A version of this article originally appeared on Sunshine Promotion.
There are many facets of a successful music publicity campaign, but among the most common questions from newer artists are how they can promote their music independently and get it covered on music blogs. Since many new artists often don't have the money to embark on national tours, advertise on major music outlets, or sometimes even print physical copies of their own albums, getting coverage on music blogs (both local and national) is the best way for them to spread the word about the music they're creating.
In this and the following articles in the series, we'll explain the psychology of why music blogs write about the music they do, how to prepare your own music for publicity efforts, where to find music blogs to email, and what your emails should look like for best results.
Blog content and mindset
Before we can talk about how to achieve successful music blog placements for your music, we first have to have a quick conversation about the type of content that blogs like to cover.
Media is driven by advertising revenue – plain and simple. Blogs make their money and keep writers employed by generating advertisement impressions from visitors. The more visitors a blog can get, the more money they can make from advertisements. Understanding this business model will help you make better pitches when trying to get press coverage.
With advertisement-driven blog content in mind, next it's important to know how blogs and news outlets generate more page views: exclusive content.
It's only "news" once. The first blog to debut a song is most likely going to be the one that generates the most traffic for that story until the rest of the blog community catches up. Giving a new piece of content (new single, new music video, tour announcement, etc.) to one blog to debut exclusively is the best way to get coverage.
Remember, the media wants to know what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. Debuting a single from an artist means that that artist's fanbase is going to come to that particular blog to listen to the new song or read the new interview, not a competitor's blog. Exclusive content leads to more page views, and more page views means more money. Simple.
As part of a national digital publicity campaign, tastemaker blogs are often the foundation publicists will use to build the rest of their promotional efforts on. Tastemaker blogs are characterized by their high readership and the frequency of new content from (typically) major label artists.
Tastemaker blogs influence the entire music blog community when they write about new bands. Because of their professionalism and industry experience, these blogs are usually able to predict the successful growth of a band and, subsequently, are able to influence the conversation across multiple blogs. A high-profile placement on a tastemaker blog has much more influence than multiple mentions from smaller, local music blogs.
Examples of tastemaker blogs
Why Pitchfork won't write about you
As a new band, you're probably not going to get on Pitchfork. Criticisms of Pitchfork's music tastes aside, Pitchfork generates traffic by covering content they know will bring page views both in the short term and, more importantly, the long term.
The record label promise
When a record label sends an album promo pack for a new album to Pitchfork, Pitchfork assumes an underlying promise from the record label that the band being pitched is going to be touring, advertising on social media, debuting new music videos, and generally creating more content over the lifetime of the band. By covering a band early on, Pitchfork has a leg up on the competition for future web traffic from the band when the band is Googled over the next few months.
Whether you trust their musical taste or not, Pitchfork's staff covers bands they like who also help generate much sought-after web traffic. And they're not the only ones doing it. Lots of music bloggers work on the same premise that it's in their interest to debut content from label-sponsored artists as opposed to solely independent artists, because labels have money to continue the promotion of a band well after their initial song or CD debut.
Billboard magazine isn't going to do a full-page spread about your brand new punk-jazz-fusion-artcore project just yet, but your local music blog thinks your music is cool enough to mention in their "weekly roundup." Great!
Many music bloggers use press releases and one-sheets to grab "copy and pastable" quotes for their mentions of newer bands. Give them what they want! To make a blogger's job easier, make everything on your website "copy and pastable" so that after bloggers have listened to your music and decided to write about it, it takes them no more than 60 seconds to get a post online.
On your website and your press release/one-sheet, you should include:
- What kind of music you make
- Band member names
- Bands you sound similar to
- Notable press quotes
- A 50-word biography
- Streaming links
- Press photos
This series has finished! Check out the next four parts:
- Part 2: Learn exactly what to send bloggers to maximize your chances of coverage
- Part 3: Follow this detailed 16-week album release schedule
- Part 4: Crafting the perfect pitch email to get noticed by writers
- Part 5: Learn why the follow-up email is more important than your first email
You can also check out "Ask a Music Journalist" for some firsthand advice.
Nicholas David is the founder of Sunshine Promotion, a boutique music marketing and publicity agency based in Orlando, FL. Its roster has seen coverage in both local and national music publications and song placements on MTV, FOX, and CNN.