Back in the day, there was one way to get your music to a journalist: the good ol' US Postal Service. I fondly remember opening up my mailbox and it looking like Christmas with all the packages in there. I don't get quite the same feeling when I open up my email inbox and see more messages than any one person could possibly get to in a day.
From an artist's standpoint, it has become extremely difficult to stand out in a sea of emails, all of which ask the same thing: Please listen to my music. What you might not realize is you may have predetermined the answer to that question based on the way in which you sent the music.
So before you click "send" on that next email, here's a quick list to help you determine if you're doing things in a good, a not-so-bad, or a straight-up ugly way.
The good: SoundCloud, YouTube, download link
SoundCloud and YouTube are sites every music blogger uses, and if we like what we hear and want to write about you, the embed codes are right there for the copying and pasting. This is huge, because when you're sending your music out your intent isn't for just one person to hear it – it's for that one person to turn around and tell as many people about it as possible. Sending SoundCloud or YouTube links makes this easy. Writers receive more music per day than they have time to listen to, so sometimes convenience is the difference between being heard and being deleted.
We're also big fans of download links because, believe it or not, we don't spend all day chained to our desks. If we can put your music on another device and listen to it on the train or in the car, it makes life easier. That said, if you're going to send a download link, make sure the tracks are properly tagged. If all we get are songs with labels like "Track 01," and they aren't associated with an artist's name, your album will be nothing more than detritus on our hard drive.
The not-so-bad: private streaming link, Bandcamp, Spotify
We may not spend all day chained to our desks, but it is company policy to keep us there for at least a few hours per day, so a private streaming link will work just fine. Personally, I like when a streaming link is accompanied by a download option. This has become commonplace with many labels and PR companies and is much appreciated.
As for Bandcamp and Spotify, we understand you want to get paid whenever your music is streamed, but when we see music being sent to us with only these kinds of links, it reeks of desperation. We also have to wonder if you're really looking for coverage or if you just want the fractions of a penny you'd get from your music being played.
Another issue with Bandcamp and Spotify is that the embeds aren't as recognized as the ones provided by YouTube and SoundCloud, and sometimes they simply don't look as good. I've written for a number of sites where we had to enact a "no Bandcamp embeds" policy just because of how awkward they looked in articles no matter how many times we tried to change them. Yes, I know it should be about the music, but how your music is presented can be just as important, and make the difference between someone clicking on it or ignoring it.
Even with all that said, while we may not post about it if only given those links, Bandcamp and Spotify are services we have no problem using to listen to music. They just aren't your best options if you're looking for a write-up.
The ugly: new streaming services, email attachments, iTunes
"Check me out on TIDAL" and "Check me out on Apple Music" are two sentences that will get your email thrown directly in the trash. Why? Because most of us have a streaming service of choice, and those aren't it. Not only that, but many of us aren't even signed up for those services, and if you think someone is going to go through that process just to listen to your music, you're nuts. As I noted earlier, convenience plays a huge factor in determining what gets listened to.
Attaching files to an email may seem like a great idea, as it gets your music directly to a writer, but what it also does is clog up an inbox with huge downloads. This is why a download link is a much better option.
Last and very, very least is sending writers to iTunes to check out your work. Snippets instead of songs? Hoping we'll buy the album in order to cover it? GTFO!
- Ask a Music Journalist: Which Music Links Do You Prefer in a Pitch Email?
- How to Craft Your Band's Pitch for 5 Types of Media Outlets
- Ask a Music Journalist: 7 Must-Haves for Your Band's Press Release
- Top 3 Things Every Band Thinks Impress Music Journalists, But Actually Don't
Adam Bernard is a music industry veteran who has been working in media since 2000. If you live in the NYC area, you've probably seen him at a show. He prefers his venues intimate, his whiskey on the rocks, and his baseball played without the DH. Follow him at @adamsworldblog.