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Posts Tagged ‘promotion’

In this day and age, a little internet-related paranoia is not surprising, in fact it is practically de rigeur to be feeling a little got at. But in the case of Facebook, it’s not just the tin-foil hat wearing brigade who are starting to feel the pinch.

Have you noticed how your reach has gone down and down? Have you noticed how where you USED to be able to become verified, you can no longer find the page that tells you how to do it? Or the option to do it in settings? How your music player no longer streams or displays properly? And how, no matter where you look, Facebook tech support consists of users on under-used forums, swapping out of date links to try to fix problems cause by Facebook constantly moving the goalposts?

Facebook hates musicians. If you are a business and you sell stuff, great! Facebook will allow you to become verified after checking your identity, taking your fingerprints, and extracting the promise of your firstborn’s soul. Try being a member of the creative community though and those tools shall not be yours. If you are unlucky enough to be a musician with a common name, you can forget becoming verified to help prevent confusion amongst your fans.

Facebook hates musicians. Trying to build a list of followers? Facebook won’t show your posts to the people who have elected to like your page and follow you, so you can forget about reaching a new audience. And if you have the temerity to pay for advertising, your organic reach will actually disappear, making you utterly reliant on advertising to even reach your existing fan base.

Facebook hates musicians. I have lost count of all the ways. My music player disappeared. Gone. Just a text link where it once sat, looking awesome and allowing people who visited my page to hear my stuff. So I went in search of an option to add another one. Also gone. And my account has not been authorised to host a catalogue, so despite the fact that Spotify stream all three of my albums, that is not enough for Facebook to allow me to use the Spotify widget. And there is no customer service, or technical support, from Facebook to even explain to me the mystical realms by which this works.

Then, on the same day this happened, I found article after article about how you can measure an artist’s worth by how many followers they have on Facebook. But artists can’t get new followers when Facebook methodically strips out every tool that they could once have used to promote their music. Facebook hates musicians. Facebook will actively prevent artists from inviting “too many people” to an event. Facebook. Hates. Musicians.

What are your options instead as an unsigned artist? Well. Your own website is a must. Tie everything to it, always return to it, and run your social media through it. Facebook can still be useful, with persistence, work and a staunch avoidance of their ad campaigns. Tie it to Twitter which, despite the character limitation, is a vibrant community where it is actually possible to become verified, eventually.

But there’s a new kid on the block that I urge you to try.

Tie your social media and your website to Drooble. Get your friends, family, foes, dentist, chiropractor and MP onto Drooble. Drooble is not just for musicians, although they are the primary audience. Music fans are also welcome, like a thunderstorm on an oppressive day, or like tech support would be from Facebook. Or a box of donuts when you’re really hungry. Unless you’re gluten free. You get my drift. Get thee to Drooble, and show Facebook how it’s really done.

Drooble loves musicians. Let me count the ways:

Karma – Karma is the lifeblood of Drooble. Everything on Drooble is free, from a monetary perspective, anyway. Interacting with others, to like a post, comment, listen to a song, post a song, write a post, promote some music, make a friend – everything earns Karma. That Karma can be exchanged for a fully professional Electronic Press Kit, or to make a song the song of the week, giving it headline exposure. There is an entire range of promotional tools which can be purchased with Karma – the more you interact and support others, the more you can support and promote yourself.

Drooble Radio – you do not need to spend Karma to upload songs to Drooble which are then automatically added to Drooble’s online radio. This allows new users, who have not yet found their way around, to hit the ground running and get some songs up. Ditto the (very thorough) profile, which all users get for free, as well as the interview portion which allows you to really express who you are and what you are about.

The community – because of the Karma system, when you post on Drooble, it doesn’t just disappear into the void. The encouragement of interaction has the lovely effect of creating a community of likeminded people all of whom either make music or love listening to it. So far, outside of FAWM, it is one of the friendliest online places I have been. It’s a breath of fresh air.

I have only been on Drooble for a couple of weeks, around work and gigging, but so far I have a lot of hope for it. It has it’s weak spots – some of the technical aspects are still being ironed out, but the team who created it are incredibly approachable and happy to take feedback. It’s main problem is that not enough people know about it yet. I’d like to see more promoters, reviewers, record labels and fans taking an interest, to make it a truly excellent networking place. A musical LinkedIn if you will. The tools for musicians are really very good, and it doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate that this could be a gamechanger for musicians trying to get their careers off the ground as independents.

Here endeth the lesson. The TL:DR is: Facebook hates musicians. Drooble loves them. Go Team Drooble.

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“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined”

That is the text on a kitsch little wooden sign that dangles from my work PC monitor. Presumably I bought it to remind myself that there is more to life than the nine to five (or in my case, 8:30 – 4:30) but it did start me thinking about balance and how bad I am at it.

Facebook helpfully reminded me recently that my fans hadn’t heard from me in eight days. It likes to do that. It likes to point out my inadequacies just in case I had forgotten to lie awake until 3am worrying about them. My own self-loathing couldn’t possibly be sufficient, now the internet has to pitch in as well.

Here is the unglamorous truth about being an unsigned, unheard of musician. You can only do music full time with money. Without money you need a job. But a job will sap every last ounce of energy out of you and make it very VERY hard to keep making music. And on it’s own, that’s already a challenge. Now add in self-promotion. Keeping fans up to date and building a following is another full time job. It’s ok if you have money, you can hire someone to do this bit for you. But without the money, you need a job. Circles and circles.

What happened to my optimistic plans of regular blogs, mailing everyone like a boss, free downloads, new content every week and all the things that I need to actually be doing?

In short, life. And life does this to everyone. In my case, my partner had surgery, and my new permanent daylighting project (aka my job which puts food on the table and keeps a roof over me and my keyboard) went stratospheric with intensity and busy-ness. I PA for two directors and do financial admin support, so my day is pretty busy. In the midst of all this, I simply ran out of spoons for anything else. I spent Mon-Thur, May-July coming home, eating dinner, going to bed, rinse and repeat. By the time I got to my dedicated Music day (Fridays) I was so worn out I was just sleeping and reading and trying to regroup so that my mental health did not become a casualty to the impending burnout.

So yes, it’s true. My fans on facebook have not heard from me in eight days. I haven’t blogged since April. I opened an instagram account which has remained unused. My mailing list is still languishing unused. I’m a terrible TERRIBLE promoter.

OK, well, I must have made some music right? Well, yes. I have written two things since FAWM in February. You can find those here.

Things are slowly starting to improve. My partner can now walk again, and pull weight around the house so I am not also doing all the cooking and cleaning. My workload is starting to settle down (either that or I’m getting used to it). I even spoke to PRS yesterday to sort out my tunecodes so I can claim on my live gigs from the start of the year (yes, that’s how behind I am).

I don’t really know why I’m writing this, other than I really want people to understand that when someone goes quiet for a long period of time, it’s not personal. That I still really appreciate the support of my friends and fans and that I haven’t fallen off the earth, I just got buried for a while and had to dig myself out. That this arrangement of having to daylight to pay the bills is not ideal but is one that so many musicians face because people have started to believe that music should be free, or that people should create art out of love and not want financial recompense. That I really, passionately believe that music has value and should be accorded respect, because no matter what you think of it, someone has poured their heart and soul into it, very probably after a long day of financial reporting, filing, street sweeping, serving in a restaurant, scanning items in a supermarket or cleaning toilets.

This isn’t the life I imagined. I have a way to go to get there. Thanks for your patience while I work on it.

 

 

 

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Ah, Monday again. And what a week it’s been, with the World Cup, manic preparations and the overbreeding of yellow bicycles in Yorkshire for the Tour de France, and Facebook being dragged over hot coals for their social experimentation.

Facebook. Once a seemingly endless, joyous carnival of promotional activities (ok, so you kind of had to squint sidelong a little to see it, but with some imagination you could see at least some potential). Now just a cold, bitter lie. Like the cake.

Two and a half years ago, when I started at Access to Music, we did a lot of talking about music marketing. It was agreed that Facebook had the makings of an excellent networking tool. But then the whole post-boosting thing happened. It turned out that it wasn’t enough for people to like your page and to declare that they actually wanted to see content from it. Nonono. If you wanted them to see actual content from your page, to guarantee that they might see it (that’s right, might, not would) you needed to “boost” the post. And this cost money. Initially, they tried it out on small clusters of pages. Now, it’s hit everyone with a page. The big businesses, who can afford the boosts, now clutter up everyone’s newsfeeds, while the small independent creatives, doing everything on a shoestring, fade into obscurity.

Now don’t get me wrong. I never thought of Facebook as the good guys. But I did hope against hope that they might at least help out the little guys in return for all the data and information they get from us, their product. I am apparently hopelessly naive.

Then, to cap it all off, we find out that Facebook, those “innocent” social network creators, have actually been playing us, using their opaque logarithms to control what we see in our newsfeeds. Our profiles have become as safe as our pages. Not safe at all.

This, for me, is the death knell for my use of Facebook, certainly. I will keep a profile. I have friends and family far flung across the globe, and being able to keep in touch with them so easily will keep my profile alive. For now. But if I can’t use my page to promote my music, because Facebook only show it to a certain number of people before demanding money for the people who have elected to see my content to have even a snowball’s chance in hell, and if I can’t use my profile because hey, I write sad songs sometimes, and that’s the day Facebook have decided the world should be HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!, then what is the point?

From now on, my website and my mailing list is the way I plan to proceed. I’m not going to stop using Facebook entirely, but for my fans, for the people who really want to follow the music news, the page is not cutting it. If I’m lucky, less than a quarter of the people who elected to receive updates get to see posts. On a bad day, it’s more like 10%, and that’s just not good enough. My wonderful other half and I are currently hashing out a way to put a streaming newsfeed directly onto the website so that I can update it in chunks, like Facebook, only I control the content (mine!), and I control who sees it (everyone!).

Meanwhile, if you want to guarantee that you see what I have coming up, please consider signing up to my mailing list. I promise not to spam you,  sell your details, harvest your information, take possession of your content, or try to influence your mood. I just want to be able to get my content out to my fans without Facebook filtering it.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

 

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Ah, it’s Thursday again, that day when the scent of near-freedom wafts tantalisingly through the workplace. Well done for making it past the hump again, fellow WordPressers and readers 🙂 I’ve spent the week writing songs for FAWM, so blogging is a nice break from fighting with chord progressions!

Today I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned whilst making forays into social networking sites. Although the title says this is for musicians, really these tips apply to anyone who uses social media for any kind of promotion at all 🙂

1) Facebook

Facebook loves to link things together…

This can be very useful. For example, my Facebook page automatically shares my updates with Twitter, meaning that I only have to post one update. For someone as hopelessly disorganised as I am, this means that I rarely end up with a situation where I have forgotten to update Twitter, and this is a relief. However…

…Facebook linking leads to duplication…

So as you know I have a WordPress blog (d’uh!). This automatically posts to my Facebook page. However, it also posts to my Twitter feed – and so does my Facebook. So my poor Twitter followers invariably get duplicate posts announcing that I have blogged. I generally have to get straight on Twitter after posting my blog, to remove the excess status updates. This makes having the system a little bit defunct. I haven’t yet worked out a more efficient, non-spammy way to do this, but when I do, I’ll certainly be implementing it.

…and you don’t EVER want to sign in to non-Facebook places with Facebook.

It’s so easy to do. Reverbnation have been particularly guilty of this lately, making it extremely difficult to get logged in without logging in using Facebook credentials, and I recently emailed them to challenge this. While awaiting a resolution, I will say this. Keep everything separate. Yes, it’s more details to remember, but then you run a much smaller risk of experiencing this cautionary tale. Remember: Facebook can halt your access to your own account whenever they want. You are the product, not the customer. If everything you have is linked to that account, you’ve lost ALL of it. All of the fans and followers and relationships that you spent so long building up. Don’t do it, kids.

That said, Facebook is a valuable tool

Facebook is still one of my major ways to promote gigs, events and new songs. It’s worth spending some time making it look pretty and consistent with your theme, and in fact I highly recommend taking a look at some tips from Sentric on how to really improve your Facebook presence.

2) Twitter

Hashtags are your friend

Hashtags help your tweets to be seen by more people than just your immediate circle of followers. If a user wants to find out about any new music for example, they might do a search for #newmusic – any tweet posted using that tag will then show up. Hashtags help to categorise your tweet as well, again helping readers to find it if it’s the thing they are seeking. However, a good rule of thumb is to have no more than two hashtags, placed at the end of your tweet.

You can tweet more than you think you can

If anything, until recently, I’d been very conservative with tweets, thinking that posting more than once a week was effectively spam. Not so. The twitter feed moves incredibly quickly, far faster than the Facebook news feed, and as a result, in order for your tweet to reach more people, necessity dictates that you tweet more often. I now tend to tweet 3-4 times a day, and only some of that is about my own music (I’ll discuss content ratio later). Repeated tweets (tweets with the same content) are fine, but it’s recommended to keep a gap of 4 hours or so in between each repetition so you don’t overwhelm the twitter feed with a spam attack of tweets!

Make sure your Twitter profile is set up

It really helps to have a good, clear profile set up with a recent, good photo, biography including who you are and what you are likely to talk about on your twitter, and last but not least, a link to your website or blog.

3) Your own website

Build one, or get someone to build one for you

Your own website is vital. It means you have one home on the internet – one go-to place for music, links, photos, gigs etc. The people you are looking to attract in the music industry are very, very busy, and I guarantee that nothing will turn them off faster than having to wade through hundreds of links to piece together a picture of who you are and what you do.

Own your domain

Web addresses like http://www.thisisyourfreewebsite/user/caseewilsonmusic* look awful and very unprofessional. It’s very very easy to obtain domain registration, I use 123-reg who are cheap, cheerful and user friendly. It’s really very little effort, for something that increases the professional appearance of your website a hundredfold.

* not a real website. At all. 

Have a “Call to Action”

On the front page of your website, you should have two things: A call to action such as “buy now!” or “book now!” with a button so that people visiting your site can immediately do that without having to wade through pages of content first, and a way to contact you, again, easily and clearly displayed. The other whistles and bells are very nice, but if a visitor comes to your webpage, you want to make it very clear how they can interact with you and obtain your album or services.

One last thing. I’ve only picked three or so points for each type of social media, to be going on with, but something that applies to Twitter and Facebook is what I like to call…

Content Ratio

In other words, for every post you make about whatever you are promoting, be it music or your florist business, post AT LEAST two other things unrelated to that. So in a typical afternoon on Twitter, I might post something like: “Yay! New song on Soundcloud (link) #newmusic” followed by: “massive thanks to Sentric (link) for their article about social networking! #socialmedia” followed by : “Did anyone see the article about the cat that barks like a dog? (link) How funny was that?”. In three tweets, only one was direct promotion of myself. It’s especially true on Facebook, where some promotion, by necessity, occurs on personal profiles, not just on Pages, and you will alienate your friends if all you talk about is your music. This aspect of social media – knowing how to strike a balance between “promotion” and “spam”, is critical, and for me, still a work in progress.

I’ve missed loads out so please, share your personal tips about social media below!

For extra reading, I highly recommend Bobby Owsinski’s Social Media Promotion for Musicians. It’s available both in paperback and as an eBook and it’s very detailed and useful! 

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Good morning lovely readers! It’s a delightful day!

After an evening spent testing the efficacy of cheerleading movies against the common cold, I have concluded that Bring It On: For the Zillionth Time is about as effective as Lemsip or a chocolate teapot, but is at least mildly diverting.

Moving on swiftly, there was a clear poll winner from Monday’s post, so without further ado, I’d like to write about how working in tech has changed the way I see music and the music industry.

In October I started work as a techie/stage hand at a Large Venue In York (henceforth to be known as the LVIY). My first load in/load out was for Ellie Goulding. Two eighteen-wheeler wagons, full to the brim with stuff – largely unfamiliar stuff with strange acronyms and names. Listening to the instructions being barked by the touring crew was like listening to another language, in which maybe two words in a sentence made sense. It was 8am, and I certainly hadn’t had enough coffee.

Remember that up to this point, my sole experience of crewing was limited to small, acoustic set-ups. Not a full on rock/pop concert.

As the morning progressed and I got the hang of what was going on, I started to be able to see the process a little more clearly. The first thing that struck me was how much money was involved. It might sound weird, on an academic level this is something that I should really have known about from studying music business at college, but until you see it, it doesn’t really sink in. There’s the equipment to hire – hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of lights, PA, instrument cables, microphones, speakers, amps… There’s the crew to set up and run the equipment (on a tour it’s rare to use house crew, so the artist brings their own lighting tech, sound tech, stage manager) who need to be paid. There’s the tour drivers. Caterers. Promoter. Merchandise. I’m sure it’s even more complex than my limited description, so let me sum up with: imagine how much money you think it costs, and that’s probably still not enough.

The day progressed with relative smoothness, and myself and a colleague were asked to stay on to sort out the support bands. We caught Ellie’s sound check as a result, and the second thing that struck me was pure, unbridled  jealousy. Here is this young woman, attractive, phenomenally successful, with a great voice, doing the thing I always wanted to do. I’m too old, definitely lack the school-girl sex appeal, and my voice doesn’t have that poppy, peppy, X-Factor that so many female vocalists have these days – it’s definitely not a fashionable type of voice. So at that point, watching her on stage, I felt truly past it.

Key points. Young. Attractive. Talented. The music industry cashes in as much on looks and age and sex appeal as it does on talent. More so in fact. So after I rode the wave of green-eye, I took a second look, and realised that while on one hand I’d have given almost anything for it to be me up there, the sacrifices would not have been worth it.

And this has been the theme since starting work as tech. Second looks. What sparkles on the outside is not necessarily gold, long-lasting, retaining value and made of shiny. Sometimes, many times, it’s an illusion. I’m not saying the artists don’t love what they do. I’m certain that they do. But there has always been a price. The loss of privacy. The lack of time spent at home with family and friends. The lack of security. The risk of having your self esteem fall apart because the pressure is so unrelenting.

The other film I watched last night was Memoirs of a Geisha. I’ve seen it before, but with this yucky head cold, I wanted something where I didn’t have to concentrate too hard on but that looked pretty. Like the geisha in the story, for so many of these artists, their careers, and by extension their lives, are not their own. They’re paying back to the record company and to the dozens of people who put them in that spotlight. They’re commodities, not individuals. Again, I’m not saying this doesn’t work for them – it’s a payoff. But I personally am too stubborn in my individuality, too set in my ways, and too focused on doing my own thing. I could not imagine sacrificing my freedom for success.

It’s easy to see why the mainstream music world ends up becoming so homogenous. With the sums involved, the artists most likely to receive support from or get signed by the major record labels are the safest bets. For the female artists in particular, this means a certain image, the right amount of sex appeal and lastly, actual talent. Since people who can sing are ten a penny, it’s easy to cherry-pick only those in the “right” age range, with the “right” looks.

How has all of this changed my approach?

Well, firstly, leaving aside the fact that the touring lifestyle really wouldn’t suit me, it has been a very vivid reminder of how cynical the music business actually is. Which is helpful. It’s easy to take lack of movement personally, and to forget the sheer amount of hard work and luck that goes into making a successful career. If I’m not better known, there’s a good chance that that is down to a hole in my promotional tactics, and if my songs aren’t syncing yet, then I need to develop my songwriting, and keep aiming for that elusive combination of just the right song for the project and just the right moment. Artists never stop developing, and just because people buy my CDs, that doesn’t mean I’ve “levelled” as a songwriter yet. And even when I do, there’s always the next level, and the next… it’s a continual process.

Also, though, it’s important to define what “success” is as an individual. For some artists, “success” is getting big tours and selling millions of albums, but that’s a limiting definition of success, a current mainstream music model for a career. As I’m seeing in my job daily, there are hundreds of other roles in the music industry, from creating music for games and films (my preferred goal) to becoming a specialist in sound or lighting, to promotion and management. And if I want to make music and gig, actually I’m happiest sticking to smaller venues and being able to go home at the end of the night. My friends and family have always been my priority, I want to stay close to them. This doesn’t mean I lack ambition, just that my ambitions are more about the writing and creation of the music than performing it. I love to perform, but I don’t need a stadium to be happy doing that. A concert grand on stage with a single spotlight would be nice, but a few friends in my living room works just as well.

I don’t want or need to answer to a record company. I certainly don’t want to be managed. I’ve always made it a point to be as knowledgeable as possible about music business, legal issues, and How It All Works so that I can run things myself. I’ve self released two albums, and I plan to release a lot more. I’m not doing this for the money, I’m doing this because I feel driven to do it. It’s part of me, like breathing. And like breathing, I want to keep it simple.

Wow. That was a whopping 1,273 words. To say thanks for reading, have a video about a husky… See you Monday!

Apparently it wasn’t just the husky saying ‘no’, YouTube said ‘no’ and culled the video from YouTube for copyright reasons. So, instead, here is another video of a husky, a very tiny baby husky, which has been around a bit longer and I trust has no copyright issues! Incidentally, I don’t own these videos, I am merely sharing them for your entertainment 🙂 

 

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Please indulge me, dear reader, in writing about a personal bugbear of mine in this installment. It is this.

My name is not “Casey”.

Nor is it “Cassie”, “Cassey”, “Kacey” or “Katy”.

My name is Casee Wilson. My website is http://www.caseewilson.co.uk.

You may think I am having some trouble with my own personal identity. And it’s true, after a couple of gins it’s entirely possible I might get confused. My point here, however, is that other people, without the aid of gin or any other mind altering substances at all, seem to be completely unable to present my name correctly on promotional posters, websites, or flyers for events that they have invited me to play at.

In the last 24-36 months, I can count on one hand the number of events for which my name appeared correctly on the promotional material, and those were the events *I* organised.

The problem is that this is my brand. My artist name is what brands my website, my blog, my CDs, my facebook page, my soundcloud profile. It needs to be consistent, so that people start to recognise it. Pubs selling Pepsi would be sued, rightly, if they had signs for “Pepsee” or “Popsi” on the drink dispensors, so why should it be different for a musician? The same consideration needs to be taken.

Here’s why you, as the promoter/events organiser, need to be sure you are spelling the artists names correctly.

1) It makes them feel valued. 

When you don’t spell an artists’ name correctly on promotional materials, it makes them feel that you don’t care about them. You didn’t care enough to take the time to check their website, or ask them how their name is spelled. This is not hard information to find, a simple email or tweet: “Is this how you spell your name?” or “Is this how you want to be known?” A matter of moments. And if you can’t be bothered to spend those moments, why should the artist feel you give a damn about them? They start to feel like they’re just filling a space in your night and that’s all they are to you.

2) It sets back their promotion.

As I said above, it’s all about branding and repetition of seeing that name/brand. But if I’m “Casee Wilson” at one gig and “Casee Robertson-Smythe” at another gig, and “Katey Willson” at yet another, my branding is shot to hell. There’s a reason artists have websites and web presences, we’re trying to build a brand. Please don’t destroy all the work we do.

3) It confuses fans.

If an artists’ branding is shot to hell, so is their identity in the eyes of the fans. Market research has shown time and time again the the best way to attract fans, music sales and gig attendances is to be consistent, again and again. Lack of consistency in how we’re presented by a promoter/organiser destroys the relationship we’re building with potential fans, who almost certainly don’t know us well enough to know that our parents are ex-hippies and gave us names without thinking about whether anyone else in the world would spell them correctly. As a promoter, it is your responsibility to help us continue to present a consistent message about who we are.

4) It makes a mockery of finding our websites after the event.

My partner, who is also my web master, has actually designed my website so that any variant on the correct spelling of my name will actually go to my site. But I’m lucky. I have someone with the skill and know-how to make that happen. Many people don’t. Many people are using very basic, self-maintained sites, and rely on people entering the website name correctly. Punters after a gig may only have the poster or facebook event to look back on to find the spelling. Make sure it’s right. That way you’re helping grass roots artists to be found and followed up by the people who enjoyed seeing them play at your event. In short, in a seemingly tiny way, you are helping someone else’s career. Great for karma! Much better than:

4) It makes you look like a douche.

It really really does. Promoters have an unfortunate reputation for being top class a***holes. Don’t add to it. Be different. Appearing professional should be your watchword at all times, otherwise artists will stop wanting to work with you. A good promoter/organiser pays attention to the details, because that’s where the devil is.

In short, an artist’s name is important. To them, to their fans. Get it right. It’s not hard and it will allow you to stand out as a professional, instead of as a rank amateur who doesn’t care.

I leave you with a few thoughts from Mr Loudon Wainwright III, “They Spelled My Name Wrong Again”…..

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