How Independent Artists Use Haulix

Hello, everyone. Welcome to another week of music industry advice and insight here, on the official blog of Haulix. We are focusing heavily on the advice side of our editorial efforts this week, kicking off with an in depth look at a unique way many independent artists have begun using our service that artists worldwide should feel encouraged to duplicate. If you have any questions regarding the content of this blog, or if you would like to learn more information about the services offered by Haulix, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Our mission at Haulix is to provide a secure and easy-to-use digital distribution platform to anyone hoping to share media online. Through our platform clients are not only able to upload, host, and send albums in a secure manner, but they are also able to watermark and track that content for as long as it lives online. In the weeks ahead we will be taking these efforts a step further still by implementing a new system that will track content illegally shared online and automatically issue DMCA takedown notices without our clients having to do more than click through a handful of setup screens. We could go on and on about our plans beyond that update, but this post is not about the future. This post is about the now, and how many independent artists are using Haulix in a way that many may not have previously considered.

Back in April, a promo being sent on Haulix was brought to the attention of our development team through a user who noticed something odd about the email they had received. Instead of reading an introduction written by a label or publicist hoping to land coverage for a new/upcoming release, the messaging attached to the Haulix promo was that of a band hoping to find a record deal. It seems they had already built a solid following and recorded an album primed for release, but in hopes of finding a bigger platform to share their sound they were holding off until labels, management, booking agents and the like could review their work. The band could have used Soundcloud to share streams, or even taken to WeTransfer to conveniently send press kits with customized landing pages, but neither option would have offered the security or options for customization made possible by Haulix. 

To be honest, we never really considered the idea of a band using Haulix in this manner, but as soon as we read that email a collective delayed lightbulb moment flashed above all our coffee-addled minds. For years bands have been blindly emailing (or physically mailing) press kits and advanced track streams to outlets and industry professionals in hopes of gaining attention without giving a second thought to the security of the product. It only takes one person with a love of piracy/internet glory to stumble across the advance music you are sharing for your marketing efforts to fall apart. An early leak would not only hurt sales of your record, but also diminish the chances of someone wanting to put it out down the line. A record deal will not be completely out of the question, as you could always record more music, but leaks certainly complicate the already difficult mission of being noticed in the music industry.

So, what makes Haulix ideal for bands looking to securely and intelligently promote themselves online? Truth be told it’s a lot of little things coming together, and that is one aspect of our product that makes us the most proud. Artists can and should use Haulix to promote themselves to industry professionals and journalists alike because we not only provide a state-of-the-art distribution platform that is completely customizable to your needs and equipped with advanced security measures, but we also provide in depth analytics so you can know exactly who is engaging with your media. This makes follow ups a lot easier and takes the stress of a potential leak off the artist’s shoulders completely, but it’s still up them to win over their potential new audience.

When presenting yourself to potential fans and industry professionals it is important to come across as both welcoming and informed. That may read easy, but it is something many artists struggle with across social networks every day of the week. Why are you a band? What is your purpose as an artist? Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to say? Before you can hope to make an impression in the industry you need to know these things, and you also need to be able to express them to people who may have never heard your music before. Especially in the digital realm, people are more likely to encounter your writing and imagery before ever hearing you play a note, and if either does not work for them they may never even give your music the time of day. It is a harsh truth, but a truth nonetheless.

Once you know all of this you can begin to draft the best presentation of these facts and ideas possible for your initial outreach messaging. In the case of the band who inspired this post, they chose to begin with a press quote from an internationally recognized outlet, followed by a one-line description of their music. As an outsider, this tells me enough to know whether or not I am going to be the slightest bit curious about what awaits on the other side of the email invitation. If that line grabs my attention then I am definitely going to click. If the message begins with something forgettable then I will probably move on to the other dozen or so bands vying for attention in my inbox on that particular day. 

From this point, the possibilities as far as presentation and voice are concerned are essentially endless. The best advice we can offer when it comes to delivering your message to those who may have never interacted with your brand before is to be yourself to the best of your abilities. People pick up on honesty, and even if they do not completely dig or otherwise like what you are doing they will respect it. Beyond that, we have several posts in our blog archives that can aide you in maximizing the impact of your invitation. Here are three tips for improvement we ran earlier in the year:

The Haulix email distribution system was designed to enable anyone to create and send well-designed promotional invitations in minutes. As soon as an album is uploaded to our system clients are only a few clicks away from sharing their media with anyone on their contact list, and even if they choose to send out a basic promo the results are both clean and professional.

As an example, please take a look at this promotional invitation sent earlier today with zero customization made to the original promotional messaging layout:

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This message perfectly conveys all the information that needs to be shared with the receiving party in a way that is easy to digest. It’s the ‘no frills’ approach to sharing materials and it works. We know journalists care more about the music they’re receiving than the design of the email, but when you’re trying to bring attention to up and coming talent a strong pitch can go a long way. Here are three simple tips for improving the impact of your promotional messaging:

1. Add a personal touch.

Every journalist knows they are not the only writer you are pitching on any given project, but that does not mean they do not like to feel special every now and then. When you reach the first screen of customization, Haulix offers multiple options for personalization:

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The easiest way to make things a bit more personal is to add your own name, or the name of your company, to the ‘reply-to’ section of the form. From there, publicists and artists alike would be wise to write a direct message to the person receiving the invitation. It should be short and concise, offering a quick description of the album and any information the recipient should know regarding coverage possibilities.

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2. Include the album art and any additional supplemental materials the recipient may find interesting.

Just below the introduction box on the email customization page there is a space reserved for the description of the materials being sent. This box autofills with the same information provided on the actual promo page, but it never hurts to give it a once over to ensure things are as enticing as possible. Especially with lesser known artists, this space can help grab journalists who may have otherwise overlooked the release based on lack of familiarity.

The promo section also offers users the ability to include an image from the promo page with the email. To do this, simply click on the photo you want to appear in your messaging. The selected item will have a blue box around it after being clicked.

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3. Change the colors of your email, and don’t forget to add a header to aide with brand recognition.

Once you have completed the text portion of messaging customization, click on the ‘Next’ icon at the top of the page and you will be directed to a preview of your message. On the right side of the page there is a header that reads ‘Invitation Design.’ Click the dropbox below and select ‘New.’ You will be prompted to enter a name for this template, and for the sake of simplicity we recommend naming picking a name related to the release itself. This will allow you to return to this design even if the messaging of the email changes.

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Once you have chosen a name for your new template the page will refresh and reveal a set of email customization tools. These options, located on the right side of the page, allow users to change the color of the body, background, and text of your message. They also allow for the addition of header and background images.

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The possibilities for personalization are essentially endless when leveraging these tools, and with a little effort basic invites can be transformed into far more engaging invitations:

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As mentioned above, once you create a new template that layout will be forever saved on Haulix for future use. The promo messaging will always autofill from the promo page, but introductions need to be written each time a new invitation is created. Mass email is always possible, but there is something to be said for making people feel unique.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.