Any musician will know that getting your music brand in the media is a long, tough road. Facing rejection or not hearing back at all is a completely normal part of the experience that everyone has to go through, but it doesn’t make it any easier. However, when it comes to doing your own music public relations campaign, there are valuable tips that everyone should know to give you the best shot at media coverage.
Know Your Brand
As a musician, you may be reluctant to put your music brand in a box that pigeonholes your image in the media. However, you do need to be clear on who you are as an artist and package that into a digestible format for the music media you are reaching out to.
Music journalists are receiving emails every day from PRs and artists claiming they are the next big thing. So before you begin any media outreach, you must know yourself and what is special or different about the music you are putting out there. This means knowing exactly what kind of genres you fall into, the big themes and ideas behind your music, your cultural background, influences, and what makes you different. Introducing yourself with a genre, a similar artist, and your background is an absolute must when establishing your music brand in the media.
Make Your Music Accessible
Most music journalists prefer to receive music samples as a link rather than a download, so Soundcloud tends to be the best option. You should also identify what your strongest lead could be – sending a whole EP or album might be asking too much of a journalist to listen to if they have never heard of you. You might decide to push a single that you can promote in greater depth that has a strong story behind it or cultural significance. Any samples you send should also be complete with artwork and a short description, with links to Spotify, Apple music, etc.
Create A Media Kit
A media kit not only helps streamline and increase your potential music media outreach, but it shows you are serious about your brand and campaign. It sets you apart from the unsolicited “Hey, listen to my mixtape” Twitter DMs, establishing you as a serious musician who plans a strategy for their music releases.
A good electronic press and media kit will include everything a journalist needs to know about you and your music brand, and should make their lives a whole lot easier. This includes a professional bio, promotional photos that the media has permission to use, any quotes from previous press coverage, notable awards or recognition, and a Soundcloud link to your music. Remember that your press kit is a part of your music brand image in the media in the way that your album art is – make the aesthetic and style match your brand.
Write A Compelling Press Release
A press release is the first step to get your music brand in the media if you are yet to begin your outreach. For a musician, this would usually announce the release of a new track or EP. A strong press release will open with the news line (a new release, an interesting story behind a track, etc), followed by many of the same details from your press kit which outlines: who you are, your genre, any big producers involved or noteworthy collaborations, any interesting facts about the creation process (did you embark on a holy pilgrimage before writing this album?) and any artists your sound might be similar to. It should also include artwork, release dates, official press shots, touring information, and contact emails.
How To Write A Music Press Release
Any music publicist or PR professional will tell you that the art of music copywriting is very similar to the process of music feature writing itself. It needs to be compelling, creative, and crucially, avoid cliches. If a journalist opens a press release that claims an artist is the “next Beyoncé”, or “single-handedly revolutionizing the hip-hop genre”, you can guarantee that it won’t be taken seriously. Avoid superfluous claims and cliche phrases, and spend time writing strong copy that is evocative and convincing.
Your press release title is a crucial element that can be the difference between your email being opened or not. If you are somewhat established, including your new single name in the headline is a safe option. But as a newcomer, you could lead with a theme or story instead, like: “Indie-pop rising star XXX says goodbye to schoolyard drama in electric debut single”. If you are well connected and have a notable producer involved, make sure to name-drop them to grab people’s attention.
How To Use The Language Of Music Media
Writing about music is a craft. You’ll quickly find yourself short of adjectives that describe your music once you’ve exhausted phrases like “upbeat”, rhythmic”, or “catchy”. You should familiarize yourself with music journalism if you aren’t a keen reader already, and adopt a style of writing which dives deep into the music itself and the stories behind it.
Journalists are looking for powerful and descriptive words and phrases like “shimmering”, “ruminative”, “transcendent”, “blistering”, or “seductive”. Similarly, you can show a journalist that you understand the industry on a deeper level by identifying which niche or subgenre you fit into. Knowing and using phrases like neo-soul, Scandi-pop, or deathcore (where relevant), will show a much greater understanding of your place in the industry than broad labels like “rock”, “pop”, or “rap”.
Start Pitching Your Music Brand To The Media
Once your initial music brand and press releases are out there in the world, you will likely find yourself quickly coming back down to earth when you don’t hear back from anyone. It’s totally normal, and any PR campaign is about sustained and prolonged effort.
The next step is to start crafting some pitches. The difference between a press release and a pitch is that a release is more of a news announcement, whereas a pitch is a personalized form of outreach to a journalist to see if they specifically are interested in covering you. A pitch is a concise email offering a journalist or editor the opportunity to cover you and your music. You can read a whole blog post about how to write one (with real, successful examples) here.
Successful pitches usually offer something, like an interview, review copy, or even a press ticket to a show. It should include 1-2 paragraphs about you, your genre, why it’s different, and why you are suited to their publication. If you don’t hear back from this either, that is also to be expected. While your music might not be a good fit right for them now, it’s an opportunity to start a relationship and maybe reach out again in the future – after all, PR is all about having connections.
How To Build a Music Media List
As is the case with any showbiz industry, getting your music brand in front of the media can feel impossible as an outsider. But the best way to improve your chances of getting hits on your pitches and landing reviews/ interviews for your music brand is to build a personalized press list. You can almost guarantee that sending your music samples to the info@ address of prestigious publications like Rolling Stone and Billboard will mean your email is never seen. Journalists like to receive PR emails from people who have a genuine interest in their publication, writing, and music taste. If you see an article covering an artist who is similar to you, find out who wrote it and check their Twitter or author page for an email. That way you can personalize your pitches and build a good reputation as someone who understands and cares about the industry.
Work Your Social Media
Building a fanbase is obviously an essential part of being a musician – it’s what makes or breaks your career. But being able to show a music journalist that you have a fanbase, even if it’s small, can be a huge advantage in building your music brand. For this reason, you should direct people to your social channels at every opportunity you get. If an interested publication lands on your Instagram to find that you have a strong, engaged following who are interacting with you and finding meaning in your music, that’s just another reason why that journalist should cover you.
In the same way that you should have a professional, polished press kit, you also want to have a clean website. Not only does it show that you are a serious, committed musician, but it’s a place where you can share news, links, show dates, and even merchandise.
As well as this, reaching out from your personal email, asking for coverage in the first person, may not sit right with you. It may also give a journalist a reason to believe you are less established and not big enough to cover just yet. Instead, you might consider creating a pr@ or publicity@ email, from which you can do your PR in the third person. In addition to this, you don’t want to build up the wrong kind of music brand reputation in the industry as the annoying EDM artist who emails three times a week at precisely 9am every day offering their music as an exclusive to review. Choose quality over quantity, and take breaks between your pitching and outreach.
Get Your Timeline Right
A PR campaign takes a lot of time and preparation. If you are scheduling a big release, the music-making alone is going to be something that is months in the making. To prepare for your PR campaign, three months prior is a good time to start drafting press releases, pitches, and media kits to ensure everything is ready on time. We would recommend then conducting your music brand media outreach 4-6 weeks before your release, offering early release streaming links and interviews. You can then continue with pitching 2-3 weeks following release.
The creative and entertainment industries are brutal – it takes time and patience to build credibility and a reputation. But your PR campaign can be a powerful tool at your disposal to increase your brand awareness in the media, cultivate new relationships, and hopefully land some coverage. Put time, thought, and passion into your media outreach in the way you do your music, and you might just find that your songs and story start to resonate with people.
If you want to learn more about how a PR agency can help get your music brand out there in the media, contact Otter PR for a free consultation.