You’ve most likely already heard how important proper email etiquette is when sending submissions to blogs, and there's a plethora of advice out there that teaches strategies on confidently introducing yourself in an appealing manner without coming across as desperate. However, knowing what not to do is just as important, because you only have one chance to make a positive first impression. If you violate the cardinal sins that annoy bloggers who are likely to already be stressed with an overload of writing assignments, your music will either be rejected or ignored regardless of its quality. To ensure you don’t fall victim to this fate, read on for the top five things to avoid when sending music submissions.
1. Writing generalized messages
We know how daunting it is to research blog lists and find thousands of websites with email addresses that you need to contact in order to ensure your music experiences its maximum reach. It may be tempting to simply import these emails into an automation system and send out a generalized message to the masses in just a few clicks. However, taking this route is cutting corners, and you’ll never get the desired results if you approach your career with this short-cut mentality.
As painful and time consuming as it may be, writing out personalized submissions to blogs is always worth it. Even a short adjustment to your subject line, greeting, and first sentence is enough for bloggers to recognize that you took the time to address their website in particular, and that extra effort increases the chance of them listening to an artist they most likely have never heard before. Accomplishing this is easier said than done with bloggers being low on time as is, but avoiding generalized email submissions is a great first step that is easy to implement, as long as you have the necessary work ethic.
2. Leaving out important information
All of us who work in music feel like there's never enough time in the day. With this in mind, it's vital to have respect for people’s time when sending music submissions. While you think a SoundCloud link is all a blogger needs to cover your music, believe me when I say it isn’t!
Writers greatly appreciate it when artists outline the details of their release in a concise fashion. Listing all of the must-know information such as the song title, album name, name of the producer, and song artwork is considered to be industry standard; forgetting any one of those tidbits may require bloggers to do research that they simply don’t have time for. If you want to be extra helpful, provide a few sentences that describe what inspired you to make the song/album and what it means to you.
An unfortunate reality in the blog universe is that not all writers actually listen to the songs or watch the videos that they post on their websites. As ridiculous as that may be, you cannot expect writers to do all of the legwork in compiling information about your song when they have hundreds of submissions in their inbox on a daily basis. Don’t leave out the important information that you want to be included in blog posts about your music. You get what you give.
3. Using shock-value subject lines
It's tradition among music writers to share the most outrageous blog submission headlines they’ve received recently when catching up with their peers. If your email subject line ends up in one of these conversations, the inclusion is not something to be proud of. Shock-value subject lines scream desperation. Calling your song "classic" or coming up with another cliché term written in all caps is one of the best ways to garner a few laughs, but also get quickly ignored and not taken seriously as an artist. The quality of your music should speak for itself, and while you're more than welcome to use your imagination when coming with up song and album titles, carry yourself in a professional manner when submitting your music to blogs.
The balancing act between being clever and being inappropriate is not one to play around with. When it comes to blog submissions, avoid shock value at all costs, and have faith that the strength of your music is enough to garner the recognition you deserve.
4. Calling/texting/tweeting local bloggers
When sending submissions to local websites, there's the chance that you know the mainstay bloggers well enough to have their personal email addresses and phone numbers. After months and months of preparation, it's easy to become anxious and overeager when your song is finally available to the public. Your music may mean everything in the world to you, but you can’t expect bloggers to immediately put their lives on hold and listen to a new track at your command.
Almost all music websites have submission emails; use them! Calling, texting, or sending a string of spam tweets to a blogger along with email submissions is extremely inconsiderate, even when you mask your motives with a, "Hey man, how is everything going?" introduction. While aggressiveness and confidence are important qualities to possess, harassing bloggers with your music is one of the best ways to get on their bad side and, ultimately, never give your music the chance to be heard.
5. Forgetting to proofread
Last but not least, don't underestimate the importance of proofreading your music submissions. Review your email at least three times before clicking the send button. Spelling and grammatical errors may seem harmless, but bloggers will automatically be a bit wary of your music if your submission is filled with even minor errors.
If you have a management team, they should play an instrumental role in ensuring your email submissions are typo-free. If you're completing the blog submission process on your own, send your emails off to friends or family members first, because the more eyes you can get on them, the better chance you have of mistakes being caught before it's too late. The last thing you want is your great music to be ignored because of a silly spelling mistake. Be confident that your submission is clear, concise, informative, and as professional as possible!
Eric Bernsen is a marketing/public relations professional and music journalist who specializes in the genre of hip-hop. You can find more of his work at HITPmusic.com (where he is an editor/writer) as well as HipHop-N-More.com, where he contributes album reviews. Follow Eric on Twitter @ebernsen.