Music Marketing Author and Course Instructor
There may be more music produced now than ever, but it certainly is not getting any cheaper to promote it to traditional outlets. David from Digital Audio Insider has written a great piece about the realities of servicing your record to press and radio. College radio is relatively untainted by the consolidation and lack of diversity that haunts commercial radio, and can be a good option for independent bands that appeal to the 18-24 demographic. The same can be said for press, who generally review records and concerts based on buzz and quality, rather than ad dollars (unlike commercial radio and most retail visibility).
As David points out in his piece, press and radio do not react well to emails containing links to MP3s to review. They need the proper CD in a package, with a one sheet. The financial realities of this break out like this:
$1.81 per CD package
There are about 1000 college stations which are eligible to send their playlists to CMJ (College Music Journal). Say you are in a hip-hop band and want to get added to the Hip-Hop chart on CMJ. 300 stations report to this.
+ 300 CDs
If you are sending CDs to CMJ, then you are likely touring as well. If you are touring, you want to support your dates by getting press visibility in key markets, as well as try for some national hip-hop pubs. Let's say you do a press mailing to 300 outlets to cover major regional papers and targeted national media.
+ 300 CDs
= $1,086 for mailing costs.
Of course, you are going to want to hire an indie to help you at press and radio. Depending on your goals, how long your campaign is, and who you use, this could cost you anywhere from $1,000-$4,000 for a radio campaign, and between $1000-$5000 a month for three months for publicity coverage.
Based on these numbers, bands are looking at $12,000-$15,000 on the low end to do an effective campaign to press and college radio.
Pretty effective argument for maxing out your tour, community and online marketing efforts first, huh?