I don’t know if promotion is part of my process - at least, not a very high priority. Although I intellectually understand that in order to continue my career/vocation as an artist, I do need to tell people about my new work, so I do a bit of promo here and there [i.e. do some interviews, send work off for reviews, do some shows and mention my latest release]. Admittedly I’m not very good at it, but it’s very awkward to talk about yourself!
In terms of “considering my audience” while making work - I don’t, really. I don’t think it should be a major consideration for artists in general to concentrate on what their audience might think, short of any potential ethical and safety issues. What’s more important is creating work that is genuine.
When I‘m making/recording music, all I care about is how it makes me feel. Finding that one sound that makes a track work is one of the greatest things to me and something I could never overthink. It just happens and is highly personal.
Once a track is done, I do want people to hear it. I think that’s an important part of music.
Obviously I prefer people liking it over them disliking it. But I’m not really seeking for other thoughts, feedback or constructive critisism. I never send tracks to friends before releasing them. All I want is to spread my message (even though I don‘t use words in my tracks).
The thought that I can reach out to people is highly motivating to me. Sometimes I look at statistics of my channels and knowing that users from all around the world listened to my music is abslutely wonderful to me.
For that to happen, I need to do some promotion, feed social media channels, etc. It is something I would never do as a private person, but I made my peace with it. It‘s a decision I made and I value the result over the sometimes awkward promo experience.
It’s an impossible balance and always ends up feeling gross to a degree, but at the end of the day, I choose to share my art with others. To some degree, that means talking about it. I’m proud of it and it means something to me. Maybe it might mean something to someone else? If not, that’s ok too
Also, while I have no dreams of world domination or making it a career, as soon as someone is spending money to put out my music, I figure I should at least try to spread the love out of respect for that financial commitment to my art (not that the labels are looking to get rich either, it’s probably something I put on myself more than they put on me).
As for considering my audience when creating my music, I don’t at all. It’s my art, people can perceive it however they want. My favorite artists are the ones who don’t really give a shit either and even if they veer into directions I’m not as into, I will still have a tremendous respect for their fearlessness. See: Rafael Toral, Jim O’Rourke, Radian, Nurse With Wound…
I run a small netlabel, and promotion is always a hairy part of operating it – putting the releases together is the fun part, but the point of the label has always been just to try to get music I love heard, so promotion has always been a part of that.
I’m not great at it, but the nice thing about a netlabel is that the end goal for promotion is always just to have the music heard (for me anyway, I’m sure it could be a gateway to paid work etc for some, too, for example licensing music for film via discovery on the FMA) and so it doesn’t feel as gross to me as trying to ask for money.
A new wrinkle in the process for me is this year I’ve started doing short runs of physical editions, to give to artists for them to sell, and to send out as promo – mostly to radio stations. I keep hearing that folks prefer digital downloads for promo purposes, but my hunch is that a bubble mailer with a CD and a one sheet might be more effective than yet another blip in an overflowing email inbox… but we’ll see!
As others have said, it’s a balance, and it all depends on your goals. I’m still in the process of honing my craft to the point where I’m ready to release an “album,” but I used to make YouTube videos semi-regularly and once they were uploaded, I’d just pop a post on instagram with a highlight of the video and a link to the full version. Seemed to work well without being annoying - and the post itself had content instead of being a hollow “GO LOOK AT MY THING.”
When I finish this album, my intention is to release it and then make like a single instagram post mentioning that its there and available, just because that platform gives me the largest set of eyes and ears who might actually be interested. I’m very annoyed and tired by the “album coming in XX days!!” posts that I see so many bands do. In my opinion, just drop it and say it’s there, and leave it be.
I’m interested in the process of releasing in terms of creating physical versions of the stuff that I’m making. I really like the compiling, editing, and working on the visual art and layout process of an “album”. I also like having a “thing”. In this context, I find it pretty comfortable to promote things so far as finding homes for the small editions of these releases.
Also finding it not terribly difficult to stay out in the “scene” enough to perform periodically around town. Promoting for a show ever month or two ain’t that difficult.
What I find more difficult is the day-to-day promoting “brand”-building work. Posting videos to instagram and doing other sorts of social media. I’ll get inspired to do this stuff sometimes, but sometimes I just really don’t have the energy (or confidence) to do it, and I just feel bad for not keeping up to date with this stuff. I have some creative goals that would probably benefit from a bit more exposure and focus on this kind of thing (I would like to do some sort of scoring work with some other form of media, like film or a game). I would also like to be able to do a small vinyl run* (seems like 300 is about the minimum). Both these things feel like biting off a bit more than can I chew currently, if that makes sense–maybe this is not a “promotion” thing at all, and more of a blocker I’m imagining myself.
*looked into lathe stuff (and had a lot of inspiring comments in the thread). After researching, I think that format and process would be at a price-point that would probably be more in line with custom/hand-published things, which is something I am interested in, but feels “farther off” if that makes sense.
From a more philosophical standpoint, I’ve been thinking that the communicative and community-building/finding power of art is really what I’m interested in (rather than trying to make it a professional thing). I get a lot of joy and inspiration out of others (of all different types and “abilities”) sharing their art, and so I try to tell the voice inside myself that says it’s “selfish” or that I’m not “good enough” to share my art to fuck off, hah.
i struggle with promotion. i don’t enjoy the process but i do want folks to hear my tunes if they want to. i oh so lightly spam on fb and i do whatever crazy fun ig posts for immediacy. i love the tape community it feels natural. i have had so many fun and respectful interactions with tape and related folks. it’s never been about money and i’m happiest there. i’d like to do compact disc runs. i don’t really have any interest in records as they seem most cost prohibitive but i love the tape community. tiny runs of pro or handmade tapes seems nothing but fun. sounds so good and feels perfect. and it has a low danger for tiny tape labels. i like low risk and i like the openness. all i really want to do in the end is create. marketing is not my bag.
Indeed, sharing is key. Not only is there nothing “gross” about it, it’s constitutive for the art! Often and for the most part this means sharing others’ work, whether simply discussing it, playing/mixing it as DJ, and so on. But invariably – we have all felt this – the work of others touches on, but never quite captures what one at that moment sees as relevant to share – this lack emerges as a space for one’s own work to fill. That is, all of these acts of sharing generate a milieu in which one’s own work can mean something. The work helps bring forth the milieu, but the work as such does not pre-exist it; rather, the milieu determines it retrospectively. Sharing, in other words, brings forth a world, which discloses the work for what it is. Most primordially, I see sharing and art-making as forms of worlding. Practically, sharing does take on all of the forms associated with promotion, as well as creating and performing the work – but its constitutive role in worlding is key.
Promotion, then, only becomes “gross” when it entails the removal of work from milieu or world – either when considered as a “general strategy” or when it performs certain equations (“work” = bundle of aesthetic/historical properties; manifestation of Self, etc.) The “grossness” we attribute to advertising lies not in the fact others are annoyed by spam, but in the reasons behind the annoyance – that is, that the work may no longer be disclosed as such. In other words, the elevation of advertising to a general, world-independent strategy is noxious precisely because it entails the destruction of worlds.
How then, did advertising come to replace sharing? Sharing as such presupposes a “general economy”, in which the fundamental question that characterizes milieus or societies is how to distribute excess (energy, creativity, etc.) rather than a “restricted economy” founded upon scarcity (because restricted economy is teleological; it presupposes an unrestricted right to “progress” or “growth” – this is how scarcity becomes an issue as populations run up against carrying capacities and so on). Sharing follows the logic of gift and sacrifice (or in its negative mode, theft), rather than the value-propositions of “exchange value” or in its Marxist reformulation (in which there is only a minimal difference), “use value”. In either guise, “right” or “left”, either notion of value can be constitutive for the restricted-economy paradigm. Exchange value or use value become in other words how everything, including artworks, show up. Both rely on a reductiveness that characterizes all entities as exchangeable, whether simply in terms of value (by Economics proper), or as bundles of physical properties (by Science), aesthetic qualities (by Art), and so on. Both exchange-value and use-value commodify the artwork, they strip it of all roles in bringing forth worlds in which it may be disclosed. Their key weapon, far less visible than overt commodification, is aesthetics – the search for world-independent characteristics or qualities which come to speak for the work and prevent it from speaking on behalf of its world. And if a work cannot speak, if its world collapses, there is no longer a possibility of sharing it. It is in this sense that sharing becomes corrupted into its derivative mode of advertising with its own vision of worldless commodities.
I think I’m in the minority in that I’m primarily an improvisational live performer. Recorded music is kind of a byproduct of the creative process.
As such, it’s an interesting balance between my own wants/needs as an artist and what I consider my duty is to my audience. This heavily influences how I put together a patch for a show: I weigh the various factors such as venue, other acts on the bill, promoter expectations, expected audience, etc and use those as a guide.
Promotion … I prefer to leave that to others if possible! Being on a commercial label helps: they do all the distribution stuff so my recorded work is all over the place, something I’d never go to the effort to do. I have a good friend who helps me with a little social media stuff, and I do some of my own–mainly to help out promoters putting on shows, which feels a little less narcissistic. I give away a lot of CDs, which tend to end up in cars. People tell me they enjoy having something mellow to listen to, which makes me feel a lot less like I’m doing something like giving away pictures of myself.
And that’s the problem: I don’t know why I would promote myself. I make my living through other means and likely always will, so there’s no profit in doing promotion. There’s probably some (hopefully healthy) ego in there: it’s gratifying (and endlessly surprising) when people connect with my music, and it’s kinda neat to show up in a newspaper article, podcast, etc. I mostly do it because it seems like what I’m “supposed” to do. It’s a struggle.
I don’t have to make a living with music. I like playing live for the immediate response you get (or don’t) from the audience. So most of the stuff that’s online are my live performances. If I find a venue that seems to be the right spot for my music, I ask if I can play there, or in some cases I was lucky and got asked.
In both cases I get asked for a text describing my music. I hate to write it, as I always end up with some pseudo-music-marketing-descriptive-lingo BS which I think entices folks to come hear my music. Argh.
Lots of anti-promotional sentiment around here, wow. Promoting something you put time and effort into should be rewarding. I’d say move slow and build something you love. Of course, that’s easy to say, hard to do.
I don’t have anything ready yet, but I’m looking forward to the process around creating the aesthetic. While the music is the most important thing at the end of the day, a lot of the musicians and labels I admire have put a good deal of time and effort into telling their story and I find that inspiring.
I think a lot of the anti- is the artificiality of so many feeling pressure to create a message that you perceive ‘sells’. That brings it back into the idea of art being a ‘product’ to sell. Alternatively, when it’s just about an organic sharing of something you love - then it’s more pleasant/palatable. Anyway, I suppose I’m dipping into some of what @ht73 more eloquently brought up earlier though.
I think it’s ultimately about finding that authentic voice in how one shares their art.
Promotion comes AFTER my process. Of course I want more people, rather than less, to hear my stuff, but I don’t think about them when writing, recording, etc. And it’s just work. Take a year or more to make a record… might as well take a few months to help its chances.