This site is a blog for musicians and music industry people. It is a free educational resource and it is also the way I advertise my music consulting services. I am an entertainment professional with deep roots in the music industry. Throughout my music career I have been a major label A&R representative, a music supervisor, an artist manager, a reality show producer, a bass player and the head of a digital record label.
Posts Tagged ‘getting press for your music’
Julia Rogers is the Editor in Chief of MusicianCoaching.com. She is a classically-trained musician, published author, journalist and music writer. She also writes about business strategy, social media and emerging technology for corporate clients, including The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and American Express. She was previously a grant writer and development/marketing strategist for several New York City-based non-profit Arts organizations and has written business development materials and produced online media for a variety of small technology companies. As a songwriter, cellist, bassist, singer and pianist, Julia plays out regularly in New York City in various original projects. She has been working with MusicianCoaching.com since 2009.
Because I write so many bios for “DIY” artists, I invest a lot of my time helping people discover how to tell their compelling stories and define the specific qualities of their music and personalities that make each of them different from every other musician out there. Something interesting I have realized as I take people through the challenging self-discovery process is that a lot of artists, at all stages of their careers share a common issue: They are reluctant to celebrate their accomplishments. And they often feel uncomfortable announcing even the major milestones – like EP releases, show and tour announcements, notable press interviews, etc. – that are the product of their hard work as they invest in their growth and development.
Part of this mental and emotional block artists experience is based on crises of confidence that are understandable given the saturation of the modern music market and the fact that the world trains all of us (thankfully) to be modest and realistic about our place in it: “Why is what I do important when there are so many other people basically doing the same thing?” But as someone who aspires to truly make a living making music, the pull to avoid inviting fans and potential fans to applaud your successes and join you on your long and winding journey is also the result of simply not knowing which of your plot twists are newsworthy.
Last year, I wrote an article about how musicians can get the attention of music journalists writing for blogs, magazines, journals and other publications and inspire them to invest in the story of their on-going evolution. Despite all the wonderful online free marketing and PR tools that are available to you as an artist and all the chances you have to engage meaningfully with the press and your fans, sometimes when you have a major milestone to announce in your career, you need a formal press release.
Even if you are not reluctant to announce your accomplishments and are sharing your story on a regular basis through Facebook, Twitter and email newsletters, as well as through your music and compelling live shows, sometimes all this engagement is not enough. As I have repeated many times to artists I work with and in the articles I have written about communication and marketing, just throwing some tracks up on Facebook, expressing your excitement on Twitter about a track you recorded or emailing your mp3s to someone at Pitchfork with a subject line that basically begs an editor, “Listen to my music” will not make you the darling of blogs, podcasts, online music communities, music websites and magazines … nor will it get you to Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall or the Grammys. And, yes, you really do need to go beyond your current fan base and get the attention of media “influencers” in order to forge ahead successfully.
When you are managing your own career without the help of a PR firm, you must think like an entrepreneur and build marketing strategies that not only show you are a professional, but also drum up excitement about your music and your unique “You, Inc.” brand. And to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to figure out stunning ways to call attention to your bright, newsworthy items as an artist through press releases.
Once you’ve found that exciting item, shout about it! Hiring a professional, experienced press release writer to put together your announcement for you is a great way to capture the moment objectively. But when you are a self-funded music entrepreneur, hiring out is not always an option. Below are 6 tips to help you craft an eye-catching, personal press release that can act as a compliment to your on-going marketing strategy.
- Understand the purpose of a press release. A press release is a written statement to the media that announces a news item, such as a scheduled event (a live show, a record store appearance, a radio performance and interview, etc.), an award or the release of a new “product” (a single, an EP or a full-length album). Some people also use press releases as a way to generate a feature story, because writers, reporters, bloggers and other press people are more likely to consider a full-length story on a band if they first see a formal press release.Many consider press releases to be part of “old fashioned” PR strategies, but when used in conjunction with technology-based promotional strategies, a well-written press release acts as strong support for the other elements of an artist’s press kit and overall marketing campaign. It provides yet another way for you to tell your story as a musician and enrich your brand by shedding light on the fact that you are in motion, proactively putting yourself and your music out into the world and working hard to hone your craft.
- Your press release should have laser focus. The best press releases are short and to the point. The headline needs to go beyond the mundane “Artist Plays Guitar on Stage in Front of People” and provide some juicy detail without being overly clever. (Here is an example of a headline I recently wrote for a pop/country artist releasing her debut album: “Homegrown Pop Singer/Songwriter Kelly Campbell Releases Sweet Therapy EP.”) Also, the first short paragraph – the “summary” – of the most compelling press releases is not more than three sentences long. These sentences need to draw readers in and keep their eyes moving down the page while still expressing all the very specific details about what has happened or will happen.To stick to the “short and sweet” rule, only announce multiple events within the same press release if they relate directly to each other – for example, an EP release combined with an official release party or an extended regional or national tour.
- Cut the “BS.” Use real, meaningful language in your press release – not lofty, empty “BS” that you think will sound impressive – to describe your event. Using big words and industry terms, name dropping or otherwise “padding” your release to convince others that what you are doing is important is just going to make you look like an amateur.Even major PR firms – especially those that churn out a lot of press releases – can fall into the pattern of just “going through the motions” and plugging in information, forgetting that while press releases do follow a set format, there is still a lot of room for creativity and meaningful “audience” interaction within that format. The gist of the two most commonly-made announcements in press releases are “Band Releases Record” and “Band Plays Show(s).” The ability to tell an absorbing story about events that happen often in the music industry within the parameters of the press release format is certainly a challenge. But your job is to grab the attention of and provide something valuable to those that will read hundreds, if not thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of press releases in their lifetime, so you simply must.
- Freshen up your bio. Your biographical information is an incredibly important part of every press release, but resist the urge to just directly copy a section from your professional bio verbatim. (And if you do not have a professional bio, please read this article before you even think about writing a press release!) Add a few special details to your artist bio section that offer readers a new spin on you and your music. For example, if you are releasing an EP, you can provide a bit of insight into your songwriting and recording process, which will make people feel more personally connected to you and also compel them to want to buy your music, come to your live shows and interact with you.
- Gather strong press quotes. Press quotes provide essential third-party endorsement of you. Of course, you may very well be sending out a press release because no one has ever formally reviewed your music (aka, you have no quotes), and you want to get people to talk and write about you. Often a very exciting and objectively-written bio can make up for lack of quotes about your band. However, also consider reaching out to popular local bands and musicians you have collaborated with on shows or other projects and ask them to jot down a few thoughts about you and your music, or about the experience of playing with you live and then include the best one or two as quotables for your press release.
- Rally around your press release. As with anything else you put out into the world – whether new music, a new website or live performances – your press release will not magically get attention just by existing. You need to rally around it with engaging email and social media interaction. Many musicians use services like PRWeb, expecting that they will pay the fee and the press release will get read by fans and everyone else they want to reach.Services like PRWeb act as tools to help your press release filter through some of the other meaningless noise that shows up in Web searches for the type of music you play. But they cannot provide the genuinely sincere touches that you provide when you energetically write about your event on Facebook and Twitter and respond personally to the excitement of champions for your music. Even when your press release finds a permanent home on the Internet, you need to keep momentum going in the weeks prior to your notable show or album release by reaching out to your fans regularly and sending personal emails to those journalists and music industry professionals that will be thrilled to be among the first to discover you.
So, what about you is newsworthy enough to warrant a press release? The truth is, almost anything you do or that happens to you; you just have to put a spin on the happening that expresses why people should care. Of course, you are not going to formally alert the media the first time your band gets through a song without stopping, every time your band’s drummer shows up for rehearsal on time, or when you finally get more than 10 people to show up at one of your gigs. But you can and should announce anything that really gets you revved up about playing music – especially those memorable events that give fans and potential fans the opportunity to experience your excitement right alongside you.
Katie Hasty is the managing editor at HitFix.com, a consumer entertainment news site. She first got involved with the music business while in college at Northwestern University, where she wrote for a variety of entertainment periodicals, websites and trade publications including Stop Smiling, Venus Zine, Punk Planet and Kirkus Reviews. For five years, she worked at Billboard, where she was an online editor and columnist and also ran the “Now Hear This”/”Billboard Underground” section, which focused specifically on unsigned/independent/DIY artists. Throughout her 10-year career, Katie has held many different positions within the music industry including music supervisor, A&R consultant, music contest judge radio correspondent and concert promoter. She is also the main songwriter, singer and guitarist in the Brooklyn-based band Numbers and Letters.
I recently got to talk to Katie about the experience of being on both sides of the music business and what catches her attention as a music journalist when she is looking for artists to cover. She also shared some tips about what bands need to do in order to create a solid media presence and turn more people onto their music.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, Katie. How did you wind up in the music business?
I wrote about music and entertainment prior to joining the work force. I was a contributing writer and editor for magazines like Stop Smiling and Venus Zine while I was in college at Northwestern University. I knew I wanted to get into entertainment feature writing while I was in college, and I switched from being a magazine major to an online major during my last year. You didn’t have to specify one or the other, but I was convinced my life was going to be in magazines until I started taking HTML classes and also saw that there was more growth in the online market.
The very first job I got was also the very first job I ever applied and interviewed for, which was online editor for Billboard Radio Monitor. It had a couple different names at the time, but it was the radio arm of Billboard magazine. My interest in radio initially came from my dad, who worked in the radio industry for more than 30 years in Kansas City. And then that interest in commercial and non-commercial radio grew further while I was in college. I worked with Billboard Radio Monitor for about a year, and then I was bumped up to associate editor at Billboard.com in my second year. I was at Billboard for almost five years total. I also worked with Billboard magazine during that time, which obviously provided me with a very informative business perspective. And Billboard.com was purely geared towards the consumer side, so I was exposed to an even mix of two major parts of the industry.
About three and a half years into my time at Billboard, I started working on and running the “Now Hear This” section, which was the unsigned band section. It eventually became the “Billboard Underground” and had a whole video series attached to it. We concentrated on artists that had formed their own labels, self released their own music or found some other way of making money playing music on their own in an industry where that was becoming increasingly difficult. Because, as you know, you don’t just put out a CD and immediately make money off it.
I ran that section for about a year and a half and then transitioned out of Billboard. I worked for a few weeks for Michael Goldstone over at Mom and Pop Records as it was finding its feet and launching. I was working as an A&R consultant. I would go to shows, and he and I would sit down and talk about music. That was what I did in the interim between Billboard and HitFix. Doing that was just not something I could do long-term for Goldie, but it was gave me some really good insight, because I got to see what the process of starting a label looked like. It was eye opening to see what he was looking for along with the qualities artists need to have and what they need to do on the branding and business side before they even consider working with labels of any type.
Then, I moved onto HitFix. I got that job through an old professional cohort, Melinda Newman, who used to be the L.A. bureau chief for Billboard. She had been doing part-time work for HitFix writing about music, and they needed somebody to run the music section right away, so I joined them in 2009. I’ve moved from full-time freelancer to full-time employee as the company has grown. When I started working with them, there were five full-time employees, and now there are over two dozen.
And you’re also a musician and play in a band called Numbers and Letters.
Yes. It’s based off my songwriting, and I play guitar and sing. I’ve had the project for about five years. We put out an EP in 2008, and since then, we’ve been putting together a full-length album. Right now, we are finishing up mixes, and we have plans for a music video. We are going to see what kind of partnerships or other creative things can come from this record within the next few months. This summer, we’re going to start really pushing live shows, tours, etc. We toured in Scotland in October and have toured the Southeast, parts of the West and bigger cities in the Northeast like Boston and Portland. We’ve had little fits and starts.
Having a full-time job but being able to work from home is extremely flexible and very helpful when I have a creative project I really want to do something with. But then again, I still have a full-time job, so I still have to work for a certain number of hours in the day. I know other bands that aren’t committed to jobs or have part-time positions are often able to get out albums quicker or play more shows. But for us, it’s all about making sure it’s good timing for everyone. If I’m going to put out a full-length record and have any kind of support for it, I want it to be on my terms and done right.
I feel like my perspective has really been changed by my work at Billboard and with Goldie. Even as we speak, Spotify is blowing up, people are working more with Facebook, etc. How people hear music is changing on a daily basis, and I’m very much aware of it.
The reason I wanted to speak to you is because you are a musician and have also had experiences on the business side. You are someone who has been a gatekeeper and has insight as to why certain things get written about and others don’t. I have a lot of people who approach me and ask whether I do PR, which I don’t. A common statement they make is, “I want to be in Pitchfork.” And I’m not saying that Pitchfork is the Holy Grail, but it’s one of the bigger periodicals. In your opinion, how to press stories grow? How does a story get noticed by a periodical the size of Billboard or HitFix?
When you get written up on Pitchfork or by any of the bigger magazines or blogs, the results you see from that exposure vary. It may not add up to much, although it is helpful when you want a good pull quote to have accolades from certain websites or writers. The results could just depend on the day or what picks up and runs and feels viral. That has to do with who you choose as a publicist, for starters. I think there are a lot of publicists out there who base their experience on the fact that they have an impressive number of clients. But what they actually generate for those clients what you need to look at. If a publicist has 200 clients but can’t get them any traction, the publicist is making money but the artist is not.
So, part of making stories grow is getting a publicist that has a good roster and can commit to whatever your publicity cycle is, whether you want to generate excitement about an album pre release in a short period of time like two months or you want to accomplish that in three months, six months or nine months including a tour. That could end up costing a lot of money. But if your publicist has a good voice and a good rapport with writers and has people working under them or with them that are courteous and can answer questions and hit people back quickly, this can be critical.
Successful exposure starts with the publicist and the personalities you choose to work with. When it comes to getting the attention of a journalist, I know I first look at which publicists have the best roster. Then going from there, I look to see if there is a compelling story and if you can hear that story in the music and really connect the dots. I also look for emails with really succinct subject lines that find a unique but clear way to say, “Here’s the reason you’ll listen to this artist.” That reason could be, “This artist sounds like so and so, and I know you like so and so,” “This artist opened for another well-known artist,” or “This artist worked with this really important music video director.” No matter what, it has to be more interesting than, “This artist has worked really hard, and we think their songs are good.” I don’t think there’s any artist out there that won’t tell that story about themselves. I want to see a unique angle and something I haven’t seen already – something that I know people will be excited about when they hear it.
As an artist, you want to make yourself stand out. That can’t be reiterated enough.
When you were doing the “Now Hear This” section of Billboard, you were dealing with people who were really under the radar. How can artists get your attention when they can’t afford a publicist, besides just having great music?
I look at fan response. MySpace numbers obviously haven’t mattered for a long time. But you can see people’s responses to a band on Facebook and the kind of enthusiasm they generate. And this applies to artists that have publicists and those that don’t and artists that have legal representation and publishers but no other deal in place. It’s easy to pull up the fan response. Facebook is a good example of a place where you can get an immediate response. Whenever a band puts something out, you can immediately see the kind of impression they’re making.
It also has to do with pace makers outside of labels. If an artist’s music has gotten placement without having a traditional model, that means a lot. Joe Purdy and Skybox are both good examples of that. There are a lot of bands who don’t have the need for a label because they’ve been able to generate enthusiasm outside of the realm of just putting out records.
The “Now Hear This” section was always a really unique section, because it was geared specifically towards unsigned artists in a business-oriented magazine. Bands that read that section and were familiar with Billboard in general would send me really specific pitches. These pitches would be geared towards this column or towards my specific tastes and interests.
So, clearly someone who has done their homework on you and the periodical that pitched you with a reason why you might find their story compelling would get your attention.
Exactly. If your aim is Pitchfork or specific blogs that you personally read and enjoy, cater your pitch or your subject line or what you’re sending specifically towards that publication. Working at HitFix, I know I am working for one of many general consumer interest entertainment online magazines, so I don’t expect a love letter. But I do expect bands to know they shouldn’t just say, “Why don’t you do a full feature on me?” We are a news site. If you want a feature, we’re going to need some media to run along with it. There are assets that are important to me. I rarely have an hour and a half in my busy day to write up 900 words on a band I think is amazing, with no media. I’m going to need assets like an MP3 or a SoundCloud – something I can grab onto and run with.
Asset management is really important. If you’re an artist and send me a zip file full of your assets, and I’ve never heard of you, I’m not going to take time to download and put that into my iTunes to listen to it. Just send me a link to a few MP3s that I can stream. If I want the record, you need to give me an easy way to listen to it. Don’t send me the whole record in the attachment of your first email. That’s not the way I want to listen to music.
I still get tons of mailers from publicists, and I listen to about 95% of the ones I get. While I was at Billboard, I got about 100 CDs per week. Now it’s more like 30 a week. With MP3s, I’m much more prone to listening to a stream on a SoundCloud or a Facebook page than I am to download an MP3 from an email, wait for that to download and then load it into iTunes. I don’t necessarily want to give part of my hard drive to a band I don’t know. Streaming music is quick and to the point. If your music is so good, give it to me up front.
Some publicists spend more time making sure their signature is tricked out and their press page is looking awesome than they spend sending me an MP3 or a stream of their artist’s tunes: “Will you write about this artist? We didn’t include a link to their music, but, hey – they’re really well liked.”
All of us are busy. We want a tight pitch, a pitch that is specific to our site and the assets up front.
When people come to me and say, right off the bat, “I want to get written up in Rolling Stone/Billboard/Pitchfork,” I usually say they should start with more entry-level blogs to get pull quotes and then work their way up. And I might be wrong. Is there a snowball effect?
Absolutely. People at Pitchfork and other major periodicals and sites are taste makers in their space. It’s their job to stay informed. And they do sometimes pull artists out of thin air. I think it’s easier to pitch the small sites, not because they have nothing better to do, but because they might have specific interest in your particular type of music. When you start small, there is a stronger possibility you will have an intimate interaction with the actual blogger him/herself. And it’s also easier to get that contact information. A lot of bigger websites that don’t run the emails of the editors themselves – HitFix included.
And, like you said earlier, Pitchfork isn’t the Holy Grail, but it can help determine the difference between a Kanye West and a band that is totally unsigned and just has a lot of buzz. People started writing about Lana Del Rey last summer, and then there was just a groundswell; very organic enthusiasm grew. If a few websites start screaming about an artist that they like, the bigger websites are going to pay attention.
From your perspective as a performing musician, is there anything you’ve learned about playing around a major city like New York and putting together tours that you wish you’d known when you first started?
I’ve been a performing musician and a professional music writer at the same time for the past five years, and I know you can often get silence from the other end, whether you’re not getting the turnout you want at a show or aren’t getting someone to email you back. But you shouldn’t take that too personally. Silence on the other end does not mean rejection. Having a lower turnout than expected does not mean people don’t like you.
As a critic, a writer and a music fan, there’s just so much out there and so much saturation, especially in the New York market. There are 20,000 people screaming for your attention. And just because things are tough here doesn’t mean that your creation has been rejected. It’s about plugging away at your craft, being persistent and having total faith in the material.
You should also be aware of the saturation. In New York and other large markets, you have to keep a level head and keep moderated expectations because of that saturation. I was recently watching that new NBC show Smash. Everyone who wants to move to New York and perform on Broadway has to know it’s going to be hard as hell, and it’s the same with the music market here. I and a lot of other New York City-based artists could go and move to a small city in the U.S. or even overseas and be a superstar in that city. It’s going to be a lot harder in a bigger city, and you’re going to be surrounded by a lot more pressure to succeed.
It’s about making what you have as good as it can be – making sure that every song, every performance and every bit of press is you and the very best version of you. Because there are a lot of labels, fans and people who love music enough to call, “Bullshit” on something that is not worth their time. In New York, L.A. or Austin, just being okay isn’t going to fly. For example, you might have great songs but no presence. You just have to work a little bit harder.
But on the other hand, I think the difficulty of getting heard here is why people, myself included, enjoy the energy around here. I like the energy of people who are making creative works and succeeding. That is a reminder that there is a possibility for my work to be accepted and to be passed on to other people by fans who love Americana, alt-country or folk music. It’s about finding an audience in a huge population. They’re there. You just have to find them.
To learn more about Katie Hasty and the music writing work she does, visit the HitFix.com website.
Welcome back from the 4th of July weekend, everyone.
The following article is a guest post by Julia L. Rogers. Julia has been helping me behind the scenes at MusicianCoaching.com for quite some time now. She is a classically-trained musician, a published author and a contributing music writer at Bitch magazine. Julia plays out regularly in New York City in various original projects and writes about business strategy, social media and emerging technology for corporate clients ranging from AOL Small Business to American Express.
Part of being a DIY artist is marketing yourself like an entrepreneur or small business owner: You’re presenting the brand of “You, Inc.,” comprised of all the unique things about your music and you as an artist. And while putting some tracks up on social media platforms like Facebook and Myspace or on your own website is an important part of your larger portfolio of marketing tactics, you can’t just leave it at that and hope that someone will eventually stumble across you.
A very important part of your PR campaign as a DIY artist is presenting yourself well to blogs, podcasts, online music communities, music websites and magazines. It’s a given that if you’re at the stage where you’re ready to approach the press about your music, you should have at least two things: a professional-sounding collection of your songs – whether that is in the form of an LP or a full-length album – that represents you at your best; tangible proof that you are playing whenever and wherever possible, working hard at providing an engaging experience for your fan base – who essentially act as your paying “clients,” buying albums and coming to your shows – and to turn new people onto your music. Assuming you have both those things going for you, what comes next?
In the Digital Age, where almost everything you need to know about your brand can live conveniently online, a lot revolves around email. A well-crafted email can land you and your band more free advertising than you could ever afford (which is incredibly important, especially if you really are paving the road of your music career entirely by yourself). However, a bad one will end up in the “Deleted Items” folder, often before even one note of one song hits a single ear.
You don’t necessarily have to be a highly-trained writer or even a great natural marketer to put together an attention-getting email; neither of these skills is typically the #1 strength of most musicians. But if you’re serious about making music your career, you do have to approach the media thoughtfully and professionally and think like a business owner whenever you’re presenting yourself and your music. The following are five tips to think about before (long before!) you hit “send” on that next email.
#1: Have a clear grasp on your story. You love your music and you think people should hear it. But you have to think of yourself like any other company or brand: In order to get people to tune into you, you must have a good handle on your story and mission statement as an artist and be able to persuade potential fans with very short attention spans why they should love your music too. “I’ve been passionate about music ever since I was five and I like to write songs” or “I grew up watching MTV and know my music is better than what I’ve seen on there” isn’t going to cut it; these statements encapsulate an almost immeasurable number of artists or ”musicians’ brands” out there.
Instead, think about which unique qualities sets the story of how you came into music apart from the story of every other person that has ever played music. Perhaps you were raised by circus performers who were hip hop fans, which led you to develop an interest in learning how to play the accordion and writing clown-themed raps (though don’t worry — you probably don’t have to be quite that “different” to stand out!). Even if you are just a guitar-driven indie rock band or a traditional singer/songwriter, think about the personal experiences that have led you to pursue music and how that comes through in what you do. Then write that story out … in no more than three sentences. People with the power to write about and recommend your music to others often get hundreds of emails daily, and they will tune out if you don’t get to the point quickly. If they want to know more, they will ask. After you write down your short story – in the business/entrepreneurial world, they call it your “elevator pitch” – repeat it over and over to yourself, so you can rattle it off when someone asks you and relay it in every email you send to someone you think should be listening to your music, along with a direct link to some songs.
#2: Keep it local. When you’re deciding which media outlets to contact about your music, start with those that write about musicians and events that are located near you. If you’re at the beginning of your career – and especially if you’re at a point where you’re just starting to see a few more people than your four closest friends and your mom regularly at your shows – you need to focus on getting attention in your home city/local area. In the beginning, reaching out to people that can actually come out to see you play, understand where you come from and interact with you personally is an important part of establishing personal relationships with current and future fans. And the closer they feel to you, the more likely they will be to recommend you to friends and the more often all of them will want to download/buy your music, buy your t-shirts or come to see you perform.
#3: Do focused research. As a DIY artist, there’s nothing that can waste your precious PR time – or suck more time away from your top priority, which is writing and playing great music – more than blindly sending out “listen to my music” emails to every person on the planet who listens to music. Still, a lot of bands do just that, thinking that indiscriminately casting a wide net will increase the odds that someone will respond. Think of it this way – if you didn’t own a house, would you like to get repeated, unsolicited emails about homeowners’ insurance? If you front a country band and you randomly email bloggers that write exclusively about heavy metal bands or someone that runs a steampunk zine begging them to listen to your music, you’re essentially committing the same crime of irrelevancy, and you could even be building a bad reputation for yourself as a thoughtless spammer.
Thanks to Google, it’s quick and painless to search for the media outlets that regularly talk about the exact type of music you play and to find the people that might even actually be excited to hear from you, which can up the rate of positive response to your emails significantly. Along those same lines, know which type of outlet you’re emailing before you send so you can set realistic expectations about the response you might get. A blog, a newspaper and a magazine all take very different approaches when it comes to writing about and talking to artists. Also, before you start to send emails, make a list of sources. You can add to and subtract from that list as you go along.
#4: Send personalized emails. Once you’ve made a list of media outlets to email – even if that list is long – resist the temptation to send a form letter. Take the time to craft each email separately and include a few personalized details you’ve learned through your research about the person/publication/source in question. If you are sticking to the “short and sweet” rule of emailing, this level of detail shouldn’t take too long to add, and it will show the person on the other end that you’re legitimately interested in their feedback and are serious about your career.
Secondly, the community of journalists and bloggers that write about music tend to know each other, especially if they write for the same publication or about the same types of music. This means they talk to each other about the music – and any communication – they receive from artists. If you send the exact email to ten different people, you risk, at best, depersonalizing the professional relationship you could have had with a journalist or blogger that could’ve potentially helped you connect with a huge number of new fans. At worst, the people you email will spread a negative word about you to those in their network, which will likely decrease your chances of getting written up elsewhere.
#5: Don’t send more than two emails. Along the same lines as “keep it short and sweet,” when you’re trying to get people to write and talk about your music, limit yourself to two emails: an email with links and a follow-up email, sent at a later date. That’s it. Period. As previously mentioned, people writing about music hear from a lot of artists on a daily basis. And the best journalists and bloggers – those that truly care about what they do and have a legitimate love of music – are going to actually take the time to thoughtfully read and listen to almost every email and music link they get. You’re not going to get a “yes” or “no” right away, so you need to be patient. At best you can expect to get a quick “Thanks for sending this! I’ll listen to it within [insert specific time frame here] and get back to you.” If that happens, wait the amount of time the person specified and then send a quick follow-up a few days after that time has expired. If you get no response to your initial email – which, frankly, quite often happens – wait at least a week and then send a follow up. In either case, if you don’t hear back after your second email, end it there and move on.
As you think about the process of sending emails to the press about your unique artist brand, think about the last time you heard a music journalist say, “I love this new band I’ve never heard of. All they had to do was send me a link to a free download of their album, and I was sold!” Likely, you can’t, because that’s probably never happened. The truth is, most bloggers and music journalists have little to no direct interest in helping you and your band reach the next level; they’re looking for good music that their loyal readers will like. In order to get the attention of music journalists and get the word out about your music, you need to provide compelling reasons for music lovers to listen and fall in love with you. And if you can create that magnetic pull to your “creative products” (your music!) through all your marketing tactics, you will continue to add to your roster of “loyal customers” (your fans!).
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