Early bird gets the worm, and that is true for almost all online media people itching at the chance to break a story. It’s the same with music, too; journalists and bloggers take pride in “discovering the band” before anyone else, which is why they are quick to jump on premieres or new releases. But how you pitch matters to us. If you want your music premiered in some of your favorite independent blogs, give these email etiquette tips for music promotion a try.
Pro tip 1: Don’t overthink the body text. Shock and awe won’t work to your advantage.
Just the other day I received a press email that felt more personal and concise than most. The subject line read, in all caps, “FIRST LISTEN // (Name of Single).” The publicist had snagged my attention. Click!
Aside from the authoritative subject line, the publicist began the email with, “I’d love to hear your thoughts,” a resounding, yet simple introductory sentence addressed to a respected colleague. That on its own is like music to a journalist’s ears.
There’s a place for shock and awe within our industry (mainly on the stage or in the art), but if you’re an artist or band starting out, you have to prove to established music media that you know how the system operates. Think of it as earning your keep.
Following the introduction in the PR email was a three-sentence paragraph that read like a personal sales pitch without the slimy, used car salesman in front of the musician talk (ex. “This song will change your life, it’s prolific!). The paragraph described the intent of the email (to premiere a video for an up-and-coming artist, including a brief rundown of the publications the artist was already featured in), what the song was about, or message, and the artist’s intent behind the message (in this case, the artist had hoped that his message would bring about change in global politics).
Pro tip 2: Avoid confusion by making the music accessible and including only necessary details.
The email ended with a link and a clear call-to-action (LISTEN HERE). Thoughtful accessibility matters. You never want to make a blogger or journalist’s job harder than it already is (We’ve developed a thick skin from all of the rotten apples people have thrown at us over the years for a soft review or over-analyzed essay). Chances are if you’re reaching out to an independent outlet, they are more willing than not to give your music a listen, so don’t give the writer a reason to skim and ditch you because of a bad first impression.
Burying a streaming link inside a lengthy backstory (cue the violins) may lead to confusion about what exactly you want the journalist to do, or even worse, what your artist (or you, if you’re the artist) stands for. Have a clear purpose, in both the art you select to send and your request for promotion.
If your backstory is truly remarkable (but please understand that we bloggers get sent the “dollar and a dream” trope in emails daily — yawn), you can include a formal (but concise) biography with social media links at the end of your personal sales pitch. Leave it up to the journalist to snip or clip what they feel is useful in crafting a nicely-written premiere article that you can re-share for years to come.
If your music speaks for itself, and the journalist is interested in a more personal bent, they will follow up with you to get even granular in detail.
That brings us to…
Pro tip 3: Familiarize yourself with the blog’s content, and aim your sights at influential bloggers.
Musicians and bands who are doing their own PR often go the “spaghetti on the wall” approach, emailing hundreds of blogs in bulk with an identical email. That’s annoying and spammy. Don’t do this.
The most influential kind of bloggers are the ones who write outside of clickbaity posts or copy and pasted user submission material. Before you begin “shopping” your releases around, you should already know what websites and blogs you want reviews posted to. You put blood, sweat, and tears into mixing your band’s first album — make sure you have something to show for it by getting it into the appropriate hands at the outset.
Get to know the writers at each publication, and personalize each email accordingly. Start with local niche blogs, then branch out from there. Add a line in your introduction about how you enjoyed reading their latest coverage on a festival near your town, or better yet, quote a line from a review and relate it to the message of your release.
Even if the blogger decides to pass on you for the moment (they could have too many requests or maybe they aren’t looking to expand on content for your specific fan base), you never know what a well-crafted email could hold down the road if it resonates and has a clear purpose. The writer may admire your attention to detail and offer feedback in lieu of a review. A few more email exchanges and you could be well on your way to landing a featured article, which will get you noticed by more prominent publications.
- Presentation is key. Your email should read as professional and accessible.
- Give the journalist just enough detail (which they will determine as relevant or interesting) to craft a premiere around.
- Investigate your options. Before hitting “send,” do the research. This will greatly improve your presentation of the music and chance at being featured online.
Enjoy this FIRST LISTEN // We Are The Future by UK artist Samuel Jack: