Pesto EP001: Deep Discoveries - behind the scenes pt. 4

cover artwork for Pesto EP001
As I said yesterday already, I will spare you my nude pics. I have way more interesting background info on how "Deep Discoveries" was made. And since the post yesterday was highly technical, you will probably find today's part 4 much easier to read. After all, it's Sunday and our brains are in weekend mode so this one's not as demanding - at least I'll try to keep it that way.

We've covered the whole creation process of PEP001 (short for Pesto EP001 or simply "Deep Discoveries") starting with the selection of tunes and making up the playlist in part 1, went on to creation of the visual appearance in part 2 and ended with part 3 of our behind-the-scenes, dealing with the mastering of the EP and some basic thoughts on promotion.

Today, I will be talking about the promotion process in whole, our custom-made promo system, share some DJ feedback with you and I will also let you know how getting DJ feedback is serving my narcisstic needs.

From the highest mountain to the deepest valley



After I had mastered all tunes and rendered them to disk, I had a folder sitting on my drive, filled with WAV files. One minute of WAV roughly eats 10MB of disk space (these are files comparable to what is found on CDs - 44.1kHz sampling rate at 16bits), the whole EP would require 400MB of space on Pesto's servers. Way too much to share it with people!

But since God Allah Jehovah the Fraunhofer Society gave us the MP3 format, there are ways to compress the size of an audio file while maintaining most of its contained audible information. When sending out promos, I'm encoding the files at 320kBits which means the resulting MP3s are approx. one fourth of the size of the original hi-resolution/CD-quality WAV files. Usually, WAVs have a bitrate of 1440kBits and this is what you get on Beatport unless you're opting for the MP3 version. MP3s sold on Beatport have the same encoding quality as our promo files.

I would name the WAVs in a proper way so that just by looking at the file name, everybody would know where the file belongs to. I would then add ID3 tags to said WAVs so that track names and artist names would be displayed in a player such as iTunes, WinAMP or on your iPhone. After that, I'd convert the hi-resolution files to 320kBits MP3s, tweaking the information bits (aka ID3 tags), embedding the cover artwork in the MP3 and place them all in another subfolder of the "PEP001" folder. Then, I'd repeat the process and convert the same WAV files to the MP3 format again, this time encoded at 64kBits in order to use them in the MP3 player on our promo page. This player is pretty similar to the MP3 player on the website you're currently reading (have a look at the right side, given you're viewing this page on a Flash-enabled device).

screenshot showing the

After packing all 320kBits music files and the artwork into one .zip file and uploading it to our promo server, I would update the promo section, adding a download link for the release, have the MP3 player hold all tunes of "Deep Discoveries" so DJs can preview the tracks (this means updating an .xml file with the track names and uploading the 64kBits files to our promo server), exchange the banner picture so it shows a portion of the current release's artwork, check all links for consistency and download the promo myself to check if everything is working as expected.

Once the promo page is confirmed working, I'd fire up my bulk emailer (it's like your common email client but with special features), write some introductary words about the release, include details such as catalogue number, release date and write some words about the music and the artists on that release and then start sending out personalized mails to my promo pool. The mailout is limited to 200 messages, then the mailer takes a break for a few minutes until it continues sending the next bunch of 200 until finally, every promo pool member has received their personal message in their inbox. The reason for sending chunks of 200 mails each is as follows: my provider told me that sending more than 200 messages in a row would be considered spam by the automatic filter system and would result in putting both my IP and "sent from"-address on a blacklist containing suspected spammers, making it impossible to send out further messages.

Back to the promo mailouts: when introducing the artists and their tunes, I write a few words about the song so that the recipients of that promo would already get a rough picture of what to expect. I'd assign attributes to the music such as "deep shizzle", "suitable for afterhours" or "peak time stuff". In case of "Deep Discoveries", I came up with this:

"We have "Deep In Calm" from Poland with a lush and atmospheric opener, "Norman Creed" from Germany with a shaking track that's being compatible both with deep sets as well as clubbier ones, "Patryk Molinari", also from Berlin with a musical masterpiece, "Yamil Colucci" from Argentina with a number similar to early and danceable Matthew Herbert, Los Angeles-based and Ankara-born "Processing Vessel" with a sweaty and funky tool and last but not least "Christos Fourkis" from Greece who delivers a deep groove monster."



Without even having heard any of the tunes, your imagination would give you a first hint on how the tunes might sound like. It's the moment when your subconscience either tells you "meh, I'll check that later if at all" or "hell yeah, I wanna know what this Pesto EP is like". Apart from the fact that "Processing Vessel" was born in San Diego and grew up in Ankara, just to remain living in San Diego to this day, you'll find all necessary info in an admittedly long sentence, yet all in one place.

I told Murat aka "Processing Vessel" that people would not pay too much attention to his place of birth rather than using the information provided to decide if the promo was worth listenining to and downloading. I may come across a bit ignorant here, but to be honest, most people do not even read past the second sentence once they've spot the download link. I could also send a message saying "DeepHouse, you know you'll like - it's from Pesto, download, play & chart please". I'm sure it would work as I'm seeing lots of mailouts from other labels every month that are equally appealin. Actually, these messages are the counterpart of "listen my track" mails. I was raised in a way though that suggests being polite to others, especially if I want something from them.

Other labels use promo systems run and maintained by third parties such as FATdrop or VIPUltima, I've build one of our own. From the very beginning, I also paid a lot of attention to personalization as I find it essential not to appear as one of countless labels sending out promos into the wild. The people in the Pesto promo pool are carefully selected and deserve a personal approach, so they're all addressed with their first name. I'm sending a message to myself in order to check the mailout and it always begins with "Hey Jon", "Dear Jon" or similar - all the promo mailouts read like a personal message (did somebody say "dedication" again?) because that's the way they're meant to be perceived.

Setting up this promo system was not so difficult: I had to build a page template once and then just exchange the details according to the release being sent out. Promo services ask for a fee of 50EUR per mailout or more - building this system saves Pesto Music the same amount of money with each release. This is money that I can invest in ads on Facebook or Google AdWords, reaching even more potential customers. Other promo systems force you to leave feedback before being able to download: that surely helps increasing your return rate - on the other hand, many DJs want to play the tune in a club before sending feedback. Our system allows this. Other systems will add watermarks to the MP3s you download so that a DJ sharing your promo becomes trackable. We trust the DJs in our promo pool and give them maximum flexibility. We're still asking our promo pool members not to share the files though and since they're all grown-ups and aware of the fact that they'd get kicked off our pool in the blink of an eye (and never receive anything from us again), no one shares the files - at least not on the web.

Serving my narcisstic needs on Wednesday



As mentioned in yesterday's post, timing is crucial. You have to think about the recipients of that mail and imagine what they're doing on certain days of the week. Most of them are DJs who spin on a regular basis, usually on weekends. They might check their inbox on Monday after having spent an exhausting weekend but they're probably not in the mood to listen to new music. So, Monday is a bad day to send out promos. Thursday and Friday though are the classic "new releases" days. This is when people used to visit their record store or go to a download store these days. Since every other label releases new stuff on these two days, it's more difficult to get heard then and stick out of all that "background noise".

After analyzing my own inbox, the perfect day to both send out promos and release products seems to be Wednesday: Pesto releases won't slip below the radar as not many other labels are asking for attention yet but DJs are already looking for new material to play out the following weekend. They will have one day more to get acquainted with the Pesto release, making it more likely our promo ends up in their CD sleeves and gets played. And since I am convinced of the quality of our releases, it also becomes more likely that these DJs will chart one of our tunes as they remember them being useful for their sets and/or they get a great crowd response.

The people receiving our promos would then start to get back to us, sharing their feedback and their thoughts on that release with us. And I have to admit it: reading the first feedbacks dropping in always provides big satisfaction for me. After countless hours of dedication and work, after all the love both the artists and I have put into each and every release that comes out on Pesto, I feel like watching my child make its first steps. And if the feedback goes along the lines of "Love them all!", "amazing package", "really can't tell which is my fav - they're all great!" or "solid as ever", I know that my artists have delivered killer tunes (well, I knew that already since I signed them to Pesto - but now I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling that way) and that I've done the very best to introduce my artists to a selected circle of DJs from all over the globe. This is when a big grin settles on my face and I cannot get rid of it. It makes me happy for the sake of my artists who deserve this exposure and it also tells me I'm holding a great product in my hands (or on my harddisk for that matter). Sales are not everything, but they can be a big reward and motivation for anyone who's making music - receiving feedback is even more as people will share their thoughts with you rather than only clicking on the "buy" button.

Friday, I'm in love...umm...Monday, I'm publishing DJ feedback



Like mentioned above, lots of jocks prefer playing the tunes in public before feeding back. As I sent out the promo for "Deep Discoveries" just last Wednesday, I'm expecting some more feedback during Monday. So far, I've received lots of raving reactions already - there really isn't one guy saying Pesto EP001 was mediocre, let alone bad. I will publish the DJ feedback received so far tomorrow, on Monday. You can also expect a short video with samples from all contained tunes, a Jon Silva DJ mix featuring tunes from Pesto EP001 and even Pesto EP002 on Tuesday and a conclusion, summing up the experiences made during the planning stage of "Deep Discoveries"on Wednesday, when PEP001 "Deep Discoveries" will finally be released as a Beatport exclusive. Stay with us - we'll be right back after the break!