[Editors Note: This article was written by Rich Nardo.]
One of the hardest parts of chasing press is the fact that there are no guarantees. You can be the hardest working artist in the world who just created a ‘once-in-a-generation record and there is still a chance that journalists will choose not to cover it.
Maybe they ‘just don’t get it’, or they’ve got a lot of other assignments from bands they already listen to that they need to finish up. Maybe you just share a name with their ex and they can’t get past that.
No matter the reason for it, the lack of a guarantee that your efforts will be rewarded can be heartbreaking for a young artist. If you find that you’re constantly asking yourself ‘Why Can’t I Get Press?‘, we’re here for you.
Here are five easily fixable problems that a lot of artists trying to get coverage might encounter and how to remedy them:
‘So, what’s your story?’
Writers are just like everyone else, overworked and underpaid.
They’re getting hundreds of emails everyday and it would be impossible to write great stories about each artist they come across that they like.
So…write the story yourself. Well, not literally.
Just make sure you know what elements of your story set you apart from other artists and make sure that comes across in your pitch. You can do this via a personal email (highly recommended), a press release or an artist bio. No matter how you do it, make sure you’re giving an insightful look into your project that will inspire the writer to the point that the story will just pour out of them.
A great story + great music = great press.
‘What a great song! What else do you have going on?’
Writers no longer want to cover a song just because they like it. Just like radio and playlisters, their reputation is built not just on finding great music but being early adopters to artists that go on to bigger things.
When you’re pitching a writer, it doesn’t hurt to mention other things you have going on (i.e – opening for a bigger artist, success on Spotify, other tastemakers signing off on your music). It’s also good to let them know that it’s not just a random single you’re pitching them on, but the ‘first single from your upcoming full-length’.
The more professional and proactive you come across, the more the scales will tip in your favor towards achieving coverage.
‘I’m just not feeling a PERSONAL connection…’
If you’re an artist, don’t hit up writers like you were a publicist.
I know that goes against the whole “be professional” advice, but trust me. Writers know that publicists are looking after an entire roster and will forgive our formalities, especially if we’ve established a reputation with the writer for only presenting bands that they are into. An artist reaching out that way comes across as lazy.
There are parts that are going to be uniform (most of the selling points will be), but let the writer know how you’re a fan of their blogs and what artists they covered that made you think they might be into your music. Truth be told, even as a publicist with almost 20 artists actively on our roster, my team and I still do most of our outreach with personalized emails (links to listen and a press release for further detail are always included) because it just works better.
It also doesn’t hurt to respond to their tweets or invite them out to grab coffee if they’re in your town either. Personal relationships are often the difference between a successful PR campaign and a failed one.
‘Oh great, another Soundcloud link…’
First of all, let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with presenting a Soundcloud link.
But sticking to the consistent theme of breaking through the fact that you are one of a few hundred Soundcloud (or YouTube or Spotify) links coming through a journalist’s inbox on any given day, is there a way to do it differently?
If you know an artist that works in a creative field, can you collaborate for a visual? Can you also include a unique performance of the song that, when combined with the link to the recorded version, sets a writer up for a great post? These are some important ways to get get a writer’s attention, particularly if you’re not so sure the story alone will do it.
‘Any gigs coming up?’
That fact holds true when it comes to press as well. If you can blow a writer away in the live setting, you will make a real fan that is dedicated to covering your music. Invite writers out to your shows and make time to hang with them when they show up. If done well, this will be the most effective tool in your press-pitching arsenal.
Just a quick reminder in closing: even if you do all this perfectly, it doesn’t mean you’ll get a ton of press.
As great of a tool as press is, it’s also extremely important to remember that coverage won’t make or break you as an artist. You’re talent and persistence will be the foundation of your career, so no matter how successful your press efforts go, keep plugging away and they’ll come around eventually!
Rich Nardo is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.