Phew. You just sent out 100 emails to various blogs touting how great your band is and why they should cover you. You anxiously await their response affirming your amazing talent. And you wait. And wait. Nothing comes. Not a peep of praise. Nothing. If you've made one of the five mistakes below, there's a chance your submission went straight to the trash.
1. Not the right genre for the contact
If you're DIY-ing this, there's a very good chance you pulled your list from something that sounds like "100 Blogs Who Want to Hear Your Music." Here's the thing – those lists are rarely catered to a specific genre. It doesn't matter how great your band is if you're pitching the wrong outlet for your music.
If you're hip-hop and sending your music to a folk blog, there's not a chance they'll drop everything and say, "You know what? This group has such dope beats, we should change our entire format and start covering hip-hop." The same goes if you're running the straight and narrow with traditional bluegrass Americana and think Pitchfork will swoon when they hear your melodious, fiddle-driven tunes absent of lo-fi synthesized experimentation.
2. No links to listen to music
Okay. You sent your email but didn't want to include a link to the music because, "Y'know, it's unreleased." Seriously? Delete. You're essentially creating extra work for a key tastemaker when he or she has 100 other submissions that gave them everything they needed at a click of a mouse. Send links to either download the album or stream it (no attached MP3s). If you're sending an email to a blog you want to cover you, you have to trust them enough with your music.
3. No links to website or social media
And while we're on the subject of links, you should also include a link to your website as well as Facebook, especially if your band name is something like "Peach" that lands you no earlier than page 20 of a Google search. Bloggers receive hundreds of emails per day, and there simply isn't enough time to track down a band that might be good.
4. Unprofessional publicity photos
Your second cousin just took this great picture of you where someone has to get out a magnifying glass to see the image because it's so pixelated. Or maybe you thought the party shot with a bong in hand was a good idea. You know the saying, "You only have one chance to make a first impression"? Well, this is it. Your publicity photo is the first impression you give to a blog. It's that picture that tells whether you are or aren't worth listening to.
5. Your album or EP has already been released
As I've mentioned, bloggers receive hundreds of emails per day and have to prioritize what they'll cover. Given the choice between a band who's releasing a record a month from now and you asking them to cover a record that's six months old, well, the answer is pretty clear. News, by nature, is reliant on what's new. (News – new. Get it?) And because it takes time for bloggers to read through and listen to all the submissions they receive, they need as much lead time as possible so they can post what can still be considered new and fresh when they do get to it.
If you're reading all of this and thinking, "I just need to hire a publicist," remember that many of the same rules apply. A strong PR firm will also be receiving a lot of submissions from bands wanting to work with them and will need to weed out those who don't appear ready, serious, or have unbelievably unrealistic expectations. In addition to everything above, you should be very clear on what you hope to achieve from the campaign so you and the publicist can work in tandem to see it through.
Janelle Rogers began her 20 year music industry career working for SXSW Music and Media Conference. She then went on to work for BMG Distribution for 10 years in the alternative music department where she championed bands like Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne, The Strokes, Belle & Sebastian, and The White Stripes. In 2002 she launched Green Light Go Music PR as a haven of honesty, integrity, and passion for underrepresented artists and labels. She has since been named Mentor of the Year by the University of Michigan, Dearborn, appeared as a panelist at NXNE, and been an official SXSW mentor.