When it comes to marketing your music on the internet, you must take a long-term perspective.
At first, it might seem like getting coverage or reviews from bloggers has a low return on investment. But if you keep growing, and they keep growing, you’ll see huge benefits over time. It’s worth the initial effort you put into it.
Here’s what you need to know about getting bloggers to cover your new release.
Step 1 – Prepare Your Marketing Assets
It’s always best to have your marketing materials ready to go before you begin outreach. That way, there’s little delay between when they request the information, and when you send it to them.
Here’s what you’ll need.
Your music should be in its completed form – recorded, mixed, mastered, and ready to go. After all, you aren’t going to be getting bloggers to review your demos.
But here are a few things to keep in mind. You may need both digital and physical versions of your music depending on where you submit your music. In some cases, you’ll also need to upload your music to SoundCloud and make it embeddable.
If you have no intention of making CDs, that’s fine, just be aware that some blogs or reviewers won’t accept submissions any other way.
Graphics & Photos
You should have both your album artwork and band or artist photos at the ready in digital format. You can also make these files available in a centralized page on your website, but in some cases, you’ll need to send them directly to the reviewer anyway instead of trying to get them to go to your website to download.
You may not necessarily need to send your bio to bloggers. But you should still have a polished bio on your website covering: Your story and reason for existence, notable quotes and accomplishments, where you’re from, who you’re influenced by, what genre of music you play, your contact information, and so on. This ensures that reviewers go to your site first to find any relevant information they need, which makes their job easier, and allows you to control the message too.
A press kit should be made up of:
- Video highlights from your best gigs.
- High quality (300dpi) photos.
- Your music. Two or three of your best tracks.
- Your bio, with press clippings and tour dates.
- Contact information, including your website URL and social media profiles.
This is a great tool to keep on hand regardless of whether bloggers request it, and having it in both digital and physical forms is ideal.
A one sheet is something you would typically include in a radio mailout. But there is a chance a blogger would request this from you, because it has everything conveniently in one place and saves them from having to search all over the place for relevant info and files to complete their research and put together their review or coverage.
Here’s what to include in your one sheet:
- Your act’s name and relevant URLS to your website and social media.
- Contact information.
- A photo of your band.
- Your album artwork.
- A two-to-four-paragraph bio, highlighting your latest release.
- A track listing for your latest release, with the “singles” or “hits” in bold text.
Step 2 – Create Your Music Blogger Hit List
Do some research. Look up local bloggers, established bloggers and entertainment magazines, independents, as well as major blogs and online publications. At this point, don’t worry too much about whether you think you can get on certain blogs. Just add them to your list.
As you begin finding opportunities, look for blogs that cater to your specific genre or style of music. There’s no sense in including a metal blog on your hit list when you’re a country singer-songwriter. Don’t add a site to your list if it doesn’t seem like they cover your genre.
I’ll talk more about this later, but also look at their submission guidelines and requirements before including them on your list. Depending on what they need from you, it may not be practical for you to work with them. Let’s say, for example, that your release is digital-only but they need you to send them a physical CD (and you have no intention of making CDs). It’s best not to waste your time on publications you won’t even be accepted by.
Finally, take some time to prune your hit list one last time before you move onto the next step. If you’re unsure about any of the blogs on your list, just remove them. There’s no such thing as a perfect list size, but having at least 50 and no more than 200 blogs on your list is ideal.
Step 3 – Reach Out To Music Bloggers
Now that you’ve created your hit list, you’re ready to begin outreach. But there are a few things to keep in mind before you start blasting out those emails. Read on.
To Go Exclusive Or Not?
Most bloggers love it when they get to break your story. If you come to them later and say “we’ve been covered by XYZ publications”, they’re not going to care as much. It doesn’t mean they won’t review it, but they’re not going to make it as much of a priority.
Naturally, it would be best practice to create a window for when the news is still “exclusive”, such as a 90-day timeframe. After that time is up, you could begin distributing your news elsewhere, depending on the agreement.
If you’re just getting started, then offering exclusivity to a smaller, local blog might make sense. It would still be best to “punch a little bit above your weight class”, as you never know unless you ask, and some reviewers might be willing to cover your release even if you are relatively unknown (also read the section “Be Active & Promote Your Music” below).
But if you’re a relatively well-established artist or band, it doesn’t make sense to offer exclusivity to an unknown blog. You must seek out the best option available and work with them to come up with a plan. The bigger blogs also tend to be busier, so keep this in mind as you’re trying to work out a timeframe and agreement that suits your promotion and release schedule.
Understand Their Requirements
Every blogger will require something slightly different from you. Don’t give them more than what they ask for, but don’t give them any less either.
Some reviewers will ask for MP3s in a Dropbox folder. Others will ask you to send them an embeddable SoundCloud upload. Still others may want you to send them your physical CD. You may also need to send them your bio, who you sound like (your influences), pictures, and so on.
Not sending them the required information or files could reduce your chances of getting reviewed. This negates all the work you’ve put into making your hit list.
If, for some reason, you aren’t comfortable with their terms, don’t bother reaching out to them in the first place. It’s just a waste of their time and yours too…
But please do take the time to look over their submission guidelines before reaching out. You can always email them first if you have any questions, but if you’re ready to send over your material, give them what they need to move forward with the coverage.
Also, don’t submit a package to sites that do not welcome unsolicited material. It’s a waste of time. Just send an email if you want to test the waters.
Step 4 – Get In Touch & Send Your Material
Now you’re ready to begin contacting bloggers on your hit list. Keep your messages short, be upfront and clear about what you’re after, and if possible, explain why this would be a win-win. Think about what’s in it for them.
Follow Up & Stay In Touch
If you can’t get a response from the bloggers you’re reaching out to, try again. Follow up on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule until you get a definite “yes” or “no”. Leave them alone if they say “no”.
Then, stay in contact with the bloggers you’ve built a relationship with. I’ll be talking more about this in a moment, but you can continue to send them stories and releases to be covered on their blog, and they’ll love working with you if you add value to the relationship.
People love to hear from their friends, and you can develop friendships with bloggers given some time. This can turn into a valuable relationship, and you can even grow together, so don’t just see bloggers as a “PR opportunity”. See them for what they really are – people, just like you!
Step 5 – Be Active & Promote Your Music
The number one mistake musicians make is work hard to get bloggers to review their music, and then do nothing. And when I say “nothing”, I mean nothing.
Imagine paying a press release distributor to get your news out to as many social networks, blogs, article sites, and publications as possible. Only, even after you’ve paid for their service, they sit on their hands and do nothing for you. Would you use their service again?
I’m not saying money will enter the picture when you’re looking to get a review. But a blogger is going to spend a good amount of time researching and writing your piece in the hopes that you’ll be promoting, not just the review, but yourself and your music. That’s how bloggers are going to get traffic to their site.
I recognize that you’re also looking to get something out of the review, especially streams and sales. But if you’re only thinking about you and what you can get out of the relationship, then you’re not going to get much out of the press you get in the first place. It’s up to you to leverage it to its full extent (i.e. by promoting it on social media and using a quote in your bio or press kit, etc.).
Advanced Collaboration Strategies
Here are several things you can do to amplify the results of the reviews you get:
- Guest post. If there’s an opportunity to guest post on the blogger’s website, offer to write a piece for them. Give them the opportunity to cross-promote the review they put together for you.
- Offer exclusive news to them. Most bloggers are looking for stories they can break. If you keep them updated with your career efforts and share newsworthy stories with them before anyone else, they’ll be happy to work with you, and getting another release reviewed in the future will become easier.
- Feature them on your blog or YouTube channel. Send them a quick five-question interview via email and have them answer it so you can profile them on your blog. Alternatively, interview them on your YouTube channel and link to their site in the description.
Conclusion – Integrate Your Marketing
Make reviews and blog coverage a part of your overall strategy. As I’ve already established, sending material when your act is inactive doesn’t make much sense. Bloggers don’t have any reason to cover you if you aren’t putting effort into self-promotion. If they see you’re active on your website and social media profile, it’s reassuring. They know you’ll do a good job of promoting the review they write for you.
Many musicians don’t have a documented strategy. They don’t know what their release schedule should be. So, they go from one thing to another and endlessly experiment, because they have no idea what’s working. Usually, it’s a combination of things that work. When you stop one thing to work on another, you could end up killing any momentum that was built up. So, getting blog coverage should be integrated into your overall strategy, and it should happen at a specific point in your release schedule.
This isn’t something you can know unless you’ve already done it. So, while you can plan, execute, and refine, you can’t refine when you don’t even have a plan! There are things you’ll begin to figure out as you do more, and this is one of those things. So, create a checklist and start getting your music out into the world. Then, as you see areas in your strategy that need to be tweaked, adjust accordingly.