August 22, 2010

Metadata aka 'who the heck is this?'

(photo via jm3)

Metadata is (loosely, and applied to music) the information in a digital music file. It is data that is used "to enhance access and usage of content and provide information that computers are not yet able to interpret". It often identifies the artist, track title and album, but also can contain release artwork, genre, BPM, web links and anything else you would like the listener to know.

So, in the current climate where people share digital music and there is no telling where your latest track may end up....... why are so few artists adding metadata? Who is "Unknown Artist"? What is "Track 01"?

I am not entirely excluded from this, it took me a while of sending out badly-labeled mp3s to realise (discovering TuneUp helped me wake up to the issue). Promos I receive from labels are often full of information, ones from individual producers, far less so. As an independent artist, you should use this opportunity to share your contact info with the listener. Now, when I send out promos for my single track releases (as is often the case in dance music), I have taken to adding my email address within the 'album' field. Simple, and yet very effective if anyone new ends up with my track and wants to find out more. No label artwork for your unsigned cover song? How about a cool shot from the band's last live gig? How about a list of tour dates? How about a phrase such as 'free music at our website', and offering some free and some purchasable music at said site?

Here's the thing: People will go on P2P and torrent sites and download copies of your music for free. If you are the one posting high-quality files with full artwork, tour dates and links to buy the album on 12-inch LP, then yours are the files that will end up in the hands of music fans. At least with all the correct information at hand, they can make an informed decision about if they wish to contribute to your revenue stream in future.

Not only that, but if you are sending digital music to a radio station or magazine, and they download and open the music file, whilst simultaneously deleting your emaill and losing your Electronic Press Kit, they still know who the heck you are!

Lee Jarvis.

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August 16, 2010

Press Kits - Who, What, When, Where, and How?

HST Press Kit - Inside
(Photo via smart went crazy)

Press Kits can be amazing. They can also be amazingly bad, or amazingly useless. To ensure you don't fall into the two latter categories, I thought I would share some basic information and advice.


Everyone from an individual acoustic artist, to a 49-piece orchestra, to a live event promoter, to a record label should develop a press kit to aid their promotional efforts and business deals.


There are many different elements you can add to a music press kit. Not all of them will be needed for every occasion, some will be situation specific. As Bob Baker says, "your goal should be to send only what is necessary and needed to accomplish your promotion objectives."

Break your content down into these four areas:
Text : Biography, Discography, Press Releases, Fact Sheet, Tour Dates, Song List, Equipment List, Famous Quotes / Endorsements, and more.
Images : Professional Photos, Live Performance Photos, Press Clippings, and more. Images should all be hi- and lo-res, for either print or web.
Audio : CD albums, Limited edition 7-inch coloured vinyl, Low bitrate mp3s for quick streaming, High bitrate audio files for download, and more.
Video : DVDs, Music Video, Live Performance Video, Behind The Scenes Footage, Interview Footage, and more.
Additional Inserts : USB Flash drives, T-shirts, coffee mugs, candy bars, pop-up storybook, or other RELATED items.

Having an inventive theme to your press kit and promotional material is a way to make it unique and stand out. A style or gimmick that suits the artist's music and image won't hurt at all, as long as any theme is related and appropriate! A record label for kids music? Think colourful, jack-in-the-box, cartoon animation, and Hello Kitty bubblegum style decoration. Chicago goth-metal band? Think stormy, unicolour city skyline images, sharp fonts, and blood-stains across your bio. Do not try and fuse the two.


August 09, 2010

Bad Publicity?

(Photo via Chrisjohnbeckett)

No such thing, right? Often, even bad press is good news.

Browsing through music website Resident Advisor recently, I stumbled into the 'New Singles Review' area, and found an artist I generally liked, with a pretty bad review. It kicked off with "Whether or not a rehash of someone else's work is deserving of review is debatable." The review inspired 80 comments in three days (average for the site is anything from 2-20, depending on preceding reputation.) The comments ranged from disagreement ("track of the year so far"), to outrage, to confusion, to agreement ("total garbage"), to death threats (well, nearly, they are a feisty bunch at RA) to the profound "makes my nips hard".

Ultimately a LOT of people wanted to know what the fuss was all about; whatever your previous views on the artist at review (if any), you want to listen to the tracks at question and have your say. And now, by reading this, you want to listen to the track and figure out what the hell is going on... well there you go. There's no such thing as bad publicity (Disclaimer: in this case.)

Don't be put out next time you earn a bad review.

Soul Clap - R&B Edits

(Resident Advisor review)

Lee Jarvis.

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