Time to pitch

With the “We’re America” song video breaching 2,000 views now on YouTube and various social media play in progress, the next phase of my release strategy is the issuance of a press release. I’m using two services to distribute the release: Beat Wire and PRWeb.

Beatwire is a musician-centric service that distributes multimedia releases to some 10,000 music journalists and reviewers, including both mainstream press and the blogosphere. PRWeb, which is owned by PR-industry leader Vocus, also distributes a multimedia release to the main news desks of mainstream press and social media sites. PRWeb gets thumbs up from the likes of PR guru Annie Jennings, among others.

Both these services are reasonably priced, with advanced packages in the three- to four-hundred dollar range. PR Newswire is another good mainstream media service, but their packages start at $680.

In both cases, the release includes an embedded video and an audio stream of the song as well as artist photos and album cover. I’ve used both services before and had fair to good results.

In addition, I will personally send pitches of the story to key journalists, including newspaper, TV and the blogosphere. You can’t depend solely on press-release services. Pitching journalists is an art in itself, but I’ll go into that another time.

I’ll report results in a future post.

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Release of “We’re America” video

I’ve released the video for my song “We’re America.” As posted earlier here, I’ll be making a case study of the song’s release.

About the song: There’s nothing so powerful as self-fulfilling prophesy, and, if we can defer excessive hand-wringing and rally behind the President, we just may pull out of this economic nosedive. That’s the spirit behind “We’re America.”

On the music biz side of this project, the strategy for getting the song out there begins with a pre-release via such social media sites as youtube and myspace as well as blogging.

I’ll cover youtube today, since that’s my primary focus. Why? Because in recent times that may be the primary breeding ground for the social media virus coveted by indie and major label artists alike. Today, “We’re America” breached the 1,000-view mark after a week’s time. Promotion so far has included: 1) very limited notice to my personal network of friends and fans, perhaps a dozen (by design); 2) limited promotion via Google’s AdWords; and 3) posts and direct messaging on related youtube channels.

A brief note here on Google AdWords. I’ve used AdWords for more than six years to: 1) promote my artist Web site and 2) promote a college Web site (another hat I wear — PR director), with decent results for both. Google recently sent me a complimentary apron and other goodies, an honor, I suppose, as a longtime user. That said, I’d rate my level of expertise at intermediate. AdWords is a complex Darwinian system that engenders a love-hate relationship. I’ll say more about its workings another time.

In future posts, I’ll cover more details on strategy and tactics and cite other articles on the indie artist and the viral campaign, including some success stories. All these posts will be listed under my “indie music workshop” category.

I’ll try to keep the reportage concise and relevant. And, of course, I invite readers to join the conversation with useful comments.

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Power from the people

My friend Richie manages the Philippe Starck Building across from the New York Stock Exchange. They have a $23-million condo that’s wanting for a buyer (poor billionaires). I asked him if anybody was jumping from the windows yet. Apparently not.

The Sunday morning news coverage of the public furor over the AIG bonuses was instructive, if predictable, including David Gregory and company on Meet the Press on NBC, which was followed by Chris Matthews, who polled his panel on whether the bonus fallout would hamper Obama in his push for further bank-bailouts. The results were rather measured considering Congress’ need to sate the public outcry.

Let’s not underestimate the true meaning of the public anger. Certainly, the $165 million in AIG bonus payouts (although the Connecticut A.G. today ups that estimate to $218 million) can be seen as the proverbial straw, it is no less significant that other turning-point straws that fill the history books: the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, Pearl Harbor, and “remember the Maine” or the “shot heard ‘round the world.”

That said, here’s what I think is happening and what will ultimately solve Wall Street’s excesses: the power of the people.

While that sounds quaint at first blush, people power is the latest disruptive technology, and it will rule Wall Street in the coming years the same way it has reshaped the music industry, the film and television industries, the advertising industry and the news industry. It is a force that is even larger than Wall Street.

Here’s what’s changed: I call it the trust factor. Since the industrial revolution (and certainly earlier), industry, the media and government controlled information. They may have taken the temperature of the public along the way and had to proffer lip service to obtain votes; but, collectively, they dictated the message. They had us having to trust them concerning how to conduct our affairs. I could put together a string of corporate slogans here, but I think you get the point.

Over the past decade, the trust factor has been turned on its head as the Internet has leveled the playing field, first flattening the music industry, then steadily rolling over several others.

Now, the curtain has been pulled back on Wall Street, and the complex and secretive way it has conducted business. When everyone was benefiting from the current model, big banks and insurance giants could get away with their Ponzi-style instruments.

But no more. The public trust has been broken, never to return. Now, the public will have trust flow from the public to the corporate world, in full. Its beginnings were sown in the corporate facebook pages we see today. I believe a new, disruptive model will be forged naturally from these events.

I suppose that’s a hopeful way to look at this mess we’re in. But isn’t that the same model that now elects our Presidents.

Oh, one more note on hope — some songs to help us through: Tom Paxton’s “I Am Changing My Name to Fannie Mae” and my own “We’re America.”

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The ‘pre-release’ strategy

On the “We’re America” front, of timely significance is coolfer.com’s recent note regarding a “pre-release” strategy for singles tracks as employed by Rascall Flatts for it’s album, “Unstoppable,” which will be formally released April 7. As an indie artist, I’ve arrived at the same conclusion as I’ve come to embrace the iTunes-led track trend.

So, let the pre-release strategy of my “We’re America” song serve as an example for other artists. Note that the tune was written and produced during the past week as a solo single in response to the current political climate over the recession. So let’s workshop this here a moment:

•    artist releases single that must get out in a timely manner;
•    single is not as yet attached to an album;
•    yet single will be pre-released via social media;
•    then, formally released via both traditional and social media.

I won’t go into all the release details here, but will post the progression along the way, warts and all. With decades of music industry experience as both a Nashville songwriter and an indie artist and as a PR pro, I hope to bring something useful to the table.

Comments and suggestions are, of course, invited.

Breadbasket me, baby

Kind of a dream night here in Kansas City last night.  My wife, Roxanne took me to dinner. Lucky man, KC strips at the Golden Ox on 16th and Genessee. A 40s joint in the stockyard section, wood paneling, pleated bar, live jazz wafting in from the lounge. Even a brief departure from our glowy repast when, in the men’s room, I came face to face with a panoramic photo of the yards, circa 1910. The rawness of woodframed housings and pens, tiny figures of men burning remains — The hard terrors of the cattle industry churning my gut. And, yes, I turned from it, back to the paradise of the evening, which only got better.

We summoned our adoptive Pakistani cab driver, Al no less, who sped us back to our hotel, the Westin. Now it was a bottle of Riesling in the rooftop Benton’s (named for painter Thomas Hart Benton), where another jazz ensemble was playing, the Stephanie Laws Jazz Combo, with Wayne Hawkins, piano; Bob Bowman, bass; and Tim Cambron, drums. Even sans sax, they would’ve made Bird proud, moving like a long river through standards and pop surprises like Moondance. Even closing with “Over the Rainbow,” the tune Harold Arlen wrote in a rush on his way to the”Wizard” set; the tune Harold Arlen didn’t think had a shot. Oh yes, we are in Kansas.

And all the while, behind our couch was broad a picture window opening out onto the KC skyline. The Western Auto sign conducting the proceedings like a conductor with a neon baton, avenues of light funneling downtown.

Western Auto sign, Kansas City

Western Auto sign, Kansas City

Yes, I love America, and it doesn’t get purer to a junkie like me than the heartland. R’s like me. We revel in discovering the soul of a town. I need to feel its history, its music, its people. I need to peel back its layers, hear its long tales . I need it in the raw.

That’s what I’ve done in my songs over the last decade. I write about place. I try to see a city through time. That’s what I did in my debut album, “King Kong Serenade.” After all, New York’s my hometown. I drove its taxicabs, I sang on its streetcorners, I cooked in its kitchens and I wrote for its newspapers. As a sampler, try “Crossroads of America.”

Release of “We’re America”

I will be releasing a new song, “We’re America,” with the hope of raising the spirit of Americans during this difficult period. Listen to this pre-release track.

It was prompted by the bickering across the political aisle at a time when countrymen of all persuasions should be rallying behind President Obama and the nation. Certainly, our two party system is our strength, and questioning the administration, policy and legislation is essential. But the rancor and division have gone too far for a nation in crisis. Rush Limbaugh’s call for failure and serious hand-wringing and doubt from the far corners of both parties is working against the current of pragmatic support we need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. As Tom Friedman wrote in his March 10 column in the New York Times: “Economically, this is the big one. This is August 1914. This is the morning after Pearl Harbor. This is 9/12. Yet, in too many ways, we seem to be playing politics as usual.”

So, I”m hoping to join with Tom and others to  inspire what I call a “new patriotism” with “We’re America.” Give it a listen (from above link) and stay tuned here for more on this quest.