Over the past year, I've evolved from a boy on a blog to a boy with an insane amount of email to contend with on a daily basis. So much that if I don't wake up to at least 20 emails waiting to be reviewed, I know something is wrong. If you're reading this, you might get just as much as me if not more, so you understand.
In a similar blog post, I talked about getting emails from people interested in working with my website, Under The Gun Review. In that example, it was a young man hoping to get some experience by working for us. In today's case, it's a young man who would like to see his band's name in print. For a musician working to get his name and work out there, contacting an editor of a website or publication is a daunting thing. It can be nerve-wracking, even if it shouldn't be.
There are ways to do this and ways not to do this. The most important thing you should do before submitting your band to a publication is research. Every place you want to send a request to has a website. There, it's very likely they have a contact page or a submission page. If that is the case, carefully read the instructions on the page before sending away. Every publication is different and has varying guidelines as to what exactly they need.
For example, Under The Gun Review requires bands to submit a URL to a webpage that has their music on it to listen to. This and a short bio. It's pretty simple. There is a contact form on the 'contact us' page on the site, easily found on the top-most menu.
Other sites may require more things, but one thing is almost universally standard, DO NOT SEND MP3s. This bogs down email loading times and it's just a hassle. Most music journalists already have a multitude of random music files littering their PCs. They don't want more. It's suggested that you send a link to a stream, whether that be on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, or a Haulix transfer. A download is always a nice option, but use with digression. Don't send an early download to a unestablished blog. There is always a chance of a leak, so again, use your head. For those you do trust, send the download. It makes it easy for a reviewer on the go.
One way NOT to contact an editor or writer is by Facebook. It's just not professional. That isn't to say I didn't end up working with someone who contacted me by Facebook, but it's not common. In most of those cases, I am at least somewhat aware of who they are.
This morning I received my fourth Facebook solicitation this week. This one urged me to write not about the musician's band, but his lack in confidence in selling it. Here is the message I found in my inbox.
Hey sorry for the random message but my band [BAND] just released our new album [ALBUM] and I was wondering if you could go check it out! If you think it sucks and it was a complete waste of time I apologize.
If you dig the tunes give us a "Like" [FACEBOOK LINK] [YOUTUBE LINK] [iTUNES LINK]
Despite being groggy and a little annoyed with this method of contact, I kept an open mind as I read. After reading, I thought, this is a terrible way to pitch your act. Let me dissect the message and my thought process a little bit.
Hey sorry for the random message but my band [BAND] just released our new album [ALBUM] and I was wondering if you could go check it out!
If I wasn't already aware and annoyed that you reached me on my personal Facebook, I am now. Don't lead off with an apology, it's not going to win anyone over.
If you think it sucks and it was a complete waste of time I apologize. Thanks!
If I hadn't already decided to ignore this and continue checking my email, this might have done it. If I don't like it, I'm going to move on. That happens. I don't need the invitation. Telling me right off the bat that this has a good chance of being something I put in my rubbish bin is not a good way to sell a band. Where is the confidence? Also, a second apology? Not necessary.
The links were good. Always give links. The beginning of the message, however, left much to be desired.
I'm not writing this as an elitist blogger. I take chances on new bands all the time. I prefer working with them to build something far more than working with established acts. I just want a band to believe in itself before I believe in it. That's what makes a band. Believing in your sound, your goals, and your brand.
If you're in a band looking to get some coverage, take the time to research your outlets. See what they require, meet those requirements, then exceed those requirements. Always email. Write the email, read the email, make edits, have someone else make edits, then send it. The press is made up of A&R minded people. They want the next big thing. They want someone they can count on to hold up their end on their own. Be that and you'll find success.
For the record and for fairness (I did trash their PR abilities in a blog, after all), I checked out the band that contacted me and I liked what I heard. I will be replying with a thank you and relaying a few tips to help them out in the future.