Some Ruminations and a Recommendation…
“It seems to me that older musicians can’t legitimately complain about the musical tastes of younger generations while simultaneously refusing to engage those younger generations on their preferred platforms.”– Warren Russell (That’s right, I said it. I’m quoting myself. LOL)
I have a lot of musician friends and acquaintances that have significant fan bases but minimal Spotify presence that will heartily complain about the younger generation’s musical preferences – and rightly so IMO – but in effect do next to nothing as far as trying to offer that younger generation a viable alternative. In fact I know quite a few that seem to passive-aggressively sabotage their digital presence on these streaming platforms or even actively discourage streaming of their catalogs on those platforms. I am not here to discuss the relative merits of streaming, however; I’m here to talk about promotional things.
Let’s be frank here, there’s no “Quicksilver Night” as a live performance band – although some modicum of success might develop an ad hoc touring ensemble it most likely won’t – and Quicksilver Night as such is a really just a recording project, a creative outlet for me. There are no live performances; there’s no merchandise table; there aren’t any meet-and-greets. I am also essentially my own label so while it’s true that I don’t have to answer to anyone at a label I am also handicapped when it comes to support for logistics, marketing and promotions. Where to turn?
I had some minor success getting a couple of songs onto some Spotify playlists late 2018 and early 2019 but it wasn’t until February when I decided to try out another promotional service, Parkbench 13, whose introductory package netted me a few thousand spins of “Symmetry”. While this increase in streams is financially negligible the concomitant increase in followers from 45 to 354 was a welcome change for the better because that meant that those followers would now be informed whenever Quicksilver Night releases new music and, more importantly, I raised my digital profile at Spotify and made the algorithm take notice, so to speak. I peaked at 4,093 monthly listeners on March 1st and slowly subsided back to 30 to 40 monthly listeners after that.
As the impending release date for the “Presque Vu” mini EP approached I decided to employ Parkbench 13 again and after exchanging emails and phone calls with a dedicated representative – a very knowledgeable, articulate, and straightforward representative – I went ahead and pulled the metaphorical trigger on a promotions package from them that offered to send my music “to over 300 Spotify curators” with their stated goals “to get placements in 5-10 active playlists with a total following of over 50,000 users” and also claiming they’d also promote my song “to a network of approximately 200,000 Spotify and Apple Music users.” The email concluded with “Our goal is to hit over 20,000 streams, 15,000 new monthly listeners and a minimum 1000 new followers.” (I am well-aware that 20K streams at $.005/stream is only $100; I was looking at this as an investment in gaining audience. Hopefully some of those will decide to stream other songs of mine and more than once, right? But I digress…) Friday March 3rd was the official release date of the “Presque Vu” mini EP. I began with 34 monthly listeners and 357 followers and by May 10th, a week after release, I was at 9,113 monthly listeners and 2,893 followers with over 13K total streams of the “Presque Vu” mini EP.
I broke 10K monthly listeners on May 12 and 20k streams of the “Presque Vu” mini EP the next day (with 12.5K streams of the song “October Skies” alone), ten days into what the representative at Parkbench 13 told me would be a “four to six week” campaign. It’s May 17 as I type this sentence, two weeks after its release; I woke to 23,103 monthly listeners, 3,517 followers, and nearly 58K cumulative streams of the “Presque Vu” trio of songs this morning. I’ve every expectation of a continuing rise over the next few weeks and although I’m sure the curve will further flatten – I know the current level isn’t sustainable – I am immensely pleased.
Interestingly, I’ve seen nearly nothing in terms of traction at Apple Music or iTunes and when I asked about this I got a straightforward reply, a rare thing: “Because of the blended and somewhat unique genre of the music our initial response from Apple Music has been unenthusiastic. We believe that it is best to focus on Spotify promotion because the Playlists seem to be more receptive.” There you have it, unequivocal and helpful to boot; I can easily live with a statement that basically validates some level of originality in my music while telling me in no uncertain terms that I should invest my promotional energies elsewhere than Apple. I should probably make a point of adding here that earlier in the campaign Parkbench 13 provided me with spreadsheets that contained contact information for numerous music blogs and playlisters that only accept submissions directly from the artist. I just sent out emails to some of those to those yesterday and I have just begun fielding responses, too early in the process for me to be able to comment intelligently but I am encouraged by the initial reception.
In summary then I suppose I’ll say that as far as I’m concerned the folks at Parkbench 13 have been extremely useful to me in increasing my digital profile and if this is something that is of interest to you as an independent musician then I suggest you check them out as well. Start at https://www.parkbench13.com.