How To Get Music Bloggers To Listen
Over the past decade music blogs have grown up from being a place where only a handful of geeky music nerds talked about their favourites records into a wealth of different blogs catering to every conceivable sub-genre you can think of. Music blogging has been a revolution in the music industry as whereas once bands would only be discovered by record label A&R folk turning up at their gigs, or a label boss, radio DJ, or NME journalist taking the time to listen to their record – now there are numerous new avenues to get your music “out there”.
Music bloggers have tried to follow the example of John Peel in championing new music and artists that do not have the multi-million pound marketing machine behind them. They try to open the public’s ears to the beauty that sits outside the Top 40 Charts, and they gain notoriety from finding these bands and artists and giving them their first audience.
With the growth of influence of these bloggers, the question has now become “how do I get featured on your blog?” With our sister site, The Blue Walrus, sitting pretty as one of the top music sites on Technorati, I thought now might be a good time to go over the basics that will give bands the best chance of being heard through the noise of a music blogger’s inbox. Bloggers receive hundreds of emails per week containing new music from record labels, PR folk, band management, and band members themselves – making it more important than ever to try and stand out from the crowd, and following these rules should give you a little help:
Choose The Right Blogs
Don’t just send your email out to very blog under the sun. If you send music to blogs that quite obviously don’t cover your genre then you r are actively burning bridges – no-one like to feel spammed. The idea with sending music to bloggers is not to carpet bomb everyone, but to pick a select few, personalise the message to them and then follow it up. It may also help to target blogs in your hometown or at least home-country – this way you can invite them to shows and possibly get extra coverage of your live show as well as your recordings.
Finding blogs that cover the sort of music you write is as simple as going on the Hype Machine and searching for a similar band and finding the blogs that wrote about them, or do the same using Google’s Blog Search. Once you’ve found a few blogs that might cover your music, then go through their blogroll looking for similar blogs as well.
Cultivate A Relationship With The Bloggers You Choose
Everyone is more likely to write about people that they know, and if you manage to strike up a relationship with the bloggers you send your music to then this can help them read your emails first. If a blogger writes a great piece about one of your favourite bands, then comment on the post or tweet them saying so, or if you’re going to be at the same live show then say hello. This way you sending them your music at a later date will not be “cold calling”, they’ll know who you are and will be more likely to actually read your email and press play. They might even click through your profile and listen to your music for their own curiosity. I’m not saying suck up to the bloggers or give them undeserved praise – simply that most likely the bloggers you submit your music to may well have a similar taste in music to you, and so don’t be afraid of striking up a discussion with them about that.
Keep The Email Short And To The Point
Don’t bother with the niceties of “I’m sure you’re really busy but…”, or “I know you get loads of these but…”, just get to the point – “Hi, we’re a new band called X from Town Y, and we think we have a sort of Z sound with influences ranging from A to B – here’s the links to our Facebook/Twitter/Bandcamp/SoundCloud” and then add your bio beneath that. That first sentence is all a number of bloggers will read as they wade through the flood of submissions – so make it count. Only if they’ve read that and thought it is interesting will they press play on the music and/or get round to reading the bio.
Make Your Music Quick And Easy To Play
SoundCloud provides a great option for bands and musicians to link to their music and make it playable within just a couple of clicks and is the preferred method of receiving music by most bloggers. A basic account is free so there really is little excuse not to offer your music this way. Bandcamp is great as well, and well worth having for those who prefer this method, and also for the ability to sell single/EP/album downloads outside of the iTunes/Amazon ecosystems too. If you are sending an EP or album, then link to what you think are your best two or three songs, and then give a link to download the record as a zip file of mp3s. You can host this zip on Dropbox again for free and downloading takes a single click – the easier you make all this, the better. Never attach mp3s to emails – they will be ignored. Whatever you do don’t lock your music up on Facebook and expect music bloggers to “like” your page to enable the stream or download – they won’t. Ever.
Label Your Music Properly
I can’t remember the number of times where I’ve been sent an album by a band that they have forgotten to add ID3 tags to – and this makes it damn hard to work out which band that was a week later when I’d finally had a chance to listen to the whole record. Make sure the tags on your MP3s work properly, add the album/single art and it is often a good idea to add the URL of your band’s website or Facebook page in the comment section to make yourselves even easier to find. Tools like MP3tag do a very good job here.
If you are using SoundCloud to offer streams of your music (as your should) then use the format “Artist – Song Title” to title your songs. Like the ID3 tags, this makes it easier for people to find, and also helps with the music being picked up properly by the aggregators such as the Hype Machine, Elbo.ws, Shuffler.fm, and Ex.fm.
This should, obviously, be the most important part. Time is of short supply in the music blogging world, and your song will need to capture someone’s attention within the first 20 seconds. If you have this slow moody build up for three minutes, then no-one will likely actually get to the real start of the track. Yes I know this is utterly superficial, as plenty of great songs take a little bit of time to warm up, but maybe leave those tracks for after you’ve got a little audience ready and wanting more.
Focus On Originality
This should be self-evident, but remixes are a dime a dozen and unless I know and like the remix artist’s previous work, emails just pushing remixes or a cover version go straight in the bin – and I’m not alone in taking this route. Focus on your own material, and if your proud of some of your remixes or covers then play them at live shows or put them up on your SoundCloud or BandCamp, but don’t bother sending them to bloggers.
It sounds obvious, and I mentioned it above, but make sure you add links to your band’s Facebook, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp pages – every band should have these. Then if you are on Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Vimeo, or have a full website then add them too. If you have a record for sale, add a link to buy the record on iTunes, Amazon, or BandCamp as well alongside the release date.
Add A Decent Picture
Attach a decent picture of the band and/or link to where the blogger can find a few decent photographs that are available for use with their write-up. Decent quality photos as well are a bonus, as some sites tend to publish larger images with each write-up, and good quality photographs can always be edited down.
Add Contact Details
Yes bloggers can reply to the email address you’re sending the message from but for some questions – including booking bands for live showcases – a phone number can be very useful.
Make Sure You BCC
We all know that you are sending your music to quite a few bloggers (not to many though as I said before), but make sure that you BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) everyone when your are sending out mass(ish) emails. If you just CC everyone in then it just ends up as a load of unwanted messages for everyone.