How To Be Your Own Music Publicist: Communicate! [Cyber PR]
It is more possible than ever to be your own music publicist. Most of the old media gatekeepers have been replaced by opinion-setters that really matter – the fans. But being your own music publicist still requires a well executed plan. Here, Ariel Hyatt and her CyberPR team lay out a plan.
By Ariel Hyatt and the team at CyberPR
PART 3: START COMMUNICATING!
Getting that first article written about you can feel like a daunting task. Two great places to start are your local area with online calendar editors (assuming that you don’t live in NYC or Los Angeles) or any smaller music blogs.
Music blogs are run by normal people with day jobs, who just happen to have a deep love for music. Making genuine connections with them is part of the foundation that will help your career flourish. You’ll need to work like a passenger pigeon when contacting these writers and blogs, making sure you’re precise, consistent, and to the point.
The music publicity process for any band or artist – no matter how big or small – is very much the same. Of course, the size of the outlets in which you receive placements will vary dramatically. This is based on what style of music is hot at the moment, combined with many other factors including label, tour schedule, size of your online fan base, and number of streams.
The Last 5 Steps in Your Music Publicist Journey
1. Prepare and Send Media Pitches
2. Follow Up Again (and Again)
3. Tour Press
4. Update Your Fans Through Your Newsletter and Socials
5. Show Off Your Results
1. Prepare and Send Media Pitches
For each blog or podcast you are sending to, find a specific writer or editor to pitch. Find someone who is covering/writing about artists that are similar to you, a writer you admire, or someone who is writing the column on the site reserved for up and coming artists.
REMEMBER: If you are trying to secure a premiere, you’re going to have to pitch to one blog at a time, to ensure that you don’t double book a premiere (that’s a big no no). For a deep dive on how to secure premieres, read The Musician’s Guide to Premieres.
Sending Your Pitch in an Email
Always start your pitch addressing the blogger or journalist by their first name.
Thank the writer right off the bat for their time, and get straight to the point of who you are and what you are reaching out about (and be very specific about what you are asking for). Your first paragraph should be customized with them and the site they are writing for in mind. For instance, you might want to mention why your music would be a good fit for the site or why you personally love the site.
Your second paragraph should include your basic info (who, what, when, where, why) and a description of your sound that is razor-focused and absent of superlatives and generalizations.
Be sure to include links to your website, all of your active socials, and a SoundCloud link to the music you are pitching them (unless told otherwise in the submission guidelines).
Include any upcoming tour dates, releases, and relevant news.
Close your pitch by thanking them for their time and consideration.
As a Facebook Message or as a DM on Twitter
A pitch you are sending via Facebook message or Twitter DM should be considerably shorter than a pitch you send through email. If you are pitching a writer’s personal account it is imperative that you be polite and respectful. Keep in mind you can only DM people who are following you on Twitter so you may @ them first and ask for a follow.
Briefly state your reason for reaching out, describe your sound/important facts, and include a link to your SoundCloud (and maybe your website).
TIP: Direct messaging a writer or music blog on Twitter can be a really effective way of following up on an email that you never got a response to, even after following up via email several times.
2. Follow Up Again and Again
It is critical that you follow up. Most musicians never follow up at all. This will separate you from the pack. At Cyber PR we follow up with bloggers 3 times before we stop and move on, and I suggest you do the same. Be careful though, there are some music blogs that state in their submission guidelines to never follow up. If they absolutely don’t want you to follow up, they will make it clear.
1-2-3 Strike & Stop Strategy
If you use Gmail, there’s a fabulous reminder tool called Boomerang which will keep your follow-ups organized. Once you send a pitch, you can schedule reminder emails to yourself. If the email was unopened it will come back to you to send again. Stick to a 3 strikes and stop strategy (meaning send the pitch 3 times). If the writer doesn’t respond then choose another target.
An amazing tool that allows you to see which writers are actually opening your emails is called Sidekick. Use this link to get a free trial month, and after that it’s only $10 per month, you will never wonder if people are getting your emails again. We can’t live without this tool. It makes us seem almost psychic when we follow up with writers moments after they open our emails. You can refer your friends too!
When you follow up, write a short and sweet email that includes details to spark the writer’s memory.
PR is a slow-moving vehicle that can take time to get results. If a writer didn’t love the first EP, she may love the second one. This means that you may need to try a few times to get certain writers to pay attention.
3. Don’t Skip Your Tour Press
If you are hitting the road, start planning PR for any tour 6-8 weeks before you leave. As soon as a gig is booked, ask the promoter for the club’s press list (most clubs have one). Promoters are dependent on this local press to help sell tickets.
You are working with the promoter to make the show happen, and promoters love it when the show is well publicized and the band makes the extra effort. So ask the promoter who they think will like you the most as they know the local writers in their scenes better than you ever will, and those writers are probably in their bars or clubs regularly!
TIP: If the local promoter or club has an in house publicist, ask to be connected to her. Let that publicist do her job. This publicist knows the writers in her hometown and she will be instrumental in helping you. Don’t get territorial about your PR! You should allow anyone who is willing to help do so.
Locating Local Publications & Blogs
If the club does not have a press list, of course, you can easily search Google.
The first few times you play a market, you may not get any press. If you are new and you are worried because you didn’t get covered the first time around, keep sending information every time you play in the area. I have never met a writer who ignores several pitches from the same band sent over and over again. It may take a few tours through in each market, but the more a writer sees you over time, the more likely she is to write about you.
4. Update Your Fans Through Newsletter & Socials
Never forget that your fans are a very important part of the equation! They are the ones who are going to attend your shows, buy CDs and merch, and tell their friends about you. So keep them updated! Post regularly on your socials. Announce presales, tour dates, giveaways, contests, merch, etc. through your newsletter. Make your fans happy that they signed up for the newsletter by offering them exclusive content!
Most importantly – PUBLICIZE EVERY FEATURE YOU GET. No matter how small. Take full advantage of the bandwagon effect, and get your fans excited about every piece of publicity you receive. This also makes it clear to music bloggers and journalists that you are taking it seriously. Not only does this make a good impression on the people who featured you, but it increases your chances of getting more publicity when bloggers check your socials. They are trying to drive traffic to their websites too, and you want to demonstrate that you will promote their features effectively.
5. Show Off Your Results
This is a bit of a reiteration of the last point in #4, but it’s SO IMPORTANT. If you get a feature, make a quality graphic in Canva so that you can post an eye-catching link on all your socials.
Here is an example of one we created and shared on our Instagram for Beau + Luci:
Make a press section on your website. Add the best quotes.
Here is a great example of a beautiful press page from Sleeping Lion’s website:
The bandwagon effect works very well on music bloggers, as well as fans, and a lot of bloggers know one another. If you show that you’ve made a good impression with one blogger, it might be that much easier to secure a feature with another. Remember that bloggers are constantly looking at other blogger’s social media and the music industry is a giant, interconnected web. You never know when you’re making an impression on someone who could really help you. Put your best foot forward, and show appreciation to everyone who supports you!
Remember to also share your PR victories in your monthly newsletter!
You have come to the end of our “How to Be Your Own Music Publicist” series! If you missed part 1 or part 2 go back and read them! have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comments section. We hope that these three blog posts have helped you on your music publicity journey. Go forth and conquer! And for an even deeper dive on how to effectively kick arse on your own PR, download our Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity by clicking on the image below (You can also buy it on Amazon!)