Tag Archive | Starlight Promotions

Starlight Promotions – 5, Mangoneworld Records


Univ Misunderstanding If you’ve been following these posts you will know that Starlight Promotions diversified. We added an Indie Record Label to our catalogue and made our first CD: ‘Universal Understanding’ by the band Grief Society.

Once we had the CD at the manufacturers, life got exciting. Just think of the work! The songs had to be written, learned, performed, recorded, set to CD. A barcode had to be found. Barcodes don’t just drop out of the air. There is paperwork!!!! Above is the backside of the CD cover, complete with barcode. The barcode starts with a 5 denoting that it is European. To be sold in the U.S. it would need a different number. If I remember rightly, it is 9. Look at one of your CD’s and see if I’m right (those of you in the U.S.)

Once we had our initial run of CD’s, they needed to be promoted and distributed. We are in the 1990’s  here! One of the ways of doing this was to market them around the record shops.  Record shops? you ask – what are they? At the time there were lots of them and what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than trotting round the town seeing who’s about and what is new. Distribution involved legwork. We managed to get a few copies into some edgy London record stores on a ‘sell or return’ basis.

Of course the band has to play its part.  They have to perform their songs over and over and get their followers to buy a copy of their CD. Everybody gets involved. It’s as successful as the amount of work you put in to it. The design of the CD cover is important. If you hire a designer, it’s expensive. Luckily we knew one – a good one as you can see.

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At the time this CD was coming out, people had started downloading music bigtime; so that was another avenue we could explore. We contacted CD Baby in America and sold some through them. They pay in dollars but we soon discovered that once the dollars are converted to our local currency, the profit is lost. Downloading music for free became endemic. I can see how one download hurts nothing. It is a good way of promoting the music but to give away a whole CD’s worth of music, is just not on.

Search engines sprung up, scooping up all the music they could find on the Net and playing it for download and listening all over the world. How did they get paid? Advertising, I suppose. Undaunted I decided to launch another website, just to promote the new bands and to sell their CD’s legitimately. I’ll tell you about that next time.

For now I’ll leave you with the thought:’ Never take your music for granted. It is hard work to produce new music and really does deserve the money you pay for it.

Here’s another track from the CD, it’s called ‘That Girl’. You can still buy the CD from ITunes. Search on ‘Grief Society’.

‘ Oma

Starlight Promotions – 4 – My Memoirs – sounds get more selective.


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So it’s the mid 90’s; Starlight Promotions is up and running and I’m getting busier and busier. The website is getting a lot of hits and I’m learning about sound recordings. I figured out how to put the sounds on the website and I asked the bands to give me one song that I could use so that the customers could listen. I used the Windows sound recorder to pick a part of the song which best reflected the sound of the band or artist. So most of the clips were 60 seconds long. The trick was choosing which 60 secs to record. Sometimes it was the intro. which was the most interesting and at other times it was the guitar riff in the middle or the fantastic drum solo at the end. Choices, choices!

For the party bands, I had the demos. but it was costly to post them out all the time and sometimes I didn’t get them back so the sound clips became more and more important. The sounds of the party bands needed to show their singing and playing abilities whereas the unique,new,Indie bands needed to show off their particular strengths.

So Starlight was evolving. There were the bread and butter songs and then there were the new bands, looking to be famous. I wanted to promote them more even than I wanted to provide music for weddings and parties. At this point I will say that there wasn’t much money in it! It was more of a hobby and a very interesting one at that.

Together with a friend from one of the bands, who I shall call A, we decided to break off the individual band part and set up a record label with our own name. We thought up a name to suit us both. We called it Mangoneworld. I found out how to get a bar-code for the CD. That also proved to be very interesting. Once we had the name, the business and the bar-code, we made a record and assigned it to our own label.

This is it:

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The band is Grief Society and the song below is called ‘Pin Cushion’. You can buy it or the CD on Itunes.com.

 

Can you let me know please, if the sound thingy works? Thank you.

Oma

 

 

 

Starlight Promotions – sounds


This track is a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s song ‘Little Wing’ by the band Flynn who are no longer together.sadly.

It was never sold. This is a demo.

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When a potential customer wants to know what a particular band sounds like, they usually ask the agent for a demo. or perhaps a chance to see the band in action. I enjoyed matching the potential customer with the bands. The bands would either send me a demo. cd of their own or a list of where they were playing so that they could be seen. Later on they had their own websites, but at the time I started doing the agency, it was mostly on demos.

As I got further into the agency running I would take samples of their cd’s from their demos and put them on the website. That was fun to do.

I always tried to go and see the bands myself and very often I took a video of them so that I could use some of it for agency purposes. At the time (1990’s) I only had a large video camera, which got heavy to hold after a while. These days all that is so much easier. I now have a small hand-held video camera, which looks like a phone. I can use the videos straight onto my computer, You-tube or wherever. YouTube didn’t exist then.

One of the bands which was busy on the local circuit had a singer who I got to know well. He was one of the ‘good’ band members. He always called me back when he picked up my answer phone messages and always turned up to gigs at the right time. They were reliable. Reliable is a word much prized by entertainment agencies. It’s no good doing all the work to get a band for a customer, only to find at the last minute that they can’t find the venue or they turn up late. After a few times of being let down, I kept a band in reserve. This seemed a good idea and I called upon it once or twice.

The singer I’m talking about, I shall call A. He told me that the band had made a record (CD) with a well-known record company, only to find that it was going to be released in Japan, but not here, not for a while anyway. This was disappointing for the band naturally. We were entering the time of Indie Bands, Indie Record Labels and it was a whole new time.

We decided to set up a record label, YEAH Isn’t that exciting. I’ll tell you about that as we go along, but for now I’ll stay with the agency.

The website was getting more and more hits and often got first placing on Google. That would be very hard to achieve these days!

I found I could see who was visiting the website and get statistics, which were very revealing. From doing that I could see a trend. I began to keep records of the statistics and published them on the site so folk could see.

At around this point I felt that I was doing a lot of work!!! Most of it was in the evenings because I was still doing my day job. It took time to prepare the handouts and keep the website current. I didn’t charge the bands for advertising on my website. That would be illegal. I still think that was unfair but it’s just the way it is. As it happened they were getting free advertising  on a website that was receiving an awful lot of hits, much more than they could hope to get on their own websites.

The way I earned my money was on commission for a sale. Even then sometimes the bands were reluctant to share their earnings. I took 10%. Most agents took 15%. I’m not sure what it is nowadays. I think that with everyone using the Internet so much, there is not much place for agents at all. Perhaps they specialise. I kept only to music, no stripagrams, no jugglers or magicians although later on I did give their names out through other agencies.

to be continued …

 

Starlight Promotions – 2


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So during the 90’s I was bringing up teenagers! three boys! and the house was full of guitars and then came the amplifiers; small ones, large ones and my youngest decided to be a bass player and the most enormous amplifier entered the house. There was music in every room, morning, noon and night only not so much in the morning… These were the days before musical downloads. That was in its infancy and we had a lot of CD’s. It was hard to know whose was whose. Where’s my  ….. CD was a frequent cry.

Then there were the practises. Lots of them. Friends coming in and going out and trying out new songs. Luckily the house is detached and nobody here took up the drums. I doubt there would have been room for a drum kit although we did have an electric one.

Meanwhile I am getting gigs for all and sundry and I decided to give ‘myself’ a name and charge commission. So in effect, I became the fifth, sixth or whatever member of the band. I arranged the gigs, took the money and shared it out. I was meticulous with the book-keeping. I was fair to the bands. Entertainment agencies, Estate agencies etc. have a bit of a bad name. I wasn’t having any of that. I was quite honest about it and encouraged the musicians to join the musician’s union if they hadn’t already.

So now I had a set-up. I did most of it by phone. Then I bought a fax machine. Remember those? It was useful at the time. I used the internet and realised that I needed a website. I had no idea about websites then so I did a bit of research. A young lad called Robbie contacted me and offered to make me a website for a reasonable fee.  He was very young, about 16 as I recall. I was amazed at how much he knew. He designed a lovely website for me, mostly blue with pages for all the bands and a contact page – everything I needed at the time.

Then he gave me a playpen so I could practise updating the pages myself.  One of the most important things about a website is that it has to be updated regularly. Nobody wants to read something that appears the same as yesterday. I bought a software programme called Dreamweaver and taught myself how to use it. All exciting stuff.

Once I got the website, things really took off.  I was inundated with demo. discs and biographies from bands, duos and goodness knows what from all over the place. I loved playing the CD’s

So now I had three things going on. I was collecting information from the bands, entering it all on a database – I used Lotus 123 and putting it onto my website. I was receiving enquiries from potential customers and sending them details and prices and I was ‘mothering the bands’ because they aren’t really very good at administration, I discovered.

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to be continued …