You made a great album, and you’re sure every blogger in the world is going to jump at the chance to cover you. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Media folks consider at a variety of factors when determining whether to cover a band, and the music itself is just a small piece.
In every case of trying to drum up interest, it’s about connecting to something, or someone, bigger than your band's current state. Rolling Stone may not be interested in covering you if you only have 260 followers on Facebook and one like per 10 posts. If you connect with a band, producer, or festival that has a larger following or the media is already familiar with, however, you may also have an angle that could pique interest.
Below are four ways you can create more interest in your music and potentially influence a media outlet to cover your band.
1. Work with an established producer
We’re in the DIY age where bands have the ability to easily record their next album via a bedroom studio setup. If you're currently doing just that, it makes you the rule, not the exception. You're not a novelty to a media outlet.
In order to stand out in 2017, you need to demonstrate credibility and show that you take yourself seriously. This means investing in a notable producer who will make your band’s album sound great and whose name means something to a media outlet. If you’re not sure where to start, think about your favorite albums produced in the past year and look at who produced them. Research those producers, see if they fit into your budget, and decide whether they’d be the right fit for your band.
Once you’re ready to announce the release of your new album, make sure to include the producer credit with three other similar bands he or she produced. This will support his or her credibility and also allow the writer to have a framework for your sound without you having to say, “We sound like…”
2. Play festival shows
Festival shows are a great way to raise awareness about your band, especially in the summer months when media folks are almost entirely focused on festivals. Make a list of festival shows in your area and those you’d be willing to travel to play. Then, start researching the best way to submit your material and increase the chances of getting an invite to play.
Once you have a festival show booked, send out an announcement about that show. The good news is that even if your album or EP has already been released, a festival show gives media a fresh angle to cover your band. Just as with a producer, you should also mention a few other notable bands playing the showcase or fest to help give media and writers a frame of reference and build your credibility.
3. Play with an established band
If your first response is, “But, I don’t know any established bands,” then you have some work to do. Start networking with bands you want to play with via Twitter, Facebook, and at shows.This doesn’t mean pushing your band on them. It does mean building a relationship and getting to know each other to organically develop mutual support. When the opportunity does come up, it won’t seem out of place to say you’re interested.
Whether it’s a local show in your city or a national tour, you should reach out to journalists who have covered that band and let them know you’re opening. Since they're already familiar with the other band, they’ll be more likely to check out yours.
4. Score guest appearances for your album
The last way to grab media interest is to ask notable musicians to play on your album. Think about musicians who could really complement and accentuate your sound. Maybe he or she is someone your producer also produced and he or she could ask if there’s any interest in appearing on the record. If your goal album guest is someone you don’t know, take the time to get to know him or her and build the relationship first.
By this point, it should be rote that you mention the artists who appear on the record front and center. Look at who has covered those bands and reach out.
These four methods all have three aims: elevate your profile, build credibility, and create a framework for media. Those three aims may give you the additional ammunition you need to grab media interest.
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.