Thoughts On How To Approach Music Bloggers

[Editors Note: This article is derived from the “Question and Answer” format found over at MusicPreneurHub.com, a site that connects artists and music industry experts. It was written by Jack Ought, a musician, freelance writer and digital artist from the UK.]

 

1. Start With Empathy

I’d say start with empathy. Empathy is a vital skill for dealing with other humans, whether they blog or not. Try to put yourself into the head of the music blogger before you contact one. What do they want out of life and how can you help them get it with your music? Put another way, ‘what’s in it for them’?

It’s a bit like submitting to A&Rs at major labels. If they’re really big, they’re getting more submissions than they can possibly deal with. They’re getting generic/irrelevant pitches all the time, and they might have grown to resent ‘bad pitches’. They don’t want to read War and Peace, even if your content is relevant to them – instead, they’re looking for short, informative, and ’to the point’ releases that allow them to learn more, if they want to. And they are always looking to uncover music that they feel has real value, why else would they do what they do?

If it’s a commercial blog (i.e they have ads), understand their revenue model – they want more page views, which generate more ad revenue. How can you help them generate more page views? One of the things that always gets my interest as a journalist or blogger is an exclusive – I’m not interested in posting content that a bunch of other people have put out before me. Do you have something new to announce that they can post first? A new tour perhaps, or a new single? Perhaps consider: “if it’s not new, it’s not news”

2. Your Mindset

Perhaps consider your mindset too; in the sense that you are here to serve and provide value. You are here to give them something very exciting to show to their readership. You have something genuinely valuable to share with them in the form of your art.

What to do when you pitch a blogger:

Have a strong headline: It’s worth bearing in mind that your email subject is a bit like your headline – you really have to get it right, because if they don’t like the title they won’t even read your email.

Do your homework on the blog: Some blogs ask you to do certain things in your email to help them better process your submission. If you don’t, the blogger will likely reject your message outright.

Personalize your pitch: Make sure the salutation references them by name, if you can. If not, name of the blog that they write for. Don’t start an email with something like ‘Dear Blogger’, please. Tailor it to the blogger in question, ideally in the first paragraph by referencing something they have written about in the past: And why what you have to OFFER them is RELEVANT. I speak from experience when I say that if someone shows that they have taken the time to research what I am writing, I am much more inclined to respond. It’s not flattery per se, more an example that you’re a professional who has taken the time and thought to do their research.

Expect a low hit rate: Sad but true, even the best crafted, most targetted pitches will often evaporate into nothing. This is very often the case and not something to take personally. People are busy, people forget stuff, sometime spam filters get excited, there are many reasons. Which leads us to the next bit… Follow up: 3-5 days later, politely. A short, friendly follow up email to remind them. There’s a trade off between emailing indefinitely until they get back to you or tell you to stop, or not. I think it’s like a lot of stuff in life in that persistence pays. Remember, you have something useful for them to see. An optional step – you could pick up the phone and call them (or try to get them onto Skype). If you are the kind of person who is good on the phone, this may be better for you.

Provide easily accessible links to your content: Either download links to music and imagery on a site like 4shared, or your EPK. Say thank you at the end: Everyone is busy, the fact that the blogger has taken the time to read all the way to the end is great. Politeness will get you around. Here’s an example of an email title (first introduction) that could work for you: “Hi [NAME OF JOURNALIST], I read your piece on [SOMETHING THEY WROTE] & thought you may like this…”

3. On Bloggers (Big and Small)

Please don’t rule out smaller bloggers. Just because they’re ‘small’ doesn’t mean they’re not important – even though a blogger may not have the following of a bigger publication, they often have a highly engaged and super niche following of the kind of people you want to get in front of. For example, they can be followed by journalists at bigger publications looking to catch new bands before they take off. Big outlets often get their ideas from smaller ones.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that bloggers are, on the main part, fanatical about what they like and they can be some of your biggest champions, if they like you. Most of the time, the ones who went into it purely for the money were quickly weeded out when they realized that they’re probably not going to get rich and famous overnight.

How To Get Writers to Actually Open Your Emails

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the co-founder of 24West, a full-service creative agency focusing on music and tech.]

It’s often said that the internet and home recording has made it possible for anyone to explore their creative side musically. Another positive effect of the DIY culture the internet has nurtured is that as these bedroom musicians begin the process of turning their hobby into a career, they are able to handle a lot of the business and promotional side themselves to get the ball rolling.

Chief among these early efforts that an artist can use to start spreading the word is press. A little interweb stalking will turn up the contact info for most of the writers that you would want to cover your music. With a carefully-crafted pitch, you might start to see your music start popping up among the new songs and videos of your heroes that your favorite blogs are covering.

On the flipside, this instant access to press contacts means that most of the writers you want to reach out to are simultaneously getting hit up by hundreds of other artists on any given day. As a result, publicists devote a lot of time to figuring out how to cut through the clutter and get writers to prioritize checking out their clients ahead of the droves of other submissions.

If you can’t yet afford to hire a publicist, here are five tips on how an independent artist can get their favorite music bloggers to give their new music a spin!

 

  • Be Personal – The fact that you are an artist hitting them up directly gives you a leg up with a lot of writers. But if you send them a generic pitch, chances are you’re going to lose that favor. Tell the writer why you’re writing to them specifically.Which artists have they covered that leads you to believe they’d be into your music? What articles that they wrote made you a fan of theirs? Do you really love them on Twitter? What about your music is unique? These are the elements that are going to entice a writer to hit play on your Soundcloud link or YouTube video.
  • Is There A Certain Regular Feature You’re Interested In? – Another good way to approach writers is to reach out about a specific feature they oversee.For instance, is their blog pushing to promote a Spotify playlist? Do they run a “track of the week” series that you find a lot of your new favorite music on? These are the sort of deliberate pitches that might garner a quicker, more favorable response.
  • Be Precise: One thing that often goes overlooked with pitching writers is that brevity is key. It’s understandable why you want to cram every iota of information that you find interesting about your project into your email, but your life story might push your message to the TLDR folder.Stick to the necessities; (1) why are you writing to them specifically, (2) why they would like your music, and most importantly (3) a link to the music. Also, make sure it only requires one click in your email for the writer to be able to listen. If they like the music and decide to cover it, they will ask for more info at that point.
  • Get To Know The Writer (For Repeat Pitches): This is probably the most important key to continued coverage of your music. Get to know the writer! Is there a certain way they like to receive pitches? Do they prefer text or twitter messages to email? Do they want a full press release or personal message every time? Will they even cover non-exclusive tracks? These are all key to success with developing a rapport with writers. Even better, if they live in your city, see if they’d be down to meet for coffee, a drink or even to check your project out live. The better you know their personality and preferences, the more accurately you’ll be able to pitch them. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to make friends with another music fan!
  • Always Have An Angle: We mentioned the ‘special feature’ angle already and have hopefully made it abundantly clear that you need to speak to how you’re unique when contacting writers. But how specifically are you going to frame your music in an enticing way? Is there something interesting and quirky about your personality that you can use in the voice of your email? Is your music a part of a bigger vision that spans multiple artistic mediums that you will be unveiling in the coming months? Is your new song part of a concept album or tell a specific tale?There has to be something about you and your sound that makes it endearing because there are a lot of talented musicians out there you are trying to beat out for coverage.

 

If your music is good and you can translate your special qualities to the writer quickly and precisely, you’ve greatly increased the chances of a writer actually clicking play. And getting them to listen is half the battle!

The Dos and Don'ts Of a Copy-and-Paste Music Bio The Media Will Love

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Shaun Letang, owner and editor of Music Industry How To – a site dedicated to offering music career advice to artists/bands, managers, producers, and anyone else involved in the music industry.]

If your bio isn’t regularly opening the door to new opportunities in your music career, it could be that it isn’t as polished as it could be.

Musicians tend to underestimate the value of their bio. They know that they should have one, but they don’t know that it should be more than just a list of accomplishments or a boring, “we started in a basement” type story clichés.

A finely-tuned bio should make people go, “gee, I wish we could bring that band out to our next event”, or “I’d like to hear what that sounds like!”

Before we get into the specifics of developing a great copy-and-paste bio, let’s take a look at how it benefits you.

Why A Copy-And-Paste Bio Is Useful

Everyone is pretty crunched for time these days. Journalists, bloggers and media people are constantly under the pressure of deadlines to complete their latest news piece, which means they don’t necessarily have a lot of time to hunt around for information.

And yet, many musicians shy away from comparing themselves with other known acts. “Our music is 100% original,” they say. Well, if you’re using notes, chords and scales in your music – sorry to have to be the one to break this to you – you’re not 100% unique!

Don’t make any assumptions about what the reader may or may not know about your influences and style of music. They might love what you’re doing, but not have the right words or comparisons to describe it. You can see how that might be a problem if they’re interested in covering you in an upcoming story, but don’t have the necessary information to do so.

If you can tell a great story as a musician, media people don’t have to. It might sound lazy, but if you want to get the most leverage out of your bio, you should consider making it copy-and- paste ready.

What A Copy-And-Paste Bio Is

In essence, it’s just like any other bio. The key thing to remember is that you’re trying to make it easy for the reader to gather relevant information quickly and easily. They should be able to get a good sense of who you are and what you’re about just by scanning your bio.

Think about the keywords to include in your bio: musical style, genre, influences, instruments, names of the band members, and so on. When you think of it this way, it’s not unlike writing a search engine optimized blog post.

A copy-and-paste bio should also be well-written and free of errors. Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. If the bio isn’t literally ready to run in a magazine or the paper tomorrow, then it still requires some attention.

Don’t forget to tell a story with your bio. Nobody wants to read off a list of facts. You know how most people react to your accomplishments? “Good for you.” Yes, you can highlight that awesome Gene Simmons quote you got, but avoid going on and on about awards, quotes, radio stations, and notable concerts you’ve played. Sprinkle them throughout, but don’t make them the focus.

Copy-And-Paste Bio Do’s And Don’ts

You should have a pretty good idea of what to do to develop a copy-and-paste bio already. However, here is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you in case you aren’t sure what to do.

Do: include all relevant information. Names of band members and the instruments they play, what known acts you sound like, what genre of music you play, where you’re located, and so on. Include contact information at the end so interested parties can get in touch with you.

Do: tell a story. Feel free to interweave quotes and notable achievements in your bio, but only within the flow of an engaging narrative. You can dramatize a little.

Do: proofread. Eliminate spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Make sure you wouldn’t be embarrassed if your bio ran in the papers tomorrow.

Do: talk about influences, bands and artists you sound like, and what genre of music you play. This is absolutely vital to a successful cut-and-paste bio.

Do: create multiple versions of your bio. Have a tagline, a one-paragraph version, a medium length version (two to three paragraphs), and a long version. For most applications, the medium length bio will do the trick.

Don’t: merely list off the “great things” you’ve done in your music career. Yes, it can help with credibility, but it doesn’t tell a story. Media people are always looking for stories.

Don’t: settle. Work on your bio with your band members and invest a good chunk of time writing and editing it. Have a few people look over it and ask for feedback. Or, if you have a budget, hire a professional to help you put it all together.

Don’t: use too many adjectives. They can make your writing interesting, but music is subjective. You aren’t “the best”, “the most brilliant”, or “the most beautiful” anything, though you might be in someone’s eyes. Let your fans do the talking.

Don’t: deviate from your core purpose, message and communication style. A proper bio should fit right in with your character and image. A professional tone will serve some, while a casual tone will work better for others.

Don’t: expect instantaneous results. Yes, if you do it right, a great bio should make a big difference to your music career, but as with anything, it still takes time and effort to become recognized.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to impress the media – and for that matter event organizers, music directors at radio stations and music venues – then having a professional cut-and-paste bio will make a big difference.

I hate to say it, but when you’re trying to break through as an independent artist, appearances really do matter. A fine-tuned bio can make you look a lot bigger than you really are; and that’s what you want!

A great bio has more uses than you might even realize, and can be re-purposed in a variety of different ways. You can get a lot of leverage out of it if you do it right.

If you want to learn more about music marketing as a whole, but sure to check out Music Industry How To’s ultimate guide on the subject.

Now, are you planning to create a music bio? Did the above help? Let us know in the comments below.