Reaching a wider audience with your music

Over the last six years I’ve been looking at music promotion and the most effective ways to reach a wider audience. Its been a fascinating exploration and confirmed a number of my initial suspicions as well as revealing some surprises.

Investments of time and money

One thing is certain, if you want to connect to a wider audience, its going to take investments of both time and money. I’d love to think that there’s a quick fix and the music will speak for itself, but that’s really not the case. Like any form of marketing you need time and money to reach an audience beyond friends and family. I’ve seen many great bands play local small venues (often for free) and the primary audience is friends of the band and family. My own experience is that playing local gigs is invaluable in building up performance skills, but it can also burn a lot of time and money with very few tangible results. Of course many artists just love to play and that’s 100% a legitimate reason to gig, but its in my view not something to be relied upon to reach a wider audience.

BBC Introducing experiences

With my first band “The Small Change Diaries” we had an extraordinary amount of music played on BBC Introducing in Leeds, often week on week. I genuinely thought this would crank some interest in the band, but found it made absolutely no difference at all to any momentum for the band. When Alan Raw was one of those choosing the tracks, we had good plays and Alan was kind enough to comment “It’s an interesting sound, it’s good, I like what they are doing!” The second album had a play of “I know what you’re saying is fine” and then NOTHING for any other submitted tracks from following years. I sent tracks from four different projects and even though they were really diverse nothing ever got played again! This was a very different experience and I subsequently found that there were different people choosing the music and a lot of what was played were artists from Leeds college of music. That’s 100% fine of course and one artist had the same single played twice over two weeks, but this lead me to look at other radio stations and see what interest there might be.

Everyone has an opinion, but what actually works?

I attended a music forum in Leeds with a number of local gatekeepers including some from the BBC and it was a good opportunity to hear what people suggested was useful and ask questions. Some of the advise proved in my experience not to be especially helpful at all including the suggestion that radio promoters were a waste of time! My own experience is that this is far from the case and I’m pleased to have built up some really good connections with stations across the UK.

Of course different people will have different experiences and there is no “right way” to market music. My experience is that to be effective you need to useful many different mediums and not reply on sporadic social media posts where friends and colleagues proclaim you as “brilliant”. Its well meant of course, but “the music business” is like any other business, its essentially about “trades” who gives what and who gets what. My experience is that the key is collaboration with like minds and being prepared to put in the hard work.

Green Eyed Records and Music for The Head & Heart

I set up Green Eyed Records and Music for The Head & Heart as platforms to showcase a wide variety of music. This requires a fair bit of time and financial investment. That said, its proved to be a great way to share information and offer practical help to some artists. GER has sponsored some artists with marketing by paying for services the artists probably could not afford, and/or have access to. Music for the Head and Head and Original Ukulele Songs have allowed me to connect to many great artists who I would probably never have come across. Obvious examples are Towse and Emily Mercer, both who play on the forthcoming album “All is fine ’til the world goes pop” Both are smart enough to have their own sites and not just reply on social media platforms. Of course not everyone gets the value of collaboration and I even had one artist decline free assistance from the GER platform, while at the same time endlessly seeking funding from core fans for all manner of urgent financial needs just to get by from week to week. That in my view is not a great long term strategy and the whole “I know better than anyone else, following my dream” is a bit daft. Of course others may disagree and that’s fine to.

Enter Frank Wilkes and Kycker

I’d almost given up on getting sensible advice on music promotion until I spoke to Frank Wilkes from Kycker. Frank offered some great practical advice and the edited one minute clips here are invaluable for anyone wanting to expand their audience reach. Frank is very straight talking and offers some really sensible tips worth listening to. Of course everyone needs to decide for themselves what path they want to take, but it doesn’t matter how great the music is (in your opinion) connecting to a wider audience requires some good strategic thinking. Anyone who imagines otherwise is with respect, totally delusional!

There’s no substitute for experience

I’ve realised that there really is no substitute for experience and its worth looking at the artist interviews on Music for the Head and Heart as well as Green Eyed Records. I’m grateful to Jim Glennie from James, Jon Gomm and Martin Simpson for their insights as well as world famous journalist Sylvie Simmons.

One thing is certain, “the music industry” is changing and hoping that your track will stand out from the other 62,000 tracks uploaded each and every day to Spotify is somewhat optimistic. Ultimately any success will in my view come from working with like minds and appreciating that the old model of “getting signed” “to make it” is now seriously outdated. I have massive respect for any artists seeing to create and bring music to a wider audience. Its often far more work than anyone might imagine and great music alone is not going to be enough. Every artist I have interviewed or spoken to has had a great work ethic, good strategic planning as well as excellent creative skills.

Sylvie Simmons interview, Green Eyed Records and musical explorations

In recent years, I’ve been thinking a lot about music distribution and music deals. I’ve always been a massive music lover and set up Music for The Head and Heart and now Green Eyed Records as platforms to support musicians and help promote great music. With Music for the Head and Heart I approached the great rock journalist Sylvie Simmons to perform one of her songs. I’ve followed her writing for literally decades and now find she is a great performer and lover of ukuleles.

I was delighted when she agreed to interview me for Green Eyed Records on the concept of this platform. The central concept is “creativity through collaboration” and I talked about this in the Sylvie interview

What’s the idea for Green Eyed Records?

The idea for Green Eyed Records was a little bit influenced by Robert Fripp’s original idea in ’92 when he talked about is to reduce the distance between the people who are creating the music and the people who are consuming it. That was already starting to happen with things like Patreon and Kickstarter. Fripp wonderfully described it as “a model of ethical business in an industry founded on exploitation, oiled by deceit, riven with theft and fuelled by greed.” Don’t hold back, Fripp, just say what you mean!

So my thinking is: In the old days one of the main limitations on things was the ability to get to the wider public. The internet helps with that – YouTube and Social Media – so there are mechanisms to get to more people. The last information I had is that every day 60,000 tracks are uploaded to Spotify and the renumeration for that per play is absolutely miniscule, which is great for the tech companies and other people, but not for the people actually creating the product. It has to be funded in some way. And the only way I can think of this actually working is if people work together in some collaborative way so that we can, remove as many of the intermediary people as possible between the audience and the providers of the entertainment. That throws up a whole bunch of challenges of course, but I don’t see another way of doing it. Because unless you’re extremely established and you’ve been around for a very long time and you’re riding the momentum of what you’ve done before, the current model’s not going to work.

“Creativity through Collaboration” is Green Eyed Records’ motto. It’s a great line, but what came to my cynical British mind was, is this some kind of hippie dream? Like those kibbutzes in the 60s where you’ve got a guy who knows how to saw the wood and a girl who knows how to make curtains, and when evening falls they all sit around the campfire singing Kumbaya. Is this what you have in mind?

Hopefully there’ll be no Kumbaya singing! But herein lies the challenge.”

Herding musical cats?

Since 2014, in heading different acoustic and electric ensembles, I’ve realised the importance of being organized and working with like minds. I’m lucky to have a brilliant producer in Carl Rosamond and he’s been invaluable in creating over 70 tracks to date including 45 during this covid era. I’ve also been amazed at the amount of time it spends to organize events , band rehearsals and live gigs. One of the earliest examples of the need for organization was when the first band “The Small Change Diaries” in playing at the Lagoa Guitar Festival. I’d only played a few gigs before this outing, and this was a true baptism of fire. I was also lucky enough to meet my great friend Laurent Zeller, who has played on subsequent tracks with both “The Small Change Diaries” and “The Caravan of Dreams.”

“The music business” is like any other business!

I’m currently working on a number of very different musical projects, including “Nick Cody & The Heartache” which is an all electric roots outfit, Code – E1 which is all electronic music, a pop album and an album of duets. I’ll also be looking at GER and Music for The Head and Heart in 2022. One of the keys to success is to find like minds. I’m forever told about how things “can’t work” while I demonstrate the exact opposite. I have also realised that “the music business” is like any other business, its a series of trades and the question is for all those involved “Is it a good trade?”

Some artists can have superb creative skills, but can be quite delusional when it comes to marketing an basic business. I’ve thrown out great no strings attached financial opportunities to some people and some just don’t understand basic business strategy. Its not about “working for the man” or other such daft statements, but rather thinking about the steps best needed to reach your chosen audience. I’m reassured that there are some great resources online that echo my exact thoughts and highly recommend Rick Beato and Glenn Fricker both very outspoken but in my view very smart. Crucially they have the experience to offer useful advice and this confirms that “the music business is like any other business”

Of course there’s no right or wrong, just different ways of working. One thing is certain, music remains central to my life and I have had a blast meeting so many fantastic people, including Sylvie Simmons, Martin Simpson, Jon Gomm, and too many others to mention from all over the globe. I recently spent the weekend with a friend who has sold over 25 million albums and once again we agreed that “The music business is like any other business”

You gotta move released August 6th

You gotta move by Nick Cody and The Heartache

The Nick Cody and The Heartache follow up single to “Can’t Stop” is “You gotta move” and is released on August 6th on all digital platforms.

Special thanks to everyone who has made this track possible and especially Carl Rosamond for continued great sound production, Rich Ferdi for percussion, Howard Taylor for bass, Agi for backing vocals, Joshua Burnell for keys.

The pre save link for this single is here

The Nick Cody & The Heartache debut album and live work

This second single is one of five tracks already recorded for the debut Heartache album. We are currently also working up the live band for gigs, the first being on October 2nd at The Old Woolen in Leeds The live ensemble is Nick Cody, Fergus Quill and Rich Ferdi with additional guest musicians. This is a full electric ensemble and the initial “Can’t Stop” single has already received excellent radio play in the UK and overseas.

Can’t Stop radio plays to date

“Can’t Stop” now has the most radio plays of all tracks to date. Special thanks to Neil Atkinson for radio publicity and for Nick Bloomfield in creating such a terrific video for this track.

These stations have all played this track so far, with more to follow

  1. 920 WON: The Apple
  2. Access North West Radio
  3. Baks Radio 
  4. Big Ear Radio 
  5. Channel Radio 
  6. CJB Radio
  7. Eagles Nest  
  8. Exile Fm 
  9. Forest Fm 
  10. K107 
  11. KDUB Radio
  12. KL Radio 
  13. Miawpukek First Nation Radio
  14. Neptune Community Radio
  15. Nova Radio
  16. Power 91 
  17. Quasar The Album Station
  18. Radio Deeside
  19. Radio Candy
  20. Radio Saltier
  21. Radio Shields  
  22. Real Radio UK
  23. RKC 
  24. Seabird Radio
  25. Shaky Radio
  26. Shoreditch Radio
  27. Source FM
  28. Sound Radio Wales  
  29. Surgery Records Radio 
  30. Valley Radio 
  31. Valley Radio Grand Falls Windsor
  32. Vixen 101 

Can’t Stop is available HERE