If securing single and album reviews is part of your music-career plan (and, of course, it is), you'd better get to know the following sites and how to pitch them. This excerpt from Ari Herstand's new book, How to Make It in the New Music Business, is your crash course on getting your music covered in places people will actually see and hear it.
Before you start, surf these sites
1. Hype Machine
I highly recommend you spend some time getting to know Hype Machine, an aggregator site that includes most of the top music blogs. On the site, search for artists who are similar to you, then you’ll know if your style of music gets written about by the blogs they aggregate.
For some reason, music bloggers love indie, experimental, electronic, and hip-hop. They don’t care very much for poppy singer/songwriters or right-down-the-center pop/rock bands. Knowing this going in will save you a lot of time and stress.
It’s worth mentioning that many Spotify playlist curators look to blogs on Hype Machine to find new talent. So, if you’re saying to yourself, “Who reads blogs anyways?!” Well, Spotify playlisters do and getting included on a hot Spotify playlist can generate hundreds of thousands (or millions) of plays with no fanbase whatsoever. Those plays can add up to actually be a good chunk of change. This is starting to happen all the time to small, unknown artists all over the world.
Created by Jason Grishkoff of Indie Shuffle, SubmitHub has over 50 blogs listed that you can submit to for a fee. Bloggers get paid to listen to your song and give you feedback (and/or write a review). Many blogs are only accepting submissions through services like this (or from publicists/managers/labels).
However, I’ve heard mixed reviews about these platforms. Actually, vōx submitted to Indie Shuffle via SubmitHub and got rejected. But then a few days later, a different writer at Indie Shuffle posted a review of that same (rejected) song that was submitted to her by vōx’s publicist.
Create a blog-pitch sheet
Make a shared Google spreadsheet of all the bloggers who have written about artists similar to you from Hype Machine, plus any other blogger you know of that writes about your kind of music. Make eight columns: blog, website, writers (include all the writers at the publication who cover your style of music), location, email, twitter, recent article(s), and submission requirements.
Invite your band members, fellow bands in your scene with similar sounds, and music taste makers in your friend group who regularly read blogs to contribute to the spreadsheet.
Land a song premiere
Once you have your list ready to go, you want to find one blog to premiere your song. Bloggers like writing about songs and music videos; very few review full albums. So prioritize your list for premieres.
Do your research and find a writer’s email address at the blog. Try not to just submit through the general contact form. Send this person an email starting off with his or her name. Including a compliment about one of his or her most recent articles won't hurt either, as it shows you took the time to get to know his or her work.
The following is an actual email from vōx (Sarah Winters) to a writer at Nylon before she had any kind of representation. It worked, and vōx got the premiere (and tens of thousands of SoundCloud plays because of it). Other bloggers followed Nylon’s lead and wrote about the song.
Subject: FOR PREMIERE: vōx - Claws
Body: Hey Jasmine,
I’m looking to premiere the brand new vōx track “Claws.”
The first three vōx singles lent comparisons to Rosie Lowe, BANKS, and Lorde and have been praised by The Wild Magazine, Konbini, Pigeons & Planes, Earmilk, and DIY Mag.
Produced by Josiah Kosier, “Claws” has an ethereal hip hop feel; harp plucks and soaring strings giving satisfying dichotomy to 808s and trap drums. Lyrically, it’s the push and pull of this unstable relationship that draws you in. “There are wild things in me,” vōx sings during the pre-chorus over eerie background noises. At one moment she’s willing to be weak and the next telling her lover to bow down in worship.
Listen (and download) privately here: http://soundcloud.com/song . . .
Kristian Punturere promo photos: http://goo.gl/claws-photo . . .
Thank you so much for your consideration!
Make sure your SoundCloud profile is up to snuff, with images and branding that's consistent with your entire project. You don’t need an endless list of accolades,just enough to reel them in. Keep it succinct, to the point, complimentary, not desperate, and not needy. Let the music speak for itself.
Unlike nearly every other pursuit in this industry, for bloggers (and music supervisors), it really is all about the music. You can also include a link to your bio (if you don’t have a Wikipedia entry), so bloggers can easily get more info about you. It should be a page on your website, so once they land on it, they can easily browse your site with a couple clicks. And if you don’t get a response, make sure to follow up!
Get more coverage after the premiere
Once you get someone to agree to the premiere, it’s an exclusive to them for about a day.
That person will let you know when he or she will post it. Out of respect for the blog that chose to premiere your song, hit up all other blogs on your list the day after the premiere with a similar email, except this time you’re not asking for a premiere, just a write-up. Tell them which blog premiered it (with the link).
Get more tips for pitching the press:
- 5 Types of Pitch Emails All Music Journalists Hate Getting From Indie Bands
- How to Craft Your Band's Pitch for 5 Types of Media Outlets
- Ask a Music Journalist: Why Who and How You Pitch Matters
- How to Pitch Your Band When You Can't Afford PR
- A Music Publicist's Actual Checklist for Pitching Press
Ari Herstand is the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business, a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, and the creator of the music-biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake.