Skinny Unsigned #2: How to get your music featured on blogs
Skinny Unsigned is our free monthly guide offering insight and advice to unsigned musicians and bands. This month we’re going digital and heading into the blogosphere, with a 4-step guide outlining the best steps to take when it comes to approaching music bloggers and websites.
Recent estimates reveal that there’s around 12 hours of content uploaded to Soundcloud every minute (in other words, approximately 9000 songs every hour). With so many new tracks appearing online it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd and find the right ears for your music, and this is where music blogs enter the equation. From niche tastemaker operations to major music news platforms, the digital press plays a vital part in establishing new artists and developing a story beyond the music.
Step 1: Set up your socials
It’s important to have an optimized social media presence before approaching any kind of music press. At the very least, your band should have Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud accounts set up and branded professionally. Be sure to use hi-res, clear press shots or band logos across your social media accounts, and include a short bio, location & an email address.
Official websites are often a useful asset to have, but they’re not a necessity especially if you’re a relatively new act. If you do decide to launch a website, you’ll want to include a biography, music streams, contact information and a mailing list capture form. It’s also a good idea to write a regular blog, where you can post updates on studio sessions, gigs and anything else you can think of which people may be interested in reading!
Remember – these are all basic principles and not by any means strict guidelines. If you have a unique idea for your website or social media accounts, by all means get creative and go for it!
(Side note: Please, please, please make sure your Facebook and Twitter accounts include a link to your music. The amount of artists who forget to include this in their social media pages is truely mind boggling!)
Step 2: Write a press release
There are literally thousands of articles on the internet with advice on how to write a good press release for your band, so we’ll keep this bit short and sweet and break your press release down into 4 sections:
Paragraph 1: The Headline
This should sum up your press release in a sentence, and tell the reader where you’re from, what you are and what it is you’re promoting (e.g Manchester based 4 piece ‘The Band’ introduce themselves with punchy rock and roll debut ‘The Song’).
Paragraph 2: The Bio
This should offer the reader some basic background information about your band whilst also building what the press call a ‘story’ around your music. As a basic outline, this section should include your age, location, musical influences, any notable achievements so far in your career (e.g large gigs, radio play), and anything else you think is worth mentioning to a potential fan.
Try to avoid boring or cliched sentences (e.g The Band met at University, and started playing together in 2015), and instead focus on the interesting or unique bits (e.g All four members of The Band found themselves studying at the same University, alleviating their boredom at local open mic nights where lead singer Jack eventually stumbled into drummer Shaun and posed the beer fueled question: “Do you wanna join a rock n roll band?”).
Paragraph 3: The Song
This section of your press release should tell the reader about the song that you want them to feature / write about. Tell them what it sounds like and what it’s about, including any quirky or interesting aspects of the song which could make it stand out to a potential blogger. If you recorded the track at a notable studio or with a respected producer, be sure to mention their name and production credits in this section too.
(e.g Produced by Mr Producer at The Studio, The Song is a raucous three minute journey through rolling basslines, pulsating drum breaks and stabbing guitar tones. The single’s infectious lyrics come courtesy of vocalist Jack, who gives the track it’s defining moment with an intoxicating hookline that’s ripe for festival campsites. Sit back, strap in and prepare for the perfect introduction to this heady new British four piece!)
Paragraph 4: Contact Info
This final section of your press release should simply include your social media links and contact information. If you have a release date set for your song, include it here along with any label / distribution notes (e.g ‘The Song’ is out 26th August on all major streaming platforms).
Step 3: Find the right blogs for your music
Now you’ve readied your socials and press release, it’s time to start finding the right online outlets for your track. A quick Google search of ‘music blogs’ will reveal thousands of websites which actively seek out and post about unsigned artists, but the key is finding the ones which are most likely to be interested in yours. It may take some time, but personally approaching carefully researched bloggers will always be infinitely more productive than simply sending out a blanket email to as many sites as you can find.
As a new band, your attention will most likely be drawn towards the large online platforms you already read. Whilst exposure from the likes of NME or Clash is great, there’s always huge competition for placements and it can be extremely difficult to land features with them at an early stage. Whilst it is worth approaching the more popular outlets, there are plenty of smaller / niche blogs which can provide a decent springboard to kick start your online presence, so it’s important to seek them out too.
Some alternative tips for finding blogs for your music:
• Head over to the Hype Machine Blog Directory and filter by genre
• Find an unsigned band similar to yours and search for recent blog posts about them
• Search for your music genre on social media (e.g indie rock) or terms like ‘New Music’
Most blogs have contact pages which will provide information on how to submit music, but in some cases you may need to get creative and track down particular writers / contact details yourself. A bit of detective work on Google will often help you find what you’re looking for, but if you’re feeling lazy, sometimes a polite tweet asking for a contact email will do the trick. Where possible, try to find out the name of the blogger or writer you’re approaching, along with their email address.
(Side note: Most major blogs have at least one editor and a team of writers, along with freelancers who contribute reviews and feature articles. In this case, it’s usually best to do your research and approach the writer who’s most likely to dig your sound based on what they’ve previously covered)
Step 4: Sending your songs to blogs
By now you should have a list of the blogs you want to approach, along with the names and email addresses of the people you need to speak to. At this stage, you might be tempted to whack all of your contacts in an email, BCC it and send a blanket message in the hope that someone, somewhere will pick up your track.
Please don’t do it!
If you expect someone to take time out of their day to listen to your song (and potentially write about it), then the least you can do is have the courtesy to send them a personal email. That may sound harsh to some, but the reality is that most blogs are bombarded with music all day, every day, so you can’t blame them for ignoring the blatant mass emails from people who haven’t even bothered to approach them like a human being.
This doesn’t mean you need to write a completely new, unique email to every blog you contact (although if you have the spare time, it certainly won’t hurt!), but you should personalise each email with the name of the person you’re contacting at the very least.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to start thinking about the structure of your pitch (hint: think short and sweet). Attach your press release instead of pasting it into the email, and simply include a few lines and a link to your song. Think of your email as a cover letter and your press release as a CV – if you approach the blogger in the right way and they like what they hear when they click your link, they’ll most likely open your press release to find out more!
We’ve included a basic email template for approaching blogs below:
Key tips for e-mailing music blogs:
• Find out who you’re speaking to and address them by name
• Never attach MP3s or send download links, instead send a link to the track on Soundcloud or YouTube
• Feel free to mention anything notable (airplay, support slots), but avoid unnecessary filler
• Consider including a short FFO (for fans of) in the subject line (e.g FFO: Arcade Fire, Deerhunter)
It’s important to remember that blogs are constantly bombarded with new music, and unfortunately most writers and editors simply don’t have time to listen and respond to everything they receive. It doesn’t hurt to follow up your initial email with a polite chaser, but don’t turn into that guy who sends hundreds of emails if you don’t hear anything back!
Using a PR Agency
Professional music publicists follow the basic principles outlined above, but also have personal relationships and trusted connections with bloggers, journalists and editors which they can lean on to secure coverage for their clients. Good PRs have a deep knowledge of what particular blogs are looking for, and know how to utilize your content for maximum impact online over the course of a campaign.
Here at Skinny Music we specialise in online music PR and have over 10 years of front-line experience in music promotion. If you’re looking for professional representation please feel free to take a look at our online PR services or get in touch!