A version of this article originally appeared on Sunshine Promotion.
Catch up on parts one and two of this series to learn the truth about what bloggers are actually looking for and exactly what to send them to maximize your chances of coverage.
Alright, so we've talked about why music blogs write about what they do, why you shouldn't be eager to put your music out there without some planning, why exclusivity matters, what kinds of stories you should be telling, and where your music should be hosted. Phew! What's next? I've put together an album release schedule of sorts that will help you organize your thoughts and plans to successfully release your music. I like to take things slowly to not get overwhelmed by the size of a full campaign.
Decide on the singles, videos, and tour dates you'll be promoting, and focus on one at a time. Taking on too much at once can be overwhelming and could mean you drop the ball on one or more facets of the overall campaign. The first week should also be used to prepare all of the assets we talked about earlier (biography, press photos, streaming links, etc.).
If it's your first time promoting your own music, I suggest finding 100 to 150 music blogs and magazines that you'd be interested in having cover your story. Obviously, you won't get on all of them, but if five to 10 percent of them respond, you'll be on a good start for your next release.
Design a release schedule for the next three months. Your release schedule should have something coming out every two to three weeks (traditionally). That means having a new single or video ready for release at regular intervals so you can always be chasing new press opportunities from the 100 to 150 press outlets you chose in the previous week. Sending emails to the same publications for multiple debut opportunities increases your name recognition and could eventually lead to a placement.
It's almost time to start emailing, but before you get the ball moving you should mail out any physical copies of your album for review by magazines and "get your ducks in a row." This involves double-checking that all of your press materials are ready on your band's website, all of your streaming music and video links are still active, and that your contact information for bloggers is accurate.
Weeks five through eight
Now the fun begins. You can use week five to email 10 to 15 blogs every few days to ask if they'd like to debut the first single from your new album or your new music video, etc. Don't email more than 10 to 15 at a time. What if you hear back from a major publication like Pitchfork on that Wednesday with a "yes, we'd love to debut the song"? It would suck to email 150 music blogs, get 20 "yes" replies to your debut request and have to tell 19 of them that you're backing out of your offer. In weeks six through eight, you'll continue emailing publications of varying sizes to try and land an elusive debut placement. Remember, this may just be in your local fan-zine!
Weeks nine through 12
Leverage the success in the last step to tell all of the 100 to 150 music bloggers in your target list about the successful coverage you got, and ask if they'd also be interested in covering that same song! If Pitchfork likes it, they might also, right? After you've gotten your first debut and told all of the other bloggers about your success to see if they'd also like to listen to your song and feature it on their own music blogs, start using song number two or video number two for another debut. At this point, you'll probably start to hear back from some of the blogs that ignored your first request. You may start seeing "no thanks" or "maybe," but nothing definitive. Remember to follow up!
Weeks 13 through 16
The last four weeks of your promotional campaign will help you tie off any loose ends. You've now debuted (hopefully) two pieces of content for your new album or project and are working on landing some final press. Follow up with everyone you can to squeeze all of the promotional life you can out of the last two pieces of content and use a final song, video, or big show announcement to drum up final coverage. Leverage all of the previous mentions you've gotten into doing everything just short of begging for a major press outlet to cover your band. If you've gotten your local newspaper and a big-ish music blog to write about you, make a push for the publications you thought may be out of your reach!
This series has finished! Check out the remaining two parts:
- 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 from the other side of the desk.
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.