Thoughts On How To Approach Music Bloggers

[Editors Note: This article is derived from the “Question and Answer” format found over at MusicPreneurHub.com, a site that connects artists and music industry experts. It was written by Jack Ought, a musician, freelance writer and digital artist from the UK.]

 

1. Start With Empathy

I’d say start with empathy. Empathy is a vital skill for dealing with other humans, whether they blog or not. Try to put yourself into the head of the music blogger before you contact one. What do they want out of life and how can you help them get it with your music? Put another way, ‘what’s in it for them’?

It’s a bit like submitting to A&Rs at major labels. If they’re really big, they’re getting more submissions than they can possibly deal with. They’re getting generic/irrelevant pitches all the time, and they might have grown to resent ‘bad pitches’. They don’t want to read War and Peace, even if your content is relevant to them – instead, they’re looking for short, informative, and ’to the point’ releases that allow them to learn more, if they want to. And they are always looking to uncover music that they feel has real value, why else would they do what they do?

If it’s a commercial blog (i.e they have ads), understand their revenue model – they want more page views, which generate more ad revenue. How can you help them generate more page views? One of the things that always gets my interest as a journalist or blogger is an exclusive – I’m not interested in posting content that a bunch of other people have put out before me. Do you have something new to announce that they can post first? A new tour perhaps, or a new single? Perhaps consider: “if it’s not new, it’s not news”

2. Your Mindset

Perhaps consider your mindset too; in the sense that you are here to serve and provide value. You are here to give them something very exciting to show to their readership. You have something genuinely valuable to share with them in the form of your art.

What to do when you pitch a blogger:

Have a strong headline: It’s worth bearing in mind that your email subject is a bit like your headline – you really have to get it right, because if they don’t like the title they won’t even read your email.

Do your homework on the blog: Some blogs ask you to do certain things in your email to help them better process your submission. If you don’t, the blogger will likely reject your message outright.

Personalize your pitch: Make sure the salutation references them by name, if you can. If not, name of the blog that they write for. Don’t start an email with something like ‘Dear Blogger’, please. Tailor it to the blogger in question, ideally in the first paragraph by referencing something they have written about in the past: And why what you have to OFFER them is RELEVANT. I speak from experience when I say that if someone shows that they have taken the time to research what I am writing, I am much more inclined to respond. It’s not flattery per se, more an example that you’re a professional who has taken the time and thought to do their research.

Expect a low hit rate: Sad but true, even the best crafted, most targetted pitches will often evaporate into nothing. This is very often the case and not something to take personally. People are busy, people forget stuff, sometime spam filters get excited, there are many reasons. Which leads us to the next bit… Follow up: 3-5 days later, politely. A short, friendly follow up email to remind them. There’s a trade off between emailing indefinitely until they get back to you or tell you to stop, or not. I think it’s like a lot of stuff in life in that persistence pays. Remember, you have something useful for them to see. An optional step – you could pick up the phone and call them (or try to get them onto Skype). If you are the kind of person who is good on the phone, this may be better for you.

Provide easily accessible links to your content: Either download links to music and imagery on a site like 4shared, or your EPK. Say thank you at the end: Everyone is busy, the fact that the blogger has taken the time to read all the way to the end is great. Politeness will get you around. Here’s an example of an email title (first introduction) that could work for you: “Hi [NAME OF JOURNALIST], I read your piece on [SOMETHING THEY WROTE] & thought you may like this…”

3. On Bloggers (Big and Small)

Please don’t rule out smaller bloggers. Just because they’re ‘small’ doesn’t mean they’re not important – even though a blogger may not have the following of a bigger publication, they often have a highly engaged and super niche following of the kind of people you want to get in front of. For example, they can be followed by journalists at bigger publications looking to catch new bands before they take off. Big outlets often get their ideas from smaller ones.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that bloggers are, on the main part, fanatical about what they like and they can be some of your biggest champions, if they like you. Most of the time, the ones who went into it purely for the money were quickly weeded out when they realized that they’re probably not going to get rich and famous overnight.

7 Game-Changing Ways to Get Press Without a Publicist

PaigePalermoTuneCore Artist Jennifer Paige has been busy.  Her new duo Paige & Palermo released their debut EP, Stay, to rave reviews.  MTV.com‘s Buzzworthy says “the two croon, resembling a more electronica-tinged Lady Antebellum, or even shades of Fleetwood Mac.”  Jennifer took the time to share some tips with us on how artists can get press without a publicist…

As an indie artist, when someone asks my budget, I wanna laugh.  Umm…what can we do for zero dollars?  Even fair and small expenses can add up quickly and derail the indie artist.  It’s all money coming out of our pockets – no Daddy Warbucks, no major label Cash Cow paying our expenses.  We put all of our hard-earned money into making a record, and there’s nothing left for promotion.  But without promotion, no one will ever hear our music.

Thankfully, music is a force like no other – and it can spread like a wildfire.  I know.  My debut single, “Crush,” did just that – it blazed up the worldwide charts before the ink had dried on my first contract, before I had my first photo shoot – before I could even say “PR!”  With the Internet and social media by our side,  it’s possible now more than ever to be heard on the world’s stage, but we must learn to think like a publicist.

Here’s the cold hard truth...We’re on our own, kids!  Time to get smart.  Time to be resourceful.

We NEED blogs to feature us.
We NEED people to follow us and be engaged on social media.
We NEED radio to play our songs.
We NEED fans to come to our shows.
We NEED you, Ellen… and you too, Oprah!!!

But how?  I promise you, if you take the time to do this stuff well, you WILL get press.

AND THAT WILL TRANSLATE TO MORE FANS AND MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET – WHICH MEANS YOU CAN KEEP DOING WHAT YOU LOVE.  

7 Game-Changing Ways to Get Press Without a Publicist

1) Make it easy for them.

It’s your job to define your story and tell the world why it is that you need to make music.  Laura Goldfarb at Red Boot Publicity explains, “Getting coverage is much more likely to happen if your story is compelling and your content is streamlined throughout all available social media outlets.  So much of PR is about pushing your brand to the next level – and consistency is key.”

2) Become newsworthy.

When you have news to share, write an attention-grabbing press release.  Do a little investigating and compile a media list for your style of music (or purchase one online).  Make sure you only send news that is relevant to the editor’s interest.  Remember: It’s better to write fewer, well thought out emails to appropriate contacts, than to SPAM a random list of industry contacts.  For a detailed breakdown of how to best represent yourself, check out PR You!  The essential do-it-yourself guide to public relations by Becky Vieria and Michele Smith.

3) Be quotable.

I was recently retweeted by a Billboard writer.  When she followed me on Twitter, I asked if she’d consider listening to a new project of mine – that was Step 1.  Step 2 was to send over new music for her review – that’s when my music had to speak for itself.  She loved what she heard and offered to not only feature my music but to also do an interview.  Mission accomplished!  No publicist necessary.  BOOM!

4) When the embers start to burn, blow.  

The hardest part is getting those first few believers.  After you’ve gotten those first bits of press buzz and you’ve started to create a name for yourself, keep that fire burning!  When you approach new leads, reference the most credible publications who have featured you and your work.  That’s usually all it takes for new contacts to see that you’re the real deal and jump on board.  After all, they don’t want to get left behind.  This is no time to rest.  Go, go, go!

5) Write an informative blog.

We all have expertise in something.  Perhaps you’ve toured a lot on a small budget.  Or maybe you’ve created a successful Crowdfunding campaign.  Shoot – maybe it was unsuccessful and you can share what NOT to do.  Point is, we all have helpful information to share with one another.  Include a link to your music or website in every blog post you create.  As it circulates, readers will likely check out the link you’ve provided and stumble upon your music.  Stay visible.  Find opportunities to share your music outside of your current circle of friends.

6) Be more like Keaton.

While touring with indie-artist Keaton Simons, I was able to watch first-hand as he worked his magic.  When I asked for his best advice on getting press without a massive PR budget, he didn’t hesitate to share his secret.  “I think it’s about persistence and consistency, and valuing every member of your fan base.  Nothing substitutes the direct contact you get from touring, and true fans are the best free publicity we could hope for!  In today’s industry, we have the ability to write, record and release a song in ONE day, so releasing new material on a regular basis is a great way to stay connected to our fans.”  I agree with Keaton.  It always comes back to the music and ultimately the fans are King.  You can see Keaton on The Ellen Degeneres Show, June 10th, which I think is evidence enough that building a loyal fan base is what it’s really all about.

7) The Best PR = Free Advertising

Beth Hood Fromm of OMG Publicity graciously offered up a few incredible resources available to the hungry artist, willing to think outside the box.  Go sign up now!

  • HARO – Help a Reporter Out (and a few tips to get you started.)
  • Although ProfNet isn’t free, the small investment might be worth it for someone who can’t afford a publicist on retainer.

I used to think that great art should be able speak for itself.  I was dead wrong – if we don’t speak up for our art, no one will.  Buzz, press, fans, etc. start and end with us.

The key is realizing that, as artists, we are selling more than music – we are putting life experiences into songs so that others can sing along and say to themselves, “That is so true.”  Music can be life altering, and in some cases even life saving.  What an honor we have been given to share the gift of music.

So go ahead – PROUDLY SHARE YOUR MUSIC and BOLDLY TELL YOUR STORY.  Make sure you are putting your best foot forward, and you might just get that lucky break!

Your PR genius within will thank you because deep down it knows…we all make our own luck.