“Powerful insight.” — Gerald Lucas, a singing-songwriting ‘Soundfriend Talk’ attendee.
On Tuesday evening I had the chance to talk to a bunch of artists, and other creative individuals via Soundfriend Talk; a new panel series by Soundfriend. We gathered together at Knotel on West Houston in New York City for a panel discussion about music distribution. A touring DJ [DJ Prince], indie label owner [Sokio], publicist [Nancy Lu] and I [Richardine Bartee] answered questions (asked by a moderator [Beverly Bryan]) based on our individual experiences.
As strange as you may think the line up was, we all play important roles in moving music around. A DJ is a direct component of the relationship between the artist and the people. The DJ plays records (unreleased, new and old) at venues to create an atmospheric vibe. If the DJ wants you to sway and clap, they can. If she or he wants you to bop your head or play the air guitar, they can. Unique things happen when a DJ plays a new record by a new artist. The unknown (or established) artist has the privilege and ability to see how people will react to it, in real-time. If the crowd enjoys your song, they might ask for an encore. Subsequently, if you’re lucky, your sales might increase.
A record label owner receives demos from aspiring bands, groups, and individuals looking for the financial support, distribution, and stability. Records label tend to function as ‘parental guardians’ of the industry, sugar daddies, or your worst nightmare if you don’t know yourself, you don’t have a vision, or know your self-worth. If signed, depending on the clout of the label, the artist might acquire enough fans to become famous, in tandem successful and lead a luxurious lifestyle.
Publicists are the glue (or a direct source) between the creative (or business person) who wants to be covered by the media. Usually, they are defined by who they know and what they have placed. However — because several [freelance] journalists and [freelance] editors play ‘musical chairs’ — a publicist might be as good as their last placement. Otherwise, the publicist is the one who pitches your product (music, fashion, book, etc.) to the media. If positive feedback is received, your work earns a profile or review for that publication. If not, the publication is either not interested or overlooked your pitch or submission. Publicists communicate with media, on your behalf, all day long.
Last but not least, there is the mighty media. All media outlets (or publications) cater to specific demographics. They are considered to be ‘real estate’ or hubs for placements. Unlike other music-movers mentioned above, what the media publishes about you, can change the way people view you as an individual and as an artist. Media has the power to make or break you, and can gain the privilege of access to your every move. When media receives your product, we are the people in control of your destiny. If the concept of you is hard to ignore, or you are unforgettable, I [as media] might have no choice in covering you. That notion depends on who I work for, and what our agenda is. If I work for myself, I will have full creative control. If I have a substantial following, you might become famous.
What makes the media so special?
The task of presenting your image, your story, and your sound to an audience we think would appreciate what you’re selling and conveying.
Artists of all ages, sexes, and genres have been in touch with me since the Soundfriend Talk. I am not only enamored but floored by the feedback some of you have given me. I am truly grateful and thankful for the opportunity.
Big thanks to Knotel, Felix (Soundfriend owner) and Soundfriend for the opportunity. Thank you to everyone who came. We all needed it, the audience for the guidance and myself, for the therapy.
PS: The name of my company was misspelled on the promotional flier, and I realized it after the panel but it is all good. There are probably typos in this article. Call me ‘Human Error.’