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Hot tips from music industry experts

Tip Published Wednesday 14 February 2018

Want to learn the hottest tidbits from the best in the business? We asked some of our favourite industry experts to share 3 top tips on their area of expertise!

Building a fanbase with Tom Huggett, Astral People

1. Stay Active On Socials.
Set up your social pages covering all bases - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, triple j Unearthed, Spotify and Apple Music (get access to your Spotify For Artists and Apple Music Connect) Remember to stay active but not too active - post when there's news/exciting content, but when off-cycle remember not to post too much as it's very easy to annoy fans.

2. Give Your Fans A Personal Connection.
Especially in the early stages of your career you should respond to every single fan who reaches out, take a photo with every fan who asks etc. These are the type of fans who will be fans for life and they'll tell their friends and their friends may tell their friends and so on and so forth. You are giving these fans personal experiences and these are the type of experiences they'll share with others.

3. Form Your Own Cultural Scene/Collective.
Create a cultural scene/sound which you and like-minded musicians can own. You will be associated with this 'sound' which could bring on many opportunities in the future as you and your collective continually grow this scene. All the artists will come up together and when one breaks it gives the chance for the entire collective to ride this wave together. At the end of the day everyone wants to be a part of something.

Servicing your music to community radio with Grace Pashley, 4ZZZ FM

1. Service directly to programs that suit your music.
4ZZZ is different to some other community stations in that none of our shows are playlisted by the Music Department, so each announcer has complete control over their playlist (so long as they're complying with station policy and industry codes), so it's always good to get in touch with announcers directly.

2. Send in digital releases
Physical copies are great for personal collections but are quickly filling up our limited space at the station! Also all our music is processed by volunteers, and digital releases are much easier for our Music Coordinator (who is also a volunteer) to distribute.

3. Make sure your music is appropriate for community radio.
Although 4ZZZ doesn't playlist shows, we do require every program to play 30% Australian music, 30% music with at least one female member, 30% new music (released in the last 4 months) and 15% local. These quotas are about to be increased, but it always helps when we know whether your music directly helps us meet these quotas.

Publishing Agreements with Clive Hodson, Perfect Pitch Publishing

1. What deal is right for one is not necessarily right for another
Be aware of the type of deal on offer. Do you want to assign everything you’ve written or only a specific number of compositions? Or maybe just one song?

2. Do I sign for the World or only Australia/NZ?
This depends on the publisher capability and/or need to hold onto publishing in certain territories due to the deal structure (record/publishing combination) you’re presented with by a label. Always ask a publisher as to who/where their partners are.

3. Understand when to seek out a publisher
In order to advance your career there are numerous “team” members that can be of assistance to your future success. Where/when does a publisher fit into that team – is a well-connected, motivated manager/booker/publicist more important in the “team” chain or can a publisher be the connector for all/most?

Looking after yourself on the road with Hayley-Jane Ayres, 360 Artist Logistics

1. Get sleep any time/place you can fit it in.
Sometimes the best you'll get is four hours a night for many nights in a row. Definitely don't think, "Oh if I only get 4 hours sleep I'll just stay up." BAD IDEA!

2. Don't drink too much booze
No point travelling all that way only to play a shit show because you had too many pints before the set.

3. Offer up your couch and backline to touring musicians when they're in your hometown
People will often return the favour and make your life on tour a whole lot easier. Plus you'll make some amazing life long friends.

Funding opportunities with Dean Linguey, Creative Victoria

1. Call / contact the funders BEFORE applying
It could be to introduce yourself, see if your project is appropriate, ask questions, get "hot tips" etc.

2. Give yourself enough time
That is, do not start and/or submit an application just before the deadline. It happens a lot and can end in "tragedy".

3. How is this "project" building on your previous activities and what happens next?
Think of it like a story or narrative.

How to do media interviews Bryget Chrisfield, The Music

1. Try to be descriptive and weave in personal anecdotes rather than just giving one word or short answers.

2. Answer the actual question and resist the temptation to change the subject and reel off rehearsed responses.

3. Even if you feel like you're answering the same questions over and over, try to provide a fresh perspective so that fans who are reading multiple articles about you don't feel like they're having déjà vu reading your quotes.

Digital music release strategies with Sarah Hamilton, Ditto Music

1. Long lead times! Be organised and give yourself enough time to upload and market your release.

2. Sign up to Spotify For Artists so you have access to your page and fan insights.

3. Check in with your label or distributor for any possible opportunities that they can help with, e.g. playlists, promo, other opportunities.

On getting a manager in the music industry with Sian Walden, Little Acorn Music

1. A manager is a lot of things, but at the end of the day remember that they are managing the 'business' that is your music.
When you can't keep up with the demand, and growth needed of that business, then that would be a really good time to get a manager. Therefore, having that growth and demand off your own accord is also a really good way to get noticed by potential managers.

2. Know what a manager's role involves.
Understanding, appreciating and respecting the role of a manager is a huge part of being noticed.

3. Be flipping great. It sounds simple, but if you're honestly that great, managers will know of you.

Trends in physical music retail with Steve Bell, Sonic Sherpa

1. Vinyl is back in a big way, but isn't yet the be all and end all.
The return of vinyl is the most romantic aspect of the physical music comeback because it's the oldest and most fragile medium and its return was relatively unexpected, but you have to remember not to put all your eggs in one basket. Not everyone has a turntable and many people still love the humble CD, and given how relatively cheap they are to produce pressing some CDs up as well remains a good idea more often than not.

2. Think outside the box.
People still love things that are unique and makes them seem different, which probably explains the recent return of the cassette as a medium. Most cassettes have download codes included as part of the package so it's difficult to tell how many people are actually listening to the tapes, although pop culture events such as the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise have certainly made this old format cool again. Doing something different could be as obvious as coloured or splatter vinyl or a series of 7" singles instead of an album, but traversing the track less traveled can often pay handsome dividends.

3. Value added is still paramount.
With most music freely available online these days it's still imperative to throw in something value-added wherever possible to get that reluctant punter over the line with their purchase. This could take the form of something additional such as stickers, posters or comic books to be given away with the album or can be something like adding a download code, lyric sheet or expanded artwork. Fans love getting something that adds substance to their experience as a consumer so the more bang you offer for their buck the better.

Pitching your music to radio with Will Backler, RTRFM

1. Accurate, Speedy Access.
Make sure when servicing music it is as convenient as possible. This usually entails using a service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, WeTransfer or similar online transfer/storage service. Be sure to have all your tracks very clearly labelled (i.e. "ARTIST - SONG") and send both 320 mp3s and 16/44.1 wavs. Don't send just a stream with "download available upon request" as this is another barrier to your music being picked up.

2. Goldilocks Information.
Be sure to include a little bit of information about your act in the email - a quick "who, where, what" one-liner is enough in the body text. This could be along the lines of "we are a Perth-based 3 piece playing post-punk inspired by the likes of The Fall and The Slits and are about to release our debut EP". Too much information overloads the recipient, not enough doesn't hook them in. A detailed bio should either be linked in the email, attached to the email, or contained in the music submission folder.

3. Follow up, don't be a Punisher.
As many larger media outlets receive a huge amount of submissions and it can take around a week to get to submissions, so send your music through at least 2 weeks before your release/launch. Be sure to follow-up on your submissions seven days after your initial email if you don't receive feedback. Avoid being "a punisher" by following up daily or getting friends or family to send emails also servicing your music/asking for support - this happens more than you'd think!

How to make the most of your studio time with Mick Wordley, Mixmaster Studios

1. Don’t get lost in too much talking about gear.
Just use what you have at hand in the best way you can, I have much, much gear at hand, but I believe every piece is totally valid if it does the job - no matter whether it's worth ten bucks, or $100,000. If you are a committed recording enthusiast, try something you have never done with every session.

2. Remember: the most important, famous artist, is in the room with you.
I get asked consistently “Who are the most famous folk you have recorded ?”, and I always look at them and say … right now, YOU!

3. Because an artist MUST have a great time, and hang loose, that's when they perform the best. You only get one chance, and it's better to get one great song for a $$$ or two, than 20 songs that sound like …… ^%$&^% for the same $$$.