There are so many music web sites, publications, and radio stations that I could promote to them all day, every day, for the rest of my life, and never hit them all. Anyone can put up a web site at little to no cost, so they flicker in and out of existence at whim. Most major cities and universities still have newspapers and radio stations. While offline circulation and listenership continue to decline, they make up for some of that loss or even expand online, unrestricted by geography. And then there’s MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, podcasts, and the social networking flavor of the week. The challenge for indie artists is to figure out which potential opportunities are worth the time and effort.
Today I worked through the 176 contacts in my “promo” folder, and deleted all but 35. In the past, I’d send out a review or airplay copy to anyone who asked, because I figured the more CDs out there, the better. You never know who might hear it, right? Wrong. Sending out a bunch of promos gives you an unfounded sense of accomplishment while depleting your limited resources. Eventually those copies show up used on Amazon and eBay, undercutting your own sales.
So how did I decide which contacts made the cut? For each site, I used Alexa to figure out how big a potential audience I stood to reach. Alexa ranks the entire internet by popularity. Here’s their report for the official Depeche Mode site:
As you can see, it’s the 46,200th most popular site on the web. The huge spike in traffic was when they announced their new album and tour. My site doesn’t get quite as much traffic:
As if that big number weren’t pathetic enough, sites outside the top 100,000 don’t get the nifty graph. Actually, my ranking isn’t THAT bad. The official site of one of my all-time favorite bands is at 24,825,439!
As a rule of thumb, I deleted contacts whose sites were ranked higher than 1,000,000 (hypocritically, I didn’t delete myself). It’s not as heartless as it sounds. Servicing radio and press isn’t really part of this campaign, so I only sent promos to a handful of people who have supported Color Theory through the years. I also reached out to a few popular sites that I have yet to crack – but only the realistic ones! This is the first CD I’m not sending to Rolling Stone (I’ve spoken to the reviews editor a number of times, so it wasn’t totally outside the realm of possibility). To discourage secondhand sales, I wrote a personal note right on the Digipak of each promo I sent out.
If you’re a Firefox user (give Firefox a try if you haven’t!), you can download an extension that shows Alexa’s stats in the status bar at the bottom of the browser. It’s unobtrusive and a teensy bit fun, in a “useless trivia” sort of way. In that spirit, MetroLyrics is the top music site, and Yahoo! is the top site overall.