I’ve read some great material recently by Niall Byrne from Nialler9.com, who put together possibly the best, most succinct and comprehensive listing of advice for independent artists who wish to send their music to music bloggers for coverage. I myself learned a few things from his advice, and plan to implement more options like Dropbox and Soundcloud in my future campaigns. You can read his tips here.
I feel it’s important to share, because the process of contacting music blogs should be both personal and intuitive. The ideas of keeping it simple and providing easy zip files/secure links for the music bloggers is paramount.
Chris DeLine from Culture Bully has some excellent advice on the subject as well which he shares in a series of articles, one titled “How to avoid pissing off music bloggers“. In his analysis, there is no one right way and just ‘being personal’ can backfire on a hopeful indie artist. Don’t just add “I really liked your blog” to a rigid template. Mean what you say. I’d advise any indie artist to read his blogs on the topic, as they may prove to be sobering.
One of the main issues that seems to be a sore one is time.
When a music blogger is approached with the wrong tone by an artist or PR person, it insinuates that coverage is expected and the writer’s time isn’t appreciated. Don’t assume that every blogger is getting paid for what they do or raking in the advertising dollars. Put yourself in their shoes and treat them like a human being. On the other side of the coin, some bloggers will expect you to get too familiar with their work, when I think the best thing to do is just be honest. There is no sense pretending that you’re a huge fan of their blog to appease their ego. You shouldn’t be villianized for simply requesting coverage PROPERLY for your music.
There is sometimes a double standard, and you may find yourself locked out either way. Just as, 10 years ago, many music bloggers may have received 20 submissions per day and chosen to cover 4 or 5, today they may be receiving 100-150 submissions per day and choosing to cover…..4 or 5. Judgements abound on both sides of the fence. Many bloggers resent the fact that it seems everyone is recording an album, ready or not, and inundating them with endless requests to cover their music. The musicians, too, resent that they have so much competition and can’t seem to get their music heard.
It’s the people on both sides of the fence who simply accept the situation and approach it with respect that will thrive amidst the crowd. If the music blogs seem to have an iron gate that you can’t crack, don’t just keep complaining about it. Start your own blog. Learn SEO. Save up and buy yourself some advertising. Outsource some promotion for your band on freelance and micro job websites. Seriously. Promote your Youtube channel and generate thousands of views. Get your music in as many licensing libraries as possible. You’re a business owner so give yourself a push. It’s important not to overestimate or underestimate “tastemakers”. It’s not all about appealing to people. It can very well be about thinking outside the box.
The whole process of music submissions would work a lot more smoothly if more musicians did some research on the blogs they submit to, provided all relevant materials in easy, secure links, and showed some courtesy in the process, but this isn’t likely to happen any time soon. Both musicians and bloggers are looking at the way things should be as opposed to the way things are.
A good questions to ask yourself is “If things stay exactly as they are right now, how can I thrive? How can I do what I love to do?” In many cases, what you come up with won’t line up with what you have been doing.