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Unsigned special: Realising your musical dreams - promotion

By Leigh Sanders | Music | Published:

This week's Unsigned special is a bit out of chronological order - it is highly unlikely you won't have set up social media accounts by now for your music.

Social media is a great way of making people aware of your music

The importance of social media is so self-explanatory in the modern music scene it's pretty much a waste of words typing that out.

Bands can immediately get their creations out to people. An act can set up a Twitter or Facebook account on a Monday, post something about an upcoming show on the Wednesday, and by Friday have a smattering of followers that otherwise would not have known the gig was on their doorstep this weekend.

Self-promotion is incredibly important. And if you've followed this "how to be a musician" series up until now then you have music written and recorded as well as live shows coming up that you want the world to know about.

"I think social media is essential in promotion for musicians," says Joe Chalmers, frontman for Shropshire-based former The Ticket Unsigned band PUKK who have garnered more than 1,200 Twitter followers since joining in 2012. "The best way to get noticed is to make sure you are visible on social media and have music accessible online on streaming website Soundcloud at the very least so you can cut and paste links to your songs.

READ MORE: Shropshire Unsigned duo PUKK discuss their new record Feckless

"It seems like overkill, but you are trying to reach as many people as you possibly can. Not everyone has every social media platform so you try and cast your net to every corner of the social media empire."

And he points to local media outlets who can help give you a push when you need it most.

"Most important of all is to get your music to the BBC Introducing uploader available on their website. You can't buy the kind of exposure this can give you. We've been championed by BBC Introducing Shropshire and off the back of that we landed national airplay from Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson on BBC6 Music. That's priceless. Do a bit of homework on a band of your genre and look at their Twitter feed. Where do they get played? What blogs are talking about them? Contact the people playing them and writing about them."

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As well as media outlets - such as this very Unsigned column of course - there are others out there willing to help bands get a leg up.

Rita Dabrowicz is one half of independent music champion Vanadian Avenue with her twin sister Malicia. They voluntarily work as both PRs and A&Rs (artists and repertoire - a kind of music scout for labels) helping link artists they are impressed with to labels and promoters who they think suit each other.

Rita, whose "patch" covers the Wyre Forest, Worcestershire and Birmingham, said being spotted by one of these guys can quickly boost an act's career.

READ MORE: PUKK, Feckless - album review

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"Once we find a band or an artist that we truly like and think they have potential, we teach them how to write their biography and press releases," she said. "We show them how to efficiently run their social media, how to approach radio DJs to have their songs played and how to professionally present themselves to prospective managers, club owners and labels.

"When the foundations are built, our artists are ready to enter the next stage of their career - they will move from the DIY circuit into the professional music space."

So what can artists do to impress modern-day A&Rs?

"The first thing we would be expecting from a new band or artist will be to sweep us off our feet. There has to be emotional or intellectual connection, otherwise it won't work. Give us something new, bring fresh elements to the table, mix genres and ideas to create your own recipe.

"What's the point in finding another band that sounds exactly the same as other artists on the radio? If you go against the stream, are independent or a starting artist with a vision and something new to offer, we will be watching very carefully."

Visual material still holds sway in the industry too. The 80s saw music videos explode with the arrival of MTV, and while the way people watch them has changed, they are still being watched.

READ MORE: Midlands rockers WEAK13 nominated for music video award at Birmingham Film Festival - WATCH

Nick J Townsend is the frontman of Kidderminster-born metalheads WEAK13. He and his bandmates also spend their time helping others on the local scene by creating music videos with them through his award-nominated company NJT Media, reviewing bands' releases for publication Ryan's Gig Guide, and a host of other ways they think will help an act push on.

He has been thanked and praised by so many of the artists who appear in this Unsigned column and have worked with him, and firmly believes the music video route should be considered by any fledgling artist.

"A music video is a short three-or-five-minute visual summary of your band and it's important to have a good, professional-looking video," he said. "A bad music video is a bad reflection of you as an artist.

"Music videos aren't a new invention and memorable ones in the 80s had solid cinematography; relying on something filmed using your dad's iPhone is not an ideal substitute.

"Use your own money to produce a music video," he adds. "It's an investment in your music career and your future. Hire a suitable location to create a credible film set; buy and then wear appropriate clothes to sell you as a performer. Buy or hire a good camera and find someone with an eye for cinematography so that your video looks professional."

With a solid video behind you and the social media likes and shares vibrating your phone into meltdown, it won't be long before bigger names are wanting to work with you.

Next week sees the fifth and final instalment of The Ticket Unsigned's special "how to" series. To finish off, we'll be looking at the local music scene and who to make friends with.

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders
@LSanders_Star

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at leigh.sanders@expressandstar.co.uk

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