5 Basic Tips: How to Get Your Music Reviewed

(September, 2018) It’s tough out there for independent artists. Your job never seems to end, from booking your gigs, to getting your band together, to recording when you can, and, oh yeah, keeping your creative mojo going. But you can’t stop there. After you’ve created music, you have to find a way for people to hear it. And there is an awful lot of competition.

We could write a dozen articles (and maybe we will) about the many ways of getting your music exposed, from radio (broadcast, internet and satellite) to Spotify and Apple Music playlists, to strategic placement in television or video. But for now, we’ll limit this brief article to tips on how to submit your music to media and other “tastemakers” such as newspapers, magazines, blogs and, of course, websites like SoulTracks.

(September, 2018) It’s tough out there for independent artists. Your job never seems to end, from booking your gigs, to getting your band together, to recording when you can, and, oh yeah, keeping your creative mojo going. But you can’t stop there. After you’ve created music, you have to find a way for people to hear it. And there is an awful lot of competition.

We could write a dozen articles (and maybe we will) about the many ways of getting your music exposed, from radio (broadcast, internet and satellite) to Spotify and Apple Music playlists, to strategic placement in television or video. But for now, we’ll limit this brief article to tips on how to submit your music to media and other “tastemakers” such as newspapers, magazines, blogs and, of course, websites like SoulTracks.

One thing we’ve learned is that while many artists are musical geniuses, they may not be so adept at marketing themselves to the media. So, we thought it would be helpful to lay out some advice on how to present yourself and your music. These may be obvious to some of you, but probably not to most. Keep in mind that we, at SoulTracks, receive around 250 emails per day. We are literally overwhelmed with submissions, but we only have time and space to write about 2-3 of those submissions per day; and our peer websites in other genres are probably the same. Submissions that are incomplete or fatally flawed end up being ignored because of the volume we receive.

The point is, it is tough to get coverage, but you can increase your chances dramatically simply by doing a few things right. So here are five basic tips that will make your music more likely to be noticed and chosen for media coverage.

1. Know What You Are Asking For:  Let us know what exactly you want, and make sure you are asking for something that we typically do. We get a lot of vague requests asking us to “give some love” to an artist’s music, whatever that means. Even worse is the common request asking us to put the artist’s song “in rotation on your station.” We’re not a radio station. Vague or odd requests like that usually get deleted. More appropriate are straight up requests for us to do what we normally do on our site: write a piece about your song, perhaps review your album, or pen a story on something important that you’re doing. Remember that you’re competing with the other 249 emails, so be clear in your ask.

2. Send The Stuff We Need to Make a Decision: Be sure to send everything that the media outlet needs to make a decision on covering your music. A simple package that includes a good picture, the music you want covered (mp3, YouTube link or SoundCloud link), and a “one sheet” biography with information about the music is sufficient. And PLEASE make sure it is professional looking, and that the one sheet is free of typos or bad grammar that will detract from what you are trying to project. An incomplete package is much more likely to end up in the dreaded “Deleted” bin.

3. Be Timely and ResponsiveIf you are going to submit music, understand that it may take awhile to get a story written. So plan to send it in two weeks before you want the story to run. And if the media outlet writes you back with questions or needs more information, be extremely responsive. If you wait more than a day or two to respond, the media outlet will move on and you may lose your shot to get covered.

4. Unleash Your Fans: All media outlets want to write about artists who are on the rise. When an article is written about you, be sure to unleash your fans to check it out. Post it on social media, send it out in email blasts, or whatever typical means you use to reach your fans, and get them to read and comment on the story. When an article has a dozen comments from fans underneath, it elevates both the article and the artist, and gives the positive impression to other readers that you are an artist who deserves some attention. An article with no comments or “Likes” on it looks pretty lonely. It diminishes the artist and may message to the world (including to your media partner) that perhaps you are not an artist worthy of future coverage.

5. This is a Relationship, not a Transaction: No single article will make or break you. But steady coverage over time can really help grow your career. Your goal should be to form long-lasting mutual relationships with the media outlets, not simply one shot notches on your bedpost. And here’s a secret: most of those media outlets are trying to grow, just as you are. And if they choose you from hundreds of daily emails for coverage, they have dedicated precious resources to tell your story. So, return the favor: help them also grow by letting your fans know that this is a media outlet worth supporting. It’s pretty disheartening for us and our peers when we write a great piece on an artist’s music, and the artist never acknowledges it publicly on social media or elsewhere. The artist is showing that he/she doesn’t care about a relationship, just the “transaction” of getting the coverage. Over the years, we have formed literally hundreds of amazing long-term relationships with artists; artists who we will repeatedly cover not only because we love their music, but also because they have cared enough to support our growth as we have supported theirs.

I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg with these 5 tips. In the end, they all come down to presenting yourself in the best light to media partners, respecting their time and energy, creating long term relationships, and recognizing that it is a very competitive landscape for coverage. Some of you may be able to do this yourselves, while others may need help from friends or professional publicists (and there are plenty of good ones) -- whatever it takes to increase the chances that you and your music get the exposure you are seeking.

Hopefully, these tips will give you the best chance to be one of the winners and get your music covered. If you're an artist or other music industry person with thoughts on this, please leave your advice in the comment section below!

By Chris Rizik

 
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