Interview With Onno Lakeman of Red to Violet
I *met* Onno Lakeman of Red to Violet, a duo (EL is the other half) based in Holland, when he wrote to tell me how much he liked the first edition of "The Real Deal." [Editor’s Note: “The Real Deal: How To Get Signed
To A Record Label,” by Daylle Deanna Schwartz, Billboard Books]. We've stayed in touch ever since. I've been fascinated by how he's been able to market Red to Violet on their label, Commuse, in the U.S., when he's not here. So of course I had to e-interview him for my book. Here are some highlights:
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz] How did you first get the buzz going?
Onno Lakeman To be able to present a complete package, we decided to make a video as well. We made a script, got the right people and shot it in an Amsterdam studio. Meanwhile I hooked up with CDbaby, CDstreet and other webstores to be able to sell the Red to Violet CD. We also worked with an independent distributor, so our CD would be available at CDnow, Amazon, and (some) street stores. I contacted smaller radios, public radios and webradios. We were received very well. Our track "Here I Am" got play on about 200 smaller US radios. With the video we got broadcast on public and cable TV shows all over US. The video even won the Viewers Choice on CN8, U.S.'s largest cable tv network, broadcasting to PA, MD, DE, WashDC, NJ to the borders of New York.
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz] How did you learn what to do?
Onno Lakeman Just by doing it. I made mistakes, but it goes one step at a time. Our promotions are currently focused the the U.S. as our music is very well received there. I learned that one person can do a lot, really a lot, but you need insiders to approach the people at SPIN magazine, Music Week, record stores and larger college radios. Hiring Indiego did this for us. We plan to introduce our CD to other regions.
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz] Why do you think you've gotten far?
Onno Lakeman Richie Sambora said: 'you can't polish bullshit.' So you need talent and good material to start with. From there you need a good mental attitude. We've worked on mental strength as much as we did on our musical skills. You need this mental strength to be able to cope with the road going up and down. Persistence is very important too. People around me say I have that. I believe the impossible can become possible."
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz] What are your eventual goals?
Onno Lakeman Worldwide distribution, promotion and sales for our CDs, worldwide tours, major chart successes as indies. It's cool to visualize an indie coming from the land of windmills and wooden shoes reaching high in the Billboard charts. :-)"
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz] How did you first get attention outside of Holland?
Onno Lakeman Mainly by using the web - here and there a phone call or fax and by sending out many packages."
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz] How do your tee-shirts help?
Onno Lakeman We've designed it so that people would like to wear it, just cos they like the shirt. Instead saying 'the ...tour" or "the ... album," we like that the person wearing the Here I Am shirt gets attention and our band name and Red to Violet site is promoted. It's promotion material too. And it works. We get great feedback from people who have won the shirt. [Note: Onno sent me one and I LOVE mine!]"
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz] What's on your website that makes fans continue to visit?
Onno Lakeman We update every week, with features such as a fresh 'lyric line of the week,' 'news headlines,' my personal 'indie talk column' (I describe my week working as indie artists and label), the latest reviews. There's always a CD-single or T-shirt giveaway going on. It has cool music links. There's a video, free audio clips, including a full version of Here I Am. And from the counters I see that audio and video are among the most popular features. So it's still about music!"
[Daylle Deanna Schwartz] Do you make use of any street teams/fans?
Onno Lakeman We have given people T-shirts and flyers for UK festivals and it works. In the U.S. we have done the same during 5-6 events so that thousands of music lovers visiting the festival see someone wearing the shirt and handing out flyers.
Onno told me he used to spend what most of you would consider a ridiculous amount of hours searching the internet for places to send music. Now he can cut back as the main research is done. If you believe in your music and want to make a living from it, do whatever it takes to find ways to market it.
Learn more about Red to Violet on their website at www.redtoviolet.com. Visit Revenge Productions at http://www.outersound.com/revenge/monthly.html
Reprinted with permission from the November 2002 Edition of Daylle’s Music Resource Newsletter.