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Monday, October 11, 2010

Music Success In Nine Weeks - Week One

So I am going to take the challenge from the Music Success In Nine Weeks crew, and start blogging my way through the new revised version of the book.   The prizes are sweet and I could use the focus, even though I feel like "I don't have time" for it.  I love Ariel's ideas and there are very few people/websites/organizations providing structure in this unstructured time in the music business.  I believe right now ANY structure is good.

I worked with Ariel Publicity from Oct 2008 to Jan 2010 promoting my Death and Texas LP last year.  While I have to say that I was quite happy with the results (it did broaden my fan base considerably) and I heartily agree with their methods, I was very disappointed in their customer service.  For example, I was told that I received 10 gig promotions with my package and while the 1st promotion did get me an article in the local paper, the 2nd gig promotion didn't happen.  When questioned, the answer I got is "oh we forgot, sorry".  Then when I was discussing with an employee about doing further gig promotions, they basically said, "well it's really hard to get anyone to write something so we don't really try that hard."  Nice.  I did believe her that it is very hard to get a print publication to write about them, but after $2500 and numerous extensions at $250 a month, that was a pretty lame response.  I felt like the woman handling my account could have given a crap;  often it took days to get responses to emails.   I asked a couple of times to receive direct responses from Ariel via email and/or phone (there was one problem with my promo photo at the beginning that was totally on their end and it was excruciating dealing with my account rep who was rude and uncaring).   Ariel never responded, so just to let you know - you'll never hear from her if you ask to speak with her.  You'll maybe get a tweet about something random in the middle of the night, but it also took her 2 months for her to add me to her Twitter page.   Kinda shabby for $2500 + $250 a month for 9 more months.  Also, some months they'd have you mail out 3 packages and then some months you'd have to send like 20 in one week.  Hard to plan for.  That might be standard, but I didn't and don't have a lot of confidence in their "go-getter"ness - I felt like more could have been done in the off months.

So if I didn't like them, why am I back, you might say?  lol  Why trash them in the first paragraph and blow my chances of actually winning the contest?  LOL

Well, the publicity campaign worked.  I made several contacts in the blog/podcast/internet radio area, and in fact got about 50-100 new fans who I still keep in touch with from one internet radio station alone.  I got a whole bunch of reviews of my disc, some of which were great.  Any publicity is good publicity, they say.  Above all, it's the fan relationships I made with people around the world that bode well for the future.   I started moving in the direction of "1000 true fans" (I'd say I probably have about 200).

And honestly, there's no other game in town for what they are doing.  Should I win the package, at least this time going into it I will have my eyes open and know what to expect.   I'm also hoping that my venting gets noticed and maybe their customer service will improve!  

AND....(here's the crux of the matter)...I think like many musicians I have been sitting at the counter of Schwab's Pharmacy all my life waiting to be discovered, "ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille".  For those who don't know, this was a famous drugstore in Hollywood where actors and actresses would go to be "noticed" by producers and directors.   It was rumored that Lana Turner was discovered there, but that is actually false.  To anyone's knowledge, nobody was discovered there.

But I have been waiting most of my life for someone else to come along and do the heavy lifting.  Be discovered by a producer, be discovered by a label, for someone to say "hey, he's really talented.  I'm going to give him a million dollars and put him on TV/Radio/Movies".  Colonel Parkers don't exist anymore, and even if they did, look what he did to Elvis.  

I admit that I gave up at the end of my publicity campaign because I thought "well, I don't have any more sales, I can't support myself on my record sales so I am a failure".   My expectations were unrealistic.

I am willing to start again, to learn anew, to correct my mistakes, and above all TRY not to be so damn SELF-CRITICAL.  I am my own worst enemy.   But I am also my own best friend.  The tools in this book really helped before and I think I can use them to launch myself a little further down the path because now I have an idea of what is reasonable to expect.  

And, like Derek Sivers says, nobody is coming.  Nobody.   That thought comforts him and terrifies me.  But I know I can do it.  I have watched so many of my friends become successful in music and other businesses and I am sick and tired of standing on the sidelines.  I am going to try to discover myself and try to present that to the world in a fashion I can be proud of.   I have a lot of exciting strategies and I am eager to try them out.

So while I think I have "no time" to blog and go through this book, I think I need to give up some TV shows and stop mindlessly surfing the web to commit to some forward progress.  Because I'm worth it LOL.  Cheesiest blog ending line ever!   See, there's the critic.  Work in progress over here.  Time for some goal-setting!  


  1. Welcome to the blog challenge Chris!

    I must say that I would have loved to have heard your opinions personally in an email or you could have called the office. Maybe you DID call the office and the said publicist who didn't give a crap also didn't give a crap about telling me that you were so unhappy with your campaign...

    We have worked VERY hard to improve our customer service since you were on board with us. It's feedback like this that would have been immensely helpful while you were with us because I would have personally stepped in, But I guess now is a good time too...

    I'm glad that you did indeed see results and I'm even more happy to know that the community you began to build online has stuck.

    I hope that this blog challenge will help you over the next 8 weeks!

    x Ariel (and not yet in the middle of the night)

  2. Hey Chris!

    What a way to start your Week 1 MSi9W blog!! ;-)

    You are so right about the lure of that Fantasy Person to discover us and take us away from our humdrum life. But alas, No One Is Coming!

    In other words, "If it's to be, it's up to me!" Once you accept that truth, it can also be empowering to take your music career into your own hands, and make it happen for yourself. Damn right, you're worth it!

    If it makes you feel any better, I'm now working with Ariel and her team to improve their processes (and judge the blog challenge), so I'll be keeping an eye on you, Mister!

    Good luck with the challenge!


    Carla Lynne Hall
    Musician/Marketing Consultant/MSi9W blog judge

  3. PS - That story about Lana Turner being discovered at Schwab's was fabricated by her movie studio's marketing department. It does sound appealing, though ;-)

  4. Hey Carla :-D I think that's great that you are involved in an official capacity with them - you are one of the most positive, people-focused, upbeat persons I know on this here Interweb! Cheers :-)

    Ariel, thank you for that comment! It is much appreciated. I emailed you as well. As I wrote, I wouldn't even have entered this if I didn't love your methods. So...onwards!