Every musician wants their music to reach the largest audience possible, and the most highly touted way of achieving exposure is through recognition on music blogs. However, getting your music on these websites can be a maddening and stress-inducing goal when you consider a blog post to be your definition of success. I'm sure you've conjured up a never-ending list of reasons why you're not receiving emails back when you submit your music, but there's no use in blaming external factors that are sometimes out of your control.
Just like any business venture, the key to developing fruitful relationships with music bloggers is strong communication skills. By understanding that building these relationships takes time rather than trying to immediately force your music on bloggers, the desired results are much more likely to follow.
1. Do: engage with music blogs you actually read and admire
You know that great feeling you get when fans message you saying how much they enjoy your music? Believe it or not, the same thing happens to bloggers when people comment on the quality of their work.
All websites are aiming for engagement with their readership, and that doesn't just apply to fans. If you're an indie artist and you read an insightful feature that provides a unique perspective, don't hide your admiration. Tell the writer that you enjoyed the piece; if you eventually decide to submit your music for coverage, your chances will skyrocket simply because the writer will remember your name in a positive light.
2. Don't: only talk to bloggers when you have new music out
Don't share a bunch of articles the day before you plan on releasing a new track, because any level of authenticity you were hoping for will not hold up. While you don't need to be a super active member of the blogging community, scanning the internet for insightful articles once or twice per day is something that you should incorporate into your routine when you're taking a break from the studio.
Smart bloggers understand that all artists want their music to be posted, but consistency is vital to ensuring that your name is ingrained in the minds of the writers you respect. What truly matters in the end is that the back-and-forth communication is friendly and fun in nature, and discussions don't even have to be related to music. For instance, if you respond to a blogger's entertaining tweets in an appropriately amusing manner, you can take it to the bank that you'll be remembered more fondly than someone who only reaches out when he or she is in need of coverage.
3. Do: attend music events beyond your standard show
While the most realistic way of engaging with blogs is digitally, be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to meet with these writers in person. The best way of connecting face-to-face is to attend shows that they are either hosting, sponsoring, or just happen to be attending in order to write a story about it. This is easier to accomplish if you're based in a major music market such as Los Angeles or New York City, but if you're not in one of those cities, don't get discouraged. There are music writers in towns all over the country who are working tirelessly to progress and have their work featured on larger websites, and it's these types of passionate people who you want to connect with while they're still local and attainable. Sure, a post on a small, local music blog may not immediately earn you the widespread exposure you're desiring, but over time, you never know where writers may end up in their careers, and they'll surely have an appreciation for the artists who rocked with them from the beginning.
So when you're out at your next local show, don't stay in the same group of musicians that you always hang out with. Go out of your comfort zone and meet people by attending any sort of promising networking event. You never know what conversation may lead to an influential, long-lasting relationship that will help all parties involved reach their goals.
4. Do: craft your emails carefully
When push comes to shove, the most important medium of communication between artists and blogs comes in the form of a music submission email. If you take the time to carefully craft an insightful yet concise email that follows every guideline, while also adding a distinct message that draws the attention of a writer, it's a significant step towards your music being heard. The quality of your music should ultimately be the deciding factor in whether or not your music is covered, but a great submission email will always put you in the best position of being covered.
Read over your email multiple times, proofread it for typos, and hell, even send it to your boyfriend/girlfriend/sibling to double-check if you have to. You may be ignored by hundreds of blogs due to the sheer volume of requests they receive, but over time, the hard work in crafting a proper email will pay off.
5. Don't: spam
The last thing you want to do in an attempt to get your music covered by blogs is spam them. Seeing artists tweet their latest SoundCloud link to every person they follow is way too common of an occurrence. This approach will fail 99 percent of the time, because while some artists may feel there's strength in numbers with the indie music market being so competitive, handling business this way makes you look like a desperate amateur. Flooding your social media networks may result in a short-term uptick of views, but this type of marketing is ill-advised for most indie artists who want to be taken seriously by not only blogs, but also their peers.
Spamming is a surefire way of garnering not only a negative reputation, but also becoming an artist that people ignore and gloss over. Even if a carefully thought-out marketing plan doesn't work as expected, being professional will always win out over pushing your product on unwilling consumers.
Eric Bernsen is a marketing/public relations professional and music journalist who specializes in the genre of hip-hop. You can find more of his work at HITPmusic.com (where he is an editor/writer) as well as HipHop-N-More.com, where he contributes album reviews. Follow Eric on Twitter @ebernsen.