I know what you're thinking: Blogs are so 2005.
It's true, blogs were a big deal back in the day. But they still are – you just don’t know it.
Believe it or not, as a musician, you need blogs. They are the lifeblood of many artists' careers, and one of the most effective ways for independent musicians to grow their online reach.
So what exactly is a blog?
Nearly every regularly updated media website is a blog! The 10-years-younger version of yourself still thinks it's place where stay-at-home moms write product reviews of diapers, pasta sauce, and their coupon-cutting experiences.
But a blog is simply a consistently updated website where information is provided in chronological order and more recent posts appear on top. Your favorite print magazine keeps you the reader engaged between issues by creating regular online content. That’s blogging. This is a blog. These days, the average website is just a glorified blog.
Blogs come in all shapes and sizes, but here are the 4 main formats (some cross over into other categories)
Genre based: Music, sports, foodie, entertainment, pets, daily news blogs.
Example: Buzzfeed, Sports Illustrated
Content based: Video blogs (vlog), audio (song of the day), interviews, reviews.
Example: Ted Talks, NPR's All things Considered
note: a lot of audio blogs that archive their content online are usually podcasts.
Location: City-based blog (a blog about your city's attractions, events, etc.)
Example: Humans of New York
Company-related: companies will often blog to help connect their customers to their brand.
Example: Southwest, Whole Foods, Starbucks
Why you should promote your music to bloggers
1. Exposure: Promoting your music to bloggers is your ticket to exposure. While some blogs are younger and have fewer readers, others have a much wider reach. Either way, you are making new fans who haven't previously heard of your music. You can only go up!
2. Disclosure: Fans don’t actually know a lot about the artists they love. But interviews give them a deeper look into the life, work, and personality of their favorite artists. Each interview you do is a new opportunity to share a bit of yourself that may not be common knowledge. Committed fans love stuff like this!
3. New Content: It can often be hard for musicians to find new material to update their website with. The occasional new interview, review, show preview, or blurb not only keeps your site and press kit fresh, but gives the impression that you are an active musician who is sought after by press.
[The 8 things that should be in every band's digital press kit]
4. Shelf Life: You never know when a new fan will come across a blog post from 2 years ago. It happens all the time. Blogs are great because usually content can be archived and stumbled upon.
How to find blogs that will review your music
Roll your sleeves up, because doing your research takes some serious elbow grease.
1. Search comparable artists: Determine what genre you best fit into and Google a similarly styled artist who has been around the block a few times. For example if you play off-center quirky emotional electro pop, you might want to Google Sufjan Stevens. Stevens is an artist who is still fairly off the radar as far as mainstream music goes, so it's very likely a publication that reviews his music would review indie artists.
2. Read the blogs submission guidelines: Do it! If they aren’t covering pop music right now, and you are a pop artist, you should know you're wasting your time. If you're required to stick your name and album title in the Subject line but you don’t do it, that’s another strike. Submissions guidelines are absolutely a must-read!
3. Know what the blogger writes: If John Doe reviews a Sufjan Stevens album and you want him to review yours too, take some time to check out his other reviews. Find a few common threads and facts that will help you pitch yourself better. For example, maybe John Doe only reviews artists with weird names. Or maybe he only reviews artists when they are touring through his city. Knowing a little bit about who you're emailing will help you exponentially!
How to pitch yourself to a blogger
Rules of thumb: It is absolutely essential to remember that content is king. The simpler the better. Be courteous, professional, get your point across, be specific and don’t be wordy. Know what you want. Are you asking for an interview, review, show preview, feature of your new music video on their website, or something else?
Things to include in your email:
A detailed subject line: It’s the first thing they see. Make it count!
Intro paragraph: Show that you have knowledge of the blog(ger) by referencing some his/her/their past write-ups. This shows you did your research.
Describe your music: This is your elevator pitch. Clearly liken yourself to a few other artists and give them a reason to want to check your music out further.
Brag a Little…just a little: If you’ve opened for Sara Barielles, had a review on NPR, or done something that will get your foot in the door, stick it in there. Everything helps!
Links: link to where they can to hear your music, link to your bio, and link to your website.
- The Correct Email Address: Before you press send, make sure you have the correct email address! This is by far the trickiest part. Some blogs purposely hide their contact information to limit incoming requests. Others just make it harder to find. Do some digging and make sure your emails are going to right place.
Things NOT to include in your email:
No Attachments: Don’t attach mp3s, pdf, or anything else. Music bloggers hate attachments. Give them a link to your press kit page on your website. We're in the age of music streaming so you get the point.
Boringness: Don’t tell them your life story. Depending on how large the blog is, they are probably getting a massive number of pitches in their inbox every day. They don’t have time to read your memoir.
How to follow up with a music blog
Waiting is the worst part. Sometimes a blogger’s silence is because they can't dig through all the emails in their inbox and haven’t gotten to yours yet. Sometimes it's because you didn’t send it to the right email. And sometimes it's because they don’t like your music – plain and simple. So here's how you follow up.
1. Give it a few weeks: First things first, put at least 2 weeks between emails. Give them time to decide if they want to cover you and how they will work you into their editorial calendar.
2. Be nice: Don’t send an angry email b/c they didn’t get back to you. Be polite, include the original email in your message, and simply write a 1-2 line email saying you are following up on your initial message.
3. Acknowledge their work: One of my favorite things to write in my email is, ''I know you get so many of these emails every day, so even if I don’t hear back, thank you for taking the time to read this one.'
What to do when you get featured on a music blog
1. Add it to your website: Add it to your press page, your press kit, your homepage, etc. Just make sure it's visible.
2. Share on social media: You will always get the most feedback on social media – especially Facebook.
3. Thank the Blog(ger): Send a quick message thanking them for their time. If it’s a well-crafted feature, compliment the writer on a well-written article.
4. Use it!: Use the blog review or interview to get you your next one! A write-up on a decent blog can open a lot of doors. A good feature on a prestigious blog can do even more!
No matter what you do, don't give up! It might seem pointless to reach out to 20 blogs only to hear back from 1, but everything counts and the more media coverage you get, the more will come. Good luck!
Joy Ike is a full-time singer/songwriter based out of Philadelphia, PA. She is also the founder and primary writer for Grassrootsy, one of the most-read music business blogs on the internet. She believes the greatest tragedy in the world is having a talent and keeping it to yourself.
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