Someone will say “No” to you. That’s pretty much the worse that can happen is. But somehow that holds so many artists back from reaching their full potential. “No” should never deter you from trying to do something you think is impossible. Here are some thoughts/ideas of seemingly outlandish things that you may think are out of your reach.
Getting a review in a major (or semi-major) publication
I think its important to have some experience and credibility (i.e some type of “claim to fame”) under your belt before trying to get a huge review. But when you do have some quality information to feed the press, send over a short query letter to the appropriate editor to see if they might be interested in a write-up. Visit “How to Score Reviews of Your CD” for more on this.
Having your demo played on the radio
Some music scenes are very supportive of their local artists. Some are not. But if you want to be played on the radio, look into independent radio stations. You have a greater chance of being played on independent radio than commercial radio. And don’t just send in your demo. Visit the website and find out if they have any specific protocol for local artist. Figure out who the local music DJ is. For many stations, DJs have special call-in hours during the week where you can call them and talk about your project. Having them hear your voice is a great way to break the ice before sending in your CD. Visit the “The Things You’ll Hate To Do…But Should Do Anyways” post for more on this.
Make sure your demo is quality! Don’t send crap because it won’t get played. And make sure your demo is well-packaged. Don’t send a song burned onto a CD-R. Does your artwork (on the disc and on the packaging) look professional? You want them to take you seriously.
Seriously set goals! Then write them down. When you have concrete goals, your words/thoughts/dreams are closer to actually happening. Set practical goals. If you’ve never performed, make a goal to do at least 1 show/month. If you want to have a strong fan base in your city, make a resolution to be on top of as many events as possible. Always be aware of what’s going on. Immerse yourself in your local music scene. Visit the “New Year, New Ideas” post for more ideas on setting goals and stepping up your game.
Opening for a national touring artist
National acts are coming through town all the time…and they’re not always playing in huge venues. Sometimes they’re playing in clubs, lounges, listening rooms, and art spaces. You’d be surprised! If you know of a venue in Pittsburgh that regularly hosts national artists, why not contact their booker and ask them how they choose openers? In some/many cases, national acts set up a tour with their own hand-picked openers. Consider contacting the artists booking agent directly. Refer to the “Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Listen, Go“ for tips on how to be aware of what your local scene has to offer. Remember that opening for a national act is really a great thing to add on your “resume”
It doesn’t always work
Last summer I found out about singer/songwriter Melody Gardot. She’s huge in Philly and has a great national following. I found out that she would be playing at The World Cafe during the same weekend I planned to be in town. After searching her site I found her agent’s email and shot him a message. I talked about myself in 3rd person (bad idea…b/c he totally saw through it) and suggested that I would be a great opener for Melody that weekend. He responded promptly, said they already had an opener, and wished me the best of luck. No hard feelings…just felt stupid since I talked about myself in 3rd person in attempts to sound more official.
If you’re good at something and you keep doing it, and then keep doing it, you will eventually get where you’re going.