In part two of how to be your own music publicist, we look at how to research and determine which music blogs to target, set up an email management system, and properly prepare and organize promotional content in advance of your release.Guest Post by Ariel Hyatt on Cyber PRPART 2: YOUR MESSAGES AND YOUR TARGETS
In Part 1 of “How to Be Your Own Music Publicist”, we took you through all the different elements of an effective digital press kit. In Part 2, we’ll take you through the next 5 things that need to be addressed before you start pitching to music blogs and promoting your release!
The Next Five Steps
1. Research Music Blogs
2. Prepare Your Target Lists
3. Get Your Email and Newsletters in Order
4. Determine Your Ideal Release Schedule
5. Prep Your Visual Assets and Social Media Posts1. Research Music Blogs Music Bloggers
There are currently over 200 million active bloggers on the internet. Blogs, as you know, can be about any topic. A few dozen people read some blogs, while others are read by millions. The vast majority of all bloggers create blogs for no financial gain whatsoever; in fact it usually costs music bloggers money to host their files and maintain their blogs.
Finding blogs that are right for you won’t take long – just dive in and start reading them. The ones that resonate will jump out at you. I suggest curating a list of 25 blogs to start. Try and find a few that are related to your other interests and pursuits (not just music)!
Here are 3 great places to find blogs:
According to them: Hype Machine keeps track of what music bloggers write about. We’ve carefully handpicked a set of 765 music blogs and then present what they discuss for easy analysis, consumption and discovery. This way, your odds of stumbling into awesome music or awesome blogs are high.
I suggest spending some time on the site to figure out how it’s organized. Search for artists who are in your vein of music and see where they are getting covered here: http://hypem.com/blogs.
Good old Google search
A word of warning about Google: if you are just starting out, searching for “Top Music Blogs” and blindly reaching out to the first ones that pop up is frankly not smart. These blogs get thousands of emails a day, and the chance of them even opening yours is slim to none. If you are just starting out, shoot for smaller blogs who rank lower, and are therefore not being inundated. You will have way better luck!
If you are on Twitter, tweet about your music, and actively follow music blogs on Twitter, the chances are very high that you will start to be followed by music blogs. Follow these blogs back and build relationships.
Work any angles you may have. Is the lead singer in the band a vegan, a parent, really into yoga? Is someone in the band an underwater basket weaver, or a travel writer? Pitch to a few blogs that cover these topics. A musician on a blog that is not only covering music is like a shark in a sea of tuna. You’ll stand out, and that’s what you want. A few years ago we created a campaign for Darius Lux based on the fact that he is gluten free. You can read all about what we did and how successful this approach was here: http://cyberprmusic.com/case-study-darius-lux/
If you are thinking that you don’t want to be pigeonholed as the “gluten free rockstar”, or something similar, just google Darius Lux! You’ll see that this is only a tiny part of who he is as an artist, but it opened up a world of new fans and contacts for him.2. Prepare Your Target Lists
Create Your List of 25 Bloggers
Your list should have quite a bit of variety. Choose a few bigger blogs – these are your stretches. You might as well aim big on a few, because if you’re lucky and they come through, it’ll be party time. But don’t spend a ton of time pitching to big names, because when you’re starting out, it’s the small and medium blogs that are going to show you the most love. Also make sure to include a podcast or two on your list, as well as a few of those niche blogs (non music).
TIP: For a much more in-depth article on how to get on podcasts we LOVE Ari’s Take article How to Get Music in Podcasts (And Make Money…Legally)
Make a Separate List For Your Music Industry Contacts
If applicable for you, make sure you have a separate list for your industry contacts so you can appropriately target the messaging for that audience. This includes booking agents, promoters, agents, labels, and managers.3. Get Your Email and Newsletters in Order
Curate Your List of Fan Email Addresses
In the midst of getting the attention of bloggers, don’t forget the most important people to notify about your release – your fans.
Be sure to get names and addresses on your mailing list and build your newsletter! It’s the absolute best way to let your fans know when you’ve released something new! (And you never know who owns a blog or a podcast). How do you get email addresses? Put out a sign-up sheet at your concerts, and mention it during your set. Put a couple free tracks up on a site like NoiseTrade, where fans can download music in exchange for an email address. NoiseTrade has fancy little widgets that you can put on your website and social channels, to promote the free download and get you more email addresses.
Set Up Your Email Account
Create a memorable email address – make sure it’s from a name (not [email protected]
…). Not only does this make it more personal, it also reduces the chances that your emails will be filtered into spam folders.
If you want to track whether people are opening your emails (ideal for when you pitch to music bloggers), sign up for a service like Boomerang, or Hubspot’s Sidekick – use this link and you’ll get a free month, and you can refer to your friends too! http://bit.ly/CyberPRSidekick
Choose (or Update) Your Email Newsletter Management System
You need to use a newsletter management system. Using one makes it easier to create and send well-formatted and on-brand emails to large groups of people. It also gives you analytics on how many people are opening your emails, what links they are clicking, and most importantly, it offers a streamlined option for people to subscribe and unsubscribe. You don’t want to annoy people with unsolicited emails. This is bad for your brand, so bite the bullet and sign up for a service likeMailChimp.
Another great thing about MailChimp and similar services is that you can target specific subsets of your email list. Make a separate list for music industry contacts, or for your fans in New York City, etc.4. Determine Your Ideal Release Schedule
Sit down, take a breath, and lay out your ideal release schedule. If you’re putting out an album, how many singles do you want to release? What are your target dates for those premieres? How are you going to keep your momentum going in between features?
If you are aiming for a premiere (for a single, music video, or a full EP/album), choose ONE target blog to pitch to first. A 4 week lead time is not unusual, which is why planning ahead is crucial. Pitch each site one at a time and give each site approximately 48 hours to respond.
TIP: Your premiere does not necessarily have to happen on the same day your music goes live on iTunes or Spotify. It cannot, however, happen AFTER your music goes live. The whole point of an exclusive premiere is to funnel traffic to the one blog, and your blogger isn’t going to be happy with you if it turns out the song is already out on other channels. So do your best to ensure that the premiere is scheduled for either before, or the same day that your music goes live on other channels.5. Prep Your Visual Assets and Social Media Posts
When you’re in the middle of a music PR campaign, you don’t have much time to work on the nitty gritty details. Therefore, it will help immensely if you can get some of the smaller chores out of the way first. Figure out what promo photos and videos you want to use. Prepare graphics for Facebook, Twitter, etc. using a service like Canva. Create a schedule of when (roughly) you want to release each component. For example, some artists create countdown graphics in the days leading up to their album release.
When you have good content ready, pre-schedule some social media posts. You can schedule posts directly inside Facebook. To schedule posts on your Twitter you can use a service like Hootsuite or Buffer to preschedule tweets. Releasing an album or an EP is a lot of work, and using one of these scheduling systems will make your life so much easier.
That’s it for now!
Phew, that’s a lot of information! We hope that all makes sense. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comments section!
Our third (and final) installment of “How to Be Your Own Music Publicist” will tell you all you need to know about how to prepare and send your pitches to bloggers, how to follow up, and everything that comes afterwards.