Promo 101 – The Garage Effect – Why You Still Need to Spend Money When Stuff is Free…

It’s never been easier for artists to get their material out to the many people who’d love to hear it

Digital technologies offer more affordable (and even free) ways than ever before for the savvy artist to build an audience around themselves, their message and their art.

But chances are I’m not telling you something you don’t already know.


That being said I’m going to offer you a slightly contrary view.

One of the most frustrating conversations I have with the many artists I speak to about music promotion is how they still seem to miss a simple but powerful fact: the more free resources become available to everyone, the more you need a bit of money for the promotion of your product.

To this day I’m still astounded at the number of artists that invest so much money and time in recording their project that they have nothing left at the end of it to do anything else: no promotions, marketing or PR. Nothing.

I call it ‘The Garage Effect’ and I’ll explain what that is in a minute.

Home Made

In the meantime back to the promo point: no money usually means artists have to approach high quality service providers (web and print designers, photographers, writers, magazines, TV, radio, websites, etc.), and plead poverty or – worse still – end up not using these services at all because they simply can’t afford to.

BIIIIIIIG mistake.

Lacking Sparkle

I occasionally come across really good music that lacks that extra sparkle because the packaging looks both amateur and – for want of a better way to describe it – ‘home made’.

I do what I can to promote it (push it in the direction of my other friends in the media, for example), but the bad presentation has already limited its prospects.

I’m never that confident to pass it on to an editor/station manager/blogger/influential personality or platform, bearing in mind this will probably be someone used to receiving decently prepared material from all over the place.

First Impressions

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: as much as you may not want to hear this, those first impressions count.  A lot.

In media and PR how seriously you get taken is usually directly connected to how seriously you take your work.  If you can’t be bothered to put serious effort into how you’re presenting yourself, why should anyone else?

And bear in mind the fact that all this is happening before anyone has even pressed ‘Play’ on your song!


Ironically a lot of Christian companies and service providers try to help as much as they can (I don’t charge anywhere near as much as I should do for an ad on, for example), and I know for a fact that I’m not the only service that has that attitude.

I cannot tell you the number of really good-looking, well-packaged and presented CDs/DVD/press releases, etc I see lying around radio and TV production rooms still awaiting assessment or review.  What chance do you think a shoddy piece of work stands in that kind of environment?

Best Chance

First and foremost you owe it to yourself to give your material the best chance it can get with the best start you can give it, talk less of the gospel message you’re actually representing.

Infinite Choice

We live in an age where everyone potentially has an infinite choice of music to listen to, books to read and movies to watch.

People will increasingly turn to ‘taste maker’ platforms (radio, websites, blogs, magazines, TV, other knowledgeable friends, etc) for information on where to get the good stuff because there is so much to wade through.

And – it has to be said – much of the material on offer is uninspiring, unoriginal or (quite often), both.


Any advantage you can give your material to stand out is crucial.  Often that means buying the services of the best designer, premium exposure in that influential magazine, TV or website, or the services of the best photographer you can afford – all of which brings me back to the title of this post.

The Garage Effect

Not having any money for promo for your project is like saving up really hard to buy your shiny, brand new dream car –  but you’ve not held any cash back to buy fuel when the motor of your dreams finally arrives in your garage.

Think about it.

Here’s some free advice: next time around, treat your promo with the same intensity, passion and importance that you do your recording: leave some money in the kitty so you can give yourself the drive of your life!

Currently listening to Kenyan Gospel Music – Maestroguy – Brand Nu (produced by Jaaz Odongo)


Categories: News

1 reply »

  1. Great words from a great man thats been around and knows it all. I remember saying this about 5-6 years ago about the importance of packaging. My first mix cd project was home; the 2nd one was professionally done and gathered a lot of interest.Uk gospel arists do need to ‘spend wisely’ to break through the barriers out there. Being mediocre is no longer an option as it was years ago as the competition to be seen and heard is fierce.


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