Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Spread the Word -- and the Music -- Using Social Media

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm an independent recording artist, and I need to hire a publicist to help get word out about my project. I was informed that it would cost $500 to $1,000 a month to hire a good publicist. I realize that I am not able to afford a publicist at this time. Can you suggest some cost-effective ways to get my music out to the masses? -- A Dollar and a Dream, Chicago

DEAR A DOLLAR AND A DREAM: First, I want to tell you that many publicists are much more expensive than the prices you were quoted. So, yes, a publicist is a real expense that you will likely need at some point. Until you can afford one, use social media to promote yourself.

Become a regular content provider on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and other places where you can post images, videos and music samples. Make fliers that can be sent out virtually or printed and handed out physically.

Wherever you go, carry CDs that you can give away for promotional purposes. Sell them whenever you can, but be prepared to also give them away to build the buzz about your brand.

Read books about marketing and promotions to help you develop your strategy. When you do hire a publicist, you will have expertise to bring to the table about how your music appeals to particular audiences.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter talks on her cellphone nonstop, and it's driving me crazy. I purchased an unlimited cellphone plan for my family, which consists of my husband, my daughter and me. I made the mistake of telling her that she has unlimited talking and texting on her cellphone. My daughter has not stopped talking since I informed her of the change. Help me, Harriette. -- Family Business, Newark, N.J.

DEAR FAMILY BUSINESS: I hear a chorus of parents chiming in on this one!

Before cellphones, teenagers talked on landlines all the time. Social activities and relationships dominate the teen years, so what you are describing is not unusual in any way.

That doesn't mean you can't enforce rules on phone use. Some families require that cellphones be put in a basket at the front door when family members come home. That reduces distractions from people outside of your house, and family members theoretically have more time to connect with one another -- although in the age of the Internet, people can definitely communicate without a phone.

Your goal is to carve out time for family interactions that are interesting enough that your teen will want to spend a little time with you. It's easier said than done, I know. But if you plan activities that you think your daughter will consider fun, you stand a chance of getting her to pause the cellphone usage at least a bit.