Getting press: a guide to getting hyped by music blogs
ICMP songwriting student and emerging artist Aislin Evans gives us her essential advice on attracting the media's spotlight...
In the summer between my second and third year, I released my first single ‘Take It From Me’ through Tunecore on all major platforms.
I ended up securing a premiere for the track with my dream pop music blog The Line of Best Fit. It was the top of my list of ‘unrealistic goals’ for the project and I was over the moon.
How did I make it happen? A little bit of luck and a LOT of hours trawling through ‘how to get music blogs to write about you’ Google searches.
Here’s what I learned, condensed into the basic need-to-know tactics for getting noticed by press.
But first, why blogs?
The case for getting blogs to write about your music is an interesting one. For starters, it looks really cool and validating to see your name on a website that has written about your idols. Self-esteem should come from within but a little external validation goes a long way.
In terms of new fans, blogs might not be as lucrative as you would first think, but the people who are likely to read the music press are the industry gatekeepers (i.e. anyone who can offer you any hand up in the business). Off the back of my premiere, I was offered a slot supporting Vita and the Woolf at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, had interest from a national radio plugging company and have been able to use the blog as leverage for getting what I want elsewhere.
People in the industry want to know you’re getting somewhere, and having my music on The Line Of Best Fit has helped massively in proving my worth to people from all areas of the industry.”
In short - press coverage improves your credibility as an emerging artist. So how do you go about it?
Find your writers
The Line of Best Fit is a pop blog, and they would have never written about ‘Take It from Me’ if it was blues rock track. So it’s really important to research which blogs out there are writing about your kind of music - make a spreadsheet of blogs that fit your niche with the blog name, website address and contact details so you can keep track. If you don’t know where to start, Google your favourite or similar artists and note which blogs are writing about them. Also jot down individual writers who often write about artists similar to you. If you can, it’s much more effective to email writers individually. Use a combination of common sense, your wits, Google stalking skills and personal connections to find their email addresses - but not their personal ones as that is an invasion of privacy. Keep it professional.
Know what you want
Know exactly what you are asking for when you approach a blog or writer. Are you looking for an exclusive or a standard review? Will they be sharing a Soundcloud link, Spotify embed, or video? Will the track be released yet once the post is published?
It’s so much easier for journalists to respond to you if they know what you want from them.”
For example, you might say in your email that your track is out on this date, and you’re looking for a premiere the day before. This means for 24 hours their blog will be the only place to hear the track. Be extra clear and people will appreciate it.
Have everything ready
To write about a track, journalists will need a link to listen to the track (preferably a stream, not an attachment), a press shot and information about you.
Journalists are notoriously busy with flooded inboxes, so don’t make them have to send you emails asking for extra things or spend time trawling the internet trying to find your bio."
Everything they need should be in the initial email or linked to via Dropbox or something similar. You are essentially sending them a press release with everything they need to know about your track and you as a band or artist. Send a couple of press shots so they can choose one which suits the blog, and most importantly make it easy for them to listen to your track. Check that your links will work for them, especially private ones.
Be friendly, be concise
Music journalists are people. They want to be addressed as human beings and they want you to know who you’re talking to. Don’t go too personal, but be genuine and let them know if you love a piece they wrote, or that you love what they post on Twitter. This requires a bit of research, but it’s worth the time. On the other hand, be concise. They won’t have time to read an essay on your relationship with music since birth, but they do want to get the essence of who you are and what your track is about in a short, readable email. It’s an art and there are a lot of templates online if you are willing to look.
Press send, fingers crossed
“Don't be disheartened with people not getting back - I get about 100 emails a day and sometimes I do just have to bin stuff from people whose names I don't recognise to avoid drowning in PR waffle!” - is a line from an email conversation I had with a writer from The Line of Best Fit recently.
There are things you can do to improve your chances of being heard but ultimately, especially if you’re new at the artist game, luck has a big role in whether your music is heard by journalists, because they simply receive so much music daily.
So when everything is ready and your email is perfectly polished, about four weeks before release, press send and cross your fingers.
If you get some replies with interest - amazing! Make sure to respond to them promptly and give them anything extra they need in good time. It’s stressful for everyone if the day before the post is due to be published, you still haven’t sent over the final embed link they asked for a week ago. If you haven’t had any replies in a couple of weeks, you may want to send a short follow-up email.
Keep it friendly and don’t show frustration. If you receive no response again, it just might not happen this time, but don’t be afraid to contact the same blogs next time you have a track out.
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