bands: how to promote yourselves to music blogs

IPMN is winding down and there are a few things I’d like to talk about. First is my recommendations to bands about how to approach music blogs.

Ipickmynose is certainly not in a class with Stereogum, Brooklynvegan or Gorilla vs Bear, but I still post about bands I like and bands still try to get me to post about them. I’ve gotten a lot of emails over the last 2+ years from bands. Sometimes I get dozens a day (and more from labels and PR companies). Basically this means I’m probably not going to listen to everything a band sends in. How do I decide what I’ll listen to then? Some of it is random but often it’s what is in the band’s email.

How to promote your band to music blogs/ bloggers:

  1. Remember music bloggers are people
    Less a specific recommendation than a general reminder. Few music blogs are so big that they have hierarchy or paid music writers. The vast majority of music bloggers do it because they love music and want to find and share music. I like being approached as a person and a music fan.
  2. Personal attention from you helps get personal attention in return
    If you want me to spend 10+ minutes with your music–at minimum I’ll listen to four of your songs on myspace–you may want to spend more than 2 seconds adding my email address to some big mass mailing. I don’t expect you to write a completely new email to every different blogger, but some personal attention at the beginning is nice. Bloggers often put their names on their blogs; use it. Showing that you actually understand the blog and truly think the blogger might like your stuff based on his taste is even better.
  3. Be honest
    The single worst email I’ve gotten said “I’ve been a fan of your blog for three years!” At the time, I’d had a blog for a year and a half. I like to be flattered just like everyone else, but it’s easy to tell if you just searched for “indie folk music blog”, found my blog and then email me about your indie folk band; in such a case, claiming you love my blog doesn’t get you anywhere. Also, don’t pretend you’re a fan of a band that’s trying to share a new discovery with the blogger if you’re actually in the band. There’s no need to lie.
  4. Send music you’re proud of
    I’ve received a lot of emails with links to demos or live recordings. Or the email will say “we recorded these in a hurry”. If you’re saying things like that, it’s time to record the songs better, not to try to promote them. I know music bloggers loved Lily Allen’s demos, but in most cases, sending demos will just cause the blogger to discount your band.
  5. Find out how the blogger wants the music
    Music bloggers are all different (that’s important to remember in general!). Most will tell you how they like to get music, though. I like myspace links with an offer to send a digital/ physical copy of the album if I like it. Some hate myspace; some love getting mp3s in the emails. Some would rather you just send the CD. Figure out what the blogger wants and do it.
  6. Give the blogger an idea what (or who) you’ll sound like
    I get emails with “Hey, check out our music” and then just a myspace link. Unless I’m in a mood to click on random links, I usually don’t listen to these. In your email, give a general description of what your band sounds like. You can also compare yourself to bands the blogger knows (or may know). But think this through; little pisses me off like feeling duped by a band who claims to be “indie pop” or “post rock” or to sound like Neutral Milk Hotel when they sound nothing like that.
  7. If you offer something, do it
    If you said you’d mail the CD, do it. If you said you could get them on the guest list for the show, do it.
  8. I hate when bands “follow up”…but it’s effective
    Despite not liking it, I have to admit that there’s a better chance I’ll listen to their music when a band follows up.
  9. If a blogger replies to let you know he didn’t like your music, politely accept it
    I understand most bloggers don’t let bands know if they listened to their music and don’t like it. If I were in a band, I would want to hear back, even if it’s in the negative, so that’s what I do. I don’t like writing emails like that, so it’s even harder when a band comes back with a hard-sell or a plea to reconsider after that. Also, don’t ask why I didn’t like it as I’d rather not detail out why I don’t like a band.
  10. Don’t add a blogger to your mailing list
    This goes along with the “personal attention” one. Though there might be exceptions if you know a blogger really loves your stuff (though wouldn’t they just add themselves in that case?), just don’t add people to your mailing list without asking. If I didn’t like your stuff to begin with, getting constant reminders about your shows will only get me to mentally filter your band out entirely.
  11. Give the blogger something they can post
    Myspace links are great, but I’m going to have to be ridiculously psyched about a band to tell readers to go to a band’s myspace page without having an mp3 or video in the post.
  12. Find the sweet spot time-wise
    I’ve gotten emails about a show two months off and I’ve gotten an email about a show the next day. In both cases, I ignored it; in the first case because it was too far off to even consider and in the second because it was so close I already had plans. Two weeks before a show is about right (for me) while a month or two before an album comes out is fine.
  13. Actually read the blog/ be a fan of the blog for a while before you send in music
    This may be the hardest to do. There are just too many blogs out there to read them all. But if I notice a regular reader/ commenter (bloggers remember who these people are, trust me) sends in their music, I always make time to listen to it. I’ll even give it a few chances if I don’t like it initially.

I recognize that doing all these things isn’t easy. Promoting your music well isn’t easy. It’ll take time and effort.

2 responses to “bands: how to promote yourselves to music blogs”

  1. heather says:

    this is marvelous. i will refer people here, so i don’t have to write up all this same stuff ;)

  2. Todd says:

    This is outstanding. I’m not in a band or the industry in general – just a fan – but found this very enlightening.
    Thank you.
    (Looks like “Fuel” approves as well…)

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