Chapter 14:How to get music reviews

Managing to secure music reviews as an emerging artist is one of the hardest things that you will have to do. It is not an easy process as the competition is so vast; sometimes just having your voice heard is hard enough, let alone getting a full track listened to and then reviewed.

For artists who have opted to carry out their own press campaign, as opposed to hiring an external

company, this will be a struggle as you are trying to get ahead of people who are already well established in the industry.

However, whilst the task is not for the feint hearted, it isn’t impossible and it is something that can be achieved through dedication and hard work; the key is to be strong yet subtle and not too over–zealous.

Don’t bombard

There is nothing worse than having the same person email you over and over again in a short space of time; give the journalist the opportunity to open your correspondence and find out more about you.

If you haven’t heard anything back within 5 working days, send a polite follow up email enquiring if they received your music.

Suss out your audience

There are literally hundreds and thousands of music magazines both on and offline and aiming to approach them all as an artist is silly; you need to whittle down your options and differentiate the outlets that are relatable to your individual sound.

It is pointless sending a country music publication a dance music track in the blind hope that it will just get you some coverage because it won’t! Save your time and approach the publications and outlets that directly address your audience and your genre.

Make a list of 30 outlets that fit your niche and find out how to contact their content editors so that you can introduce yourself. If you are contacting people who cover your genre, it won’t be as much of a struggle to sell yourself.

Contact the right way

When submitting music to publications, make sure that you do it the way that they have listed as in order to stay on top of all submissions, many outlets require a bit of cooperation from the artists; if they don’t adhere to an implemented system then they will miss some of the greatest samples because the news room would quickly turn into chaos.

By following the rules of contact that publications lay out, you are more likely to have your music listened to, as opposed to submitting tracks in your own way in the hopes that they will be picked up easier and faster.

Turn to blogs

Sometimes managing to get a blog to listen to your track can be harder than getting the big names on board. Why? Because blogs are autonomous and the editor has the luxury of only writing copy and reviews that they want to; they aren’t answerable to anybody.

However, the thing that makes these independent blogs a great source is the reason why they may be hard to get into – their freedom. As the writers on board with most blogs can write about whatever they please, they tend to have more credibility; readers know that they aren’t just writing something to curry favour and what they write is true and completely organic, therefore they regard them as having a trustworthy standing.

Generate a press kit

Some journalists will appreciate you handing everything to them on a plate, so create a press kit that has everything in it from your photos to your press release. By submitting this, the journalist will have all of the information needed without having to do any digging.

You also have to think about the snippet of magazine that your review will take up – in the grand scheme of things your review is small fry and the person you are reaching out to will more than likely have other things to do, so just make life that little bit easier for them and they will be more likely to thank you in the form of a review in the publication.

A press kit should contain a press release, band bio, link to a listen to your music, contact information/social media information and a personal note to whoever you are sending the kit to – this is a nice touch that shows the recipient that you have taken the time do a little bit of research on who they are.

Be truthful and don’t over hype

Whilst it is important to promote yourself in order to show people that you are a good, it is also important not to over egg the pudding and claim that you are the next big thing and the number one new kid on the block if you don’t have anything to back it up.

Journalists don’t like being told, they like being given ways and means to discover if you are good on their own terms; by all means, show that you are confident, but don’t become obnoxious because not only will it make journalists not want to work with you, but it will make you unlikeable.

Make your music easy to listen to

There is nothing more annoying than coming across a music player that is an absolute nightmare to use, is riddled with slow buffering and doesn’t make for a pleasant experience for the user.

When submitting tracks, make sure that they are easy to listen to as possible; if the publication at hand stipulates that they don’t accept CDs, then don’t send them CDs, only ever send them music in the requested format.

Most outlets will request a simple link to one of your tracks and using something like Soundcloud, which is a tried and tested method that works well, is quite sufficient; you want to make sure that it is a player that the journalist can simply press play, listen to your song and that’s that.

Stay fresh

Most journalists will require a reason to review your track and publish you; reviewing a song that has been out for a couple of months already is not something that a journalist will be interested in as they will want to keep their content fresh and up to date, not behind the times.

When you approach outlets in the hopes of bagging a music review, do it at times of new album releases, new track releases etc. Don’t send old material and especially don’t send old material that you have already sent before on the off chance that they will pick it up this time.

You need to stay ahead of the game and constantly look like you are up to something new, if you refresh yourself on a regular basis and inform journalists of this, you will manage to claw yourself some coverage.

Stick to your roots

Take a look at your local publications and get a feel for what the music pages are like, getting your hometown behind you can be a very powerful tool as people tend to like to see other people who are from where they are do well; by getting them on board, they will in turn promote you.

Many local papers and magazines have a review section for local bands, so tap into the local music journalists in your area and tell them what you are up to – they may be more receptive than national journalists as they won’t be as inundated. If you are playing a gig in your home town or city, this is the perfect opportunity to see if the journalist would like to come along and review the gig or some of your tracks individually.