What It Takes Pt. 3: Research, Research, Research
A few years ago, I was hired to create a buzz around a very talented, very young, singer-songwriter.
The first thing I did was make a comprehensive list of the live music video sessions, blogs, magazines, radio shows and promoters who’d supported artists with a few similarities in the early stages of their careers.
We didn’t have a big budget, so I started with the video blog sessions because the artist was impressive live, especially for her age. They worked. The videos spread quickly and made it much easier to secure the rest of my media and live targets, followed by live agents, labels and publishers.
It wasn’t a particularly innovative strategy, but it did make it look as though this artist was suddenly everywhere and that it was all very organic. Or at least it looked like that to anyone who didn’t do their Googles.
The beauty of the internet, is that for every success story a couple of steps ahead of you, you can usually figure out what they did, how they did it and who helped them.
It amazes me how often people think they need to hire someone with expensive expertise and intimate knowledge of the secret to success (ha!) to make things happen, when they could figure at least part of it out themselves first.
Don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend working with the right specialists if you can afford it, but if you can’t there’s never been an easier time to learn new skills.
Tip: You generally get much better results if you understand how the job of the specialist you’re hiring works. It means your expectations are more specific and realistic, you know what they need from you to do a good job and how their ecosystem works.
It’s unlikely that someone else’s model is going to be exactly right for you, but there will be overlap.
If you’ve really done the work of figuring out what makes you different to everyone else, you’ve done yourself out of an exact blueprint to follow, but there will certainly be clues.
A lot of artists and creative folks tell me that no one else is even remotely similar to them. That may be true (unlikely but possible), but there are usually people who attract the kind of opportunities you’d like to have. If so, that’s who you’ll need to research.
The task before you, is to understand what it is about other people’s strategies that worked for them because of their unique talents, and work out a different strategy that might suit you.
Your research will help you figure out what kind of tools, resources and expertise you’ll need to help you best carry out this strategy.
Research which journalists, bloggers, podcasters, presenters, producers, promoters etc supported at least three people in a similar orbit to the one you’d like to be in. For starters, try the Google News search and set the date range to the start of their journey.
Tip: you could also try asking, often people are surprisingly willing to just tell you.
Make a contact list for when you’re ready, and a reference column describing what makes you think they’d be interested in you.
Bear in mind, if it’s a journalist they’re not going to write the same article twice, so your angle needs to be different. Luckily you’ve done step two in this series so it will be.