There are thousands of music blogs out there, and while you may want to send your latest album or single to every one of them, that would be a tremendously poor use of your time. Instead, target the right music blogs for your band.
Some people think bigger is better and will always look to a website’s hits and users to determine its value. While those metrics are useful if you’re an advertiser, as a musician you need to be savvy enough to know that a million hits doesn’t equate to a million people listening to your music.
When looking at music blogs, most metrics can be, if not totally thrown out the window, at least put to the side. In their place, find the answers to the following seven important questions.
1. Does the site cover your genre?
This seems obvious, but oftentimes we can miss the obvious. Pitching yourself to a music site, no matter the size, is nothing more than a huge waste of your time and effort if the site has never written about your genre of music. No matter how great you are, you aren’t going to convince a website to change its entire format for you. As the old saying goes, get in where you fit in.
2. Does it have original content?
This is so huge, and I don’t think enough people pay attention to it. There are a plethora of highly trafficked websites that essentially do nothing more than post the press releases they receive and repurpose content from other sites. So while their hits/users numbers are high, those numbers are of zero value to you. These types of sites deal in volume, meaning all they care about is having as much content on their site as possible, with little regard to the quality of that content. You can send them a press release, and they may post it word for word, but it'll be lost in a sea of posts, because 99 percent of their content is filler. There’s also zero chance they’ll review your album, or email you about scheduling an interview.
Look for sites that run interviews, reviews, and original columns. Those are the sites you’ll have the best luck with and that you want to develop relationships with.
3. Is it specific to one geographic area?
If a site only covers NYC’s music scene, and you’re from Detroit, that site is of no use to you. That said, if you can find sites that cater to your local area’s music scene, they’re great places for you to pitch. They may seem like small potatoes, but there’s a decent chance they’ll be interested in your work, they may do follow-up features on you, and all those articles will show up in search results when people Google your name. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a little hometown love?
4. When they debut a song/video, do people click play?
Here’s a metric that truly matters. Pretty much every music site premieres songs and videos. While the artist gets to tout that they were on a specific site, SoundCloud and YouTube make it easy for you, the onlooker, to see how many stream/views those songs and videos are receiving. Just go to the original SoundCloud or YouTube page the song/video is on, and you’ll be able see how many people have clicked play. That number will go a long way in showing you why people are going to a site. If the streaming numbers are good, people are going to the site to discover new music. If a song debuts on a site, and a week later only has 50 listens, you can bet all 50 of those listens came from the artist promoting the link, making the site nothing more than a pretty backdrop for the embed.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a pretty backdrop for your embed, and, as I mentioned before, having anything on a site means having content that shows up in Google search results. That said, it’s most advantageous to pitch the sites that will foster the most listens. Find who gets people listening, because they’ll likely get people listening to you.
5. Do their articles generate shares on social media?
This can be tricky, because not every site promotes their content the same way on social media. Some rely on writers to promote their own work, others have Twitter and Facebook feeds that are simply links to every article. If you’ve spent any amount of time on social media, however, it’s easy to spot a Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram account that’s active and engaged.
Check out how many followers a blog/writer has and if those followers regularly retweet them. See how often a blog/writer replies to others. Basically, make sure you’re dealing with someone who isn’t just going to post something and think that’s the end of the job. Both the artist and the site need to be promoting posts.
6. If they do reviews, are they mostly positive or negative?
Before you consider sending your latest album to a site, read some of their album reviews. If you see a writing style that is mostly negative, or you find the site has bashed some of your favorite releases, they might be more interested in trying to impress their friends than actually giving anyone’s music a chance. Sadly, there are writers out there who give negative reviews just to brag that they gave a negative review. Plus, this sometimes gives extra traffic to their site, because people want to know about the supposedly epically terrible album they’ve written about.
Artists should never think they’re guaranteed a positive review, but pitching to outlets that are traditionally supportive of artists and lean on the kinder side is always in your best interest.
7. Have any of your friends been featured there?
If any of your friends have been featured on a music blog, you’re already ahead of the game. First, you can get insider information on the site, as your friends can tell you what the site’s submission process is like and what kind of buzz the site’s articles have generated for them. Second, your pitch becomes infinitely easier. You can introduce yourself, and then note that you loved their feature on so-and-so, who you’ve shared the stage with, etc. Press can often be a game of networking, and having an "in" is a huge plus.
Now that you have these seven questions in your arsenal, when you’re putting together a list of the music blogs you want to pitch, put the flashy hits and user stats aside, and get to the heart of whether a site is a good fit for you.
- Ask a Music Journalist: How to Get Maximum Press for Your Band Using Lead Time
- 10 Ways to Get Your Music in the Press (Besides the Usual Album Release and Tour PR)
- 5 Effective Ways to Maintain Press Relationships After Your First Review
- 8 Dos and Don'ts for Engaging the Press on Social Media
Adam Bernard is a music industry veteran who has been working in media since 2000. If you live in the NYC area, you've probably seen him at a show. He prefers his venues intimate, his whiskey on the rocks, and his baseball played without the DH. Follow him at @adamsworldblog.