.

Be on the lookout for the following warning signs:

Radio Pluggers:

  • Unrealistic promises of features on high profile radio stations (for a hefty fee)
  • Asking for money in return for airplay (never do this)
  • Artist testimonials being by artists with no apparent social media presence
  • Replying to a post asking you to “DM them” (classic ‘yes ladder’ technique)
  • Putting you under pressure to make a decision quickly 
  • Promising plays on radio stations that, on checking, have no schedules and just play a random mix of genres old and new without any discernible curating of programmes (NB: A proper radio station, however small, will have a website where you can check the schedule and shows)
  • Promising to get you airplay on stations or shows that never play new and emerging artists or which don’t play your genre of music

Warning Signs Specific to Playlist Pitching Services:

  • They talk in terms of number of streams/followers (no one can force listeners to like your music)
  • There’s no quality control (playlists that feature artists solely because they paid are unlikely to attract any real listeners)
  • They ask how long/where on the playlist, you’d like your track to be (listener interaction dictates both of these; not the curator or artist)

Artists need to be increasingly vigilant when it comes to playlists; your music ending-up on a fake playlist could well result in Spotify removing those tracks or even your entire artist profile.  Spotting a fake playlist can be tricky, but we strongly suggest you be on the look-out for the following:

  • Genre Playlists that feature songs outside of that of genre (unlikely to attract real listeners)
  • TV/Film Soundtrack Playlists that feature songs not on the official soundtrack (again, unlikely to attract real listeners)
  • Playlists with commercial-sounding, but overly generic titles, eg. SuperPopMegaHits 2020 (chart pop fans are already well catered for by Spotify & the major playlist curators)
  • Playlist Curator ID is a long sequence of random numbers and/or letters
  • Playlist Curator has little or no social media presence (unlikely to attract many listeners)
  • The same set of random unsigned artists feature on all the curator’s playlist regardless of genre/theme (all paid the same playlist pitching company)
  • One unsigned artist features heavily on the playlist (probably the curators own music)

While we hope you or your fellow artists never find yourselves in this position, here are a few things that may indicate an artist has a problem with their streams:

  • The Similar Artist Page features artists in vastly different genres 
  • A track or tracks have high streaming counts, but the artist has few followers
  • The artist has high streaming counts, but relatively low monthly listeners
  • A high proportion of streams come from one geographical location with no obvious connection to the artist 

Lesson 4: Little by Little (aka It’s A Marathon Not A Sprint)

As independent music-makers we often feel our progress lags woefully behind our hopes and ambitions.  While we are all prone to frustration in this regard, it is important to maintain a good day to day work ethic.  With opportunities few and far between, and odds very much stacked against us, it is imperative we maximize what tools we have available to us.

What follows is a set of best practices, much of which is common sense, to attract the most from your promotional efforts.

i) Websites:

  • Your website URL should be intuitive, simple and easy to remember
  • Think of your landing page/home page as your one sheet 
  • Use embedded music/video players 
  • Include any Press Quotes and Radio/Playlist features
  • Think about your visual branding.  How do you want to frame your music?
  • Include biographical information and information about each release
  • Include links to all social/music platforms
  • A blog/Vlog is a great way to supply your website with regular content updates
  • Make sure all bios and links, etc are kept up-to-date 

ii) Socials:

  • Social media handles should be consistent and simple across all platforms
  • Links to your music should be highly visible and across all socials, etc.
  • If it is possible to do so, always include some biographical info
  • Try to post on a regular basis (at least 4 – 5 times a week)
  • Consider setting-up accounts specifically for your music 
  • By all means, be yourself, but remember you’re trying to promote your music
  • Try out the different social platforms to find out which work best for you
  • Once again, keep bios, images, and links up to date
  • Make sure all your page and web links are listed on your Soundcloud page

iii) Music Sites:

  • Use consistent artwork, etc across all your various music platforms
  • If possible, include some biographical info
  • Always include all socials links, etc
  • As always, keep bios, images, and links up to date.

Lesson 5:  Take Care of Yourself (aka We Don’t Need Another Hero)

Finally a note about mental and emotional health.  The 24/7 carousel of social likes, comments, replies can be simultaneously intoxicating and debilitating to those of a creative disposition; we are not only inclined to please the crowd, we are also highly sensitive to its varying moods.  It is imperative that we develop day to day strategies that allow us to live healthy lives while pursuing our ambitions as independent artists; failure to do so will not only impact on our own mental/emotional health, it will also be to the great detriment  of our music too.

In the world of an independent artist, there will also be more to do, but that does not mean that is right, justified or even effective to push ourselves beyond our capacity.  In order to reach our full creative potential, we must be at our fullest emotionally and mentally.  It is not just okay to pace ourselves, to take a break; it is an imperative if we are to become successful music makers.

PART TWO

We are regularly asked by artists how they can get their tracks onto the A, B and C Lists of national radio stations such as BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC Radio 1 and some of the large commercial stations. In the immediate term, the answer is likely to be you can’t and won’t! Now that may sound brutal but that is why it is important to understand the reasons. 

Firstly, you can easily rule out getting played at all on the large commercial stations like Heart, Capital, Hits and Magic. These stations, owned either by Global Radio or Bauer Media, do not have any specialist shows or content in their schedules and play nothing but current and former pop charts music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You are literally wasting your time trying to get them to play your music unless you are either an established name or you are signed to a major [or large indie] label that has the budget and the contacts to achieve that on your behalf (in which case you would not have to!).

Even getting onto the main playlists that determine the daytime airplay on the likes of BBC 6 Music requires artists to have proved themselves in other areas first. If you go to bbc.co.uk/6music/playlist you can study the A, B and C Lists and see this for yourself. Even the UK acts you have not personally heard of will, on researching their history, turn out to be those who have had BBC Introducing attention, possibly being recommended by their regional Introducing teams, have sizeable followings and have a track record of getting audiences to come and watch them on tour dates across the UK and so on. Most have probably played large festivals too.

The notion of an unknown band sending a track to the 6 Music production staff and blowing them away, resulting in instant daytime rotation, is a pipe dream. In fact, for most artists, the best chance of getting any sort of airplay on 6 Music is to submit a track to Fresh On The Net. At least it means Tom Robinson will hear it and, if he is sufficiently impressed, he might find room for it on the BBC 6 Music Introducing Mixtape Show. If he does, there is a chance that you may be lucky and get a play on his Saturday night show too. Even then, it is not going to lead to you being considered for the A, B or C List on the station. You need to build your track record before that becomes an option.

For these reasons alone, it is also therefore unrealistic and unreasonable to expect a plugger or PR person, especially one who is only charging a few hundred pounds for, say, 6 weeks’ work, to get you onto mouth watering shows and stations. A good plugger will work hard to get you airtime on shows he or she has contacts in and which broadly support your area of music. They may be engaged audiences too even if each show only has a few hundred listeners and is on an internet-only station or a local FM station with limited geographic reach. A top-level plugger might have a seat at the national playlist meetings but you are not going to be in a position to hire him or her because, even if you were prepared to pay the four-figure sums it would cost you, they would not risk their reputations by backing an artist with no track record and no discernible following.

There are too many people selling these kinds of dreams. They include some who will unscrupulously take your money and promise you the earth. So here is a simple piece of advice: If you are an unknown or little known artist and someone is telling you that, for some substantial fee, they will get you onto national playlists and into the charts, give them a wide berth. Conversely, the plugger who is honest and tells you that he or she cannot get you anything like that level of success but, for a modest fee, will work hard to get you on a bunch of small independent shows that care about music, is probably the one you should consider. That is, however, dependent upon whether you should be considering paying for plugging and promo at all.

Know Your Place!

Of course it is good to be ambitious and not to be afraid to chase your dreams. But it is also important to have a good idea of what stage your music career is at before you make important decisions about how and where you put your money and your energies.

We cringe when we see artists, including some who are mature and experienced enough to know better, talking about how their latest track is going to ‘shake up the industry’ or ‘turn current pop music on its head’ and other such claims when they have never even been played on the radio beyond, at best, a few friendly internet radio shows! Ambition is one thing but delusions of grandeur have never provided a sound basis for strategising!

If you are at the beginning of your journey, have only played a few small local venue gigs, if any, and only have tiny followings on social media, you are not about to shake the pop world to its foundations and you should not be wasting your time or money on hiring pluggers, engaging label management consultants or splashing out on lavish adverts or videos. You need to work on getting your name and, if you are not too turned off by the term, your brand out there. Use the different social media platforms for what they are best for. 

So, in short:

  • Instagram for pics and videos that get your music and your image out in a form that has potential appeal to your target audience (and make sure you have researched who that might be based on your music and associated factors). 
  • For putting up artist pages that act like mini-websites and being able to invite large numbers of people to events (including virtual ones), use Facebook. 
  • For soundbites and involving yourself in a vibrant supportive community around new and independent music, use Twitter. 
  • Get yourself an easy-to-manage website and, when choosing both your domain name and your social media page names, please go for something people might feasibly put in as a search. For example, if your band is called Toffee Soup, do NOT call your page Toffee-Soup-loves-Houmous! No curious potential fan or reviewer is ever going to put that in as a search when trying to find you online!

If you are able to gig (and we recognise that not everyone is) once live music is allowed again, get out and play frequently. But:

  • Do NOT agree to pay to play. 
  • Do NOT agree to deals where you have to sell all the tickets yourself and only get paid if you sell a minimum number.
  • Do NOT agree to 30 day either side exclusion deals on playing in the area especially when the promoter or venue in question is not even guaranteeing you payment. 
  • Take advice if you are not sure about a deal. 
  • If you join the Musicians’ Union, you will gain access to the members-only area of their website and will be able to contact the union for advice.

There is no substitute for hard work and determination. Nor should there be. A lot of experienced industry folk we speak to make the point that one of their chief criteria for signing a band or artist is evidence that they have the tenacity and the passion to go all the way in a brutal, unpredictable industry.

Plugging & Promo: The How, When, Where And What!

Let’s suppose you are a band or artist (or you have a role in supporting, representing or managing a band or artist); you have decent and engaged followings across social media and you are able to pull a notable crowd when you play gigs at your home venue(s). You may be considering using a plugger or PR company to push your new single, EP or album to a level you lack the contacts to achieve. You may well be right to be considering that course of action. So, if you are, what do you need to know?

Firstly, you should rule out any plugger who is asking for a four-figure sum (i.e. £2,500 or similar) and talking about getting you onto national radio. Even if that person can get you a spot play on, say, Radio 2 because he or she has a friend with a big show, it is not worth the money you will pay and will almost certainly have no impact on your following or your sales. Likewise, as mentioned earlier, delete messages from people claiming they can get you onto Spotify playlists for significant fees. There is a good chance they will just take your money, put you on a few pay-for-play lists which are of no value to you and may result in your music being deleted from Spotify because the playlists are deemed to contravene their rules and ethics. 

There are some reputable pluggers and PR people working in the independent music sector and representing lesser known artists for very reasonable fees. The Grassroots Music Network can give informal advice on this. But whoever you take advice from, it is eminently sensible to wait until you have been able to talk with at least three or four people and can compare their prices, what they will do for you and how well they appear to understand your music and audience. Don’t just jump at the first one to reply with an offer. Treat hiring promo people like you would treat hiring a plumber, a builder or an electrician. Get some background and, as with most things in life, word of mouth counts for a lot. If others you know and talk to are reporting positive feedback on a particular individual, that is an endorsement worth noting.

Think about what your priorities are and why. Artists can tend to overrate the importance of radio airplay when, while it is nice and is good for your career CV to have radio plays, they are unlikely to prompt significant sales of your music. For that, you would need the kind of repeat plays on a daily basis that you get from being on national playlists. Look at the significance of getting reviews which, once out there, can be quoted and referred to for a long time. And Spotify playlists are an increasingly important target for gaining new followers. But if you are not on Spotify for whatever reason, including if you object to streaming, and radio airplay is your priority, you still want to know your music is being serviced to shows who not only play music like yours but have engaged audiences who might decide to check you out because they like what they hear.

Find out what the plugger is prepared to do, knows how to do and has experience of doing. And find out how these individual items affect price. Don’t be shy about asking questions but, by the same token, don’t be put off by the plugger who is honest about what they do not believe they can do for you. You need to make a decision about how you use your resources based on what sounds like real value for money.

Keep Your Hopes In Check!

Here is a simple fact. If paying a plugger a few hundred pounds to get you some airplay, reviews and streaming playlists represented a fast track into the pop charts and vast record sales, all the major labels would be working with budgets of a similar size instead of giving advances of half a million (or more). So don’t enter into a low-cost promo campaign with expectations of world domination! Building your career will almost certainly require a lot of determined chipping away to build your brand and turn the heads of tastemakers and influencers. Rome wasn’t built…

Play Your Part

If you are prepared to put the work into finding out who to approach in radio stations (i.e. the correct production staff) and which shows are suitable both for your area of music and where you are in your career, you can be your own plugger. That applies also to managers of artists or small indie labels with new releases. We have seen plenty of artists do this very effectively. The same goes for seeking reviews or asking certain playlist curators to consider you for their streaming playlists. The more you can do yourself, the more it will not only save you money but it will teach you about how things work. One of those lessons is learning the value of communication and mutual support.

As radio show and podcast presenters ourselves, one thing that irritates us is when we have spent time finding the correct tags for every artist on a show and tagged them across the main social media platforms in posts about the show they are being played on and they can’t be bothered to share (or even ‘like’) the post. We are not talking about the well-known artists we play even though some surprisingly big names have shared our posts and even, in a few cases, replied to them thanking us for playing their tracks. We are talking about new and emerging, aspiring artists. If anyone is playing you on a radio show, even one with a small audience, and tags you in a post confirming this, it takes you seconds to repost and like it. Even if you do not have time to listen to the show, you can still inform your followers about it so that some of them will listen and others’ followers may hear your music and decide to explore further.

And remember, no-one likes an entitled arrogant prima donna, so lose that attitude and develop some humility. You will not win friends by snubbing people who are being supportive. So when you see you have notifications, check what they are and bother to reply to people who have messaged to tell you they are playing you on a show or reviewing you in their blog. Likewise, bother to acknowledge the posts that tag you to tell you similar news. If you don’t, those people might justifiably decide to ignore your future releases and you will have lost the opportunity of positive publicity to all the people who follow them. Frankly, it will serve you right too!

You should also take the time to be supportive to fellow artists, especially those who are kind and supportive towards you. For example, there is a vibrant independent music community that is particularly active on Twitter in which artists, those supporting them and fans of independent music constantly show support for one another and all have benefited from the love they have both given out and received. There are a number of artists who we have tried repeatedly to encourage to join in with this community but they have never progressed beyond only popping up when they want to talk about themselves. Shame because, far from profiting from their self-obsessed behaviour, they have simply shown themselves up and gained nothing. As one hard-working member of that community has frequently said on Twitter, ‘support is a two way street’.

Nevertheless, you need to put some energy into publicising your successes, however large or small. You need to tell people when and where they can hear your music or see you performing. As well as being proactive on social media, you should have videos of your songs on YouTube. Even if the video is just you playing along to a backing track, filmed on a mobile phone, you can use free resources like iMovie to edit and produce a credible video free of charge and it gives potential fans the opportunity to be entertained by your performance and to make a visual connection with your music. That again is where Instagram can be an important vehicle.

There are other avenues you could consider (social media ads, flyers etc.). There are articles that touch on these areas so do some reading and digging before you dive into this. Be careful not to waste your money. Look for feedback from reliable sources about what works and what doesn’t and how to create more impactful ads if you are going down that route. One advantage of social media ads is that you get to control the upper spending limit.

Last But Not Least

It is always worth taking a rain check on a few important principles. Firstly, you may believe unequivocally in your music and consider it to be of the utmost significance. But so do hundreds, probably thousands, of other artists in relation to their music. So even if you are right about your brilliance, you need to be patient. 

For example, the bigger the show, station, magazine (online or otherwise) etc. you are trying to get to listen to your track(s), the busier and more inundated with tracks they are likely to be. They may also simply think you are not quite ready to be put in their playlist, even for a spot play, compared to other tracks they prefer — even though you may think some of the content they play is mediocre by comparison. Trust us, all aspiring artists feel that way at times. But berating the show or presenter on Twitter or by email is not going to persuade them to play your track next time. It may ensure they never play it though!

So do yourself a favour and keep your resentment to yourself. As previously stated, no-one likes a spoilt brat.

You also need to be realistic about streaming. We have lost count of the number of times I have heard artists complaining that they have achieved some large sounding number of streams and only received a modest payout. So again, be realistic. Most people have streamed your music because it has cost them nothing. They have paid their monthly subscription and yours is one of hundreds of tracks they have streamed. If you think this means you have been robbed because, in pre-digital times, that many record sales would have made you big money, you are deluding yourself. Why? Because if those people still had to go into record shops and choose which records to spend their limited budgets on buying, they would not have chosen yours. Maybe a tiny number would. The rest chose you because it cost nothing. So stop flattering yourself and recognise that streaming and record sales are not the same thing and they have entirely separate functions. 

The music industry has changed an awful lot since the days when vinyl and cassettes ruled the world. In our experience, it tends to be older artists who find this hardest to accept. But moaning about it is not going to lead to a return of the old ways!

So you should consider making a checklist that looks something like this:

  • Know your place: realistic assessments at all times of where you are in terms of your career and how much you really want it
  • Are you ready to make the next step? Have you got your name sufficiently out there? And even if you have, is paying for plugging or promo the right route?
  • Don’t get ripped off. Steer clear of people touting for business and promising the undeliverable. Ask around, ask questions, compare prices and packages. Know exactly what you want and what you’re getting before you commit your money and resources
  • Be realistic. However good your plugger or PR rep may be, they will not get you A Listed by Radio 1 or any other national station. Make sure you have a clear idea of what is a reasonable expectation before you enter into a deal
  • Keep abreast of a changing world. Digital has changed the game. Radio play may not help you build your following by much but streaming playlists and good reviews might be more useful to you or at least just as useful as airplay
  • Do as much as you can yourself. Save money, learn the ropes, develop your knowledge of the industry, make your own contacts etc.
  • Be supportive and communicative. Don’t behave like an entitled idiot
  • Be patient and recognise that other people don’t think you are any more important than the hundreds of other aspiring artists and their reps
  • Be realistic about how streaming differs from pre-digital record sales. You can choose to cut your own nose off to spite your face or you can recognise how streaming and playlists can be useful to you and start trying to use them in the right way
  • Finally, there is no substitute for hard work and tenacity. If you refuse to give up even when things go badly, maybe you do have what it takes to succeed in this brutal, contradictory, topsy turvy industry. Good luck if you do. xxx

FOR FURTHER ADVICE:

The Grassroots Music Network has been established by Neil along with Sue Oreszczyn and Pete Cogle with support from the Royal Society for the Arts Manufactures & Commerce and the website is pulling together lots of information, contacts, resources etc. to save you spending hours and days looking for them.

The Musicians’ Union is the official representative body for music artists and provides a wealth of information to its members through the members-only section of its website and through contacting staff at its headquarters in South London.

AIM is the umbrella body for independent music. It was originally set up to give indie labels an alternative to the BPI but has expanded its brief over the past two decades and now represents a variety of independent music practitioners.

The Music Managers Forum is the umbrella body for people involved in managing artists at every level.

There are various organisations providing representation, expertise and resources for particular areas of specialism so it is worth looking up the ones that most closely mirror what your role is in supporting independent music.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

Neil March

Neil March is a Composer & Artist with a PhD and Masters in music composition from Goldsmiths University, who has pursued careers in the contemporary classical and pop worlds, and has been supported by BBC Introducing, for whom he performed with his live ensemble The Music of Sound at Latitude in 2017. Read more.

24 Comments

  1. Thanks Steve for getting all of this online! Myself and Neil really went to town on this sucker. Looks great – top job, sir!

  2. A refreshingly brutal read! Thanks guys for going to the effort of writing this up!

  3. An insightful and honest study into what to do and more importantly what not to do as an unsigned artist in today’s saturated market. I’ve fallen into a few of the traps mentioned. Real success really is about consistency and hard work rather than looking for shortcuts.

  4. Thanks for the positive comments and I echo Tobi in thanking the amazing Steve for getting this up so quick and making it look so cool too. 🙂

  5. Ming

    Excellent article, Neil and Tobi – clear, informative, refreshingly candid and supportive at the same time. Lesson No. 5 is especially welcome! Great job; thank you for writing it and for Fresh on the Net for publishing it.

  6. Kat

    Brilliantly helpful at a time when artists have to navigate so many things! Thank you.

  7. Thanks Neil
    A very informative and down to Earth piece. I find I agree with your conclusions.

  8. Sue

    Great article both – packed with sound and useful advice 🙂

  9. Very informative piece! Thank you for putting it together and all your work for independent musos.

  10. Again, thanks so much everyone. We are so glad the article seems to have gone down so well and, if it helps people avoid being ripped off or wasting money and time in the future, that will be wonderful. xx

  11. Totally agree with everything here. Great work Tobi and Neil!

  12. Nic

    Goodness me, you two are superb.

    Thank you so much for doing this. Perfect for those starting to those a few miles into the marathon and finding the legs are already seizing… 😉

    You do so much for us all. Can’t thank you enough.

    <3 N

  13. Great advice from two who know! Thank you for taking the time to do this for us. <3

  14. Nice work guys. Needs a thorough reading, probably twice.

  15. Great, detailed, informative, interesting and very well written article. A massive amount of work has obviously gone into this – so recognition (& much appreciation) to all involved: it is a brilliant piece of work!

    And even if not Spotify users, or involved with pluggers etc, the sobering perspective (in the article) of being realistic about how things work is vital & relevant information for any artist casting their work into the VAST ocean of music already out there.

    And good to remember (for perspective) that even SOME of the artists who may have risen to the dizzy heights of appearing on Later or part of the BBC’s TV Festival coverage (for example) continue to find getting new material heard & played extremely difficult!!!

    Disappointment & frustration have a danger of becoming overwhelming if hopes and ambitions are not tempered with being realistic about the environment for all but the seriously ‘BROKE THROUGH’. So I’d say focus on making your music as close to what you want it to be for yourself; create things that you will be happy to listen to in the future; and don’t make yourself skint or miserable chasing the infinitesimally small chance of ‘success’. That’s not to say don’t bother trying, but – like the message of the above article – with healthy realism!

    Great work again, all !!!

  16. Good article, long, but well worth taking the 20-30mins to read it.
    It’s a harsh, soul destroying industry if you allow it to be. My old head, on my old shoulders, would tell you to celebrate and share the successful moments 👍 no matter how few or far between they maybe, and LOVE what you do because that makes it all much more enjoyable.

  17. Wow, take a bow gents! This is terrific advice and essential reading for anyone out there creating and trying to market their music. I’ll be sure to share it. Thanks so much for the amazing work you both have clearly put into setting things out so thoroughly, yet succinctly.

  18. Now that is essential reading and a reminder to stay humble, patient and hard working with this music making malarkey. Thanks for writing and sharing it with everyone. 👍. Looking forward to part 2.

  19. Once again, big thanks and love for all these positive and supportive comments. We are so pleased that people are finding the article helpful. 🙂

  20. Great article! Really helpful! Thanks 🙂

  21. Rosi Croom

    Amazing guys – a great read. Important to be reminded of all of this periodically.

  22. Absolutely brilliant read, a packet of Hob Nobs and a pot of tea required.
    ‘Humility’ is the key word that comes across here… and another ‘h’… hard work, thank you both for putting the time and effort in and offering a realistic overview.

    🙏🏻

  23. Thank you so much for this article. Kx

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