Many new artists ask the simple question – where do I start? With the music industry moving so quickly, it can be hard to keep up and know how not to waste precious time. In my opinion, the key lies with press. Before the internet’s impact on the music business, the main route for seeking new fans and industry interest was by playing live. The live sector is now even more lucrative than recorded music sales, but is rarely the best starting point for new artists in 2015.
In large cities such as London or New York, there are any number of concerts taking place every night of the week. So how do you ensure people go to see your show? This is where press publicity comes into play. Music PR, press publicity, whatever you want to call it, is simply the process of advertising your music to the public. Blogs and online radio tend to be the first places to champion new artists. Artists usually hire a PR company to help publicise their music but if you cannot yet afford to hire PR services, you can make a start by yourself.
Before we get started, remember the number one rule – You will not always get a result. Don’t take this personally. Often your email may not even be read amongst the hundreds of emails blogs receive every day. A result can often come after some follow-up emails.
1. Who to contact?
Firstly, make sure you are emailing blogs that fit your style of music. A simple Google search will help get you started – such as ‘Synthpop blog’ or ‘Best rock blogs’. One major benefit of hiring PR is they will already have a well-established list of appropriate blogs and relationships with those bloggers but, again, you can still begin the process by yourself.
Bloggers like to feel you have taken time and approached them specifically, so be sure to read their individual music submission guidelines and avoid mass emails. Sometimes the submission guidelines can be a little pompous, but it is best to play ball. Take time to craft each individual email, address them by name, and even casually mention a post of theirs that you enjoyed. Yes, this is time-consuming but an hour or two of work in this way will significantly raise your chances of being reviewed. It will make the pitch more personal and make you look like you’re taking this seriously.
2. What to email to them?
A well-structured email to bloggers will heavily increase your chances should your email be read. It is best to keep subject lines simple and descriptive. If you are approaching Indie Shuffle about the new release of your band The Whatevers, then try something like ‘Indie Shuffle – The Whatevers’ or ‘The Whatevers – New Release’. Avoid caps lock, and the term “Press release” in the subject line.
For the body of the email, keep it personalised; for example, starting with ‘Hi John’. Then, most importantly, keep it to the point. Your main body should generally be no more than four-five sentences. Say who you are, why you’re getting in touch, and what you would like. Next part of the email is the more detailed ‘press release’ part. Avoid attaching this, as there is a better chance of being reviewed should it be written within the email and below the signature line of the main body. The press release should include a hi-res photo/artwork (again, within the email and not attached), and one or two paragraphs about your “story”. Tell them if you have a release coming out, if you’re a group or a one-person act, if you produce or play instruments, share the story behind your song or list some similar sounding artists. Once you start getting some press recognition, be sure to include that also – interest breeds interest so mention who is already supporting you. And be honest.
Lastly, if your email has engaged enough, the blogger will want to listen to some of your actual music. Always, always, always include links rather than attaching mp3 files. So clearly show your Soundcloud link (to your best song), your Facebook page, your Twitter handle and your main website domain.
3. What can I do once the mail is sent?
Well, once that bad boy of an email is let loose, it’s not a bad idea to jump over to Twitter and follow your target blog on there, even the individual bloggers should you know their handles. This can help your name be recognisable when they see it in their inbox. Follow-up emails are also standard practice. Don’t worry if you step on a few toes, just try and be respectful when it comes to these. They should be appropriately worded, possibly using terms such as ‘friendly reminder’, and well spaced out. To email a publication every day may be seen as pestering, but if you leave a week to ten days between email approaches, this is usually seen as respecting the publication’s time and workload.
Remember, even if you follow all these directions and spend hours a day submitting your music to blogs, there’s still a chance you won’t get posted. Don’t let it get to you, there could be any number of reasons as to why – and even if it is a case where they just didn’t like your music, so what? Music is subjective and you can’t please everyone. Shake it off and move on to the next batch of emails. Persistence will pay off, and once you have a blog post written about your music, don’t forget to be polite and to thank the blogger for their time. So there you go, all you need to know to get some attention for your music and get your career up and running.
Raised By Wolves is a London-based music PR firm, representing clients such as Antix, CJ Reardon, and Lift-Off International Film Festivals.