As a musician or band without the funds for an agent yet, promoting yourself on a shoestring can be a challenge. We asked our our friends over at PR firm Dittomusic.com for some tips to help you out.
A well-planned PR campaign is an effective way to get the word out about your music, start generating hype and make sure journalists and bloggers take notice of your latest release.
Most up-and-coming musicians, however, will only have access to a limited budget, which means hiring a professional PR agency to do the legwork simply isn’t an option.
If this sounds like a familiar situation, why not take PR into your own hands?
You’ll want to start your PR campaign well in advance of your planned drop date, typically 6 to 8 weeks before you release music on Spotify, iTunes and other stores. This will give journos plenty of time to schedule your feature into their plans. You’ll need an interesting, well-written press release, and a long list of potential contacts, which you can find online with a bit of thorough research.
If you’re an unsigned artist, attempting to get press to cover your music can be a frustrating process, so here are some easy PR tips for musicians to improve the chance of your tracks being picked up by influencers and securing those all-important features.
Do-it-yourself PR Tips For Musicians
1. Find an interesting angle
Many journalists and bloggers will receive hundreds of press releases a day, so it can be difficult for new artists to be heard through all the noise.
That’s why it’s essential to have an interesting angle and subject line; one that will catch a journo’s eye and make sure they open your email.
“Band X Releases New Single” is not an interesting subject line. But you can make it interesting by adapting your pitch and using the right angle.
Did you work with an interesting producer or collaborator? Does your track tackle a poignant issue? Do you have a unique music video? Have you won any awards? Find an angle and work it into your subject line. Make it sensational enough to get the recipient’s attention and compel them to open and read it.
2. Be personal
Another PR mistake often made by bands and musicians is sending mass, impersonal emails out to a hundred bloggers and expecting results. This is far from the best way to do it despite the time saved and efficiency.
BCCing all your contacts into one email might be a quick way to send out your press release, but it’s also a lazy way to run a PR campaign. It’s worth taking the time to construct each email individually. Perhaps including a short, unique intro paragraph for each one mentioning how you love their blog or publication and addressing the receiver by name.
This method can take time and effort, but it will improve your chances of getting a reply considerably.
3. Reach out to the right people
If you’re a new band or artist still trying to establish yourself, don’t worry about starting small. You’re (probably) not going to get featured by Q or Pitchfork straight away.
There are hundreds of smaller blogs out there written by people who do it simply for the love of music. A quick look through sites like Hype Machine and Submit Hub will throw up plenty of potential targets and options.
If you make a certain type of music; genre or subculture-specific blogs also offer an easy target. The key is to remember that, at first, all press is worthwhile. No matter how small the publication might seem, a feature can be the first step on a ladder to bigger press coverage.
4. Don’t be afraid to follow up
As I mentioned, bloggers and journos receive lots of emails and press releases every day, so it’s entirely possible that yours got lost in the crowd.
It’s perfectly acceptable to send a polite reminder if you don’t hear anything back after a short while. Perseverance pays off in the PR game, and often you will have sent 50 or more emails for every one feature you secure.
Final thought - PR tips for musicians
There are no guarantees when it comes to PR. The best PR executives spend years building relationships with blogs and magazines, so don’t expect to become a PR whizz overnight.
The real trick is to do something different that will help garner attention, and most importantly, crank up your amp and make great music that can’t be ignored!
Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.