Updated: Oct 10
As we head through 2023 streaming playlists and music blogs are still some of the most important resources we in the indie community still have for promoting new music from artists to existing and hopefully - new fans.
While a lot of indie artists are understandably sceptical about the music biz, the type of people who curate playlists or run music blogs are pretty often serious heavy-duty music fans with a finger on the pulse, and committed to finding the newest, coolest tracks directly from artists - like you!
These people are important to you. Rather than complaining in obscurity, get them onboard, make an effort and reach out to them purposefully, and professionally. This task can be daunting considering all of the other things a true indie has to do and often doesn’t get immediate results, but the key is having a plan and perseverance - along with having truly great material to submit in the first place!
Here’s a recap of things to remember when contacting playlisters and bloggers.
Choose your tribe
I know you didn’t sign up for this music thing to be some kind of promo person, but that’s too bad. Neither did I ! As you put together a list of people you want to reach out to, make the effort to research everyone you contact and get a grip on the kind of content they put out, and ESPECIALLY the kind of genre and artists. That way you can focus your efforts on the outlets that are most laser focused and relevant to what YOU do musically. If they are into artists LIKE you, hey - they might be into you too!
There’s absolutely no point spamming a huge random list and landing in the email inbox of people who deals with a completely different genre than yours or is really unlikely to engage with your music.
The bloggers and playlisters know straight away from your copy (your text, your promo spiel, your propaganda!) if you’ve actually visited their site, or even listened to the kind of music they feature or playlist.
No Spamming generic mails
Let’s put yourself in your target’s shoes. The people you’ll be reaching out to, especially if they have any size of following receive dozens, or maybe hundreds of emails a day from musicians looking like you for attention and exposure. Being CC’d, or getting a generic email is totally impersonal and can really turn off your potential new champion. Literally, nothing crushes your chances of getting playlisted or blogged about more than a generic email copied to tons of email addresses. You don’t CARE. Why should they?
Be sure to make every single email you send out personalised for every recipient. Yes, it’s a lot of effort as you have to do some research but that’s what you need to do, and if you can’t handle it pay someone to do it for you! Anything and everything you can do to increase the chances of getting noticed and being worth getting a response is a bonus.
Reach out is a numbers game. Just getting one win and a serious playlisting or blog post on a well known site or playlist can generate a huge amount of visibility and new listens. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a huge response every time, we just want to keep going and build upon every single success no matter how small. The snowball builds as it rolls downhill…
We’ve all been there. People posting random stuff on our threads or timeline, someone sliding in our DM’s and saying “Hey thanks check out my music” and a link to Bandcamp or SoundCloud. Don’t be that guy or girl. That’s NEVER going to work.
Asking someone to listen as innocent as it seems isn’t really something substantial or meaningful enough to turn into a reason to give an artist into giving them some solid exposure.
Nope - instead, I want you to tell the person you are contacting what you want - state the goal of your mail straight up and honestly when you reach out to people. If want a review of your new track or album, or looking for an exclusive premiere of your single, just say so straight away. Don’t beat around the bush!
A tried and tested method you gave seen a thousand times is giving a news outlet, blog, or playlister first dibs - an exclusive which can really increase your chances of getting featured. Be strategic, and offer the exclusives from your release to the people you want to get to the most - first.
Quickly, why are you doing this?
People have short attention spans. Most outlets and potential press sources, whether blogs, magazines or whatever don’t need a super impressive EPK to decide whether an artist or track works for their format. If you watch the interview I did with one of my A&R contacts he says having too slick of a press kit can even be a TURN OFF.
Unless you’ve got a very slimline one-sheet, your first contact should include only the essential bio details and maybe include a previous ( ideally glowing ) press quote or other kind of career highlight as journalist bait. They can always ask for more, and we’re after a conversation - and that’s a win!
Don’t be a chicken - follow up, tastefully
We’re all shy, trust me, You can tell by how much I don't spam you from MY website, and I probably SHOULD - way more. There is no shame in following up, and there are studies that show that a huge amount of business happens on the 6th …or more email.
That’s probably excessive for our purposes, so just pay attention and note the date you sent your first email and be sure to follow up at least once, a couple of weeks after your first mail or message.
You could always try to be constructive by asking for feedback or personalising it by taking note of mentioning what they have recently posted or playlisted and always follow up in the same email thread rather than starting a new one as that will make it harder for them and you to keep things organised.
Pay it back
Hey - someone wrote about you - now what? Now you say thank you and keep the ball rolling.
This is an ecosystem - music artists and music curators depend on each other for this whole thing to keep working at and for anybody to have any level of success.
If someone takes the time and makes the effort to write about your music or playlists you the very least you can do is link to their post or playlist on every single one of your socials to help promote the thing …about you!
It’s a two-way street and people have long memories, you’re going to get the benefit, hopefully with new fans and listeners from their post, so you should reciprocate. I remember the people the credit me, for example, and they get better deals than those who don’t - it’s the music BUSINESS, after all.
I hope you found this useful - and if you did - in the spirit of the last point - please share and let people know! Want to make sure you have a killer mix on your next release? Slide into my DM's as they say - I offer online mixing to artists around the world who want a great-sounding release. It's the key thing you need BEFORE any of this - you need a promote-ABLE release for a successful promotion after all. I know, because my clients have had national chart hits, tons of radio play and over a billion streams worldwide.
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