10 Tips For Bands & Artists Who Want Music Reviews
By Martine Ehrenclou
Senior Editor for Rock & Blues Muse
You want your music reviewed? Then you need to learn how to present yourself to publications so they actually pay attention.
Positive music reviews of your singles, EPs, and albums attract fans to your music and increase your chances of more reviews. That’s how publicity works—one leads to another. Music reviews, interviews, single/video reviews, and features are all part of publicity for you/your band. Everyone wants to see that others love your music. If you have a new album, EP, or single coming out, now’s the time to get going so you make the most of it.
Be sure to allow 3-6 weeks before the release date. There’s nothing worse than receiving a great album, single or video with a release date that’s two days away. Online music magazines and blogs have editorial schedules that are planned ahead of time.
At Rock & Blues Muse, we receive 100-200+ music pitches each day of the week. Most are from professional PR companies and independent publicists, record labels, or the artists/bands, themselves. We’ve scoured a ton of them over the years, both great and not-so-great. Each is a request for a music review, interview, video/single feature, tour announcement and more.
Let’s get right to the point:
Artists/bands need to know that how you present yourselves greatly affects your chances of a review or feature in an online music magazine or music blog.
It can make or break it, in fact. If you don’t have a professional publicist, you will have to do this yourself. Even with a publicist, you need to be involved in what is being presented about you/your band.
Your music might be great but if your materials are not complete or aren’t professional, you’ll be passed over in a hot minute. No review. Incomplete or poorly-executed press materials make life difficult for the people who screen hundreds of bands each week. They have more incentive to trash your weak EPK (electronic press kit) than to wrestle with it.
We’ve seen many highly-talented artists and bands pitch themselves through our submissions process with downright bad press releases, bios, one-sheets, photos, or incomplete info.
Because we love supporting great musicians, we’ve put together 10 tips to increase your chances of victory over the thousands of musicians you’re competing with to get coverage. Before we get to the tips, however, we need to stress one highly important fact before any tips even matter.
Here it is:
Smart bands have good EPKs (electronic press kits).
Why is an EPK so important for an artist/band to get music reviews? Two things.
1. Because online music magazines, music blogs or music journalists receive so many pitches each day. Imagine 200+ emails, each with music pitches. What makes you stand out? What is going to make that music magazine editor, blogger or journalist open your email?
2. Make it as easy as possible for them to evaluate your information, images and music. If you don’t, you’re not going to get through the door. Music magazine editors, bloggers, and music journalists don’t have time to piece together information, chase you down for a bio, or ask you for an album, single, image, photo or release date. They’d rather hit ‘delete.’ There are too many good bands out there. You are competing with thousands of them.
Now, on to the tips!
Tip #1: This Is An EPK:
An EPK outlines who you are as an artist or band, reveals information about your upcoming release, what you’ve accomplished, your previous albums, quotes from past positive reviews, your music, your social media, photos, single/album images, information on how great your music is and how popular you are, your tour schedule, and more.
Your EPK can be hosted on a dedicated website or on a page on your artist/band website. There are sources out there with templates to guide you such as Sonicbids or Bandzoogle. You can have your EPK password protected and you provide the password in your email pitch. Or you can simply have your EPK available to everyone with samples or videos of your music.
Or you can send your EPK through a file sharing service with a link to it in your email pitch.
Tip #2: This Is What Goes Into An EPK:
Usually, EPKs include links to the band’s music, band bio, one-sheet or press release, band/artist photos, album art, links to music videos, contact information, and social media links.
If you decide not to have your EPK on your site, you can send it via a file sharing service—there are many such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and more.
Tip #3: Wow Them with Your Press Release or One-Sheet!
This announces your album or single with the hopes of it getting featured in an online music magazine or music blog to get the word out. Here’s a sample template for one-sheets to help you get an idea.
Your Press Release/One-Sheet Must Include:
What’s new! Your press release or one sheet is all about what is new or upcoming for you. This includes the title of your upcoming release and release date, the name of your band, genre, what stands out about your new music, name of producer, record label (if there is one), contact information, awards earned, quotes from past reviews, quotes from you/your band about the album, a brief bio, list of band members, noted guests on the release and where they appear, location where you are based, list of past albums, well-known musicians you have collaborated or shared stages with and tour information.
It also needs to contain the track listing for the upcoming release, link to album, EP, or single link (Soundcloud or whatever you like to use), social media links, album image, artist/band photos, quotes from past or current reviews from your albums, tour dates, pre-order link, and UPC number. Include radio play the album or single has received.
See here for a sample press release.
Tip #4: Create a Great Artist/Band Bio!
Your bio is all about your music and you as an artist or band. Hire an experienced promo writer to craft a winner for you if you aren’t experienced at writing.
Your artist bio is a longer version of what’s included in the press release. It includes information about you as a solo artist or band, where you are located, your genre or blend of genres, albums released, producers who have worked on your releases, band members, noted musicians you’ve collaborated with and shared stages with, if your releases have charted, quotes from past reviews, your musical history, and major festivals or venues where you’ve performed.
It also explains what’s new about your upcoming release, including new band members or collaborating artists or guests, producer of the release, past noted producers on previous releases, why listeners should care about your music, festivals where you’ve performed and tour plans.
If you include a link to your EPK, be specific—write “See Here For Our EPK.” Remember, make it as easy as possible.
Sample artist/band biography see here
Tip #5: Band Photos Matter!
High-quality artist/band photos are essential. This is where you invest your money. Send high-res, professional shots.
Tip #6: Album/Single Art Matters, Too!
Create great-quality album or single cover art. The magazine or blog might use the cover art or one of your photos. Offer both. High-res, right?
Tip #7: Flaunt Your Social Media Greatness!
You’ve spent a lot of time creating solid social media pages and a group which have attracted scads of followers who look to them for new information about you and what you’re up to. Include your social media links in your one-sheet or press release and your bio to show them off!
Tip #8: Your Videos Need To Rock!
The videos of you/your band should be well-shot and capture your style, energy, and best songs. Post them on your YouTube page in HD and include links to them in your EPK and one sheet/press release.
Tip #9: Quotes from Previous Reviews Get Attention!
Your job is communicating the image, style, and sound of your band and your goal is to catch an editor or writer’s interest. Use quotes from other reviews you’ve received to do exactly that. Include them in your EPK and insert two to four of them in your press release/one sheet. You want the new reviewer to see that other reviewers love your music.
Tip #10: Your Email Pitch Must Grab The Reader!
You might think that an email pitch is the least important. It isn’t. It’s the first thing an editor or reviewer sees from you or your band. Grab their attention. Be professional. Find the correct name and email of the editor, blogger, or journalist who covers the kind of music you make at each publication for which you seek coverage. Address the email to them. No blind emails.
Address them by name such as “Hi, Donna. Former lead singer for the (name) band, (name) releases his new studio album (name of album) on (name) record label on (date.) It is his best solo album to date and includes band members from (name of band.) It is his most personal album and highlights his expressive vocals and virtuosic guitar playing. (Name) said, “So and So is a rising star.”
“We would appreciate it if you might give the album a listen and consider for review. See this link for the upcoming single/album (Private Link-please do not share). Attached is the EPK, or press release etc. Thank you for your consideration.”
Be clear about what you want–review, feature, video/single premiere, or interview.
BONUS TIPS BECAUSE WE CARE
Double-check Your Contact Information!
Don’t forget to include your contact information, which includes your email address, social media links and phone number for you/your band, for your label and for any others who promote you.
Your Follow-Up Email Is Everything!
Within a few days, send an email to the same person and write that you’re checking in on what you sent, if they received it, and if they are interested in a review, interview, or new video/single feature. This is vitally important. There are far too many emails in a day. Your intended person might not have seen your email or had a chance to listen to your music. Be pleasant but persistent at regular intervals until they tell you “no” or give you the coverage you seek.
This article is the first part in a series of how to present yourself/your band to online music magazines, music blogs, and music journalists to get reviews, interviews, features and more.
We welcome your comments below.