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3 Steps to Creating Online Attention Grabbers!

Featuring Online Marketing Maven: Theda Sandiford. Theda discusses the first step in getting bloggers attention: Creating a buzz and the benefit of continuously creating original content!

From our last interview with Martin from he pointed a key factor in getting bloggers attention is having a BUZZ.

“Consider us a record label in the fact that we want up and coming artists to have a buzz before we invest our bandwidth on them. Are you getting spins in your town and surrounding markets? If I were to call some DJ’s in your area, would they know about you? Maybe you have a cosign from an already established artist that would peak my interest in hearing your stuff out? Have you been covered in other press outlets? Do you have a reputable publicist that I have dealt with in the past that would make your introduction a safer bet? Point blank you just can’t come to me saying my music is hot. My music is hot too, and I don’t even Rap!”

When approaching a site I do agree completely too look at it as a Record Label. Bloggers are looking to feature artists that will help increase their traffic in some way so there needs to be some type of chatter happening about you online.

I was able to interview Theda Sandiford who is GREAT in creating effective social media strategies for artists. Her latest project was with Slim from 112’s solo album, Theda gives us a glimpse in her strategy to get Slim back on the blogosphere’s radar.

Q: One of your last projects was working with Slim of 112 on his Solo debut album. When putting together his online marketing strategy what was number #1 priority on your list i.e. getting him on blogs, or on specific websites?

A: When I first started working the Slim project back in May, it wasn’t as if bloggers and editors where waiting for Slim from 112 so we had to create our own story. The #1 priority for Slim was to get him blogging so he could get his own message out and connect with 112 fans. We focused our efforts on Slim’s MySpace page ( For months, he blogged about his creative process, his promo tours, video shoots and all about the love & relationships that inspired his album Love’s Crazy. My team did a series of canned interview features and got those placed on blogs to build the interest and appetite for Slim. Once we got our story out there and the radio story picked up, the blogs started to take interest and request him for interviews.

Christina says: Here are a few of my suggestions on starting some chatter on your behalf online:

-Creating your own blog - My number one piece of advice, if you’re trying to get known in the blogosphere, is do like they do. Start your own blog. This is a good idea for many reasons aside from attracting other bloggers. If you don’t know the big secret already: Bloggers read other bloggers blogs!

-Become an avid blog reader & comment back - OK - this option is a bit less time consuming because you will not have to build and maintain your own blog but you will still have to create personal relationships with bloggers. If you are going to go this route, I suggest you build a links page on your website or on your MySpace / Facebook page to link back and send shout outs to other blogs so that you are still somewhat in the linkback game which is critical. -

Creating original content consistently - For example Charles Hamilton released 26 mixtapes online before his actual release just to help build up his online buzz. Twenty-six mixtapes may be a bit extreme BUT something more practical is creating video content of you at a show or dropping a free mp3 or a mixtape here and there. Bloggers are always looking for fresh content so always think of yourself as a content creator!

Theda also went on to give a little feedback on her scope of the social media atmosphere in terms of how the online world is beginning to out do the physical in regards to marketing and promotion…

Q: Are labels now leaning more to pushing for digital downloads sales then physical CD sales?

A: I have been saying that digital sales would overtake physical sales for some time now. So I took great pleasure in last week’s NY Times story about how digital sales at Atlantic Records are now out pacing physical media.

However, I have noticed that major labels seem to be more focused on maximizing the digital sales than indie labels I work with. Which is a bit odd to me because it costs more to merchandise in brick & mortar stores than it does to replicate the same marketing online. You would think indies who are working with smaller marketing budgets would focus more of their marketing dollars accordingly. While I have noticed a gradual increase in the online marketing spends over the last few years, I still have to advocate for every dollar I get to work with. It is just smart to market online. In the physical world someone has to hear or see the song/ad and then drive to the record store to vote with their wallet. Online there is no disconnect between the call to action, click, and purchase.

Q: What would be your top 5 social networking site recommendations you would give to an artist to get on to promote themselves online?

A: My top 5 social media sites for artists to promote themselves are: MySpace (This should be an artist’s first stop and official web page) Imeem (The best streaming media embed tools) Twitter (Micro-blogging day in the life tool to fuel interest in your every move) (Share your personal music tastes in an active music discovery community) Reverb Nation (This site has a free data capture tool, mail gun and stats to check your performance)

Q: A lot of artists are using MySpace to promote themselves. What is one of the top mistakes you see from artists on MySpace and how can they correct that?

A: I could write a book about how artists misuse MySpace. My number one pet peeve about artists on MySpace is how they send generic messages asking me to help them get a record deal and when I respond saying I don’t do A&R, they respond asking what I do. Duh? Why are you writing me if you haven’t bothered to read my profile? Lesson one; always read up on the the person you are contacting, compliment them on something posted on their profile and then craft your pitch accordingly. Generic “Listen to my music” posts are a dime a dozen and get deleted without hesitation. -

About Theda Sandiford- After graduating Tufts University with a degree in American Studies, Theda worked at WBLS as the promotion coordinator alongside her radio hero, Frankie Crocker. She left the station a year later to became the first black programmer of a major market country station. In 1994, she was nominated for “Programmer of the Year Award” by the Country Music Association. Years later she left radio to move into print media, at Billboard magazine where she wrote the influential column Hot 100 Singles Spotlight and compiled the Hot 100 chart every week. Bit by the label bug, I joined Def Jam Recordings in their sales department, but quickly moved to fill a void in the new media department. Nicknamed by rapper Ja Rule, Theda developed a reputation for creating groundbreaking work. Critically acclaimed in the pages of Entertainment Weekly for a Foxy Brown comic-book site, Theda also received kudos when the Def Jam website won for best label site in the Online Hip-Hop Awards in 2000. Theda’s multimedia experience at Def Jam inspired her to expand into the mobile market in 2004. As Brand Director for Def Jam Mobile, she was responsible for branding, licensing and developing original content. Shortly after launching several applications she moved on to drive new technology initiatives at Rush Communications where she assembled an incubator team that developed the concept, business plan and technical execution for start-up company (Global Grind). As an aficionado of both pop culture and modern technology Theda has fused her interests in a multimedia marketing and content development to create unique content campaigns and marketing strategies for her consulting clients, which have included Microsoft/Zune,, Phat Fashions, Asylum Records, Rush Communications, Community Connect, Capitol Records, Koch, Simmons Lathan and Kevin Liles Enterprises. In her spare time, Theda co-hosts Wine Tasting events in NYC with her networking group, SuperNodes. She is also an avid photographer, collagist and blogger.


Cyber PR Urban is Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR's new urban division that handles Hip Hop and R&B as well as urban and urban crossover artists. We connect urban artists to Blogs, Podcasters, Internet Radio Stations, Vlogs, Social Networking sites, and Webzines. Cyber PR Urban's Urban Plug newsletter is a free bi-monthly e-zine for musicians & entrepreneurs who want marketing, promotion and PR tips for navigating the new music business. Sign Up here: Check out past articles

Christina Duren started her music career as an intern at Island Def Jam where she spent a year in the Radio and Promotions/Publicity department. At IDJ she worked with Mariah Carey, Rihanna and Ne-Yo. From there she took her first real job at Shore Fire Media working campaigns for The Roots, and Heineken Red Star Soul Tour. Christina now acts as PR Director for Cyber PR and co-founder of Cyber PR Urban.

Reader Comments (7)

Hey Christina,

this is an excellent article you passed on here! I will definitely use some of these tips when promoting my own band.

thanks for this.

Chris Bracco is an aspiring producer/music biz entrepreneur. Chris currently attends Penn State University, working towards a major in Business Management and minor in Music Technology. He is also currently interning for Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR, doing promotion for artists they represent. He also plays guitar in & manages a funky rap/rock quintet named "A.S.B.P.K."

If you would like to learn a bit more about Chris, please visit his personal e-portfolio, his blog or his band's website:
Chris Bracco's E-Portfolio
Tight Mix -- The Future of Music & Audio Recording
A.S.B.P.K. Music

If you would like to contact Chris, please don’t hesitate to e-mail him at

February 24 | Registered CommenterChris Bracco

Starting a blog is a good advice, but it's only half (not even, actually) the battle. A blog won't do anything for you until you use it regularly!

One of my pet peeves is to see a blog on a musician site and then see that it hasn't been updated in 2 years. ;-)

Ari Koinuma

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterAri Koinuma

Great post, and excellent advice in the interview. I do believe though that it is a big mistake to view a blogger as you might view a label. Maybe it works with, obviously, but the reason for blogging varies. Buzz can be a factor, of course, but what Theda is describing is being part of a huge network and giving something to this social network and certain individuals. It's about people and relations.

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterPär Berglund

Yes Ari I agree! For a blog to be successful you have to stay consistent with it because no one is going to come back to a blog that is NEVER updated.

Par yes the record label technique usually is the formula technique for a lot of your BIGGER urban sites like allhiphop, sohh, etc. I do FULLY agree that social networking is ALL about building relationship which option 2 helps in actually becoming apart of bloggers network.

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterChristina Duren

"Creating original content consistently - For example Charles Hamilton released 26 mixtapes online before his actual release just to help build up his online buzz....Bloggers are always looking for fresh content so always think of yourself as a content creator!"

I like the fact this article drives home the concept of consistency, and making sure your brand stays fresh in the minds of your audience. People have short memories and the only way to insure brand loyalty is by keeping your audience engaged. It's all about buzz!

This is an article that should be read every morning by all indie musicians.

Great Christina!

Heron Demarco
Emcee/guitarist/producer for Silent Disorder

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterHeronDemarco

Christina, Great post. One of the main comments I hear time and again from artists (especially indie artists without promoters) is that they find it very difficult to promote themselves, even given the limited tools from Myspace. We are building a set of tools to help combat this issue, and I am not trying to plug my site here, but instead would love some extra feedback on how indie artists can really promote themselves, or even use their fans to promote them. I know that every artist has an ardent set of followers, some of who would go to lengths to help them succeed. I am a musician myself, and want to provide the community with tools that they can use themselves without learning to be a tech whiz.

February 26 | Unregistered CommenterAnurag Jain

Hi Christina

I was surprised by Theda's assertion that myspace "should be an artist’s first stop and official web page" as this seems to run contrary to the advice given in many other places that an artist should have their own site, and use myspace primarily as a means of directing people to that site.

What's your take on this?

Kind regards


March 26 | Unregistered CommenterChris Bestwick

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