Why Playlists Are More Important Than Ever

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]

 

In 2017, the playlist has become an integral part of not just music but our culture at large. While radioplay and the blogosphere still have the power to bring attention to an artist, playlists are becoming a steadfast way for more and more listeners to discover and consume music. This isn’t exactly breaking news for those readers who’ve been making serious music over the past decade, but the fact is that playlists are shaping the musical landscape more than ever before, and if you don’t release your music with that in mind and plan accordingly, you’ll risk missing out on some potentially huge opportunities.

The New Listening Landscape

Remember that snobby record store clerk you used to get your music recommendations from? Or maybe it was your cool older sister. Well, either way, playlists featuring every genre of music you can conceive of are introducing listeners to new artists in way measured by literally billions of songs, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

But probably more important than the way listeners are discovering music is the way they’re now listening to it. Listeners are now relying on playlists big and small to guide their unique listening experiences. Why?

Put yourself in the shoes of a non-musician for a second. Unless you’re particularly interested in discovering and listening to new and interesting music, you most likely won’t have the time or patience to wade through hours of music to find songs that actually resonate with you. Enter an army of new expertly curated playlists, specifically designed to convey an array of nuanced moods that cater to a wide variety of different music fans.

Like indie rap? There’s tens of thousands of playlists out there for you. Looking for electronic jazz/rock fusion for stepdads? Actually, I have no idea if that playlist exists or not, but you get what I mean.

Engaging new and old listeners on this relatively new playing field is becoming more and more important for career musicians, but don’t take my word for it.

Let’s look at the data.

The Data Behind Playlists

On average, Spotify’s 4,500 curated playlists generate over a billion streams per week. Their Discover Weekly feature has connected well over 40 million music listeners to about 5 billion new songs. Love it or loathe it, Spotify is doing something massively important for new artists, and figuring out how to get your music featured on Spotify is worth looking into, even if the chances of your music being selected by one of Spotify’s notoriously picky playlist curators is slim.

But while Spotify is a major resource for listeners when it comes to finding and consuming music, YouTube is an even bigger player. Though the stats are controversial, complicated and difficult to understand, some music industry analysts believe YouTube accounts for 40% of all music listening.

I released a single recently and was surprised to learn that a dude with a playlist I’d never heard of had shared my new song on a YouTube playlist with over 188,000 subscribers. My release performed pretty well on Spotify, but the numbers were nothing compared to the exposure I got from being featured on that one Youtube playlist.

Make music regularly enough and you’ll sometimes get lucky and have your songs featured on decent-sized playlists, but reaching out to playlist curators and asking for your songs to be considered is vital if you’re just starting out and new to the playlist game.

Pitching Your Music to Playlist Curators and Digital Music Stores

Taking the time to submit your music through TuneCore’s feature submission form is an easy way to pitch your music to digital music retailers like iTunes, but if you’re interested in getting playlist curators to consider your songs, you’ll have to do some research.

Take some time to find out what playlists are out there that feature music that’s similar to yours. Rather than gunning for the big, heavily followed tastemakers, I recommend starting small and pitching your music to playlists with smaller followings.

Similar to how you’d pitch your music to blogs, take some time following different playlists and getting a feel for the kind of music their curators like to feature.

Craft a short email explaining who you are, what your music sounds like and why you think it fits on the playlist you’re inquiring about. Yes, you’ll most likely get your fair share of no’s and unanswered emails, but with how much potential there is out there for finding new fans through playlists, getting serious about playlists is becoming a mandatory task if you’re intent on being a successful musician.

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.

5 Reasons Venues Aren’t Writing You Back

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]

 

It can be a hugely frustrating experience to reach out to a venue in hopes of booking a show only to hear nothing back. When you’ve spent months or even years creating music, it can be annoying or even downright disheartening when a venue won’t communicate with you and give you a chance to play. But like with everything, there’s two sides to every story, and there might be some perfectly good reasons why music venues aren’t giving you the time of day. Here’s a list of five possible reasons that venues aren’t replying to your emails:

1. You don’t have enough experience

If you’re new at making music, you might have a misinformed notion that the music industry is different than other industries in the fact that it’s not centered around money, but you’d be very wrong. Venues might not be getting back to you because you don’t have enough experience playing music. And if you’re new and inexperienced, the chances of you bringing people to your show, or more importantly, money through the door, are slim, and venues usually aren’t willing to take that risk. Like all of us, venues have bills to pay, and they can’t afford to bring bands in with no following and experience.

So, how do you get venues to give you a shot if you have no prior show experience? Build up your experience performing any way you can. Hit up local open mics, house shows and try to get your foot in the door with the smaller venues you want to play. And when you’ve built up some relevant experience, highlight that the next time you write venues.

2. Your communication skills are bad

You might not think that being able to write emails that are clear and grammatically correct is that important of a skill to have as a musician, but it’s absolutely something that could mean the difference between a venue booking you or not. Venues and show promoters get dozens of emails every day that are riddled with spelling errors and nonsensical sentences, and trust me, they hate it.

It’s even common for venues to get emails from bands who forget to add links to their music or even their band name. How can a venue book you if they don’t know your band’s name? If you put yourself in the shoes of a booking agent, you’ll see the need for emails to be written thoroughly and with things like your band’s name, the show dates you’re interested in, a link to stream your music and some relevant information about your band included.

3. Your music sounds bad

You songs might be awesome, but venues probably won’t give you a chance if they’re recorded poorly. Remember, venues get inundated with hundreds of requests from bands every week who want to play their stage. If your band’s music can’t compete with all the other music the venue’s booking agent listens to, why would they let you play?

If the recorded music you have posted online consists of demos you recorded on Garage Band, it’s time to invest some money and professionally record just one of your songs and share that with venues instead. You’ll be shocked at the difference this will make when it comes to booking shows.

4. The venues you’re trying to play are too big

If your band routinely draws 50 or less people to shows, landing a spot on a bill at a 2,300-capacity venue is going to be to difficult or even downright impossible. Again, from the venue’s perspective, why would they take the time to respond to your email if it’s clear you’re too small of a band to work with?

Instead of taking it personally, keep building your performance experience and work toward packing the shows at the smaller venues you work with. It never hurts to ask, but big venues can’t afford to lose money on a small band, even if they like their music. When you’ve built up your following, larger venues would probably love to have you. But until then, work towards selling out those smaller clubs.

5. Your band is unprofessional

If your band has earned a bad reputation in your scene, venues will be hesitant to work with you. Things like repeatedly showing up late to shows, talking through other band’s sets or not promoting your shows will earn your band some detractors, and their poor opinion about you will spread through your scene and venues will act accordingly.

If you’re new to music, the people working at venues might seem unrelatable, but they’re just like you and me in the way that they want to work with people who are kind, respectful and reliable. If your band has conducted yourselves in an unprofessional way, it could be the reason venues aren’t getting back to you.

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.

The Latest From TuneCore Publishing

Hot off the heels of our exciting Believe Digital acquisition announcement, we’re pleased to update you with news from our sunny Burbank, CA Publishing Administration office! New artists, exciting pitches, and rad placements ahead…

SONGWRITER HIGHLIGHTS

Comprised of Adam Brooks, Andy Fischer-Price, and Allie Gonino, The Good Mad is an indie-folk trio that have found success through both acting and music. Gonino and The Good MadBrooks both starred in the ABC Family hit TV show, The Lying Game, while Fischer-Price has acted in various TV series and lent his voice to several animated movies including Monsters University. The Lying Game took notice of their musical talent, and together they recorded and performed several songs on the show.

Often compared to Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, The Good Mad’s folk style combines harmonies, violin, and acoustic guitar while letting their country-music background shine through. These multi-talented musicians most recently released their newest EP, Face Your Feels, in January and continue to find time to play shows while having busy acting careers.

California natives, Private Island, have filled their newest EP, A Good Look, with their brand of unique and catchy beach-groove rock songs. Vocalists Christian Lum and Private IslandMichelle Guerrero’s dreamy vocals give this alt-rock band a retro vibe while Roger Mawer and Cameron Anderson’s rhythmic guitars give their music a funky, dance feel.

Private Island plays shows regularly around the Los Angeles area, and are currently in pre-production for their next single, set to be released this summer.

SYNC & CREATIVE

In addition to our Sync & Master Licensing Database, our creative team continuously works to place TuneCore administered copyrights across all visual media. Recent pitches include music for The Last Witch Hunter starring Vin Diesel, several TV shows including Under the Dome and Graceland, and a broadcast commercial for Subaru.

RECENT LICENSES & PLACEMENTS

Furious 7
Furious 7
“Hamdulillah”
Writer: Yassin Alsalman
Artist: The Narcy featuring Shadia Mansour

football
ESPN Monday Night Football
“Diamonds”
Writers: Joel Bruyere, Christopher Greenwood, Trevor McNevan
Artist: Manafest featuring Trevor McNevan

Ridiculousness
Ridiculousness
“Thunder in Your Heart”
Writer: Lenny Macaluso
Artist: Stan Bush

IN THE NEWS

TuneCore stays current on industry news to make sure we’re the first to know how new legislation and deals will affect our writers. Here are links to recent articles you need to know about:

BMI & Pandora Pandora and BMI Wrap Up Arguments, Await a Big Decision
ASCAP What the Copyright Office’s Study on Music Licensing Means to ASCAP Members