Landing press coverage can be a daunting task. You know it's an important component to promoting and marketing your career, but compared to the other marketing strategies required of being an independent musician, it can feel like this one in particular takes up the most time. And has the least amount of results, especially when you're trying to do everything else yourself including being your own publicist.
I know firsthand the feeling of spending months learning how to craft the perfect press release and run your own PR campaign. Then spending hours writing press releases, and weeks sending hundreds of emails only to land a handful of placements on small blogs.
The solution? Narrowing your target market can really help improve your outcome. If you don't already have some impressive press or accolades under your belt it can be really tough to break that initial barrier down. Because of this it can be best to focus on your local market or a very specific niche to get the ball rolling.
So here's some tips to help you become a local superstar that all of the popular blogs and publications in your area rave about.
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Know Your Market And Nail Your Branding
The music scene has never been easier to get into, and as a result never been more saturated. It's gotten to the point that even the smallest publications with little to no audience are getting bombarded by hordes of artists desperate to grab some new eyeballs. In such a cluttered, competitive space how do you cut through and catch the attention of the best local press?
I'll tell you; You laser focus on who's attention you want, you figure out what gets their attention, and you labor relentlessly to package your career in a way that attracts that attention.
You need to know:
- Who your fans are.
- What other artists they like.
- Why they like you.
- How old they are.
- How they dress.
- What they do for fun.
- What their favorite TV shows are.
- And more.
If you're making authentic music that shouldn't be too hard; they like you because they relate to you.
Figure out what it is about you that they relate to. Now figure out what press caters to the same audience. When you focus your efforts this way you have a competitive advantage because you've already become something that the publication's audience would enjoy before you've even started your press campaign or pitched yourself.
You've got to keep in mind what's in it for bloggers and press people. They need content their audience will find relevant, enjoy, and want to talk about and share. Your focus should be on how giving you coverage will provide that for their existing audience.
You need professional, aesthetically pleasing, purpose focused, attention grabbing branding. Your artist photos, your social media presence, your press kit, your website, your videos, and most importantly – your music. And it all needs to be created with your identity and target market clearly defined and in focus.
As saturated as the industry is, the amount of indie musicians that really get this and give it the attention it deserves is a small pool. Become one of the musicians who focus on this stuff and you'll find it easier to have your career elevate above the clutter.
Combine Remarkable Music With A Remarkable Pitch
So you've spent countless hours perfecting your craft as an artist, defining your audience, and refining your brand identity. The foundation is laid. You have this new project you want to push, whether it's a single, video, tour or the like. What's more, you need to get in the hands of bloggers who can use their authority to get their audience to check it out.
The content is good, it's really good. You know if you can get the right people to check it out they'll love it and want to share it. Well, time to find out if you're right.
If you really know your market, have nailed your branding and your music really is remarkable – tastemakers and authoritative press people will give you coverage. As difficult as it is to even get them to take a couple minutes out of their day to check you out, it's really not asking that much of them. If you got your foundation right, once you get them to do so you will see results. All you need to do now is convince them that your foundation IS right, and that they won't mind giving up a few minutes to see if you're the next thing that should be on their radar.
How do you get them to give you the chance? Combine your foundation and your remarkable music with a remarkable angle and pitch.
If your music really is remarkable, once your target audience hears it they will talk about it. They'll share it. That's word of mouth and it's the best marketing strategy ever.
Now if you incorporate an angle into that release, something to differentiate it and make it even more remarkable, you just lit a fire underneath your release's word of mouth potential because you created an extra reason to remark about it.
Are you touching on a hot button issue?
Are you piggy-backing off of a current trend?
Are you innovating a different release strategy that strays from the normal?
Are you using some kind of creative packaging for your album?
Is your music video really controversial?
If you've answered yes to one or more of the above, that's your angle.
So you've got your foundation and you've combined it with remarkable music and a remarkable angle. Now you need to present it to the press in the form of a press release or an email.
I could dedicate an entire article into writing pitches because it's so important to get right. In fact, in future I might just do that. But for now, let me give you a practical overview of the process so you can get started approaching local press effectively and efficiently.
First of all, you need to present yourself in the best light possible as quickly as possible. But at the same time you need to focus on their needs and not yours. You need to focus your pitch on improving their life and publication more than anything else. You only need to talk about yourself briefly and in a way that highlights how it relates to what's in it for them.
You need to make yourself look as great as possible while avoiding hype. And you need to choose every word carefully because you need to do this as effectively and concisely as possible.
There's a lot of effort involved here. But there's effort involved in making your music career succeed anyways and this is the right place to expend it. Put the effort here and pitch 20 blogs you really want coverage from instead of putting the effort into contacting countless blogs with a mediocre pitch. I'm willing to bet you'll be much happier with the results.
Persist With The Right Attitude
Dealing with rejection is a constant reality for those in the music industry, especially when you're trying to pave your own lane early on in your career. The important thing is to persist and to maintain the right attitude.
Don't burn your bridges when your pitch gets rejected or ignored. Continue creating even better music and refining your foundation.
Never stop. Send your next pitch when you have it ready. Maybe last time the pitch just didn't resonate, but this one or the next one might. Maybe they just didn't like the music, but they will love your new stuff. Maybe your audience just wasn't big enough, but now your fan base has doubled. It nearly always takes repeated exposure before you finally break through.
Become Cool With The Cool Kids
There's a lot of truth to the “It's not what you know it's who you know” talk in the music industry. There's a lot of politics at all stages.
If you're not much of a politician it can become easy to get bitter, especially if you're watching artists with half of the skill and talent getting opportunities because they're buddy buddy with the right people.
My advice? Identify the local tastemakers that already have established trust and authority with your target audience and make friends with those people. You can do this intentionally without it lacking authenticity.
I'm not encouraging you to use people. But if you resonate with the same audience they do I'm willing to bet you already have a ton in common and were destined to be friends anyways.
You can dedicate your entire life to becoming the most remarkable artist ever and cold emails will never be as effective as emails accompanied by a phone call (or text message or tweet) where you can say “Hey person I already know and have a relationship with, I just sent you an email.” So get into a circle of friends with the local artists, DJs, promoters, and press people that already have the attention of the audience you want in your local scene.
Align With A Local Cause
Again, I'm not suggesting you do anything that isn't genuine. But if your passionate about something that a lot of other people are passionate about too and you want to get involved, you should.
Spearhead an activist movement or fund raise a charity. Find a cause that aligns with your passion and the passion of your audience and you make the world a better place. This will help you organically grow your own career at the same time. Plus press people love this angle.
These tips have all either directly improved my own press efforts or have worked well for other musicians I know. I hope they can work for you too when it comes to getting local press.
You don't have to use all of the above, but pick and choose at least a couple of the ideas mentioned and put it into practice.
So what are some of your best tips for landing local press coverage as a musician? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments!