Do’s and Don’ts
No PR team? No problem. If you are an independent musician or member of an artist’s team, you may already understand how challenging it can be to earn publicity on both web and print for your music. As a writer and blogger, I receive information from artists and teams via email, direct message, text, and even voice notes, which may be challenging to sort through, track, and update, and often leaves me with questions that require follow-up conversations, emails, and follow-ups. In this first part of the “getting music featured” series, I will outline some critical do’s and don’ts to get your music featured and placed in music blogs and magazines based on my experience and industry best practices.
The Do’s to Get Your Music Featured in Blogs and Magazines
Do Your Homework
If you want to submit a particular artist’s story, song, or project to a publication, you will need to spend a significant amount of your time working on research – not spamming. Take the time to find out which music blogs and magazines fit the genre of the music you make or promote. Learn who the key players are at that publication and what they do, and collect their email addresses when working to get your music featured.
Do Follow Key Players
Once you have figured out who plays a role in the decision-making, writing, and publication of the magazine or blog, connect with them on social media. Follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Wherever the key players are, be there, too. Follow the blogs and magazines on social media as well. If you want to be noticed by the key people, COMMENT on what the blogs, magazines, writers, and editors share as an organization. Your comments should show that you watched the content shared, enjoyed it, or have positive feedback to share.
Engagement on social media, for me, is a huge attention grabber. I notice and pay attention to artists who comment on my posts and stories and share my content. When those people reach out to me with a question or ask for a review, I am more likely to say YES because we have an existing relationship. I am more inclined to take a look or listen to an artist who has already provided to me by increasing my organic engagement and reach.
Do Document Your Progress
Now that you know which publications you are interested in working with, and who runs the show at each, it is time to take action! While you were busy doing your homework and following writers, bloggers, publishers, and editors, I hope you were also busily TRACKING everything you were doing.
I suggest keeping a log or excel sheet of all of the publications you intend to reach out to, the contact person at each, contact information for the publication and the individual responsible for the content, when you emailed them/plan to email them, and when you plan to follow up. Documenting your research and progress will prevent you from sending duplicate messages, contacting the wrong person, and following up too soon or too late. This document will form the structure of your outreach plan and publicity network.
Do Use Your Manners
Always remember to use your manners. It seems self-explanatory, BUT in my experience, I have had negative encounters when an artist felt entitled to a feature or review, regardless of the reason for the rejection. Remember that editors, writers, and the teams at blogs and magazines are people and CREATIVES just like you, who may not be able to answer a question on the spot or be able to say yes right away. Your manners, patience, and kindness go a long way – even across an email when working to get your music featured in those blogs and magazines.
Do Nurture Relationships
Whether or not you get approved for a publication or feature, continue to build relationships with key players. Networking and marketing with humans is often a long game, requiring you to be consistent in your work and provide value to others. Nurture relationships with key players by being interested in their lives and not just what they can offer you. Being present and invested in the publication and players builds trust, keeping you front of mind when the blog or magazine has a need.
…and the don’ts
You’ve gotten those DMs before. “Hey, fellow Instagram person. I just released a song. Check it out.” No hello? No conversation? No idea who I even am? It is annoying and unpleasant and will get deleted from my inbox. I know it is much faster and easier to just copy/paste a quick generic template, but you are wasting your time with these kinds of efforts. It is not genuine. I don’t feel invited to listen.
When I get spammy scripted direct messages, I immediately assume you are a newbie who doesn’t know what they are doing. As a writer and educator, it is particularly frustrating because I teach NOT to do this ON the same social media platforms where I receive those messages. That tells me you aren’t listening or watching MY content, so why would I support yours?
So, how do we stop doing this? Try starting a conversation by saying hello and addressing the person by their name or handle. WAIT. Do not send anything else until the other person responds because this is a CONVERSATION. Once the conversation has started flowing back and forth, you can mention that you are a musician. If you are being authentic, this will likely come up naturally because it is part of who you are. Ask the other person if they would like to listen to your newest project or whatever excites you. If they say yes, send that link! Follow up in a couple of days and see what they think. Thank them for listening. Above all, try to be normal. I know it’s hard, but do your best not to be a creepy, spammy, weirdo from the internet.
Bonus: I talk about private messages here because informal messages are increasingly common as the first point of contact. It is important to remember to EMAIL when you ask for something important (like a feature) from a blogger or publication. It is easier for the blogger or magazine to track, provides significantly more information in a single location, and is professional.
Don’t Lean on a Template TOO Much
I am busy putting together a template that independent artists can use to reach out to blogs and magazines when asking for a write-up, feature, or placement that will be available on ‘Independent Music Reviews & Features.’ For now, and when that template comes out, remember that writers and editors CAN TELL when you are just copying and pasting a script. While it’s a great idea to organize your thoughts in a basic format, you should personalize each message, address the party personally and professionally, and make sure the email sounds like you!
The writer or the editor might be sexy on the ‘gram, but this is a professional transaction, so resist the urge to flirt with the representatives at music blogs and magazines if you are trying to be featured. Remain professional in the DMs and over email, regardless of the interaction and outcome, and preserve your professional reputation in the independent music community.
Don’t Take No as Never
“Don’t take no as never” can be seen as aggressive, but let me explain. When I say don’t take no as never, I mean that just because your submission to this blog or magazine wasn’t a win doesn’t mean that you can’t try again later with a new piece, project, or idea – even with the same publication that previously said no. There are many factors in selecting a song, artist, or story for a blog or magazine, and those variables can change over time. Your personal story, music, and interactions are variables in that equation, so don’t give up. Remain professional, stay connected, and continue to reach out with new and exciting projects and ideas.
Have you seen success with these tips? Do you have other guidelines or methods that have worked well for you? Let me know! Comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!
Do you have a new music release coming up? Send me the release information, including the album art, your Spotify or Apple Music profile link, and any pre-save information as soon as possible. The 2022 Upcoming Release Calendar is updated regularly, featuring independent and unsigned artists for free – so get your music listed with me! Submit information to Photobombshell on Instagram or via email: email@example.com.
Music already released?
If your music has already been released, never fear. You can still submit your music for review by sending your electronic press kit, song or project links for streaming platforms, video links, and album art to Photobombshell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submission does not guarantee a review or feature. You will not be contacted unless your project has been chosen for a published feature on Photobombshell.media. If selected, you will be notified of the article publication through the contact information you provided in your initial inquiry.