Spotlight Artist Advice Column: 1980 Recordings Dan McKie On How To Best Promote Your New Release

Learn some strategies to get the most ears on your new song, EP or album.
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Dan McKie

Promoting a release can be tough. There are reportedly 24,000 songs that are uploaded to Spotify each day. Standing out in that mass of music can be tough. We asked Dan McKie of 1980 Recordings and It’s A Promo Thing to give us some advice on how you can best stand out with a great promo strategy for your next song, EP or album. The following words are by McKie.

"I’ve worn many hats as a music industry professional and still do. I am a DJ, producer, label owner, artist manager, promoter to this day, but what has helped me the most and kept me away from the “normal 9 to 5” job is starting and running my own Music PR Agency, It’s A Promo Thing.

I started It’s a Promo Thing in 2009 because I was a skint musician. I was living with my then girlfriend in London, I had just sold my vinyl decks (I will get them back one day soon!) and I needed to pay my rent. I was always running my own label, 1980 Recordings, which is 12 years old now, but it has and always will he a labor of love for me. It was not a massive money earner this label, nowadays it’s about finding talent and giving them a platform for releasing and promoting their music. In 2009 I had been running my label for 2 years and I thought “I am promoting the label releases and they are getting some great support why can’t I do this for other people?” So I did. I started It’s A Promo Thing.

One of my first clients I secured was Parov Stelar on Etage Noir Recordings, the release was called Monster EP and he is a big star these days. We for sure helped towards his path all those years ago. As the years have gone on the company has evolved to the much changing scenes of the music industry from just a basic promo company to radio plugging, Spotify promotion and online press/PR. We have promoted and secured numerous big DJ and radio plays since we begun.

Over the years we have gathered contacts and met people face to face, this has helped us grow for sure as you can not beat putting a face & a personality to an email address, that works for getting your music signed too.

I’ve learnt what to do and what not to do so I thought I would help people out and give you some inside PR agency knowledge.

A to do list of things to help you get the best out of promoting your record releases.

  1. Do not spam: It’s very simple but we all forget to not spam and expect everyone to listen to our product. I have been guilty of it in my early days as an artist and a PR agency. Once you learn to target your product better or use an opt in system, you will find that your campaigns go further and your reactions/support on a record are of a higher quality.
  2. Send your music to the right people: It may be obvious but people get it wrong. I as a DJ receive EDM & Trance but I don’t play this, so these labels get ignored in my promo inbox. Know your market audience. Send a techno track to techno DJs and blogs/websites. Don’t send a techno track to EDM blogs/websites as they will listen that once and then ignore the emails from then on in.
  3. Clean your mailing list constantly: If you build your own promo & contact lists, like we do, then keep on top of them. Sometimes DJs change emails because of spam, sometimes DJs stop reacting, sometimes producers change shows or change jobs. Reach out to them to find out if there is a problem or if not remove them and add another person who is active in the scene and on reactions/support.
  4. Less is more: I have found over the years that doing a massive press release with so much information puts people off. Yes if you are doing a two part article, great, let them know you got your first tambourine when you where 1 year old but if you are promoting a record/release then make sure you don’t tell them this. Give a little background on past relevant accomplishments in the industry or past releases, talk about the record and if there are remixes mention them. Then stop. That is all people need to know. Keep it simple.
  5. Use a PR agency: I am not just saying this because I have one but I have labels and I use other agencies dependent on the project/sound as well as use my own. If your budget allows you then use one because these agencies, including mine, have spent years building relationships with radio producers, presenters, big name DJs, A+R’s and more. The guarantee with an agency is your music will be listened to and considered rather than coming from an unknown source.
  6. A+R: Decide if your project is high, medium or low priority and is it a finished product. I get sent many tracks from potential clients and we have to reject some because the quality isn’t there. Sometimes the tracks we are sent are way off the mark of a commercially viable release. It’s easy to be in your own bubble and think you have made the best dance track ever! But sometime the reality is that you haven’t. Get friends, other producer friend’s opinions before you decide what to do with it. Fresh ears and opinions are always helpful.
  7. Master your tracks: Another simple task but many producers are guilty of working for hours on a track, it sounds like a great idea but then they self-master. I used to self-master my own tracks and then I stopped, because mastering is an art form within itself. What mastering engineers can get out of a track is unbelievable. I recently had a very well know artist complete a remix for one of my new label, 33 Music, tracks and he has been in the industry with multiple hits. He is also a qualified mastering engineer but he decided to get someone else do his mastering. When you master your own tracks, you become too precious. The sound the mastering engineer got out of the track was insane." 

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