5 Ways To Leverage Press

[Editors Note: This article was written by Suzanne Paulinski.]

 

You spent months reaching out to bloggers, podcasters, and music tastemakers to convince them to review your music and/or interview you. You sent out links to your music. You submitted your press release/bio/EPK. You got people on board. You prepped for the interviews (preferably the right way). The pieces were published. The links were shared…

…and crickets.

Sound familiar?

All too often musicians put in so much effort to get press, only to see it move the needle very little, if at all.

It’s not because the reviews were poorly written, but because many musicians fail to leverage the press they receive in the right way.

There are so many tips and tricks out there to get the attention of coveted blogs and magazines, but what happens once you’ve gotten their attention? How to do maintain the attention of their readers?

Below are five different ways you can leverage press, whether it’s a printed interview, a podcast, a music review, a video on YouTube, or something that hasn’t yet been invented by the time this article is published, you can build off of these tips to get the most milage out of the months of effort you put into being noticed.

1. Write a newsletter to your fans about the experience.

All too often an interview comes out and fans open up an email from an artist that says “New interview in ABC Magazine CLICK HERE TO READ!” with a link to the article, and that’s it. The problem with that is that you’ve given them no context.

Give them a reason to care and click on the link.

Were you nervous? Did something funny happen during the interview? Did you open up and share something you’ve never said aloud before? Write a brief explanation about your first-hand experience and then provide the link to the article. Your fans will want to know how the story ends!

2. Create a short video introduction to the piece.

Your YouTube channel doesn’t have to only be cover songs or lyric videos. You can leave a short video message to your fans telling them about how much you love ABC Magazine and how honored you were to be featured. Then, using a link card overlay on your video, invite them to check out your latest piece of press. This will add content to your channel, bring more eyes to your other videos, and add to your subscriber list (just be sure to tell them to subscribe at the end of the video and in your caption).

Second, doing a short video on how much you love ABC Magazine and sharing it with others not only converts well (as video often does), but it shows love back to the writer and company who just covered your song/band.

It’s a unique way to say thank you, beyond simply sharing a link about yourself. Relationship building for the win.

3. Share a ‘Behind-The-Scenes’ photo with the link.

Posts that get engagement are the posts that readers are able to immediately relate to, and not everyone can relate to having their music reviewed or being a guest on an awesome podcast.

Especially if the press is audio only, adding a photo to the post that shows you (and any other band members) having fun, or even better, exhibiting some sort of feeling or message that is discussed in the piece, catches peoples attention and allows them to connect with your message on a deeper level, rather than simply seeing a link to a podcast you want them to hear and share.

Add a caption that explains a topic that was discussed and then inviting them to hear the rest by clicking the link goes a lot further than simply saying, “Listen now!”

4. Write a review of the blog/podcast that featured you.

Much like the video message, this shows other outlets that you care about shining a light on those who have shone a light on you.

Creating a list of your Top 5 favorite reviews they’ve done (while including yours on that list), whether as a newsletter or simply a longer Facebook post, opens your fans’ eyes up to other artists they may not have known and may also introduce them to a writer or podcast host they weren’t familiar with until now. Posting content that provides greater value is key.

5. Reach out to the next tier of blogs/podcasts.

Much like life in general, everything has its season. A few months ago you may not have been ready for a feature in XYZ Music News. But now, ABC Magazine has interviewed you and brought more eyes to your message and music. That may be what XYZ Music News was waiting for before they decided to jump on board.

When you have a glowing review or stellar interview with one outlet, do your homework and determine the next stepping stone. Don’t jump from a small write up in a local paper to the cover of Rolling Stone – be strategic. Look at bands you admire and start to examine how their press exposure grew and follow suit.

Reach out to outlets that may have turned you down in the past and reintroduce yourself, acknowledging that some time has passed and you have recently enjoyed some positive press that you’d like them to be aware of in consideration for a future review.

No matter what, always think about these two things:

  • The bigger message. What larger message was your recent press about that others can relate to? Create multiple posts off of that one message.
  • Your funnel for bringing on new fans. Be strategic in how you involve your other channels, as well as your email list, when getting the word out about your latest press. We call this your funnel – using once piece of content to drive fans to other channels to take further action.

Lastly, don’t forget to update your EPK or press page on your website with the most current coverage. Your hard work doesn’t end once you’ve landed the review. Make it worth your effort by seeing it all the way through.


Suzanne Paulinksi is an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate

Do You Need a Publicist Or Just Some Research?

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.]

 

Building out your team as an artist is a very difficult process. Young musicians often believe having a manager, a publicist or a booking agent onboard will be the core to somehow expediting the process of launching their career. Today you’re playing to ten friends and family members at your local VFW or singing at open mics. Then, viola! Your team has scored you a spot on tour with your favorite band, selling out arenas.

As most of you are probably aware, that scenario doesn’t necessarily match up with the reality of building a career in music. There is no magic bullet. In fact, building out your team too early can lead to getting stuck in business relationships that don’t necessarily make the most sense in the long run or, as is the case with publicists, see you investing what little money you have to spend on your project in areas that you won’t necessarily see the sort of results you’re hoping for.

Here are three questions to ask yourself before deciding whether or not to pull the trigger on bringing a publicist into the fold:

Will I Be Able To Give A Publicist Enough To Work With?

An important key to publicity is having assets to work with. Yes, you have a great EP, but is there anything else that your publicist can give to press? Are there tour dates or live shows in your hometown? Do you have a unique element to your story that could lead to a bigger editorial piece that will serve as a cornerstone for the campaign? Did you shoot any high-quality music videos for the project?

A publicist is going to have to sell a writer on the fact they are getting in early on something that will be bigger down the line. Just having a handful of quality songs does not go a long way to help them sell that idea.

What Are My Goals With This Campaign?

Am I hiring a publicist because I think they’re going to take me from my bedroom to the cover of Rolling Stone? Do I think that I am going to see a significant financial return immediately from doing a few months of PR? If so, you’re probably going to be disappointed with the results you’re going to get.

One in a million projects can break immediately without a ton of work from major industry powers going on behind the scenes. The vast majority of artists need to build out their public presence in stages. Your initial public relations campaign should be about building that first tier of coverage. This would likely consist of grabbing a few of the aforementioned cornerstone pieces and streaming playlists that you can start building a 1-sheet around and getting writers out to see you play live.

From there you can start building anticipation for your next release or, if the campaign goes really well, you can continue to go after additional coverage on the release immediately.

What Is My Next Step?

A standard PR campaign will run around three months. Once that three month period is over, if the coverage isn’t rolling in enough to continue seeking press, what’s your next step?

Are you going to be right back in the studio working on the follow-up or is there going to be a long wait before you release music again?

If this release took a year or two to prepare and you don’t see a next release in the near future, you’re better off handling press yourself and focusing on building an organic following through playing live and direct-to-fan initiatives.

In short, ask yourself if this release is going to set up a bigger push in the next year or is it step one in your career as an artist from which you will decide where you will pivot to next.

It’s best for an artist not to rush to add structure to their project to quickly. It’s usually better to find yourself creatively before looking to start working towards a sustainable career. If you do find yourself in this stage of self-discovery, don’t rush to hire a publicist. You can find the contact information for most of the writers or blogs that will be most likely to cover your project in these early stages on their website or via the writer’s Twitter account.

The more you can do on your own before hiring people around you, the better you’ll understand the process of releasing music and ultimately the more worthwhile your eventual first proper PR campaign will be!

3 Easy Tips To Consider Before Pitching to Music Bloggers

[Editor’s NoteThis blog was written by Janelle Rogers, the founder of  Green Light Go Publicity, a music PR firm which helps up-and-coming musicians reach their audience.]

 

You found a list online entitled, “100 Blogs You Should Contact Now.” You’re ready to start emailing those 100 blogs about your album right away, because like the list says, those are all blogs you should contact now.

There’s just one small problem. They might not be.

Lists like those are often a generic compiling of the most read blogs or the blogs that are most receptive to unknown bands. They don’t delineate between a blog focusing on hip hop and a blog focusing on folk.

Those lists are a great starting point to find the blog right for you, but there are a few steps you need to take first.

1. Determine the Genre

First and foremost, you want to make sure they cover your genre before you reach out to the blog. Often a first glance of the site will make it glaringly clear if you are the right fit. If you’re an Americana band and the site is clearly only covering electronic or dream pop, you remove it from your list. In some cases, it’s not as clear at first glance. In those cases, start by finding a column that could be a fit for your band. Then look at the last five bands they’ve covered.

Do any of them fall within your genre? If not, remove them from the list as well. You may still be thinking, but it looks like they cover all genres, so there’s a chance they could cover my music as well. If you’ve looked at five articles and none of them have covered your genre, you’ll have a less than 20% chance of coverage on that blog. That low rate of return is neither worth your time or the blog you’re targeting. If at least one of those articles represent your genre, add the blog and move on to the next step.

2. Determine the Musician Career Level

When my music pr company, Green Light Go Publicity, is determining if a blog will cover a band at the level we’re working, we first break the stages down into five categories. Those categories are unknown, emerging, buzz, indie established, established and superstar. As a general rule, if you’re unsure of a band’s level you can look at Facebook as a guide.

For instance, we categorize unknown bands as less than 2k Facebook likes. Emerging have between 2-5K. If you fall into either of those categories, you want to make sure at least one of the five bands who were just covered by the blog are also within the same range as you. Like the above example, if they only cover established bands, the chances of you being covered are really low if you’re an unknown band.

This is also why it’s really important to look for columns that could be a fit for you at the forefront. A high profile site like Stereogum may only cover established and celebrity musicians in their news features, but could potentially premiere an unknown artist whose music they really love.

3. Determine the Best Contact

Once you’ve found a site that fits within the first two parameters, you want to determine the best contact at the outlet. Start with a writer who wrote the article or articles featuring a band matching your career level and genre. If you want to get even closer, look at writers who have covered artists similar to your sound.

Add that writer or writers to your list while noting the specific article so you can individually tailor your message when you reach out. If the writer isn’t clearly noted, then take a look at the contacts on the contact page and see if you can find the editor who best fits the column or type of coverage who fits your band.

That’s it. It’s really that simple to target the right contact. By taking a little extra time at the beginning to determine who would be most interested in your band, you’ll be able to invest time appropriately in those who’d most likely turn it into coverage.

6 Steps To Making Your Band Press Friendly

[Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Janelle Rogers, the founder of  Green Light Go Publicity, a music PR firm which helps up-and-coming musicians reach their audience.]

Have you ever tried to reach out to media only to find the sound of a deep and resounding silence on the other end? Maybe you heard back from one or two people who gave you a firm, “Thanks, but no thanks.” If you’re really lucky you heard back from one underground blogger who loves the sound and will get it up right away – and that’s the only response you hear after sending dozens, if not hundreds of emails on your band’s behalf.

It’s not easy to grab the attention of media when you’re a band who is not on the blogger’s radar. There are, however, a few simple steps you may have overlooked. These steps can also make the difference in who will pay attention to you and who will rapidly reach for the delete button on the keyboard.

If you want to increase the chances you’ll band will be covered, follow the next six steps to get your music heard.

1. Make your Site and Social Media Press Friendly

Believe it or not, media is always on the hunt for new bands. Outside of a publicist or direct email from a band, the discovery may happen through Facebook, Spotify, Soundcloud, or a major music festival like SXSW. Once a blogger has found a band he loves, he’s going to look for more information on the band so he can write about it. That may end abruptly when going to the website or social media if there’s no bio, contact information, or in the worst case – music that can be posted on the site. You may think the blogger will just keep digging for the information like a detective hot on the case of a suspected thief. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The blogger is already buried with other band submissions who provided the information quickly and easily so he can write a legitimate post. He’s not just a lazy journalist who can’t bother to do his research. He’s a blogger who has a high demand for his time and can only do so much.

How can you make the blogger’s job easier so you can increase the chances he’ll write about your band? Use this checklist to make sure you have all the relevant information on your website and across your social media.

  • Contact information with an email address
  • Bio
  • Streamed music or link to hear streamed music on a site like Soundcloud or Spotify
  • Links to social media
  • Hi resolution publicity photos
  • Cover Artwork on the single or album

2. Know Your Sound

Blogs, writers and radio hosts often focus on a specific genre or niche, so it’s important to know if your sound would fit what appeals to that particular contact. Before you do anything else clearly state your genre and in seven words or less describe your sound. As uncomfortable as it may be to pigeonhole your sound, it will also help you reach the right audience and start building into a larger one. As I mentioned in my last point, bloggers often face a time crunch, so if you can quickly and easily show them your music is the right fit, you’ll also increase the chance of clicking on the link to hear your music.

3. Know Your Story

Now that you know what information to include for a journalist, you need to know how to convey that information. The first step is knowing what your story is so you can convey it in a compelling way in your bio. At my company, Green Light Go Publicity, we ask all of our bands to fill out a 35 question survey to help round out the story and determine what would differentiate the band from all the other bands out there. You want a bio and story that would make a journalist who’s never heard of you immediately want to listen.  Here are few questions to get you started in helping define your story:

  • Where are you from? How does your location influence your music?
  • Are there any current events or anything in the media that influences your music? Or do any of your songs or album themes tie into any current events?
  • What’s your history? (How many albums, when they were released, how long you’ve been in the industry, etc.)

4. Have an Image That Conveys Your Sound

A publicity photo or cover art can often be the first deciding factor on whether a media contact will listen to your music. Like the bio, you want to make it compelling. You also want to make sure it represents the sound you’re making. Hiring a professional photographer whose photos have been published on reputable music sites is one of the best investments you can make for that reason. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at bands who are similar to you and see how their publicity photos convey the sound. This can give you a great launching point to define your own vision for your band. If you do plan to invest in a photographer, ask bands with compelling photos in your area who they hired and determine if the photographer would be able to capture your sound with the right image.

5. Set a Single, EP or Album Release Date

News by definition is looking for something new. If you’re trying to peddle your six month old album, you’ve already missed the window of opportunity and you’re better off waiting until you have new music to release.  Although there are blogs who are more (and less) forgiving on the timeline, typically you have about a one to two week window to send information on your single release prior and after the release date.

Once you have released it, I highly recommend having it publicly available on your social media and website so it can be easily heard. Pin your tweet and and Facebook post announcing the single release so it’s at the top of the page. If you’re releasing an album or EP, you’ll want to start sending information three to four months prior to the release. This is so the media contact has time to become familiar with your band and give the music a good listen. Your album or EP should only be available as a private link until after the release date. [Editor’s note: Try setting up a Pre-Order for your release on iTunes and Google Play to build excitement!]

6. Make Sure Your Pitch Includes Necessary Information

Now it’s time to put it all together and write a pitch that includes the necessary information in a clear and concise format. You should include a two-four sentence description of your band including your hometown, genre and description of sound, accolades (notable musicians you’ve played with either on tour or on your record etc), and story about  your band or album. In addition, you should have links to the following information (no attachments!):

  • Single approved for download
  • Private album stream
  • Bio/EPK
  • Publicity Photo
  • Social media including Facebook and Twitter

Once you’ve pulled all this information together you’ll have a steady foundation to not only contact media, but to also give you a chance to be discovered and written about without having to advocate on your own behalf.

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.