Category Archives: Industry Tips

Put your Black life in music – NOW.

Nobody liked *Colin.

What made things particularly ironic was he was such a nice guy.

Colin was sales manager in a company I worked for in the 90s, and back then (I don’t imagine it’s any different now) sales was hard.

Horrid

Put it this way: if sales were a girl she’d be the little one from the nursery rhyme: when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.

Which brings me to Black Lives in Music (and, yes, you’d be quite right to ask what any of this has to do with BLiM).

To answer that question, I need to give you a bit of background for context. Here’s a quote from their website’s ‘About’ section:

‘Talent is distributed evenly, opportunities are not!

Black Lives in Music addresses the current inequality of opportunity for black people aspiring to be artists or professionals in the Jazz and Classical music industry…

Representation matters, we need to take action together and create a level playing field for everyone to have an equal chance to succeed…’

While this extract flags people working in Jazz and Classical, make no mistake: this affects every Black person working in music in the UK.

UK Gospel: Sheltered

Where you pitch your tent on this will be directly influenced by your experience and relationships in the UK music space.

I think we’re relatively sheltered in the UK Gospel music scene – because we’ve had to bootstrap our way to any successes we’ve found over the years. (Caveat: I admit this is a broad generalisation and I’m sure it’ll be challenged by many).

As a result we have an hyper-insular and comparatively self-sustaining marketplace (such as it is).

Awkward

However, that isn’t to say that there aren’t uncomfortable, inconvenient, awkward, monolithic, elephant-in-the-room questions that need asking, like:

  • How come there aren’t any Black-owned major media organisations in the UK Gospel space?
  • Why aren’t our biggest radio and TV stations in Black hands..?

Like I said: awkward.

Racism

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting there’s anything untoward or underhand going on.

The underlying structural and socioeconomic issues that brought us here are complex, and the easy draw of the racism card is the least nuanced, least intelligent answer to the question.

What gets measured…

What it does do is bring us nicely back to Black Lives in Music. And funny enough: Colin.

One of the reasons people didn’t like him was because he had this saying: ‘what gets measured gets done’.

When mid-month numbers started showing our month-end sales target was fast becoming a myth, he began by asking what everyone’s current priorities were.

And that was uncomfortable.

Why?

Well, we were all bonafide experts in our relevant spheres and could fully justify whatever projects we were working on. And typically those justifications would be sound.

  • However, the fact still remained that we were adrift of our team target
  • And if we didn’t hit it, the company didn’t make money
  • And if the company didn’t make money, we didn’t get paid, talk less of earning any bonuses

So: nobody liked Colin‘s essentially neutral, spotlight questions:

  • What are you working on?
  • Does it directly help us hit our target this month?

They were annoying, self-evident truths that required we temporarily park whatever priorities negatively impacted the bottom line, no matter how much fun or interest we might have had in them.

Allegory and parable

Don’t read too much into this story: I’m not telling it as an allegory for Black music in the UK.

  • It’s not even a parable with hidden meanings to be deciphered by the favoured few
  • What I want you to take away is this: what gets measured gets done

You need to *do something*


And that’s what Black Lives in Music is trying to do: start with a qualitative and quantitative baseline – a measurable catalyst for proper and lasting change, if you will.

  • This is about your story: hard data that reflects the reality of our shared, lived experiences in Black music here in the UK
  • You can argue with anecdotes, but it’s virtually impossible to ignore evidence that data provides

‘You can argue with anecdotes, but it’s virtually impossible to ignore evidence that data provides..’

To quote Colin:

  • What gets measured gets done

So if any of this has inspired you in some way to be part of creating a compelling narrative that will genuinely and empirically shape the future of the lived professional music experience in the UK, you need to *do something*.

  • Tell your story by taking the Black Lives in Music survey (link below)
  • Do it now
  • Get your Black life in Music
  • I’ve done it, and it doesn’t take that long to complete at all

There are only 4 days left (I’ve been meaning to write this for weeks)

*Colin is his real name 🙂

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Black Lives in Music

More from Yinka’s Head

AStepFWD Choir Masterclass – April 2021

Speaking of events you HAVE TO be at: if you have any choir connections at all: cancel everything for this one coming up this weekend!

Don’t take my word for any of this!!! Watch the video!!!🔥🔥🔥

This is a HUGE #PraiseAndWorship and #Choir event!

If you’re a singer, belong to a choir, an arranger, musician or anything connected to the choral sounds of #GospelMusic, @AStepFWD have set this one up for you!

Join some of the finest choir directors in #UKGospel, Europe and special guest @DonaldLawrence as well as @AnuOmideyi, @John66Fish BEM, @MsKarenGibson MBE, Lawrence Johnson, @BazilMeade MBE, Audrey Lawrence-Mattis, Russell Scott, @VolneyMorgan, Ruth Waldron, Paolo Viana, Lea Kjeldsen, Lene Nørrelykke, @KenBurtonMusic and Tore Aas

WHEN: This Saturday 24th of April 2021

MORE INFO: AstepFwd.com/Masterclass

Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life – By Radio Presenters (Part 1)

Pure Evoke_F3_Lifestyle Radio

In an age where you completely control every aspect of your audio consumption experience, why do you still need music radio..?

I’ll be honest: before I started working in radio I had very little time for the medium.

These days we’re spoilt for choice, with options for free and paid download services, or audio streaming via any number of platforms, most of which are (for the moment at least), free.  So why in the world would anyone need radio? Continue reading Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life – By Radio Presenters (Part 1)

Top 5 Tips – Getting Your Music Played on Radio

Here’s a quick update from the ‘Top 5 Tips’ Series:

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to go about getting your music playlisted on a radio station, this might help.

Good Music

The first thing to bear in mind is that most presenter/DJs/stations are happy to support good music.

While the definition of ‘good’ will no doubt be highly subjective, bear in mind that it will almost certainly vary from station to station.

1. Try, Try… Try Again.

It might sound obvious but having your music turned down at one place doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try at another. Don’t get discouraged…

2. Reality Check

Whether you like it or not, your music is up against the likes of Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Muyiwa, Guvna B and other popular names. That’s why they’re popular: people like their music…

This might not be something you want to hear (especially if you’re an artist just trying to break through) but in a lot of respects, popularity is its own quality control.

To put it another way: if you’re a Hip-Hop artist you’ll always be measured against the likes of Eminem and Jay-Z (or whoever happens to be the touchstone for your sound). It’s a fact of life. Get used to it.

3. Reality Check – Part 2

You’ll need to make the very best music you can. And – again I’m going to be blunt here – your immediate circle of friends and supporters may not be your wisest choice of people to go to for objective feedback…

4. Be Prepared to Wait. And Then Wait Some More

Don’t despair if you don’t hear back from a person or station for a loooooong while – I mean a really long time. Sometimes – admittedly not very often – no news is good news. Earlier this year (possibly even last year) I came across a track by a Nigerian guy called Cute Sagay. The song was ‘Imela’.

I liked it a lot. So much so that I didn’t want it introduced to the station I played at (Premier Gospel) via just a playlist rotation, but as my show’s ‘Track of the Week’.  Fortunately, I had a say in making that happen. Sometimes presenters/DJs, etc. don’t have that option (see next Tip).

Cute would occasionally contact me to ask if I was doing anything with the song.  And even when I could sense frustration in his messages, he kept his touch and follow-up polite, light and friendly…

Conversely I’ve had artists who have told me in no uncertain terms what they thought of my lack of any feedback or support after a few weeks.

Guess which type of artist I respond to..?

5. Find The Gatekeeper(s)

The more established (and professional) a station, the higher the chances the playlist will be centrally coordinated and controlled. There may be an individual (or a team) curating the songs you hear on air. Typically they get to decide what songs get played and/or playlisted.

What that means: you’ll need to find out who the gatekeeper is (or are) as it may not necessarily be the DJ/presenter of the show you’d like your song played on.

Who’s in charge? Is there a panel? Perhaps the station manager or programme controller? A DJ/Presenter? Many stations tend to use one or a combination of these.

So the key point here: find out how the show and station you’re submitting your music to actually decides on what goes on air, and respond accordingly.

Bonus (1): …And the Gatekeeper likes what, exactly..?

Find out how the gatekeeper prefers to receive material:

  • File sharing website service?
  • Direct email (dedicated email, personal email, station email)?
  • Do they have their own ‘drop box’ option (like the BBC has for independent acts interested in submitting music to them)?

Bonus (2): Share the good news

Once your music been accepted, don’t forget to follow up: thank the gatekeeper and share the good news!

Bonus (3): Don’t leave the station to do the legwork for you.

Spread the word to your supporters and get them to tune in to the station, and request your song(s). The station will thank you for it!

Hope this helps!

Currently listening To…

Rachel Kerr – Kingdom Soldier remix ft Commission, Lola Godheld, Jay Ess, Faith ChildMatthew Allen and Guvna B (Rachel on Facebook)

Cute Sagay – Imela (Cute on Facebook)

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Photo: Pure’s ‘Jongo Lifestyle’ Radio

Why I Can’t (and Sometimes Won’t) Play Your Music On The Radio Part 2 – Matt Brooks

Matt Brooks (right), along with older brother Adam are two of the reasons why I’m looking to retire from publishing UKGospel.com very soon 🙂

Through their excellent work on the mBrio Music website and other Brooks Brothers Ventures projects, they’re fast becoming an authoritative news and media voice not just here in the UK but increasingly in the transatlantic Christian music scene, an excellent state of affairs in an industry like ours sadly prone to (usually under-deserved) hyperbole.

Continue reading Why I Can’t (and Sometimes Won’t) Play Your Music On The Radio Part 2 – Matt Brooks

How Not to Promote on Facebook

How Not to Promote on Facebook… 

This is quite a short post.

I get this on a fairly frequent basis, so I thought I’d point out a few things:

1.  Always introduce yourself: this was the very first time I’d heard of this person.

 

2. ‘Er.. Why would I be excited about your release…?‘ In light of 1 above, why they thought I’d actually start counting down is beyond me…

3. ‘Er… Okay.  If you say so…‘. This project might actually be this person’s best work to date, but I’d recommend someone else provide your endorsement.

Continue reading How Not to Promote on Facebook

Why I Can’t (and Sometimes Won’t) Play Your Music On Radio

Funny old thing, radio…

Before I started presenting the Gospel Breakfast Show on Premier Gospel, my relationship with – and impression of – radio was probably similar to yours.

I understood its existence and how potentially pervasive it could be, but – if I’m going to be honest (due in no small part to the fact I’ve been a digital publisher for years) – I was almost snobbish and largely ignorant about just how powerful it really is.

Continue reading Why I Can’t (and Sometimes Won’t) Play Your Music On Radio

Why Your Media Contact Doesn’t Respond To Your Tweets

I start with a disclaimer: the title is somewhat disingenuous, as this is less about what every media person thinks, and more about me just venting about my pet Twitter peeves.

Now that you know the truth, feel free to close the browser down.

For everyone else, here’s how the story goes:

Continue reading Why Your Media Contact Doesn’t Respond To Your Tweets

More Top Tips to Make The Media Work for You

Keen for Others to Succeed

One summer’s evening in July 2011 I logged on to Twitter just in time to catch a rant so passionate it reminded me of the fact that – aside from the very natural evangelical thrust of our calling – many of us in the UK gospel scene (particularly non-performers – publishers, event organisers, photographers, media bods and the like) do what we do because we’re keen to see other people succeed.

Which brings me to the guy you see below: Matt Brooks.

Continue reading More Top Tips to Make The Media Work for You

Top 5 Things that will Make The Media Work For You (part 1)

Back in January 2011 I promised you a ‘Top 5′ series, offering advice, tools, tips, hints and more.

Well, here’s the first: ‘Top 5 Things to Make The Media Work For You (Part 1)’.

It’s a ‘part 1’ because I suspect that of all the Top 5s I’ll be doing, this will the most ‘living’ one – many of the tips will be based on real-life strategies and experiences I’ve seen work both for me and other people.

So, without further ado, let’s get on with it:

Continue reading Top 5 Things that will Make The Media Work For You (part 1)