- Promotional recording
A promotional recording, or promo (recently known as a radio single), is a recording issued on vinyl, CD,
cassette tape, VHS, or DVDand distributed free in order to promote a commercial recording. Promos are usually sent out to music radioand televisionstations. In the UKpromo recordings are also sent out to music journalists and reviewers in advance of the official release date so that their reviews will appear in the current publications. They are often distributed in plain white packaging, without the text or artwork that appears on the commercial version. Typically a promo is marked with some variation of the following text: "Licensed for promotional use only. Sale is prohibited." It may also state: "Item is to be returned to the distributor upon demand."
Before the advent of formats other than vinyl records, a type of promo surfaced known as an "acetate". These records were made of a cheaper and lower quality
acetatevinyl. They were generally made in very low quantity and often had hand-written labels. Frequently they were only a test pressing, and thus were called "promo acetate test pressings". In modern usage the term "acetate" or "promo acetate" usually refers to a cheaply manufactured CD-R made up to efficiently promote the product with minimal expense.
Promos are distributed to expose a new product or release to those who are in a position to market it and entice the general public to purchase it. In very rare cases promotional items are recalled by the distributor. For example a promotional CD and cassette of the
1994album Under the Pink, by Tori Amos, was recalled because Amos had not approved of the cover artwork. It was sent back with the cover art removed. Copies of the promo sell for hundreds of dollars as opposed to a commercially released copy which sells for ten. There is also an EP by Marilyn Manson, Smells Like Children, which was recalled because the music contained unauthorized spoken word and audio samples from various movies such as Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. The EPwas re-edited and redistributed without the samples, making an original promo copy of the EPextremely rare and valuable.
Because promos are produced in smaller quantity than releases made available to the general public, they are considered valuable collector's items. Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to sell promotional recordings. Despite the recording industry's insistence that promos may not be sold, given away, or even discarded, the federal district court ruling in UMG v. Augusto affirms that ownership is transferred to the recipient under the First Sale Doctrine, regardless of any "not for resale" labels. (UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Augusto, No. CV 07-03106, slip op. (C.D. Cal. June 10, 2008).
A "promo single" (short for "promotional single") is a single that is made available to
nightclubs, radio stations, music publications, and other media outlets by a record labelfor the express purpose of promoting a new single or an entirely new album. While intended specifically for use by professional disc jockeysand not for resale, they are frequently sought out by music collectors nonetheless.
The promo single is usually recognized by its limited liner notes and cover artwork as well as its unique catalog number (or the occasional lack thereof). Quite often,
vinyl recordswill be issued in a generic cardboard jacket or white paper sleeve while CDswill be issued in a slimline jewel caseor cardboard sleeve. There may also be promotion-specific terms stamped on the disc or its cover, most notably "For Promotional Use Only."
The "advance promo single" is furnished to DJs sometimes weeks or months in advance of a domestic release to give record labels an opportunity to build interest in the single and gauge response to the single. Unlike a finished promo single, these are commonly test pressings or
white labelsand thus are manufactured in limited runs. Despite the good intention, there has been some dispute within the industry as to if advanced promotion is a good thing or not. Building interest is naturally a good thing, but it may turn out to have the exact reverse effect when interested persons are unable to find a new song in the record stores for quite some time.
Promotional recordings are distributed to commercial AM and FM radio stations for airplay in the form of either CD or digital download. These singles typically feature just the
radio editof the song, but may also include alternate remix edits, the original album version, or even call-out hooks.
When it comes to
electronic dance music, 12-inch records and CDs still remain the more popular media by which promotional recordings may be distributed to DJs in the nightclub industry. These singles typically feature one or more extended remixes (sometimes dubbed a "club mix") of the title track that are not generally available to the public as well as the original extended version, which in many cases is itself club-friendly. In some cases, the disc may have anonymous track labeling or lack labels altogether. Often the corresponding CD may also carry radio edits and other alternate cuts that did not make it onto the 12-inch record itself, in which case the CD is referred to as a maxi-singleCD. Promotional recordings may also include digital recordings in mp3, mp4, or wma formats to discourage illegal copying and enable effective recall when the promotional period has expired.
It is not unusual for a promo single to have no commercially available counterpart particularly in those genres that are predominantly oriented to nightclub applications.
Many companies currently offer promotional compilations to DJs, radio use and nightclubs alike. The format is growingly on the CD-format, but some companies still offer promotional compilations in vinyl also. Most of the compilations are genre-specific (like most of CD Pools' compilations) but there are also compilations that offer a combination of different genres (like compilations from DMC and Music Factory). Such compilations are normally released monthly. In addition to companies that work internationally, there are also many companies that offer national promotions material in the form of compilations.
Versions in the compilation are usually either radio edits or extended / 12" remixes of the song, depending a bit on the targeted audience. Club scene music is usually in the longer and easier to play format of extended remix, whereas more street targeted music is usually released as radio edits. It normally takes a couple of weeks after the release of the original promo single to be available on promotional compilations. This has the added benefit of having the songs when they're already had some airtime and are thus not the bleeding edge no-one has heard from, but still have usually not been released to the mass markets yet.
Some of the internationally established companies are
* [http://www.cdpool.co.uk/ CD Pool] (UK)
* [http://www.deejaypromo.com/ Dee Jay Promotions] (Sweden)
* [http://www.dmcworld.com/ DMC] (UK)
* [http://www.mastermixdj.com/ Mastermix] (UK) a.k.a. Music Factory
* [http://www.radioexclusive.com/ Radio Exclusive] (US) especially for international radio stations
*Silver & Black (Ukraine)
*White Noise (UK)
Many fledgling companies are also available offering both well-known and lesser known releases.
Online promotional distribution
Since the advent of broad-bandwidth Internet access and professional tools such as [http://labeltools.com/ iPool] , the online promotional distribution of music has established. Record companies make their music available as audio files and use the Internet as a distribution channel. In contrast to the conventional way of distributing promotional recordings, this kind of promotional distribution is faster and cheaper.
Companies specializing in this type of promotion, such as [http://www.eatdigital.com EatDigital] and [http://www.potboilerpromotions.com Potboiler Promotions] , have become more prominent in recent times.
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