"Perception is not always reality." Something that I have been saying
and teaching artists for many years. Especially when it comes to our
beliefs about other artists. Too often, our perception of how well other
artists are doing or how successful they are, is based upon how often we
see their music video on MTV or how many reviews or articles we see. Not
to forget the amount of times we hear their song on the radio. The same
holds true of independent or developing artists in your area. The sheer
amount of shows they are doing in your town and the promotion related to
them, can cause you to think they are far ahead of your career.
Ironically, it is often this "misperception" that influences new or
developing artists to change musical genres to try to "jump on the
trend" of what they perceive others are being successful with.

On the other side of the fence, what other artists think of us, our
music and how successful they perceive us to be, is not always reality.
But we may want it to be. Depending upon how successful we are in
"painting the picture" that we have a number of things happening
(monthly shows at a club or clubs in town, people talking about our
shows, CDs in the stores, radio airplay, write ups in the press, etc.)
is usually based upon how well we can manipulate the media and industry
into believing that we have something going.

While I know your first reaction is going to be, "how can I manipulate
the media and industry when they don't even return my phone calls?"
Whether the radio programmers, press, retail buyers or club/venue
bookers return your phone calls is not always the most important part of
your new "perception" strategy.

Most artists don't know that before a record deal is usually offered to
an artist, the record company will conduct a "market by market reality
check." This entails having a special staff (or usually hiring my
company) to contact the various radio, retailers, press and club bookers
in the target cities you should be focused on and seeing what they
believe is happening with your CD and how much they know about you.
While support in the form of constant airplay or write ups in the press
are nice, the record companies want to know if they are familiar with
you and what is happening with you. But let's not forget the retailers
and clubs. It is very important that the researchers see you have record
sales in the stores and how many people are coming to your shows on a
regular basis.

While record sales and attendance at your shows is something you can
control through the effectiveness of your direct promotions, the
question is, how can you get the radio and press to know what is
happening with you, even if they don't want to play your music or write
about it? Actually it is quite simple.

Most often the radio programmers and press aren't going to play your CD
or write about you until there is more of a story developing.
(Especially if you didn't send them an Artist Profile). Your job is to
keep them up to date on how your career is developing. You can do that
by simply emailing or faxing them a monthly update about what is
happening with your promotion. For example, airplay on other stations
they monitor, write ups or reviews in other publications or online. What
stores are stocking your CDs and how many sales you are having, where
your are playing and how many people are coming. Updates such as these
are passed on to the record company A & R staffs when they are trying to
check to see if your music is having any impact. These updates can be
the key to getting a record company or other industry people to pay
attention to your music.

The "perception" of how well you are doing in your target markets is a
key determining factor in whether you get sponsorship deals in the
future. Not just from equipment manufacturers but from major consumer
product companies. Ones that will give you thousands of dollars to help
promote your music.

Author Tim Sweeney is head of Tim Sweeney & Associates, who are entering their 18th year of being, "the only true artist development company in the world."

Tim is one of the music industry's most sought after experts and consultants, and has written several influential books including "Tim Sweeney's Guide To Releasing Independent Records".

Tim Sweeney