Most musicians want their music heard, and hiring a publicist can be a great way of getting the word out. Unfortunately, publicists are also expensive, and not always affordable on a DIY budget. Here we walk through a five-step guide on how to be your own PR agent.
Guest post by Angela Mastrogiacomo of the ReverbNation Blog
There’s no worse feeling than pouring a ton of time, energy, and money into a musical project that no one ever sees. Unfortunately, this is something that far too many musicians have experienced. As a publicist and blogger myself, my first recommendation is always to budget for a publicist when you’re outlining your release plan. Publicists aren’t cheap, but there’s a reason for that: they’ve spent their careers building and maintaining their relationships, honing their writing and pitching skills, and identifying the best stories and angles for each and every artist.
It’s no easy task, as you’re about to learn. But if you have a shoestring budget and simply can’t afford to hire a publicist right now, take a look at this DIY PR guide and learn how to get your next release the blog coverage it deserves.
5 Steps to Getting Music Blog Coverage
1. Make sure you have something new to promote
This one is critical. If you don’t have a new piece of content to promote, securing coverage is going to be incredibly difficult. Because blogs receive hundreds of emails a day, it’s imperative that yours stands out not only in your pitch and quality of material, but that the material is relevant.
If it’s a new album or EP you’re looking to promote, you’ll want to give yourself at least eight weeks of lead time, meaning you’ll want to start pitching exclusives and sending your music to blogs that far in advance. Once the album is already released, it becomes much more difficult to secure coverage. For a single or video, give yourself a few weeks to secure a premiere, then once it goes live, you can get to work sending it to press.
Trust me on this—you don’t want to just blindly email 50 outlets and hope that one of them sticks. It won’t work. It has never worked, and you will not be the exception.
The key to success is targeting. Take the time to research different blogs and see what kind of music they cover and if yours is a fit. Be honest with yourself. If you’re primarily a country artist with just a tiny bit of rock, the rock blogs probably won’t be interested. On the other hand, if your sound is akin to Jimmy Eat World and there’s a blog that covers everything Jimmy Eat World has ever done, they’d be a great target outlet.
One of the most popular ways to find outlets to pitch is through HypeMachine. Simply type the name of an artist you sound like in the upper right search bar, and take a look at all the outlets that come up. You’ll still need to do your research to make sure those blogs still cover your genre and accept artist submissions, but it’s a great way to get started. You can also try searching on Google for emerging artists with a sound similar to yours that have had success with press, and see where they’ve been featured.
3. Build relationships offline
Relationship building is one of the most time-consuming and necessary steps in securing press, and, really, in building your career in the music industry. For better or worse, it’s an industry built off nepotism, and you need to work that to your advantage.
Although the internet is a powerful tool, one of the strongest ways to build bonds is through face-to-face interactions. This means getting out to local shows and actually talking to the other bands, friends running the merch table, people in the audience, etc. It can also mean attending local music industry meetups or starting your own. Many cities will have different options for industry meetups, but if you’re looking for a head start, Balanced Breakfast has chapters in more than 12 cities.
The goal in all of this is to make yourself seen and put yourself in the position to meet people by continuing to show up. Most seasoned musicians will tell you that when they go to the same event week after week—an open mic, a local indie night, etc.—they tend to see the same faces, and it creates a natural clique and bond.
When the same people continue to drag themselves out to the same events every week, it’s usually a signal that they’re serious about what they do and heavily involved in the music scene—and those are exactly the kind of people you want to meet.
4. Build relationships online
Although in-person meetings are among the strongest ways to form relationships, there’s something to be said for the power of online networking.
Twitter and Instagram are both great ways to maintain relationships by interacting with current connections, or those you’d like to be more connected to. But if you’re starting fresh and looking to meet people for the first time, Facebook groups are one of my personal favorites. There are so many great ones out there that foster strong relationships and introduce you to like-minded people.
Like with meetups, you’re bound to find a few musician and industry groups specific to your city, which can be a great way to connect with your local music community. If you’d like to connect with artists and industry people across the globe, though, one of my favorite groups is the Music Launch Hub. It provides a truly supportive community to connect, learn, and share.
5. Craft the perfect pitch
So you’ve built your relationships, done your research, and now you’re ready to craft your pitch. Take your time with this, and always remember to do a double (if not, triple) read through before sending. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, as they say.
The most important thing to remember here is to keep it personal. Just like you can’t blindly email 50 blogs and hope one of them covers your genre of music, you can’t blindly email a blog with a generic copy-and-paste format and expect them to care.
Whenever possible, take the time to find the email of a specific person (preferably a writer who has covered a band you sound like or a genre you’re in), and then address them by name. “Hey Angela” gets my attention much more than “Hey” (or even worse, a misspelling like “Hey Angelina”). From there, take a sentence or two to compliment them on their work, and let them know you took the time to really check out what they do. After all, if you don’t take the time to care about what they pour their heart into, why should they care about what you pour yours into?
Each blog will have different submission guidelines, so it’s important to always look for those. However, as a rule of thumb, you’ll want to include a link to your music, (SoundCloud private stream is a great way to link to unreleased content for a premiere offer), your electronic press kit (bio, press photos, album download), and your social media pages. Keep it personal, but short and to the point: who you are, where you’re from, who you sound like, and what you’re looking for.
It’s an arduous process, but I promise you that if you can perfect this skill and continuously work towards building and maintaining relationships, your press coverage – and your music career – will flourish.