With the rise of music blogging, it’s easier than ever for artists to be their own publicists. And I think you should try your best to be your own publicist whenever you get the chance! It’s cheaper, and nobody cares more about your music than you do.
The problem is, everyone can do it, and not everyone does it well. So, music blogs get dozens (if not hundreds) of pitches per week, and they end up not answering. Artists get frustrated and so do the bloggers, and it just doesn’t work.
That said, there is a right way to go about sending your music to blogs and getting your music featured. I’ve been pitching my own music for over a year, and this guide is based on my personal experience as a writer and an artist. It’s also based on conversations I’ve had with publicists and my experiences working with publicists.
My goal is to make the process easy to understand and to give you clear steps that you can put in to action right now.
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Understand The Industry As It Is Today
When music blogs were just starting in the early 2000s, they were breaking artists. And this is true to this day. The difference is, music blogs have been forced to become more curated and niche orientated.
There are less general blogs, and more specific tastemaker blogs that service a very particular genre and set of interests. Also, there is less benefit for artists to give a blog a totally exclusive premiere. It usually makes more sense for a song to be posted on every streaming platform, and premiered on a blog.
In addition to genre-specific niches, there are also blogs that will cater to not just a genre, but to a whole set of values (political, social, etc.). You have to be smart about who you're pitching to and who their audience is.
There is also more music than there has ever been. Blogs are finding different ways to request pitches – sometimes only accepting them through third-party sites like SubmitHub. Others don’t accept submissions at all.
What Is A Premiere?
Often, artists are pitching to blogs in order to get a premiere for their song or video. A premiere, for most sites, means that the blog will embed the song or video, write about it, and share it on their platforms, before the song or video is available anywhere else.
This tends to be mutually beneficial, because the blog gets traffic from the artist, and the artist benefits from the blog’s own traffic and the optics associated with the blog. The premiere is usually featured in an email blast or a homepage feature.
It’s usually a good idea to give the blog some sort of unique information (a quote or something similar) to share in addition to the content itself.
Generally, the song will be exclusively hosted on the site for a day or maybe half a day. Then, it’ll be shared with the wider world.
There is, however, an understanding that it’s sometimes release dates are out of your control, and your song could be up on streaming services before it's on their blog. At the very least, it’s expected that you haven’t announced the release yet. Understand that if the song is publicly available, many blogs won’t consider it. Also, most blogs like to promote new material rather than something that's more than three months old.
A premiere is not a way to get attention for a song that’s already been released.
Consider What You Can Offer A Blog & What They Can Offer You
As I said before, the premiere should be mutually beneficial. Carefully consider what you can offer a blog that another band can't. Is it the first single from a new album? Your first ever music video? A collaboration that will reach two or more audiences? A great story?
If you can offer a reviewer some sort of special content, they will be much happier to give you a feature.
Similarly, you should carefully consider who you are getting to premiere the content. Consider the fact that every publication has a target audience, and you want to make sure that your audience intersects, unless you’re making a conscious effort to reach a new audience!
Some blogs post way too much music, and won’t put any effort into promoting yours. Never underestimate the value of your art. If you’re giving a blog a premiere, make sure they will work it.
It’s also a good way to build a relationship with reviewers. Consider giving the same blog your content often in order to foster that relationship.
Do Your Research!
It should go without saying, but it probably needs saying: Different sites service different genres. You will not have any success submitting your pop band to a punk blog. There’s a set vibe on every site.
And sometimes it's more than just the genre of music you play. Reviewers will look at aesthetics, style, language, and so on. Your music may be “pop”, but if you’ve made a dark, edgy video or a very lo-fi video, it simply won’t fit in with the aesthetic of a very bubble gum pop site.
Individual writers also have specialties and aesthetics that they write about and cater to. If you notice a writer writing about a lot of similar bands, it’s worth contacting that writer directly, as they might be more responsive to you.
Sometimes, a publicist can help you find these people, but even then, it’s worth doing research to make sure they are targeting the right places.
How To Pitch Your Music
On to the important stuff! Writers, curators, and editors can be hard to reach. These people are literally inundated with emails and they always have deadlines. It’s extremely important to reach out to them on their preferred platform and to respect their privacy.
Ideally, you want to build a relationship before you pitch. Follow their posts, comment on their content, or better yet, meet them at a show or a conference. This has always been the best way to get featured, and that remains true.
However, it is not possible to develop relationships with everyone in the entire blogging world. You need to make sure that if you are one of the dozens of unknown artists contacting a writer, your email stands out as informative and professional.
Most writers will want to work with an artist they’ve already heard of or heard from, an artist that has all of their information at the ready, or one that they’ve already worked with.
Pitch Using Their Desired Method
If a writer or a site requests that you submit music to a specific email address or requests that it come through a specific site, respect that. If you submit your music through another medium, it will probably be ignored.
In cases where there is no preferred platform, send music to a public email address or public social media. Never send music to a private social media account, telephone number, or email address.
Be Prepared To Pitch
If you want to be taken seriously, only pitch songs or content that is completely finished and ready for public consumption. This is why it’s important to leave extra time during production: You don’t want to pitch an unfinished product.
Make sure you have your bio, promo pics, content, and story all ready to go if somebody wants to feature your music. They may not have time to wait around for you to get organized.
Make It Easy For Them To Listen To Your Music
Always send links, never attachments. Attachments slow down email servers and take up too much space. If somebody specifies a SoundCloud link, send them that.
I usually send people a download link (Dropbox) and a streaming link. I think people generally prefer a streaming link, but I give them the option.
Make sure the links work and make sure they aren’t too long. It’s preferable (if you’re asking for a premiere) to provide a link that has very few plays on it.
Come With Art In Hand
Most blogs will want to use your art as a thumbnail. Make sure you come prepared with art, promo pictures, etc. Make sure the art either fits your aesthetic, or will be very clickable and attractive.
Always provide them with art that is high-def and make sure you credit the artist or photographer.
Often, blogs want options so that they can pepper their post with images. This is why I have a Dropbox folder with around eight different images in it – promo pictures, live shots, album art, etc.
Be Succinct & Professional
I like to include as much information as possible in the fewest words. In fact, I try to keep the entire pitch under 150 words. Here is what my emails usually look like:
Subject: Premiere Request: The Middle Coast – This Isn’t Love
I like the subject line to include as much information as possible. People should know what they are about to read before they even read it. This makes it easy for them to consume the information and respond.
If I have a previous relationship with them, or the song features an artist that has been on their site before, I would include that.
Hi (editor’s name)!
My name is Liam Duncan from The Middle Coast (Winnipeg, Canada).
Would you consider our song, “This Isn’t Love” for a premiere on your blog? Below is a streaming link as well as a download link:
We play retro-pop music with a Hall & Oates vibe. Three-part harmony and musicality are displayed throughout the song. We have an active social media presence and would share the content on our channels! We’re also really fun to interview (I promise).
This song was inspired by our drummer’s 16-year-old love affair gone wrong. We recorded much of it in our basement, but have worked with producers Howard Redekopp and Thomas D’arcy in the past!
We would like this to premiere on or before July 31st.
Thanks for your time!
[links to social media]
[links to EPK]
135 words! That’s it, that is all there is to it. I gave them the links to the song as well as links to our social media, and links to our promo photos and bio, which are all in an EPK on our website.
I quickly established what I wanted from them, what they would get, and gave them a bit of story and background. It would take someone under a minute to read, and they'll have a good understanding of what they are getting.
If you have any interesting tidbits, share them and provide proof that it happened (A celebrity shout-out, a crazy opening slot, etc)! Try to quickly share something meaningful that will grab both readers and writers.
I also specified when the song should premiere, which gives the writer one less thing to think about, and may even encourage a response.
Give Writers Time To Respond
Once you’ve sent your request, give the writer at least a week to respond. Once you’ve waited a week, it’s totally fine to follow up. I usually follow up once per week, and after three follow ups, I give up and move on.
If they decline your pitch, it’s okay to ask why, but you should always respect that and move on. Be thankful they even sent you a reply! Wait at least a few months before contacting the same blog again.
What Is SubmitHub?
Last but certainly not least, is SubmitHub. I have to say, I was very skeptical when I began using this site, as I felt that many other sites promised blog coverage, but would just take your money.
SubmitHub is legit. It costs about $1 to submit your song to a blog, and they must respond to you and give you feedback, otherwise you get your money back. SubmitHub has a very long list of blogs, and some blogs will only accept submissions through the service.
When using it, be ready to get hard, honest feedback, but also be ready to get someone all of your information if they accept it. I have personally had great success with the site.