Indie Music Biz #19: Music Communications with Mary Jelley

Photos by Anne-Marie Brugger

On Saturday morning, the Ottawa Independent Music Business along with the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition presented a seminar on Music Communications featuring Mary Jelley of Warner Music Canada.

The music community received expert advice on how to PR their music in today’s complex music industry scene.  A veteran music representative for Warner Music, Ms. Jelley spoke to an inquisitive crowd about what it takes to make it in the business.  During the course of her 25+ year career, Mary has represented both emerging and well-established musicians and bands in the greater Ottawa area. She had several no-nonsense tips for hopeful artists in the room.

  1. Be a great song-writer
  2. Be a great performer
  3. Have the drive and want success more than anything else.

In her role as representative, she will shop an artist’s music to radio stations, television, newspapers, all forms of traditional media as well as new media outlets such as blogs, podcasts, e-zines, etc.  When an artist arrives in her market area, she will introduce them to radio programing directors, have them do in-studio performances, arrange contests to boost PR, among other promotional activities.

In order to get their music on the air, she advised artists to:

  1. Reach out to radio programming directors by email, with a phone call or in person. They want to hear from the locals and know what happening on the ground. 
  2. Prepare a one-sheet that contains a short bio, discography, links to music, social media, and stats such as positions on indie charts, # of followers, and of course contact information.
  3. Ensure one-sheets are brief (1 page) and without errors or typos. Be sure your URL links work!
  4. Know your community industry contacts (college radio stations, dj’s, review writers, bloggers, venue managers, etc.)
  5. Know your audience and how to reach them
  6. Work constantly and consistently to be present in the community you are targeting
  7. Get out there and play, play, play.

The audience asked numerous questions and without a doubt today’s music industry is ever changing and evolving further into a digital presence. Online music streaming services were discussed as were the value of releasing vinyl vs CD vs digital only formats.

Getting intel from Ms. Jelley as a music industry insider was a real treat. Her honest and open advice were a boon to everyone who attended. If you missed it, keep an eye out for more Indie Music Biz events.  

About The Speaker: Mary Jelley

Mary Jelley was the first woman to be hired as a Regional Manager for Warner Music Canada, and is based in Ottawa. She is responsible for sales, promotion and marketing of its repertoire for Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec and Manitoba. For over 25 years, she has played a critical role in the successes of many local, national and international recording artists, including Blue Rodeo, Scott Helman, Great Big Sea, Brett Kissel, Billy Talent, Alanis Morissette and Michael Bublé.

Mary continues to assist in the development of artists signed to the Warner label, helping them reach new audiences with existing and emerging trends in technology and communications. A recognized expert in her field, she is often called upon to judge talent, participate on panels and speak to students about the industry and her career.