My phone rang last week and it was Tom Silverman from Tommy Boy calling to discuss my panel for his upcoming Chicago New Music Seminar. Tom was half amused and half disgusted. “Have you seen Billboard this week?” He asked. Since Billboard is a publication I largely ignore, I fessed up: “No. Why?” “You have to see this article,” he said. “It’s the most ridiculous thing ever.”
In a few moments, I was reading it and I was laughing out loud.
Here are a few excerpts: From the September 26 edition of Billboard:
BILLBOARD’S 2009 MAXIMUM EXPOSURE LIST
“Today the ways artists can promote their music have proliferated so rapidly that it can be hard to keep up with what’s new — what’s actually cutting through the clutter. It’s in this context that Billboard decided to geek out with 25 promotions and publicity experts across genres and mediums to create the ultimate multimedia metric: Our first Maximum Exposure List.”
I sampled a few random ones from the 2009 list to give you a sense:
1: SYNCH PLACEMENT IN A TV AD FOR APPLE
2: PERFORMANCES ON “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”
6: SYNCH PLACEMENT IN GUITAR HERO
15: ‘SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’ PERFORMANCE
35: COVER STORY IN ROLLING STONE
63: ALBUM/SINGLE REVIEW ON PITCHFORK
65: VIDEO FEATURED AS YOUTUBE MUSIC SPOTLIGHT
71: INTEGRATED TOUR SPONSORSHIP WITH LEADING MOBILE CARRIER
73: PERFORMANCE ON ABC’S ‘GOOD MORNING AMERICA’
78: COVER STORY IN SPIN
89: SONG PLAYED ON ABC’S ‘DANCING WITH THE STARS’
So considering 97 of the things on the Maximum Exposure List are very, very long shots for the majority of independent musicians, I have redefined this list and present a guide for the rest of us.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t shoot for some of the things on the Billboard list. If it feels right to you, add playing Oprah to your goals in your future. Hell, I’ve been on Oprah, so, anything can happen. (But that’s a whole other Oprah).
In order to get any of the placements on the Billboard list, which for the most part is reserved for the few artists that are signed to major or strong indie labels, you will need to create your own foundation. But, only after you create a groundswell under you and get a fan base to follow and support you, these things can and may just happen.
The Indie Maximum Exposure List: Contributors
So, I asked my own panel of indie experts to help me come up with a response to the Maximum Exposure List and I have curated a guide for the rest of us.
I’m delighted to introduce you to my dream team of industry experts who are, like me, in the trenches with independent artists everyday. I also asked several artists who are making full-time livings from their music what they have done that made a direct impact on their own careers. It includes Derek Sivers (Sivers.org), Jed Carlson & Lou Plaia (Reverb Nation), Tom Silverman (New Music Seminar & Tommy Boy) and Jonathan Coulton.
All of their bios are here: http://arielpublicity.com/blog/archives/indieplayers
The Indie Maximum Exposure List: 7 Categories
Not surprisingly this list is NOT as Tom Silverman will point out 100 outlets to submit your music to (although there are plenty of places to send music to on this list). It’s much more complex than that. So, the list is broken up into 7 critical categories:
- Mindset/ Who You are Being
- Fostering Relationships
- Recording & Releasing Material
- Touring / Live Performance
- Social Media / Internet Strategy
- Online Resources (Where to Submit)
- Making Money
Please note there are quite a few people I would have loved to have weigh in here and this is a list of colleagues who responded quickly so please don’t go posting all of your opinions about who should have been and who is not included on this list. Instead I implore you to please contribute your own points. I would very much love for this to be an ongoing conversation for all of us.
Without further Ado…
THE INDIE MAXIMUM EXPOSURE LIST (A GUIDE FOR THE REST OF US)
While writing this, I attempt to avoid quantum events. Quantum events are one in a million events that have been responsible for launching many music careers. However, they are akin to buying lottery tickets. You don’t quit your job and just buy lottery tickets. Believe it or not, that is exactly what most artists do when they make an album and put it out through Tunecore or CD Baby or send it to big labels expecting some external force to anoint them with instant success.
Being an artist requires a serious commitment to hard work and persistence in non-musical areas in order to achieve success. This has always been true. It is called paying dues. Each artist is a business whether you want to see it that way or not. Succeeding requires revenues and spending just like any other business. The artist business is the business of building a fan base, managing and monetizing that fan base.