Ever wondered what it would be like to have your own press company? Well, Two Side Moon founder Nick Baldrian knows all about that. He started up his own press and promotions company in 2008 - and tells Black Velvet all about it...
Shari Black Velvet
BV: What urged you to form TSM and what IS TSM, for those who don’t know?
NB: TSM stands for Two Side Moon promotions. The bands actually started calling us TSM and it kinda stuck.
TSM and our partner company SLW promotions are a PR company with our aim to increase awareness for bands and artists within the national media. TSM basically started out as a means to support bands we personally enjoy who are struggling to get press attention. What has been interesting is now that labels can see that these bands are being talked about, they are signing them, so it's interesting how things develop with hard work rasing awareness, however in my personal view these bands should have been snapped up before any press was generated, sign of the times I guess with the current climate eh?
BV: Is TSM a full time career and if so, how hard was it for you to make it one?
NB: TSM started as a hobby that has become full time through commitment and hard work, however I do have a full time profession and I'm very lucky to be able to do both jobs from my office.
BV: What were you doing before TSM started up?
NB: I've been writing articles for many years and helping artists to get records deals. After I put out a tribute CD I helped put together called 'Warmth In The Wilderness' for Jason Becker (ex Dave Lee Roth band), I quit for a few years and then came back into the scene several years ago when an artist needed help. Everything developed onwards from there. In the time away from music, I worked within technical support for an internet company.
BV: How many bands do you currently do press for?
NB: It varies all the time depending on the time structures within the contracts the bands sign. At the moment TSM currently has around 25/30 bands and artists on our roster as well as several record labels.
BV: Do you remember the first band you did press for and how was it?
NB: In regards to TSM, yes I do, it was Coldspell from Sweden who eventually went on to sign with Escape Music. The guys released their awesome new CD 'Infinite Stargaze' this year and the reviews have been excellent, so it's been a year long process with those guys and its a fabulous album. The very first artist I interviewed was none other than Joe Satriani, that was an eye-opener, and what a humble guy.
BV: If someone was thinking of starting their own press company, what sort of things do they need to know – or be able to do?
NB: They would need to know where to market their band and what budgets they have to work with to maximise the effect, it is very difficult out there. They would need to know what work the band has done before taking them on, it's all about doing your market research and seeing if it worth your time and the band's time working together. They would need to be able to 'sell' their band to the area they are aiming for and generate as much press possible, this is very important for any band, no matter how good or how bad the press is. All press is important in developing an artist. A good development plan is the basis to start from, build up your contacts first, we're all in this crazy game together.
BV: Do you find it hard or easy to get new clients? Do bands come to you or are you often looking for new bands to add to your roster?
NB: Bands come to us all the time, but it is never easy, you have to prove what you can do to the bands and their management teams. If we enjoy a band then we will try and do something with them, if they like what we have to offer. We do look for bands as well, of course, we are pretty flexible, but bottom line is the music has to be something we personally enjoy, it actually doesn't have be related to rock music either, it can be any genre.
BV: Do you work from home and do you aim to one day open an office, employ other staff etc – or would you rather just keep it as a small career for yourself rather than a larger enterprise?
NB: I work from both home and from my office in main job, Sonia also does the same. I do plan to relocate to a larger office premises based on our family farm in the next couple of years, we shall see how it develops, right now I am happy working the way we are and developing ourselves as well as the artists. Hmm, a secretary, that would be nice, do you make nice coffee Shari?
BV: Haha. I can make great hot chocolate with soya milk! I could do coffee but again it would have to be with soya milk since I would refuse to use real milk from cows (being vegan). But anyway... Do bands pay you in advance before you start work for them – and do you find many bands want people to promote them for free?
NB: Depends on the band and the situation, majority of the time yes, we basically just try to cover the overheads first hand if we take an artist on, it's really that simple, we are just happy to see bands moving forward and getting the press they deserve, it's hard out there for any band, budgets are tight so you have to work realistically within your budgets and it's about working together and keeping the communication lines totally open at all times, which is something we do pride ourselves on.
BV: When a band comes to you looking for press, do they know what they’re looking for? What does a band usually expect from you?
NB: A band usually expects to be the next big thing, once we've explained they come back down to earth and realise we have no time for bands on ego trips! Haha. Again it a little more complicated and a different situation with each individual band, thus you make a plan for development and go through varied stages of processes over a period of time. Basically we are sick and tired with the lack of promotions bands get from labels, two months and labels seem to move on to the next act and you never hear from an artist again for two/three years until their next CD. We have built, if you like a 'family' with our bands and have become good friends with most of them, and a year down the road and we are still promoting some of the first acts that came with us, I can't understand why labels cannot do this... it's not exactly hard to keep pushing a band and their product.
BV: How important IS a good press officer to a band?
NB: Again many bands can take hold of what we do and do it themselves, it can be a lot of work though and for many artists they don't want to deal with the business side and just want to get out and perform live, this is where a press officer can be very important for bands.
What do you offer to clients? Do you have different packages offering different things? Can you explain what packages are available, for a band that might be interested in your services?
NB: Yes we have different development structures for different bands, it really depends as you asked above what the band is looking for. We work in terms of media press and promotions which includes gig promotions, adverts in magazines, radio plays, reviews, online digital sales, distribution to all the main indie outlets in the UK and mail order companies, press kit packages, website promotion and design, label scouting etc... it just depends what the band are aiming for.
BV: What does an average day consist of for you?
NB: Lots of coffee, phone calls, chasing up reviews, looking for interviews, developing press sheets, mailouts, more coffee, announcing press releases, following up possible clients, talking to clients, checking that the bands are happy, arranging adverts, checking into tours, chasing radio commercials, checking on sales with the distributors, forwarding all the reports back to the bands, arranging interviews etc and a whole manner of other work to complete the development process. It sounds a lot, but actually it's quite fun and most people are really easy and fun to work with as well.
BV: What do you think of the standard of bands at the moment, musically and today’s music scene?
NB: It's getting good, especially on the underground. Depends how open minded you are musically. If you enjoy any genre of music such as I do then there are lots of bands out there to discover falling by the wayside, it's criminal. Too many labels are signing older bands to make the bucks in, and not enough development on new artists. Where are these labels going to be in ten years when a lot of the old 80's 'named' bands start calling it a day and retiring? The genre for melodic rock and AOR will just cave in overnight, it's already hard enough out there, labels need to start thinking ahead and taking chances on new bands and giving more than just a couple of months promotion to a release.
BV: Do you see TSM as a life-long venture that you’ll continue for as long as you can – or is there anything else you’d like to jump into at some point?
NB: I certainly hope so Shari, we have been asked to develop into a label and we have even been asked to be partners with one label but the situation wasn't right and didn't feel right so we decided to keep on as we are, and as long as there are bands making music we enjoy who need help and as long as we still have fun with it all then we will keep on with it and develop the bands to the best we can.
Some of the clients that TSM do press/promotion for:
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