Recently there was a thread on the Jazz Programmers Google Group that was generally another long rag on Kenny G as he has done what seems like the obligatory “standards” recording for pop or crossover artists. His record company has sent out to all of the jazz radio and press the CD. What I got from the thread was that most thought that there was no promoter following up and that because of his history they were just supposed to play it and add it to rotation. Well it turns out that they did hire a promoter who is doing the appropriate follow-up. So one of the main complaints was that when programmers get CDs there needs to be follow-up at all levels and traditionally artists hire one of the pro jazz CD promoters who kind of like that tradition since that is how they make a living
After addressing the new paradigm of DIY (Do It Yourself) promoting by artists with several programmers and print/blog professionals associated with tracking systems I got a good feeling that even though they have long-term relationships with many of the professional promoters (like myself) that they were very open to artists promoting themselves IF they did the appropriate follow-up. So what is the appropriate followup?
For radio programmers, you have their phone numbers and their email addresses that they prefer for tracking (part of the data package you can buy from us if you want or gather yourself – JSG Promotion and Gig Contacts ). Most radio programmers allow a few hours per week to talk to promoters or artists promoting their CDs. Start the conversation by introducing yourself, the name of your CD, and a very brief description of the what the CD is about. If you feel shy about calling then do emails only. Many programmers now prefer emails. If you have a “ringer on it” feel free to mention but make it mostly about yourself. In the email put a shortened version of the text with a quote and a jpg of your CD cover.
Definitely tell them that you understand that they are getting more than 100 CDs a week but you would really appreciate if they would review and consider adding to their playlists. You will get as many different responses as the number of people you call and email but generally they will appreciate that you are taking the effort and that you understand the amount of submissions that they get. Always do an email follow-up also. There are many that only do email interactions these days. In the email it is best not to send attachments unless requested as firewalls may kick them out. It is better to insert a pic image of the CD, a quote or two, who is on the CD and a very short paragraph about it. With radio if there is an initial phone call interaction I would suggest to just fall back to emails WEEKLY for about six weeks. If there are some stations that you really feel you really need it played on then do more phone calling but remember my mantra “be the gentle pest”.
For press we are looking at the same approach but some major caveats. With the trades, only call the associate editors who are in charge of reviews, not the publisher. Realize that you are definitely going to get the “we get hundreds of CDs” attitude. And they do but again be a “be a gentle pest” The same goes for the critics/writers, blogs, etc. The KEY here is to get on their “radars” even if you don’t get any print this time around. If you don’t let people know you exist then no one knows who you are. That simple. You HAVE to get on their radars. These are generally pretty smart people and they will remember that some one has sent something and reached to them about it. They just might listen and still not get back to you. They may really like but if they are a trade or blog they just may not have the space to add and if it is a critic most are approached by the trades to write or if they really like something they will solicit the trades to write about it. Probably with the trades, critics, and blogs emails are going to be your best bet. The last thing is that it can take a long time to get to print. Between the amount of CDs they are getting and that most of the trades publications are organized about 3 months in advance it can take a long time before it can show up. The exception to this is the growth of blogs started by jazz critics/writers or jazz blogs that take submissions from critics/writers.
- Jazz Week – This is the main national jazz charting and tracking system composed of about 80 to 90 . It’s major concentration is National Public Radio NPR and Public Radio PR with many satellite and syndicated programs and some community and college radio stations who report their weekly playlists to it. For serious detailed tracking there is a $125 fee per month charged. But you can look at what is available to the public and see the charts and top adds details.
- College Music Journal – This charting and tracking system can be expensive but is truly a place that you will get airplay and some traction. About $400 per year and you have to buy a years subscription
So I wish you the best and please know that I started doing this 20 years ago and am still going through the same experiences with every new release. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you need the contact data check out the contact data package we have.