BIG GEORGE'S GUIDE TO COMMERCIAL SUCCESS
The third instalment of Big George's regular column sees him emerging from a mountain of readers' emails, letters, complaints and party invitations. This is the third article in a 26-part series. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25 and Part 26.
I've been amazed at the amount of correspondence this column has generated. I'm endeavouring to answer everyone's questions and make y'all global successes earning stupid amounts of money. A good proportion of the correspondence I've received has asked "How can I do this/release that/get my music to them?" It's an age-old problem: how do you get your wares to the right person, and exactly who is the right person anyway?
I Want You
So, how to go about getting your stuff to the people who'll pay you money? The first question to ask yourself is: 'Who wants your work?' The answer is going to be different depending on what area of the business you're drawn to.
Balancing The Books
There's no one book that'll tell you how every aspect of this industry works - but that's not to say that you won't find an excellent selection of mail order titles explaining different aspects of it in this very magazine, including industry directories. You should own at least one of these - I mean, if you haven't got an up-to-date directory of your chosen field of interest, you ain't really interested, are you? But be prepared, as they're not cheap. The main ones are The White Book, Showcase Guide, Musicweek Directory, and The Knowledge. At some point you'll be wanting to get in touch with some major players in the industry, and it's in these book pages that you'll find their details - along with Conference Catering, Bouncy Castle Hire and Cockroach Trainers.
If you're into making kickass dance tracks, the people who you want to commit to your work are the punters at large. But how do you go about getting your stuff to them? Easy - go into a record shop specialising in your flavour of dance culture, and ask them who supplies their records. On the whole, it'll be via an appropriate distribution company (whose details will be in the directory you own), though some artists deliver their stuff to the shops themselves - but be warned: whenever you cut out a middleman, you have to do their job too!
Maybe you want to make music for TV. You've got to find out the name of the producer of the type of show or the executive producer of a particular company that you're targeting. You should know them from the credits at the end of their programmes (whatcha mean, you don't read the end credits! You do if you want a career composing for TV).
You could be deluded into thinking a career in pop music is for you, but take my advice, for all but the rare (and often tragic) few, there's more money in library music, or jingle composition - now where's that directory...
So What's To Be Done?
Then the next question is 'Why on earth would they want your work, when they don't know who you are?' People want to be familiar with what they're paying money for, not speculating on an unknown commodity.
Get yourself some profile. Whether it's a self-written review in the local comprehensive school magazine, John Peel playing your track on his show, or doing a bit of (unpaid) music for the local amateur dramatics, the more there is about you in the outside world the better. (I suppose the best profile you could get these days would be to become 'Fat Boy Slim's Perverted Sex Toy' after being unceremoniously dumped by whoever the in-vogue character in Eastenders is, after producing their forthcoming single, but I think Paul White is using that one next week...) Just being associated with another project gives a potential employer confidence that they won't be the only sucker to be ruined by you.
Start by pinpointing who'd be the best person/organisation to be connected with. And that means finding out their name, what they've done, who they've worked with, who they used to work with, and why they don't work with them any more. There are various ways of getting hold of this information. A good place to start is by simply asking for it. Don't be afraid of calling anyone and asking who does what, who their secretary is and who they're accountable to. It's called getting background information.
A sneaky way of going about this is: target your victim (sound dramatic? This is war we're talking about) and get a friend to enquire about them in the guise of either a future employer or a journalist, then get them to forward a biog. Hey presto, a blueprint of their butt, and where best to kiss it. If you do use this underhanded method (which I can assure you works a treat), they must never, ever find out.
Making the best music ever made (yours) is only one part of the equation, and sadly the least important one. Maybe that wasn't the case in the rose-coloured past, but it is now. Today it's about market forces, market share and being in the market place with something to sell. I know that sounds like a load of crap, but that's the way it is - get used to it! Meanwhile, if there's any subject in the industry you think I ought to tackle, or if you just want to have a rant, write to me here at SOS or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.