Behind-the-Scenes Online Marketing for Independent Musicians - A How To Guide
By James Moore - 09/13/2010 - 09:11 PM EDT
What is Behind-the-scenes marketing?
Here’s the thing. A lot of articles on online marketing for musicians
are missing the mark. Yes, you can choose to hire a PR firm if you have
the funds. Alternatively, if you’re willing to work at it, you can
certainly generate a ton of press yourself. Let’s go through a few
methods rarely described elsewhere.
Be personal and/or stroke the ego.
DON\'T ALWAYS GO THROUGH THE MAIN CHANNELS.
That could well be the most important sentence in this article. How do
you get ahead in this world? Do you wait in line for everything? How
about when the line is 1,000 people long? Some artists take longer than
others to realize it but you must, and we’ll repeat this often, BUILD
RELATIONSHIPS. If someone knows nothing about you and you offer him or
her nothing in return, there is about a 1/100 chance they will cover
your music. That works fine if you want to send 1,000 emails to get
potentially 10 reviews and burn a lot of bridges in the meantime.
Being personal means more than just copying and pasting the person’s
name into your pre-written email template. Of course, the press release
or album information part of your email can be pre-written. The rest
should be original and engaging. Anyone who runs a podcast or writes for
a music publication is bombarded by bands looking for coverage on a
very regular basis. You have the opportunity to make someone’s day or
Ask yourself what typically makes your day as an independent musician?
It could very well be that one email you get from a fan who appreciates
your music. Maybe they have a particular favourite song and they tell
you why. You think “This person actually listened to me”. This is the
same feeling you want the independent press to get when they read your
If you write the typical “Check out my band” email, it’s the equivalent
of people posting their advertisements on your Myspace wall.
What can you do to build the relationship?
What we’re trying to say is: If you are a metal band and you go to the Google listing of Top metal websites (http://www.google.com/Top/Arts/Music/Styles/R/Rock/Heavy_Metal/)
you may be tempted to immediately go to their contact sections and
follow their submission policies verbatim. For some of these websites,
that would certainly be the best route. We’re going to go through this
in great detail since it’s critical and it seems nobody else covers the
topic in too much depth.
Sometimes going by the rules doesn’t pay. You may submit all of your
CD’s to a popular publication year after year and never get a review –
or any coverage at all.
This is when you change your tactic.
The media are not so intimidating. They are just groups of individuals!
Therefore, when you can, contact them INDIVIDUALLY. This is how you get
into 'the fortress'. When we say the fortress, we refer to a popular
music website, magazine or publication.
Contact INDIVIDUALS. The media is a lot less scary when we realize that
they are all just collectives of individuals. Independent music media is
even easier to crack. Many of the reviewers don\'t get paid much (if at
all) and they are music fans like yourself. How intimidating is that?
That means they have something in common with you. Use that to your
Tactic 1) EMBRACE THE EGO:
Try looking up articles on YOUR favourite bands, or most importantly,
bands that are similar in style to your own - and contact the person who
wrote the piece. Reviews on niche bands give you something unique to
talk about. You can relate to the writer about being one of the few
people to discover the band. Even better, congratulate them on
discovering the band in question!
Say something personal about the review/article - why you liked it, what
you like about the band, etc. Be natural. Ask a question such as \"Have
you heard such-and-such a band? I think you\'d love them.\" This gets a
conversation started. Keep in mind these writers typically get no
feedback from their reviews and articles so positive feedback or a pat
on the back will get their attention. In the title of the email mention
who the email is attention to and how you found them.
For example “Attn Sean – your Queens of the Stone Age review”.
Guaranteed that will get Sean’s attention. It looks much better than
“Attn reviews – Please review my band!” Count on those to go to the
delete box more often than not.
In the SECOND paragraph, you mention your band. Don't be pushy. Provide
a website link, or better yet, have a digital download of your album
sent to their email address. (Bandzoogle and HostBaby should have this
capability. Use it! It will save you money.)
Here is a template for you to get an idea. Keep in mind the idea is to
be honest and actually communicate with this person. Change your wording
every time! Try to genuinely relate to the writer.
HEADER: “Attn Sean – Your Queens of the Stone Age review”
BODY: “Hi Sean, This is James from the rock band Broken Jaw Dance Party.
I found ________ Magazine through your rather excellent review of
Queens of the Stone Age’s album “Lullabies to Paralyse”. I thought it
was well done and agree with your favourite track choices (mine are
“Little Sister” and “Burn the Witch” as well). I’m curious as to what
you think of their latest release “Era Vulgaris”. To me it’s a stronger
album. Also, have you heard (insert band name here)? Given your musical
preferences you may get into them. Check them out and let me know what
I’ve sent you a digital copy (email the digital copy of the album to
Jame’s email address. It should arrive as a free download that he can
access easily) of Broken Jaw Dance Party’s new album “Curbstomp Disco”,
as I think you’d enjoy it. Queens are a big influence of ours (give a
short story of how you got into them, or keep it simple) and a review
would be appreciated of course.
Thanks for your time and once again, great job on the review!
Broken Jaw Dance Party
(include email and phone number contact in signature)
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