This is a line you have to toe delicately, and unfortunately, there is no exact science or patented formula that will work every time and like a charm. You can't predict when the line is crossed simply because editors and journalists have different levels of tolerance for being pitched. Different strokes, different folks.
Put every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears into the creation of your music. Take chances, and perfect your craft. You'd be amazed at how much easier touring becomes when the emphasis placed on creating the most impactful tracks possible is put at a premium. Word of mouth travels faster than ever, and if you engage online directly with your fans, they will show up and support your touring endeavors whenever that happens.
Most writers are fine with digital clips. It's efficient, instant and not to mention environmentally responsible. Being able to hit "send" on a press kit as opposed to mailing it has generated plenty of quick, quality coverage for me. I've literally seen next-day coverage by doing it that way.
It is important to realize that before you can start marketing, you need to begin creating a buzz by playing live and building a network of contacts. Unless people are exposed to your music, which generally happens in a live setting, they’re not going to care about fliers or downloads.
But what to do about this? The worst thing is to create content for content's sake. So, have a plan. Remove the terrifying "blank canvas" by building content templates for yourselves. Brainstorm ideas like, "Jason's 5 worst drum fills for the week" or "Our lead singer picks his three greatest vocal screams," and figure out which ones speak best to your fans and represent your band. Treat the creation of this kind of stuff as seriously as you do song-writing, rehearsals, recording and gigs.
Producers and engineers are vital to the process in different ways, but their functions can overlap as well. An engineer will be key in recording a band the correct way – for example, making sure they play tight and ensuring that the instruments sound powerful and clear in the mix.
It’s definitely a good idea for band mates to lay out their obligations and applicable profit splits for various streams. This can be achieved by a relatively simple internal agreement amongst the members of the band. In regards to songwriting credits/splits, this varies amongst writers and is often taken by a case by case basis.
In a perfect world, an A&R person should be able to hear a great song through even the crappiest recording. However, considering the ease with which bands can make their own inexpensive, high-quality, and professional-sounding demos, there is simply no reason to turn in a poor recording these days.
I find that a minimum of three songs and a maximum of five are ideal. It’s hard for an A&R person to get a real picture of what a band is about without hearing at least three songs – that is, three songs that show off the band’s consistency or diversity.
iTunes is the largest music retailer in the U.S., so why wouldn’t it make sense assuming the sound quality and material are up to snuff? Record companies have traditionally served as the gatekeepers between musicians and the public. As the gatekeepers, your music has to go through us before it gets to the masses.