I sent an email to friends, family, and fellow-musicians on 24-April-2013. It was a letter-of-intent that I will send an email blast each month.
Here is a cut’n’paste of the email…
This is to let you know I will be sending monthly emails to let family, friends, fellow musicians, and, soon I hope, those in the music promotion and publishing business, know about original music I am writing, recording, releasing and performing.
This is only the introductory email. It will be the only navel-gazing and exhaustively informational one. The others will be straight to the news.
As most of you know, I have been writing and recording songs (with and without my daughter) with an eye to getting recording artists (emerging or established) interested (directly or through their publisher) in recording and releasing them. I now finally have “product” to start sending to music publishers: Two “mastered” (completely finished recordings) songs.
What is the most that could come out of this? Taylor Swift would record Devon and my song, “the Moon in Daylight”, which would become a hit, and music publishers would line up at my door for more songs!
What is the least that will come out of this? I will have a professionally recorded, mastered CD (or two) of Devon and I singing our own songs. They will be released online for purchase as downloads. I will have had fun learning a lot about the fascinating and confusing music business.
Why email? It is free and effective. Years ago I was asking advice of one of my brothers about purchasing advertising. He said that every time he paid for advertising he got no response. Then he would hang a bulletin (free-of-charge) at the local community centre and he would get calls. Throwing money around does not always increase business. Secondly, I need to start developing a communication vehicle for promoting my songs. This is not a forum to beg family and friends to purchase my songs online. Sending songs to publishers has to be done with tight focus. If a particular publisher wants email communication then I may add them to this email list. So, with your feedback, by then, I am hoping these emails will look professional. I will focus on things that have to do with song promotion. I’m not going to talk about piano tuning and repair, guitar instruction, or other musical things like the fact that I am taking my Grade 10 Voice Exam (Royal Conservatory of Music) this June.
Why not facebook? I don’t know how best to use facebook. When I do, I may use it more. I need to start meaningful communication now, as I have a backlog of exciting news. Also, lately, I have been reading that good ol’ fashioned email may, surprisingly, still be more effective than facebook for promoting music. I do have a facebook “business account” for my music publishing and music services sole proprietorship, Shiny Pine Music, which gets zero traffic.
Why not a website? I probably will get a website, maybe even by the second email I send. Again, I don’t want to spend money just to spend money. I have put this off for years imagining I would use the free website hosting that I get with my Internet Service Provider, Vianet. However, if I was going to try to cram learning how to create my own web pages with HTML into my life, I probably would have done so by now. The wisdom, however, seems to be that you use email to steer people to your website. At the website they will find all things wonderful: biography, song samples, links to purchase downloads of songs, lyrics, upcoming gigs… So, yeah, a website. I’ll probably go with hostbaby which is the website host “sister” to my online distributor cdbaby. 20 bucks a month, though I imagine they’ll get more money out of me before long: “Chris, you have run out of space. Get more space with our free trial offer…” 🙂
What do I want from you? To let me know if you want to opt out of these emails. 🙂 If you choose to receive them, please give me feedback so I can improve this to the point where music industry professionals would be impressed. Comments like, “Chris, keep the technical talk to a minimum”, “You come off sounding like a smart aleck too much of the time”, “Stop describing your songs in such a self-deprecating way. Let the music speak for itself”, “Next time you announce a gig, can you make it clear it is in Timmins so I don’t go through the Toronto Yellow Pages looking for ‘Christopher’s Coffee House?'”, “Your emails are too long”, or “Your emails are so heavy-laden with big .jpg’s (pictures) they take forever to load”, are great. Anything will help.
Why monthly? Anything more than that I find annoying, so maybe you would too (?). Also, in the last year or so it seems something exciting happens about every month: Devon and I release our first co-penned song for digital download, or CD for sale at gigs, or Devon and I get our first-ever royalty payment from SOCAN for performing our own songs at a public event in Timmins, or I re-release a gently-edited version of my song “Isolated Town” which, although I always thought was kind of a quirky niche nugget, others have told me is the favourite thing of mine they have ever heard.
Privacy? Just to be clear, this is a mailing list I am creating to send you a monthly newsletter. It is not a user’s group, bulletin board, or blog. So, no others will see your comments. If you respond to me with anything especially encouraging or insightful, I may ask you if I can share it. I will always ask first.
Why does the email come from Shiny Pine Music? Shiny Pine Music is Chris Aitken C.O.B. (Carrying On Business as) Shiny Pine Music. It is still a sole proprietorship and will remain as such until I have sufficient reason to incorporate. I make my living entirely from providing musical services. These services are (in order of declining revenue) piano tuning and repair, private music instruction, performance fees, and performance royalties.
When will the emails arrive? This one is so packed with back-story that I will send the first official one, in a few days.