This article originally appeared on The DIY Musician Blog.
Blog premieres (where you give a blog a limited window of time in which they’re the only place someone can go to hear a song or watch a video) have become a ubiquitous way of promoting new music – but are they worth it?
That’s something Kevin Breuner and I discussed on our latest episode of the DIY Musician Podcast after hearing news that Indie Shuffle had decided to stop doing premieres (here’s why), and that artists like RAC were applauding the move.
I recently premiered five tracks and one video on six different blogs and saw some mixed results (though honestly, it’s difficult to measure the effect of these types of things), and I shared a bit about my experience in our podcast discussion as well: the good, the bad, and the puzzling.
Here are a few of those blog premiere puzzles:
- Barring the scenario where your tune becomes a hit, the premiere window might be the time when that song attracts the most concentrated attention it’ll ever get. But since it’s a premiere, by necessity it can’t be available anywhere else, which means you’re also giving up the opportunity to make money on that song through monetized streams, downloads, or album sales.
- If it’s not premiering on a super-popular blog, many of the people listening to the track on their site are probably existing fans who you sent there via social media or email. If that’s the case, why not just share the track directly with fans?
- Facebook hates external links, so you might have to pay to boost a post sending fans to a website that earns advertising revenue from the traffic.
So why do a premiere?
A few of my premieres felt like drops in the bucket. But a couple had an obvious effect, leading to some radio play and good press quotes. But the real power of the premieres was in their cumulative effect; they seemed to build an online momentum and excitement for the release, even among people who might not have clicked to hear every single song premiere.
That being said, I had a publicist help me set up all but one of these premieres, so if you’re handling your own PR – which takes a lot of time – it might be advisable to shoot for just one song premiere and one video premiere in as high-profile an outlet as you can get.
10 steps to setting up a blog exclusive
1. Find the right songs
What’s your "single"? The song that will most immediately grab people’s attention? Or maybe the song you’re proudest of? Pick a few standouts from the album. (If you’re releasing a single, well, problem solved!)
2. Upload them to SoundCloud
Some blogs will request an audio file, but most blogs are happy with a SoundCloud link. So upload those tracks, add any relevant notes and artwork, and then be sure to set the audio as private – otherwise, it wouldn’t be much of a premiere, would it?
3. Appease the Hype Machine
Hype Machine is a site that keeps track of what’s trending in terms of music activity on blogs – blogs that, I should add, if they’re the first to feature a track, get credited on Hype Machine with much of the early activity for that song, even if other blogs start to share the same tune. So, win-win for you and the premiering blog!
In addition to MP3s, HypeMachine monitors SoundCloud plays as long as the song is set to public on the platform, so you want to make sure you’re ready to set that puppy to public on the day of the premiere.
Here’s a little bit more info from Hype Machine’s site:
SoundCloud embeds must be public and be “Enabled for App Playback” in order to be read. Hype Machine must be allowed to access tracks by the rights holder on the account.
Why do some track names show up incorrectly?
We get our data from mp3 ID3 tags, so the artist and title fields need to be filled out completely. If there is no data in these fields, we will display “Unknown Track.”
SoundCloud: Tracks uploaded to SoundCloud should always be titled Artist – Title. We will check ID3 tags first, but will fall back on SoundCloud track titles if there is not enough information (it also seems that SoundCloud sometimes erases ID3 tag contents during its processing).
If there is no artist specified in the track title, we will use the username of the uploader.
Remixes should be titled Original Artist – Title (Remix Artist Remix)
Covers should be titled Cover Artist – Title (Original Artist Cover)
4. Find the right blogs
What are your dream blogs for a premiere? No harm in starting at the top and working your way down the list. So make a list! But make sure you have in mind to send them genre-appropriate tracks. For instance, don’t send your pop-rock track to the Americana blog.
Search the sites for contact info. If none is provided, try a resource such as The Indie Bible, or you could even ask a publicist if you can purchase a truncated portion of their media list for blog outreach purposes.
5. Write your pitch
What’s exciting about this release? Write it down in a sentence or two, copy and paste the private share link for the track or album on Soundcloud, and then ask if the outlet is interested in premiering the track or video. Also, be sure to include links to your website, social profiles, and longer press release.
6. Contact those blogs
Start at the top of the food chain and work your way down. Don’t necessarily jump at the first blog that bites; you might get a delayed yes from one of those dream blogs (who also probably have stuffed email inboxes).
7. Pick the date and time
Once you’ve confirmed that a blog will premiere your song, work out the exact date and time (if possible) the song will go live. This will help you get everything else ready in advance of the premiere.
8. Get ready to set your SC clip to public on the day of the premiere
Switch that track to public at the right time if you want Hype Machine to take notice.
9. Write your posts in advance
Have some messaging ready to go for social and your newsletter. Once the premiere is live, just copy the URL and a nice quote from the post (if the blog wrote something extra about the song) and fly it into your pre-written copy. This will help you keep from scrambling on the day of the premiere when it’s most important to blast the news out through every channel.
10. Share directly with your fans once the period of exclusivity is over
Twenty-four to 48 hours later, you’ve got more content to share with fans: the actual song (on SoundCloud, or wherever). No need to route them to another destination at this point when they can get it right from the source.
Get more tips for being featured on music blogs:
- 5 Qualities of Bands That Consistently Get Featured on Music Blogs
- The Top 5 Things to Avoid When Sending Music Submissions to Blogs
- Ask a Publicist: How to Decide Which Music Blogs Are Worth Reaching Out To
- 5 Awesome Independent Music Blogs That Are Looking for Rising Artists to Feature
- 5 Dos and Don'ts for Effectively Communicating With Music Bloggers
Chris Robley is an indie-pop songwriter whose music has been praised by the LA Times, NPR, the Boston Globe, and more. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry magazine, Prairie Schooner, Boulevard, and others. Robley is also the editor of CD Baby's DIY Musician Blog.