I’m an independent musician about to self-release my new self-funded album on CD & digital. I’ve done that before, over the years, in different genres of music. The tough bit is never making or recording – those bits are fun & rewarding – it’s what you do next that seems to hurt, whatever you do. Do you pay for press? Send promo copies out yourself? Just ask your mates to share? You’ll go down this rabbit hole – ‘without label support, it’s just a vanity project!’ Yeah, maybe. But what a hobby. I’m not spending my hard earned cash on coke, hookers or cars, it’s going on this.
So this time, I decided to ask AtTheHelm PR to help me. You pay for that service, but they’re well connected and they take your stuff and make it look all professional. However good you can do it, they can do it better, I reckon. Tom Blake wrote a press release for me. I loved his end of year 2019 albums list, I got loads of gems from that, so I was pleased he agreed to do it, and he nailed it!
I asked twitter this morning about all the ways in which I can give it it’s best start in life and folks had lots to say, so I thought I’d collate it all into this post. That way, you can look all these people up and send your music to them, too!
My twitter pal Nicola started things off by suggesting Mary Anne Hobbs, Radio 6 Music Legend & Elizabeth Alker, a well connected & impressive sounding BBC person who I have followed! A dear friend of ours, Mary Ann Kennedy, living legend harpist, a breathtaking musician, asked for a copy too – the Mary Ann/e connection being too compelling! Sometimes, a chance mention is enough to put your record into the ears of folks who might otherwise miss it. Social media is good for that. Nicola also shouted out Spotify Discovery Playlists – something I love using too – calling them ‘heaven & hell’ because yeah, they’re ace for finding music, but does any artist really benefit from that? I dunno. I dunno how to get on them, either. Time will tell!
Mike Prescott called out Secret Meeting as being an ace magazine and I can entirely agree that it is – they publish great reviews online but also publish a tiny little paper magazine too. Look them up. Along similar lines, Balloon Machine, Gold Flake Paint & Various Small Flames are some kind of new school vanguard of small independent publishers pushing new music reviews with the highest quality & integrity.
Ken Jude, a vociferous supporter of new music who I met at a PicaPica gig, had a list of suggestions of where he finds new tunes, including Richard Leaders American Pie show, Another Country with Ricky Ross, Ralph McClean’s Country & Roddy Hart’s radio 2 folk show. Some big hitters there. How do you get on those shows? Well, I don’t rightly know. I follow & interact with some of those folks on twitter, but that isn’t going to cut it. They can’t play just some random stalker from the internet. I’m hoping At The Helm can help open some of those doors. Jon Hillcock is another great bloke – his twitter profile is full of great new (and old) music to discover, he makes playlists and presents on Radio6. Look him up.
Autumn Dawn Leader, a singer songwriter from Leicester, suggested following Chris West so I did – he does radio & seems hungry to promote new things he likes. Nice one.
@Robkb2, one of those twitter tastemakers who you will find knows everything about everything worth knowing about well before you do gave away a few secrets, suggesting Folk Radio UK, BBC6Music, Songlines Magazine, Froots Magazine (now defunct, but they have a podcast) & “whoever’s playing at the NestFolk / Folk East Festivals”. Now, how one gets on festival lineups is beyond me, but I guess you need to play live more than I do. I would but it’s … tough to do. I might try to do it more. Folk Radio are huge & important champions of new stuff. Make sure you talk to them.
Andrew Leach, an author friend of mine had an interesting take – his daughter throws him new music! One up from the mates thing, that sounds good to me, word of mouth. And also he finds new stuff on twitter. Encouraging.
I enjoyed this tweet – a group of people with great taste & opinions. If one of them says to listen to a record, Blando will do it. So you have to kind of get into that, somehow.
Harry Ridgeway, promoter & stunning musician, shouted out Aquarium Drunkard, who really are terrific. Have a read of this article that Harry recommends about Bill Fay. High quality journalism & music writing, no doubt.
New music fan & promoter Mark Howson says he gets his fix from Richard Leader (a popular choice & great show), Mystery Train Radio, Adam Wilson’s Quiet Revolution show (another personal favourite), his mate Tim Smith (who record collection can be seen from space…!), Steve Arlene’s show, Three Chords & The Truth, Rock ‘N Reel Magazine & Ramblin’ Roots. A healthy selection, there, if you’re into the kind music I make, and I guess maybe you are, or you wouldn’t be here.
John Bath (edit, John is from Brighton, why TF did I assume his surname was not Bath??) suggests Brian Players Acoustic Cafe show, which I’ve been on before with JC, and Brian said he’d have me back on my own if I wanted to come, and I do & also Readifolk, a folk club I don’t know but would love to go to!
Jon Tait, an old friend of mine, huge supporter of music & label owner says Wire Magazine. Yeah, they are the best at what they do, absolutely no doubt. I doubt my quiet little acoustic album is going to make it into their holy halls, but you never know.
David suggests DTF Media, who I don’t know but will investigate and Matt says NTS Live are good, too – useful tips.
Lots of folks recommend Sarah Gosling highly. A Radio presenter I don’t know, but apparently should! Followed!
Don’t forget Rocking Magpie – Alan is one of the good guys, he supported me when I was nothing from nowhere; I still am & he still supports me. That’s worth so much to an artist. Send him your tunes. He’ll have a listen and tell you what he thinks.
Lots more people call out BBC6Music, Spotify Recommends, Stereogum, Consequence of Sound, Drowned In Sound, Clash Magazine, Echoes & Dust, The 405, Line of Best Fit, The Quietus, Pitchfork, The Skinny, Louder Than War, Loud & Quiet, Noisey, Buzz, American Songwriter, NoDepression, Paste, American Songwriter, Noisey. Deep Breath. I can’t do links for all those. You can find them if you like!
Then there’s the folk ones – Folk Phenomena, Northern Sky, Folk Connection, Folking.com, Thank Folk For That, BookFolk, Roots & Fusion, FolkCast, Spiral Earth, UK Folk Music, Fatea, ShireFolk. And lots more!
Don’t forget The Guardian, Q, Uncut, MOJO & Record Collector. These old guard magazines repeat the same old covers of wizened old dead white blokes month in, month out, because, apparantly, according to their editors, who I’ve chatted to about it, this is how you sell print magazines in heartland waitroses. Folks don’t buy em with minorities on the cover. I wonder, how much longer can they last? Still, they have a huge circulation and there’s no pull quote bigger than something Uncut say about you. So, getting in them is harder, but At The Helm are gonna try. They need 3 months notice, though, I know that much.
I had lots of recommendations for metal & rock & punk, but I don’t really do that, so I won’t link them here. I’m more quiet than that. Not that I don’t listen to loud music, because I do, but they won’t review my album because it only rocks inside your head, slowly, back & forth, crumbled, curled up in a corner.
So! Are you going to release your own music, yourself, and wonder what it’s like? It’s stressful! Get a pro to help, because they take the weight. But then, will you ever know if you would have succeeded without them? Nope, you will not. Just send it out then crack on writing more, I reckon.
Last thing – sorry for the hundreds of thousands of new music supporting writers, journalists, magazines, blogs that I didn’t mention! Feel free to leave a comment below or link me @mralecbowman on twitter 🙂
Thanks for reading and I hope that’s somehow vaguely helpful.