Many indie bands rejoice when they hear that they can look up endless music blogs in one place, the famous music blog directories, or aggregators, who are “carefully curated”. However, the trend of curated content, while very helpful, can be limiting when you’re promoting yourself, and directories should by no means be your only target. The below piece is taken from the new “Your Band Is A Virus – Expanded Edition” and I hope independent artists everywhere find it useful.
While some artists set their minds on that feature article in Rolling Stone, the smart ones are emailing all the Music bloggers (within their relevant style) they can find. Music bloggers are freelance music reviewers who write and share the music they love online. They are usually quite independent though they can tend to have a lot of listeners/subscribers.
Many MP3 blogs do allow submissions, so submitting your music to get reviewed not only is great exposure for your music, but a good review will help you get blurbs for your press kit. Let your promotion feed itself. The more you get talked about, the more you have to post on your site networks and blogs (your social networking). More people find you and the positive cycle continues.
Remember that the bloggers are the mouths that speak to today’s music listener. If they talk about you in a positive light, you are on your way. We advise that you visit Hype Machine immediately and start searching the thousands of mp3 blogs to find where you fit in.
The Hype Machine: For an overwhelming, but hopefully exciting list of music mp3 blogs that can post your music, go to http://hypem.com/list. The way the Hype Machine works is it tracks a huge amount of popular mp3 and music blogs – currently a handpicked listing of almost 800. The music blogs post music and the Hype Machine presents it on their own site so the public can find “all the best music in one place”.
With an overarching goal of empowering independent voices that write about music, it’s difficult to argue with their philosophy. You can search the blogs by genre or just go through them alphabetically. You can also search similar artists to your band on the Hype Machine’s network, and choose to contact those blogs only. This can get you a ton of new listeners, and it gives you something to talk about with the blogger.
The other fantastic feature of the Hype Machine is that the more popular your song grows on the network, the more other bloggers tend to pick it up and repost on their own blogs. Bloggers tend to want to write about what other bloggers writer about, so getting on the good side of this group of bloggers is essential to the success or obscurity of independent artists. Beyond the blogging community here, there is also a community of tastemakers over a million strong. They are a mixture of DJ’s and music fans, and you can bet that they have their eyes peeled for the next new artist to grace the Hype Machine charts. Once a blog adds your music to the Hype Machine, members of the community then need to “heart” your music in order for it to get on the charts. It’s important to seize the momentum and act right away. This is one of the rare cases where I advocate getting your friends and family to sign up for the Hype Machine and “heart” your music. If you can get on the charts, artists often find that things take a life of their own.
A whole book could be written on the merits of the Hype Machine, but let’s just say it’s important to our current musical landscape, and any independent artist would do well to look at it from a creative and “outside the box” perspective, taking time to get to know each and every blogger catering to their genre.
Elbows: Elbo.ws calls itself “the most comprehensive music blog aggregator”, and it would be hard to argue that this is another blog community with a massive amount of influence. Elbo.ws is quite selective with its blogs, but its database is much larger than the Hype Machine’s. It currently boasts a directory of over 4,000 music blogs. Users can look up popular blogs, tracks and videos to see what the current trends are. Like the Hype Machine, you can also search by artist if you’re looking specifically for similar artists to your own band.
The name of the game is essentially the same as on the Hype Machine. The more blogs post about you, the higher you rise on the charts. With a directory over triple the size of the Hype Machine, Elbo.ws is not to be ignored. As you go through the blogs relevant to your band, remember to keep adding contact emails to your master excel document. It can be tedious work, but once it’s done, you have a list that you can use for years.
Technorati: Got more time on your hands? Technorati.com indexes over 11,000 music blogs last time I checked. If you want better than average results and new allies, try looking through the blog list in reverse. This will show you a series of blogs that either have just been added to the directory recently or are not popular enough yet to have a high ranking. Why would you want to do that? For one reason that I’ll go into more later, you’ll get a much better response ratio emailing blogs that get a few emails a day as opposed to 10,000. Also, in many cases, the blogger is appreciative that you reached out to them and noticed their blog.
And now for a curve ball you may not be expecting…
Don’t Rely on Blog Directories or Major Media
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.
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. Many artists ignore small blogs, 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.
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. Many have a decent following that has grown organically, but they’re not considered hip enough for the other directories.
Don’t Stick to Your Own Language
In my searches through the various blog directories, I’ve inevitably found some sites that activate Google translate. This should give you some good ideas. With features this easy to use, you’re free and clear to build contacts all over the world. Why not target German electronic music blogs, Swedish metal blogs, or Brazilian rock radio shows? Whatever your style, whatever your fancy, people are probably more keen on it outside of your local scene. A rock band may have trouble getting heard in North America, but Europe has a much stronger appreciation of rock, for example. When you find a site that is exactly what you’re looking for, check their blogroll for the goldmine. Always document as you go so you don’t have to go through this grueling process on your next album!
Does this take much time?
Sure. It will initially. But the results can be shocking. Do you want a press page filled with quotes from music publications raving about your band? That’s the way to do it (provided your music is strong, of course). Get personal and use the correct tactic for the situation, and you will get those reviews coming in.
Reviews typically come in over a period of 1-6 months as well, which can be a good thing, as it can seem like Christmas when you check your inbox. Writers can tend to be busy people. This can mean that if you connect with enough people, you’ll get a few efficient writers who provide you reviews within a few weeks. Remember – you are planting seeds. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. You should be reaching out to thousands of people.
Now you’ve got your press page off to a good start. Be sure to get their permission before posting the review in full or in part on your website. If you’ve connected with enough people, you will continue to see reviews coming in over the next long while – people you forgot you contacted will be sending you reviews, and this keeps your band in the spotlight somewhat. Pat yourself on the back every time you get a positive review.
The best way to set up your press page is to list quotable press clippings as opposed to full reviews. Make sure you choose the most appealing lines, and hyperlink with credit to the original review. For example, something like this may create intrigue.
“Sarah and the Dreamweavers are the next rock act to take over England, without a doubt in my mind.” – James Jacobs, London Rocks Magazine
“I was blown away by every aspect of this new British sensation.” – Music Supreme Magazine
Allow yourself to celebrate because working, as an independent musician, is a series of small victories. With every review that arrives, you should be having a glass of wine and taking a moment to enjoy the success. Be thankful.
Can You Use Negative Reviews?
Yes and no. If the negative review goes something like “The instrumentation was subpar and the vocals were awkwardly bad. I felt embarrassed listening to this band. Boy, do they ever suck.” then you probably would not want to post it on your website. It’s bad enough that it’s posted anywhere!
However, if the review goes something like “Where do these punks get off saying these terrible things about the government? The music was pure noise! It’s immoral, un-American, and I don’t know how people could listen to this musical chaos!”, and you are an anarchist punk band or a politically charged heavy metal group, it’s fair game and could very well work for you rather than against you. How much negative press have bands like Rage against the Machine gotten over years? It’s only fueled the fires and made them look cooler to their fan base. Get the idea?
Negative comments on blog posts and message boards can be a very good sign, too, so don’t get discouraged. A band that gets talked about is a band that is making waves. When you start making waves, some people are going to get annoyed. It’s to be encouraged. People just love to share their opinions, even though opinions, of course, mean nothing when faced with reality.
This full article is taken from the “Your Band Is A Virus – Expanded Edition”.
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