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Talking to iPluggers Founder Marvin Kuijs

Photo Marvin Kuijs at iPluggersAs one of our popular Marketplace apps, iPluggers provides a reliable and cost-effective platform for worldwide digital radio promotion. And as we know, radio promotion can accomplish great things for a budding artist. To highlight the benefits of his app, we sat down (virtually) with Founder and A&R Head, Marvin Kuijs, to pick his brain. Check out the interview below, and, if you’re an Orchard client, venture into the Marketplace and try it on for size! 

Hi Marvin, thanks for doing this interview with us. iPluggers has been available in The Orchard Marketplace for quite some time now. When did you actually start iPluggers and how did you get the idea to offer musicians radio promotion via a digital system?

Thanks for having me, I’m glad to shed more light on the inner working of iPluggers.

For musicians, the most important way to get heard and get more fans is airplay. But traditional radio promotion is a major investment that is not affordable for every musician or label and certainly independent musicians cannot afford traditional plugging in these times.

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Introducing: The 4 Commandments of Marketing Drivers

February 6, 2015 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

driversimage4realMarketing Drivers are the absolute most important thing you must be communicating to your client rep, when working on priority new releases. We’ve already broken down the what, when, why, and overall best practices for marketing drivers. Today, we’re going to introduce you to the 4 commandments of communicating these invaluable assets.

Remember, the questions to ask yourself when you are putting together Marketing Drivers is “why is this a priority?” “why will this album sell?” “who is the artist?” and “what is this album about.” Long story short, we are looking for key sales drivers that will compel retailers to editorially feature a release.

And now without further ado, the 4 commandments of communicating marketing drivers!

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When & Why Should You Invest in Radio Promotion?

November 3, 2014 Featured News, Marketing 2 Comments

thesyndicate_logo_2014We’re happy to welcome our partners from The Syndicate to The Daily Rind! In this guest blog post, Robert Wilcox, Senior Manager of Alternative Radio Promotion, tells us when and why you should invest in radio promotion. Take it away, Rob! 

So you’re in a band, or perhaps you’re a manager of an up-and-coming artist — or perhaps you run a record label and have a release you want to create additional exposure for. What do you do to create awareness for a piece of art that needs to be heard? Where do you go? How do you bridge the gap between a local fan base and a national audience? As we’ve all learned, cream does not always rise, and it takes more than just a message in a bottle to make sure you’re being received in an ocean of new and/or already established artists.

Studies have shown that radio is still the number one source for new music discovery — and it’s as simple as flipping a switch or clicking a mouse. As a radio publicist, I too can attest to this, and feel that in any field of marketing, knowledge is power in taking full advantage of these tools. Much like a conversation you’d share with the knowledgeable clerk at your local mom and pop record store, radio promotion serves the purpose of cultivating positive dialogue about your music between the promoter and the programmer of a radio station — focused on turning them onto new ideas and sounds across various genres.

If you find that there’s been an organic build in awareness for you or your artist preceding a new release — independent or through a label — or you’re planning to go on tour in support of that release, you should consider radio promotion. This is especially important when your release has national distribution, either physically or digitally, as radio support can help influence immediate sales. In doing so, there are several arenas in which you can enlist a radio publicist to promote your record: College and “Non-Comm” Radio, Specialty Radio, and Commercial Radio.

For decades now, the College Radio format has existed as a source of new music discovery, regardless of genre. College Radio can also be a great launching pad for artists looking to test the waters of their commercial viability. Many artists, especially in the Indie genre, have seen their rise to notoriety through college radio. The Adult Album Alternative (or Triple A) radio format is representative of Indie and Singer/Songwriter “tastemakers” like WXPN in Philadelphia, KCMP in Minneapolis, WFUV in New York City, KCRW in Los Angeles, and KEXP in Seattle — all of whom happen to be Non-Commercial radio stations, either listener supported or university affiliated. Equally well known, the AAA format also includes commercial stations like WRLT in Nashville and WCNR in Charlottesville. These stations tend to play music that skews towards independent and heritage artists, and encompass a wide array of genres.

It’s not uncommon to also see artists from this side of the dial “cross over” into the world of Commercial Alternative Rock radio, where some recent examples include Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, and Mumford & Sons. But before these artists were in regular Rock rotation alongside bands like The Foo Fighters or M83, they were getting their first debut spins on commercial alternative New Music Shows — better referred to as the Alternative Specialty format. Alternative Specialty is a radio format designed to act as the testing ground for slightly more “underground” acts who are nudging their way into the mainstream. Well-respected stations like KROQ in Los Angeles, WRFF in Philadelphia, and WEQX in Albany all carry weekly specialty programs designed to feature new music from artists both old and new.

Regardless of the format, a good promoter will be there to help navigate and decide upon the appropriate avenues for your music. Not all music is meant for the radio (and that’s perfectly okay), but if you have a desire to be heard, choose a publicist that shares the same burning desire. The secret code to all of this is that when the right song hits the right ears, it can lead to wonderful results — whether you’re a radio programmer who’s inspired by a promoter to fall in love with a track, or a casual listener looking to purchase “something new” for their music collection.

— Robert Wilcox, The Syndicate

Marketing Drivers: What We Need, When

calendarSo, your biggest priority of the year is approaching: a new album from the most prominent artist on your roster. You’re feeling organised; with 3 months to go before release date, the album is mastered and in production for physical. The digital is uploaded and ready to submit. Press and online teams are hired and have begun their campaigns. You’re releasing a single 2 weeks before street and have a radio plugger on board for that, along with a completed video. A 20-date tour is booked starting release week. Lovely. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, hopefully nothing at all. But as a label manager, one thing that still surprises me is that I am sometimes not made aware of all this activity, or I am told when it is too late for me to effectively utilize. Digital stores plan the layout of their storefronts ahead of release date; they work to deadlines just like everyone else. So getting them the information they require on time is essential.

In days gone by, I used to call up buyers at shops and sell in records. Healthy sales were dependent on a plot, being able to tell buyers what they needed to know about the release, why their punters would be buying it, who’s playing it on radio, which publications would be reviewing it. Collectively we can refer to these selling points as “marketing drivers.”

Additionally, understanding what a shop sold, their market, a buyer’s tastes and knowledge and more generally nurturing great relationships all helped the process and allowed me to sell all kinds of releases, even if they were niche records without much in the way of marketing behind them.

The digital world is a different beast, but all of the above still applies. However, while there were 1000s of shops all with their own niche, in the digital space there are far fewer players, so I would argue that marketing drivers are even more important than they used to be. Essentially, if a service is going to give your release visibility on their store, they need to know it will sell. So, I thought I’d give you a brief rundown of what you need to send to your label manager and when, to give your priority releases their best chance at digital retail. You’ve gone to all the effort of marketing your artist and giving their new release all the support it needs, why stumble at the final hurdle?

Depending on the scale of your release, some of the below may not apply but some of it must.

What We Need

A listening link. Sounds obvious I know, but it’s important. The people who make these editorial decisions want to be able hear what they’re going to be recommending to their customers. And make it easy for them, it needs to be a streaming link. Links to downloads no thank you.

A press release or one sheet

Sales history and predictions. How well have previous releases from the same artist done? Have they charted? What are your predictions for first week sales, digital and, if relevant, physical?

Have you set up a pre-order and how’s it performing? Anything specific to particular stores (exclusives, bonus content etc)?

Artist assets. Links to your artist’s online assets and social profiles: their website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram, Songkick, etc. with stats where relevant.

Press & Publicity. The name of the artist’s publicist and the PR company running the release campaign — print and online. Provide details for all territories where there is activity. Send clear and concise breakdowns of print coverage, online, perhaps even TV! Is it a review, a feature, perhaps a front page spread? This should include items that have already run, things that are confirmed and also TBC.

Radio. Have you hired a radio company or plugger (if not, try iPluggers)? Which stations and shows have been playing your music? Are these spot plays or playlists?

Video(s). Are there any videos associated with the release? If so, have you secured support with an editorial partner?

Advertising. Are you running any print or digital advertising? If so, what publications? What’s the budget for digital and what platforms are you targeting?

Live. Is the artist / band touring? If so, where and when?

Where? Territory focus. Let your label manager know where your release will sell, where there’s a plot — whether that be local PR, tour dates, radio promos, and so on.

Is your artist happy to post pre-order links and buy links during release week? (Note: never link to multiple services in the same post.)

Definitely include anything else you feel pertinent and any key selling points not already covered, like details of contributing or featuring artists.

When We Need It

The all important question. It goes without saying there should be an ongoing dialogue between you and your label manager for all your priority releases. Make them aware of your release from day one and keep them in the loop with all developments.

As a rule of thumb, the further in advance the better. Ideally you’d be supplying your label manager with a list of marketing drivers 6 weeks before release date. This won’t always be practical, but at the very least it should be 4 weeks in the US and 3 weeks ROW. Leaving this short lead time should be the exception rather than the rule. 4-6 weeks is what you should aim for. This will allow your label manager enough time to process what you’ve sent them and communicate to The Orchard’s various retail marketing teams around the world.

In addition, chase up your PR companies so that you can send your label manager one final update exactly 2 weeks before release date ROW, 3 weeks in the US. Your client manager wants that in their inbox first thing Monday morning.

Of course, there are occasional genuine last minute priorities that pop up and in these instances we do our best to work around tight deadlines. For the rest, it is often a simple lack of communication. We know you’re not doing everything 2 weeks before release date, so just keep your client manager informed. Cool? Cool.

The Marketplace Presents: iPluggers

December 11, 2012 Client Tool, Featured News 9 Comments

iPluggersPlugging — it’s a word we often hear in relation to promoting something, recommending it, giving it your stamp of approval. iPluggers does just that for your music, and it does it all around the world.

With a 100% airplay guarantee (or your money back), iPluggers provides the platform for you to pitch your music to more than 30,000 radio stations of all genres and all types, including AM, FM, satellite, internet, and more. You can create an artist profile (or online airplay kit) on which to share and promote your tunes in minutes by following the steps below:

  • Install iPluggers through the Marketplace on the artist of your choice, and select a profile name for your iPluggers page (typically the name of your artist or band). Enter a contact email address on which you can be reached and click Submit.
  • On the next page, select “add a new release for worldwide plugging.”
  • This is where it gets interesting. First, choose what kind of release you’ll be plugging (Single, EP or Album). Then, choose a release cover from the pre-populated drop-down menu or upload a new one. Select the title of the release, confirm the artist name and add any featuring artists if needed. Choose the tracks you’d like to promote and click Next.
  • Once your tracks have been imported, you can choose up to three genres you’d like to target. You also have the option to carve out territories you don’t want to plug your music to. Optionally fill out release information to give radio stations some more background on why they should plug your release and click Next.
  • The last step before submission is completing your track information. While The Orchard provides a handful of iPluggers’s required metadata, there will still be missing fields. To fill them out, click on Edit Track Details and go through the fields to confirm pre-populated metadata and fill out what’s missing, such as Composers/Writers, Publisher and Song Genres. Click Submit.

Now iPluggers will review your release before approving it to plug. This can take up to 5 business days, and you’ll get a notification as soon as they’ve given it the green light. Once your release has gone through iPluggers’s system, you’ll get to set a plugging date, after which all radio stations subscribed to the genre you chose to plug will receive your release. To increase the likelihood of your release getting picked up, we also recommend that you complete your Artist Profile. Many fields will already be completed thanks to the app’s integration with our API, but you’ll need to tweak it to make it just right for iPluggers.

Track your releases by clicking on the Results menu and download reports for your plugged tracks by clicking on the corresponding link. You’ll be able to track the artist, song, radio station and country as well as when said radio station downloaded your track. While iPluggers can’t track if a specific radio station has actually played the song, the likelihood is high once the song has been downloaded (because stations can preview the song on your artist profile, it’s unlikely they would download it unless they intended to play it). Furthermore, all plays will be tracked via the usual SoundExchange/CMJ/MediaBase channels.

As Next Big Sound shared recently, and against popular belief, radio spins continue to positively impact track sales. Now that you have it all laid out in simple steps, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of that extra push to bump up your sales!

See below for a more in-depth demo on how to get your music heard around the globe:

iPluggers is available via The Marketplace. Find out more about them, including special pricing for The Orchard’s clients, on their One-Sheet.

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About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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