Don’t Rely on Blog Directories or Major Media. Hit Everyone and Do Everything.
The common thing for artists to do is look up a convenient list of the Top 50-100 music blogs, email them all and consider the job done. In fact, PR companies sell the same illusions to bands all the time by promising to send their music to all the major outlets. Pitchfork. Rolling Stone. NME. Stereogum. SPIN. Under the Radar. Sounds pretty good, right?
In fact, the illusion works pretty well. I have artists approach me all the time asking “Will you send my music to Rolling Stone?” This opens up a whole can of worms, but one way I can sum it up is this. Be where you are. Move from there. Should you send your album to Pitchfork according to their specifications? Absolutely. If they choose to review it, that would be a game changer. However, there’s a problem with only targeting media that you personally read or find relevant. Chances are you’re not relevant enough yet to be covered. Many artists are travelling constantly, putting themselves and their personal finances on the line, playing 250 + shows per year, and they still struggle to get a mention in major media. If you just posted your new Soundcloud stream, you may need more significant movement to warrant this kind of coverage.
I received a message from a mid-level music blog recently who told me that their daily submissions had surpassed 1,000. Think about that for a moment. This blog was nowhere near the echelon of Pitchfork or Paste Magazine either, who most likely receive upwards of 2,000 – 5,000 daily. You simply can’t have enough interns to go through all that. And yet, many artists simply refuse to send their music to smaller blogs who may be receiving less than 50 submissions per day. It’s a numbers game, and the more you do, the more of a press spread you’ll have.
Why is it that we all want to skip the journey? We want to jump from the garage to Rolling Stone. You need to make major strides in your career for these top tier publications to even see you as a blip on their radar.
Is there a positive side? I’m certain there is. It’s counter-intuitive and ironic, though. Starting small, to the agitated mind, is an annoying path to take. If you do this intelligently, though, you’ll be building actual, physical success as opposed to dreaming and deceiving yourself, dangling a hypothetical carrot.
Artists who focus only on the goal of stardom tend to ignore most, sometimes all, tasks. How many music licensing libraries have you submitted your music to lately? Are you registered with any? You could be receiving royalties. How many music discovery platforms have you joined? Have you signed up with Songkick to promote your live dates? Are you actively booking live dates? Have you looked into quality publishing companies? How are your PR efforts doing? Are you advertising on Facebook and Twitter? Is your Last.fm page optimized? Have you tried out merchandise bundles with Topspin? The fact is, you’re your own manager, so there are hundreds of tasks that need doing. It’s alright. One at a time and make it a fun process.
Many artists ignore small blogs, music discovery services, apps, and publications, even when they’re small themselves. It makes no sense. To build momentum, you need to befriend people who are at your level of progress and find ways you can help each other. Never underestimate what a small blog can do for you. Follow their pages. Let them know you’re supporting them and they’ll do the same. I hear constantly from bloggers who complain about the lack of support from independent artists after they take the time to cover them. Don’t be one of them. Appreciation and collaboration will take you far in this world.
First get your name out on the small and mid-level blogs. Then, the big blogs take notice. The blogosphere tends to be a world full of voyeurism and copycats. This means that when your name gets posted over and over again, it has a strong cumulative effect.
Many of these blogs you’ll want to promote yourself to have not been listed with Technorati, and aren’t in the chosen lists featured on Hype Machine or Elbows. I suggest searching various terms in Google’s blogs search related to your genre, and you’d be surprised the quality of blogs that come up. To find as many as possible, search in quotes various bands who are similar to you as well as their new album title. You’ll find hundreds of blogs that aren’t “cool enough” for Hype Machine. Many have a decent following that has grown organically, but they’re not considered hip enough for the directories. That’s a fact. Curation may be cool, but if you rely on it for your promotion, you’re likely to get ignored.