The NBT Music Columns: DJ Pearlman ‘Inside Independent’

Gee DaveyWelcome to the thoughts and views of some of the artists on The NBT Podcast

We start with DJ Pearlman of the band Gee Davey and his column
Inside Independent

Radio, Radio. Wherefore art thou?

So I’m at an interesting juncture here in my “indie” career. It’s been pointed out to me, and a few moments on google will confirm, that “…so many bands pour their heart and soul, not to mention their money, into a quality CD and then…” And then… And then? Exactly. Enter the radio promoter.

Let me first say a quick “thank you” to all of my family and friends that have every one of my musical products, as you are truly my “audience”. However, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to land a record deal because my sister likes the CD. And even in this day and age of social networking, I doubt I’ll ever “myspace” my way to a gold record. So what do you do? What is the easiest way to reach the widest audience? Well, you could go and play in front of everyone. By all accounts bands like the Goo Goo Dolls, and Train did pretty much just that, but that’s like 10 years of every lame-ass club, and state fair, and whatever else you can find to play. It’s also a lot of time in a mini-van. And, ummm, have you smelled yourself after just one gig? But I digress.

Radio promotion. A few months ago I was contacted by a radio promoter out of Los Angeles, California. Apparently I had submitted a CD to him (I submit them everywhere!) and he was sure he could “run” with one of the songs off our latest CD. I thought, all right, great… run as far as you want… but, alas, the contract. For a spicy fee, he could run a national campaign, and assured me that the song would get enough radio play to get some traction. Being a realist, and a keen observer of the music industry around me, I was not surprised at the “pay to play” aspect of the promoter. I mean, it really is the way things work these days. However, I figured at the very least it was worth looking into. Maybe I should shop around a bit.

Fortunately, for us less-than-beautiful people in the industry, there are some places you can go to get a really unbiased opinion on things for the unsigned/unappreciated among us… (I’ll plug the good people over at cdbaby.com here for doing everything they possibly can to help us out). Through some articles and comment postings, I found another promoter that was quite highly recommended, enough so that it warranted a further inquiry. I checked out his company website, and sent him an email. I got a quick reply, and a request for a CD for him to listen to, which I promptly sent out. After a few more emails back and forth and some phone-tag, I finally got this other promoter on the phone, and not only did he know my material, but he knew it well enough that we could discuss where it should be placed, market-wise. (on a side note, he referred to specific songs by track #, which says to me that not only was he not just reading the tray card, but had spent some time listening either at home or in the car [since all computers and personal devices these days seem to just give you the track name]).

He explained to me some of the ins and outs of his particular trade, and actually let me in on just why we (meaning us lowly musicians) can’t get program directors on the phone or even get our calls returned. Sure, he was peddling his wears as to why radio promoters actually deserve to get paid, and he’s right, they do. For the stuff that they need to do, to get somebody out in the real world, who has no idea who you are, or what you sound like (and generally not even the slightest interest in finding out) to even just listen, and possibly even play your music, they may actually even deserve a medal. Because I tell you what, I’ve been trying to do that for years, and it hasn’t worked yet. Suffice it to say I was impressed.

So. What happened next? Excellent question. That is precisely the point I am at in this little adventure. I’m confident it’s a good idea, and I’m all set to go, I just need to find the money to get it going. Ah, yes, the joys of being an unsigned band.

But hey, by time my next column comes out, we could be on the radio, right?

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