[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
- 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
- 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.