As technology is growing and becoming much more accessible all over the world, more Record Labels and Artists are getting their Music Production hats on and releasing music to the world. The thrill of seeing the material out on stores such as Beatport, iTunes, Google Play, and others is a great feeling but then the artist and record label begin to realize there is not enough attention that is needed and begin to ask, how can I get featured and get a banner on Beatport or iTunes and others?
As a distributor of hundreds of thousands of releases, we don’t ever want to promise anyone that he or she will receive features because it would be dishonest and bad business. We will instead tell you that we will work extremely hard and WE WILL submit any release that you want to be featured for consideration to stores worldwide such as long as it fits the specifications set forth by our partners. The best part is that often times, most of the products we do submit actually DO get features and this happens because the products have certain things that are looked upon positively.
This post won’t put forth any guarantees that you will be featured however, it will set the right expectation and speak about how digital service providers think when choosing a featured release as well as what you can do to increase your chances of being noticed and considered for a featured release. This is what this post is about, to help guide you with doing what you have to do to ensure your products are what a digital service provider is looking for. But first! Let’s get two simple misconceptions and rumors that have always roamed around on why releases ARE featured.
I know someone.
Let’s begin by dispelling a rumor. There is nobody that can guarantee you a feature on any website, period. If you ever stumble onto a company that promises you a feature just because you release music and/or because they are “close” with a brand, then you should really be forewarned prior to dealing with them and know that no distributor, record label, and/or individual has any control whatsoever over what a Digital Service Provider will place.
My song is awesome!
There are over 30,000+ Record Labels on sites such as Beatport, JunoDownload, Trackitdown and more. On non-genre specific sites such as iTunes there are over 100,000 record labels and millions of songs. Day in and day out there are hundreds of thousands of songs being added from new artists and record labels each day. Every artist and record label that is being added daily is looking for the same thing, to get featured and noticed. It’s important to understand that these sites receive hundreds of thousands of featured requests day in and day out and they are doing their best to accommodate every single request.
What do you need?
Prior preparation is needed and is KEY before sending a release for featured consideration. Get your pen and paper for some very helpful notes and there are quite a bit of them that should be considered heavily!
Get a good web presence!
In this day and age it’s important that you have a Social Network presence. Virtually every artist is now on Facebook and Soundcloud and if you are an artist and/or a record label, then your first step is to create a professional Fan page. Since personal accounts are meant for individual people, they aren’t suited to meet your business needs. Pages offer more features for organizations, businesses, brands and organizations. Plus, all your confirmed friends and subscribers will be converted to people who like your new Page. So you won’t lose any of your current fans! Plus, Digital Service Providers actually look up labels and take in consideration the structure and that these are current.
The Web = Your Press Kit!
Just having a website and/or Social Network isn’t good enough. Your website, Facebook, Soundcloud, or any other social networks are now considered your online press kit! Include professional press pictures of your artists, label, and a properly written biography of your label, its releases, artists, and even latest news and after you’ve built it, ACTUALLY keep it updated! Take the time to actually write a good bio that will give people a good idea of who you are and what you represent. (Concise, clear, and professional)
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Your Release Cover
Assuming you have done the above and you have good quality music you’d like to release, let’s continue with the release cover of your product. It’s amazing how important this aspect is nowadays as no digital service provider is going to promote your release if it looks…. well…. weak. Take pride in the music you release from the sound of the product to the look of the product. If you have a label logo or artist picture in a plain, low quality format then the chances of it being featured will be slim. Needless to say, don’t feel that you need to go out and spend thousands of dollars getting the best photographer to shoot you or your band.
Create a story
Digital Service Providers pay very close attention to what you are telling them. It’s important to write a good, clear, concise biography of the release. It’s also good to keep the mindset of writing a good story in a simple fashion. (This coming from this long post eh?). Keep your bio short, perhaps 1 paragraph. Simplicity is a synonym for authenticity and is a core motivator of action and keep in mind that Digital Service Providers may not have time to read it. We have seen a growing trend of products BEING featured for having a great story to go alongside a professional cover and of course, high quality music.
Deliver it with TIME!
So your release is set! Now what? Deliver your release at least 4 weeks ahead of release date. That’s right, set your release date to be a complete month or even longer for your request to be considered and always ensure you’re getting in the hands of the Content Department as quickly as possible. The more time that a digital service provider has to look you up the better and they will not consider any release if it’s sent less than 10 days.
Create A Buzz
By now, you have a solid sounding release, great looking image cover, a great bio, and a professional web presence, so what next? If you have delivered the release to us and you’ve sent us a Featured Release form with the information being considered above, then the next step is for you to build a buzz for your product.
Contact music blogs, print, and digital magazines that cater to the type of music you are releasing and do what you must to get the music reviewed by them, at least 3 weeks prior to release being live. You may not get an answer but reaching out to publications of all sorts WILL help create a buzz and Digital Service Providers LOVE when there is a buzz on a product prior to it being released.
We don’t really think you should spam email inboxes and send promos through promo systems UNLESS you truly believe it will help the product and you have a core niche of followers that will take the time to read your email and download your promos. There are so many promo services out there that promise the world but really, all they do is fill up inboxes with emails that immediately get deleted.
OK, I’ve done all that, now what?
If you’ve done this once, then you can do it again, and again, and again. Consistency is the name of the game, the key to being successful in today’s Music Industry and what keeps people coming to sites such as iTunes, Beatport, etc.
But keep in mind that in an era of 140-character Tweets and information overload made possible by the rest of the Internet, our target market values simplicity and have a low tolerance for mistakes. Again, simplicity is a synonym for authenticity and is a core motivator of action, thus we recommend that you always treat your record label and/or music being released like a business and professional.
We’re not saying to saturate the music with sub-par content however, have a plan to release more than one release every six months. Work hard to actively seek out new artists. Consistently producing releases from different artists that work on other labels is a great way to diversify the catalogue and get your brand more attention. Essentially offering a new sound each time a release comes out.
Exclusivity Pros and Cons
Exclusive! The very word can send waves of excitement throughout! Something about getting a scoop nobody else has, knowing something nobody else knows! Choosing Exclusives can always pose a challenge, because we normally choose this option hoping that it will increase the chances of being featured. Truth is that it may increase chances but doesn’t guarantee one. Then many other retailers feel they have been “kicked in the teeth when most labels go exclusive to the larger competitors” and sometimes do not feature these releases. Today, a lot of big labels like OWSLA, Dim Mak, Mad Decent, Firepower all release on the same day and most retailers, will always give those labels who release same day priority treatment. Fruit for thought!
Even with you doing this plan for every release, it’s still tough and we totally get it. Do your best to follow up (also read this post from the past regarding following up). Doing so may just increase your chances! Also review and evaluate how you reach out and communicate to people. Here you may find some interesting tips on why you are not getting a response on emails as well.
Keep a good line of communication with your Distribution Company. We are here to assist as much as possible and as we mentioned, we won’t guarantee a feature but we will guarantee that we will work as hard as possible to do what we can to push your product. We have a great relationship with our partners and each week we provide a summary of all releases for featured consideration. Along with your request, make sure to include a ‘one sheet’ or include as much of the following information as possible.
• A short description about the release itself.
• DJ Feedback (‘downloaded for (artist name)’ isn’t real feedback)
• Tour Information (start – end dates and cities).
• Blog Coverage (RA, Discobelle, etc.).
• Online & Print Press (confirmed placements only).
• Radio (internet, terrestrial, and podcasts).
• Banner Campaigns.
• Print Advertising (where applicable).
• Relevant Chart Action (DMC, RA, Groove Magazine, Billboard, etc.)
• “X” amount of Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud fans.
• Traffic Driving – example “Facebook page, 20120 likes. Link to iTunes Page”
• Any previous sales history on the artist.
And remember to keep our Marketing Department, updated with any new marketing information by email one week before release date to be able to update our Digital Distribution Partners.
I’m featured! Now what?
If you get featured, that’s awesome! However, you may not always be getting that banner again, if the consistency is not held up. We hope that after reading the above, you understand that digital service providers have a lot to deal with from the featured release front and that being consistent, professional, and sending in material in a timely manner is absolutely crucial to your products being featured.
As a request to you, the artist, record label, and/or potential music industry mogul, please understand the facts, know that it is not easy to be featured (especially each and every time you put out a product) and always be patient. Conan O’Brien (former host of the Tonight Show and now host of his own TBS Show) once said “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, it’s just true!” So, work very hard and things can definitely happen!