Are you a band or musician? Would you like someone, anyone, to write about your music? Here is some advice.
(Note: This is for bands working D.I.Y. It is not a guide to finding a manager, a label or a publicist, though those are potentially worthwhile things and I would look for them in that order. All of this information is generally applicable regardless. Update, Jan. 2013: probably get a publicist first.)
1) Who You Should Send It To:
You should start with blogs and online publications. What kind of music do you play? Look on Hypem.com to see what blogs have posted about bands who you like or are similar to. Those sites should have email addresses on their page. Then look at those sites’ blogrolls and get the emails of their friends. This is worth investing a weekend or two on — there are thousands of blogs and surely 10 or 20 or 100 will be interested in your music. And once you have the email list, you can use it forever.
A quick guide to bigger/influential sites, if you’re totally unaware: NPR, Pitchfork, Stereogum, the Fader, Spinner, Paste. Rolling Stone, Spin, Billboard, MTV (Buzzworthy, Hive) and other print publications’ sites all do MP3 and video premieres all the time from emerging bands.
2) How You Should Send It:
Your email should have two music links: one to a place where writers/bloggers can stream the music, and one to where they can download it. You can do both through Soundcloud or Bandcamp. Soundcloud will let you set up private streams if you don’t want the world stumbling into it. You can also just upload the album to Dropbox or a service like Mediafire for downloading purposes. Don’t worry about it leaking — what’s the worst that could happen, people will listen to your music and tell their friends about it? Your MP3s should be high quality - at least 192 kbps. You want people to actually hear what your music sounds like, right? Anyone who still wants smaller files is blogging from their mom’s 2003 Dell desktop.
As Mark suggests, label your MP3s — both the ID3 data and the files themselves. An MP3 file itself should look something like [Band Name] - 01 - [Song Name]. Once you put it into iTunes, it shouldn’t look like “Unknown Artist - Rough Mix #4.”
Don’t send an attachment. Everyone hates attachments.
On your band website, you should have a press section that includes a bio, a listing of band members and what they play and hi-res photos of the band and the album cover. (As a photographer, I’d encourage you to include the photo credit and show some respect to your fellow artists. This is the No. 1 thing I have to ask bands and publicists for because it’s generally forgotten about.) Put a link to this stuff in your email, too.
Don’t have a band website? Set one up. Tumblr is the easiest place to do that. Set up pages (not blog posts) for this info so it’s easily accessible from the homepage.
3) What Your Email Should Look Like:
Make the first email and the follow-up personal. This is your career we’re talking about — you have time to spend a weekend and not send out a shitty email blast. Here’s the email we’re generally looking for:
We’re [Name], a [genre] band from [location]. Our debut album, [Name], is due [date]. We’ve been compared to [really good band] and [really good band] by [other blog], which called us [a really nice quote].
Here are links to download and stream the album and the promo MP3, which you can post on your site. You can find a bio, photos and more info on our website.
See? That’s not so bad. For future email announcements - a new video, a tour announcement - you don’t necessarily have to send the personal email and can just blast your mailing list instead, but it’s worth the initial investment. If you’re going to send a mass email, BCC the addresses or use a list manager like Mailchimp.
Wait a week to follow up on your first email. If you don’t hear back after that, it’s probably best to move on. Many writers will delete your email without reading it. Don’t take it personally.
4) Exclusives and Premieres:
Bloggers (and bigger publications) love these because it helps us get more attention (which helps you get more attention). Offer them to reward the bloggers who have been the biggest supporters of the band or as an added incentive for Stereogum or Spin to write about you. Once it gets posted, send it out to everybody else, but don’t be that jerk who makes people click over to Pitchfork to download the new MP3. We hate doing that.
Related: if a blog is supporting you, support them back! Retweet their post about you, put it on your Facebook, shoot them a nice email. We’re all in this together.
5) How To Get Into Print and Post-Blog Publications / Please Have a Release Date:
At some point, you probably want a site or magazine with more of a mainstream audience to write a serious review of your music instead of just posting your tracks on their Tumblr. Getting blog buzz first will make this easier. But the No. 1 thing that actually makes it easier: have a release date. Many bands are slipping through the cracks because they post their albums on their sites or Bandcamp and say “It’s out!” While this is great for you and your fans, it means that record will never get written up by Spin. So put it out on Bandcamp and call it a “digital” or “soft” release if you want and set an official date for a few months down the line.
Here’s why: Print (and many web!) publications still make plans months in advance. You need to get your material to writers and editors before that so they can even have you to consider when they start making plans. You don’t have to make the release date public — but you do need to tell people at Rolling Stone or even eMusic about it very early or their schedule’s going to be full. This affects how you’re considered for year-end lists (you won’t be), getting on Metacritic, all that good stuff.
6) Should I Release A Single? An EP? An Album?
You’re on your own here, but a nice cycle of single-video-single-stupid blog remix/cover song-video-EP or album release-tour-video seems to work pretty well for the average band. You want to generate as much life and attention for your product as you can — videos are a great, cheap way to do that, as is putting out another free MP3, but of course there’s no better megaphone than getting on tour. Use the Internet to figure out where you have actual fans before you load up the van.
7) Touring Advice
Get local blogs to sponsor your shows. They probably won’t want any money, just press tickets to the gig. We’re great promoters and it’s a win-win for everybody.
8) Don’t Suck
This should probably be No. 1, but make sure your music isn’t stupid amateur bullshit. How long have you been playing that eBay synthesizer? A month? Maybe wait until after sophomore year to start emailing Stereogum about your visionary bedroom recordings. Punk rock says anyone can play music: it didn’t say that everyone should try to be as bad at it as possible. Minor Threat used to rehearse like 8 hours a day. Please don’t be that band who has never played a show before, gets Internet famous and then has to learn how to perform before you embarrass yourself at SXSW and ruin your career.
9) Have A Silly Backstory, If You Can:
Don’t force the issue here, but Bon Iver is still “That guy who made a record in a cabin.” The White Stripes are still “That band who dresses in red and were married or related or something.” Writers like a hook. It makes it easier for us to tell people about your music instead of just saying, “It’s really good, check it out!” But please don’t be something you’re not (or hide behind a gimmick if your music is stupid amateur bullshit).
10) You’re on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr, right?
It’s nice to have other people write about you but you want your fans (and your future fans) to be able to connect directly with you. This is how you can get them to give you money or give a shit that you’re playing a show next week. No need to spend hours on this stuff, just take 10 minutes a day or a half-hour a week and update your feeds. Be yourself. Have fun. Write about your cat.
11) Be Aware That This Stuff May Not Work Out
Blog buzz sometimes translates to getting signed or being able to tour or getting into a Honda commercial or an episode of Gossip Girl. But a lot of the time, it doesn’t, and it’s probably not your fault: music trends and what’s “cool” is totally arbitrary and if Krautrock’s not in this year, your Kraftwerk tribute 7” might not sell out its first pressing. On the other hand, making art you believe in is its own reward, right? Right? Probably?
- bluegrass-state-dudecore reblogged this from rawkblog
- lipsticklumberjack likes this
- theswissalternative likes this
- gointojackson likes this
- manlivesinafield likes this
- tramaynewilliams reblogged this from rawkblog
- wolfpartyjoe likes this
- busdaphunk reblogged this from rawkblog
- nativerosesuk likes this
- hoorayforandrew likes this
- problemsoffreedomandknowledge reblogged this from rawkblog
- problemsoffreedomandknowledge likes this
- thebestsongseverwritten reblogged this from rawkblog
- commencethewinning likes this
- jimstrange likes this
- sewfarsewgood likes this
- borayork likes this
- sethfreeman reblogged this from rawkblog
- sullivanjordan likes this
- readingtime reblogged this from rawkblog
- languageofshapes likes this
- lumberjackcincy reblogged this from rawkblog
- soundscapebutterfly likes this
- moneloveonelifej reblogged this from rawkblog
- latearrivalsclub likes this
- lowclasshifi likes this
- matthewmcvickar likes this
- shan-music likes this
- retroberry likes this
- littlebluhouse likes this
- zooropstuck-station likes this
- chefgoldblum likes this
- tycal likes this
- musictouristboard likes this
- oakz likes this
- theneesh likes this
- race-human likes this
- lowfatgettinghigh likes this
- dunnraw likes this
- snakecult likes this
- lorikay likes this
- merciesdc likes this
- thevimdicta likes this
- saturdaymorning likes this
- thepoetryofnospaces likes this
- jonnymusic likes this
- bethpageblack reblogged this from rawkblog
- indierockpromos reblogged this from rawkblog and added:
- intlharborofgrace likes this