He also gigs regularly in Cardiff and London, and uses multimedia to great effect in his live shows.
Nick Lewis met Edward in Cardiff (where is he is based) on Thursday 24 April 2014 to find out more…
Nick Lewis (NL): You come from a marketing background; did you decide from the outset that you would promote yourself or did you consider using an external agent or agency?
Edward Russell (ER): I decided to represent myself, because it was the cheapest option. I would like to have proper management representation but good representation is expensive.
NL: How much assistance do you get from others when it comes to promoting your music, online or otherwise?
ER: I have a lot of friends who are willing to give their time to help me out, whether that is helping me to shoot a video or help with the production of the music itself.
I am lucky enough to already have some fans, who are great in helping me promote my music on the various social networks, via retweets and other similar methods.
NL: When you started out in your music career, what online marketing channels were open to you?
NL: Which social networks are you on now to promote your music?
ER: The same really; Facebook and Twitter but I have upped by activity of Twitter in recent years. I am also on YouTube, which is proving to be a very effective way of getting a larger audience for my music.
NL: Did you consider having a dedicated Twitter account to promote your music?
ER: Not really; people follow on me on Twitter for a wide range of reasons and it made sense to just keep the one account going.
NL: Out of those social networks, which one do you find the best to engage with your audience?
ER: YouTube; people are fundamentally visual animals, and I have found that people share and engage with me more there than on my other social network accounts.
Of course, YouTube videos can be posted and shared easily on the other social networks as well.
NL: How much does online marketing influence your art? You recently uploaded a video for the song “Holding Pattern” that was montage of recordings by the audience; it’s hard to imagine that in a pre-social media age.
ER: Yes, it is something that wouldn’t have been easy to do even a couple of years ago.
The footage for the “Holding Pattern” video is made up of footage recorded by about 10 different people, and I think it made them feel just as much as part of the performance as me in some way.
“Holding Pattern” – Edward Russell
NL: You were planning on streaming a recent gig via YouTube; can you tell us a bit about that?
ER: Yes, the plan was to broadcast the gig through Google Hangouts but we reverted to just recording the gig in the end. It proved difficult to sync up a good quality sound feed with Google.
Even though the picture quality would have been fine the sound wouldn’t have been, and when you are promoting music sound is obviously a very important part of that.
NL: Have you ever been ‘trolled’ about your music or being a musician? If so, how did you deal with that and what advice can you offer others in dealing with such online abuse?
ER: Yes, I have and the best thing to do is just to ignore it completely, hard as that might be to do sometimes.
Even blocking someone from Twitter (which I never do myself) gives the person trolling an indication that they have got to you.
The one case that sticks out in my mind is someone posting nasty comments on my “Wanna Go Out?” video, calling me egotistical and self-obsessed among other things. The irony here is that that person had actually set up a dedicated account just to troll me, which seems fairly obsessional itself.
People troll for a variety for reasons, whether that comes from jealousy, resentment or just a basic nastiness, but you just have to ignore them outright. Someone like James Blunt has got the wit and the financial security to take his Twitter trolls head on in a very amusing fashion but that is a far from ideal approach for a new artist without the backup that fame provides.
NL: Which current pop stars do you think do social media marketing well and which ones do you think could do better?
ER: The best kind of social media marketing for pop stars are those whose social media accounts that are run by the artists themselves, as it gives people an immediacy with their fans. Boy George’s Twitter account is very good, as is Madonna’s use of Instagram (which is linked to her Twitter account).
As for the ones that could do better, I suspect it is those accounts that are run by an artist’s or group’s management as it ends up being a very sterile form of engagement. Both the Pet Shop Boys’ and Human League’s accounts are obviously run on this basis and they are less satisfying as a result.
NL: Your music is very much influence by the golden age of 80s electro-pop; have you interacted with any acts of that era to promote your music?
I am very fortunate, however, to have had online public support from various celebrities who I have worked with during the course of my career in TV, for which I am grateful.
Edward’s current single, “All For You”
NL: That era of pop was characterised by a sense of daring and DIY outrage; do you think acts like Frankie Goes To Hollywood or Soft Cell would have survived as long in the age of the ‘Twitter Storm’?
ER: Good question! I think that would have depended on the intelligence and skill of the artists in question. Some people are just not suited to fame or are not offered the support that is needed once they get public exposure (such as James Arthur), but others can deal with it fine.
To tackle the question from a different angle, I think those acts that you have mentioned would have lost a lot of their mystique if they were tweeting or posting on a very regular basis [if social media had been available to them], and that would have been to their detriment.
NL: Are there any new social media platforms that you are looking forward to experimenting with to promote your music?
NL: Do you do any e-mail marketing or are your campaigns purely based on social networks?
ER: No, I don’t engage in e-mail marketing. Personally I view e-mail marketing for my own purposes to be problematic, as I don’t want to end up ‘spamming’ people.
I am much more comfortable with the voluntary engagement you get through marketing yourself on networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
NL: What elements of traditional, offline marketing do you still use to promote your music?
ER: Mainly live gigs around Cardiff and elsewhere. I am also looking to getting radio spots on local stations, which I think would be very useful in getting my music a larger audience.
NL: Currently, there seems to be a great expectation on musicians to give away tracks for free through downloads or streaming services. Is it is possible for relatively new artists like yourself to make money from your music or is it primarily a calling or passion that has to be subsidised by other mean?
ER: It is a problem.
On one hand it is easier to get my music in front of people but on the other it is hard to make money from it, certainly money on which you could live off. I would only get 2p if someone listened to my new album on Spotify rather than £5 or so I would get if they had bought it off iTunes.
For me, my music is primarily a passion and a hobby so this isn’t currently too much of an issue for me, although I would be delighted if my music was profitable in itself, especially as that would indicate that it was becoming more popular and more widely heard.
NL: If you were starting out today, what would you have done differently in regards to your marketing?
ER: I would have focused more on video from the outset; as I have already mentioned, I believe people to be primarily visual people and I think having a serviceable video makes people pay more attention to a new track than if you just uploaded it to Soundcloud.
NL: Has social media helped create a Cardiff music scene?
ER: Yes it has, and we are all very supportive of each other. What’s holding back the music scene here in Cardiff is a lack of mid-sized venues.
You either have bars or pubs to play in or you have the Motorpoint Arena and the Millennium Stadium; there’s nothing in-between, and that affects the type of act that the city can attract as well as being limiting to Cardiff acts whose popularity is growing.