By Ida Millsaps, eHow Contributing Writer
Country music has come a long way from back in the days when Loretta Lynn rode around in the back of a car and traveled to stations all over the country asking radio announcers to play her music. Getting your foot in the door at Billboard-monitored stations isn’t exactly easy, but it’s not altogether impossible.
Indie artists like Joey and Rory have found success without the backing of major labels. Independent promotion has worked for former label-backed artists like Gretchen Wilson and Tracy Lawrence, too.
There are numerous ways to promote your music and gain the ground level support you need to capture the attention of people in the industry that can get your music played on major radio stations and television.
Internet Music Hubs
Websites like MySpace, Facebook and ReverbNation are great places to post your original music. From there, you can use the links to post the music online and promote your sound. It’s also a great way to get instant (and sometimes brutally honest) feedback about your sound. Best of all, signing up and posting your music for the world to hear is free.
Promoters and labels will often refer to the number of plays a song has–or the number of fans that have chosen to support a bands’ pages online–when booking shows or promoting music to radio and venues. It’s a valuable and easily accessible tool for any new artist.
Sell, Sell, Sell
When it comes to getting the ear of major labels and radio, sales are most definitely a determining factor in earning respect. It’s hard to deny the validity of an artist and their music if they have already established a marketable sound. Selling your music is also a fantastic way to pay for new equipment, buy merchandise for resale and to generate a little income on your way to market recognition.
CDBaby.com is great place to start moving your music. It’s one of several companies widely recognized as being artist-friendly and handling the complicated tasks of getting music available to the consumer. There is no middle man, just you and the company. It offers a variety of services once your music is ready for the world to hear. CD Baby charges a small fee to get started, and it’s also partnered with major download sites like iTunes, Rhapsody and Amazon, so you can be sure the music is at the fingertips of prospective buyers.
Some artists elect to record their music and use their home computer to burn copies for sale, too. With the growing number of programs available to burn CD’s and create cover art, do-it-yourself projects are everywhere. It isn’t the easiest way to get your music out there, but it works.
Put a Label On It
If you have the money to invest–or have other investors lined up–there are independent labels and virtual labels that will use their industry clout and credentials to help you get airplay on reporting radio stations. Companies like Nine North Records has handled records for a variety of up and coming artists.
Nine North was instrumental in garnering Number One Billboard status for the Tracy Lawrence song “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” in 2009, and it’s known for helping Joey and Rory crack the Country Top 40 with “Cheater Cheater.” Nine North records is owned and operated by Larry Pareigis, the former Vice President of Promotion for the Sony/BMG Nashville Division. The Pareigis organization also offers the services of a starter-level company that grooms new and upcoming artists called Turnpike Music.
From The Ground Up
Without the ominous looming of consultants and shareholders, smaller radio stations often have a bit more freedom to play new music. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call small radio stations. Unlike the larger stations which are owned and operated by corporations, the smaller stations don’t have labels exactly beating down their doors for airplay.
Another bonus of getting airplay on smaller radio stations is that, if your song gets a great response from their listeners, that can bleed over to larger stations. Small stations can generate a groundswell effect and create a buzz for new artists.
Show What You Have
Every live show that you play is an opportunity to win over new fans and admirers. Networking with your fellow musicians is always a great way to make connections and find places to play, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. Finding a promoter or venues that cater to your type of music can be the catalyst in creating one new opportunity right after another.