A lot of people in the music industry will tell you that with the internet – you too can promote your record into world renown just by emailing bloggers and waiting for Pitchfork to pick up your music. And technically that’s true – but this new age of the music industry is far more complicated than just that. Simply put: there’s quite a bit more to this semi-charmed life that we’ve found ourselves living. There’s some basic truths that I feel a lot of musicians have never really found out about music bloggers – even musicians at a relatively high level – so here’s a list of five things that musicians probably will want to know before launching their DIY promotion campaign.
5. Most music writers are overworked and miserable
Simply put – most music bloggers have a hard lot. They write about hundreds if not thousands of bands every year, are rarely thanked in a meaningful way and are often left wondering what the ‘next step’ is. Music journalism is a job a lot of people want – and one that very few have been lucky enough to obtain. The number of people pushing for it is huge and it leads to people creating massive amounts of content in the hope of a ‘big break’. While some of them definitely are trying to discover new artists the vast majority are constantly trying to get in depth interviews with the bigger bands – which leads to the next point.
4. You are not the biggest band contacting them that week
This is apparently a very hard truth for a lot of people to swallow. Shockingly enough – unless you’re contacting someone just starting out – you’re not the biggest band contacting them this week and probably even that day. Most music bloggers, even those at a fairly low level, are regularly getting promo materials for bands who have hundreds of thousands of Facebook likes. And in a world directed by social media statistics – numbers like that talk. So if someone can only really find time to cover a handful of records a week and have the choice between unsigned bands or indie label darlings – guess which ones they are going to be writing about?
3. You’re not even in the top 100
One thing that astounds a lot of musicians I’m close with is the volume of promos that I get. It’s somewhere around fifty a day at this point and I don’t think I’ve actually signed up for promo updates from a label in the last two years. Everyone else has apparently found me through my work. And don’t get me wrong – this is great. Bands should be able to contact bloggers, because I do try to cover underground bands here and there. But bands who are wondering why of the three hundred blogs they contacted only four bothered to review them need to realize that at the end of the day – music PR is a hard gig – that’s why we have professionals.
2. You’re probably not bringing anything new
This adds to the previous point but I feel it deserves it’s own entry. The long and short of it is that for people like me, who write reviews every day, it’s pretty rare that we will be hearing something totally new to us. And that’s fine – your music doesn’t need to be world bending to be good. But it does mean that you can tone down on telling me how your sound is ‘totally unique bro’. It’s fine if a promoter says that because they’re not in the fucking band, it’s their job to hype you. If you hype yourself, and you can’t sincerely back it up then you’re probably going to be ignored. Again – it’s not a question of people not respecting you – they simply don’t have the time. With thousands of releases coming out every year – who are you to hold them at fault?
1. They just want friends
As bitter as I might sound you need to remember the flip side of this coin – pretty much all of my friends are in bands and I cover those bands as much as I can. So clearly – there must be something you can do to get bloggers attentions. Simply put – you just need to be their friend. Add them on Facebook – chat with them about their work. Ask them questions. Music bloggers spend their entire lives asking other artists questions while never really getting to tell anyone about themselves or their own take on the art. Us music writers are a lonely bunch – we spend most of our time locked in our bedrooms listening to records we can only talk to other music bloggers about because no one else has heard them yet. We want to be your friend, so reach out!
Written by Matt Bacon. He is the senior campaign manager at Independent Music Promotions as well as an associate member of the Grammy Foundation
He also is a music journalist and has written for publications like Ultimate Guitar, WTF Mag and Vandala Magazine as well as his blog, Two Guys Metal Reviews. He has interviewed legends including Ace Frehley and Glenn Tipton whilst befriending other giants, like Phil Collen of Def Leppard.