I am a producing artist. For producing artists like me, many of the roles– from promoting an event, putting a call out for artists, or garnering sponsorship– fall on our shoulders. The internet is key in helping producing artists promote their work and garner attention. But, given how accessible and easy it is to post information on-line, it is even easier to misrepresent yourself or, worse, share Too Much Information (TMI) with an audience that you want to attract to your art and not offend with your over-sharing, snotty attitude or mis-matched image.
It’s really hard sometimes to know the difference between being accessible and being inappropriate when trying to promote an event or attract sponsorship. I find it necessary, sometimes, if money is available, to just side-step the potential for a mess and hire someone to specifically handle online promotions. My business partner Maceo Thomas and I did that when producing the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest, hiring a boutique PR group, ThinkBrownInk, and I’ve done that on smaller scales for shows or projects solely featuring me, hiring, bartering or soliciting support from associates or peers who have a strong online presence that can help with online promotions.
But, when hiring a publicist or getting someone to help you for free are not options, it is crucial you have a sense of how to balance the line between TMI and promotion. Here’s the thing: the internet is now quickly becoming a cesspool of spam and folks are becoming less and less inclined to pay attention to a message from you if it is not carefully crafted. So, here are some tips to balancing that line and crafting that message effectively.
1. Get Hip to the Artful Use of Teasers
The word “teaser” is often used inappropriately. While its intent is to promote an event, artist, product, etc. it is not to be confused with a snippet or commercial. A teaser is not just merely an excerpt or a shortened version of a larger body of work. A teaser sometimes does not even have to contain any portion of the new work that is being promoted, but, instead, can focus on the artist in a provocative or intriguing way that spurs buzz leading to greater interest. Here is a popular teaser by one of the greatest entertainers to have ever lived. Notice how none of the new music of the upcoming album is ever shared, but we are “teased” into wanting more with the build in images and hysteria from the fans showcased.
So, while you may not be a star as big as Michael Jackson, chances are that you have a fan base or footage from past shows or past work. Whether its a montage of past video, brief snaps of folks giving you props on your new project, artwork from the cover of the new project mixed with footage of you talking about what went into writing pieces for your new project– the teaser should do just that, TEASE– not give away the bulk of what it is you want people to pay for or attend. Don’t give away your goodies that easily.
2. Keep Your Voiced Frustration Out of the Equation
As an indie artist, I’m sure that sometimes it is so frustrating sometimes to see those who you feel aren’t as talented garner a large following or get opportunities you think you should have. But, it is one way to feel this way and another to voice this frustration WHILE you are trying to promote your project. Believe me when I say that these two things DO NOT mix. There is nothing worse for a potential fan then to see someone they believe is talented display qualities of a “hater”. Trying to hype your project by shooting down someone else specifically or complaining about how wrong it is you aren’t getting the shine you are entitled to turns people off quicker than the stove. It’s like the Kanye-Taylor Swift debacle on re-run. But, worse, the attention it garners is not necessarily the kind you may find value in.
The late Amy Winehouse, in a 2004 interview was promoting her new album Frank when she was asked about music icon Madonna who she went in on as being an “old lady” and not really all that as an artist. Later, Winehouse publicly stated that she was defensive and new to the scene and shouldn’t have come at Madonna like that– obviously given a bit of advice by a good PR person– but this retraction made less headlines than the splashy one focusing on the venting.As an indie artist with plans to break big, it’s key you don’t let your words later come back to bite you in the butt, particularly if you don’t have the PR machine behind you to clean up your messes.
3. Match Your Aesthetic to Your Art
Your aesthetic may not match your artistic voice. -John W. Bond
A mismatch of your product and what you are putting out there tends to be the biggest mistake that a lot of independent artists make starting out. For some reason, when we have a product or event we want the world to be privy to, we aren’t so apt to identify our audience and appreciate them, we want to turn ourselves into something that everyone will like. That is a set-up for disaster– or at the very least– confusion. Aesthetic is a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist. Does your aesthetic match your promoted message?
These tips are some of my personal suggestions that I share with my clients. What are some things that you’ve found worked or haven’t worked for you?
Khadijah “Moon” Ali-Coleman is a writer and an arts communications professional with significant work in theater arts, music, and youth development. She has performed nationally as a vocalist and theater actress for over fifteen years. Moon’s prolific work has positively impacted the exposure of numerous emerging artists through her various roles as a journalist, event producer and educator. To hire her as your personal Creativity Coach, contact her at KhadijahOnline@gmail.com