I’ve been inspired to share this new blog post based on my frequent interactions with up and coming artists and rappers, who – more often than not – have no idea how to approach me in order to get their music heard or written about.
I love discovering new talent – and supporting it! This is why it frustrates me so much to see up and comers making such silly errors when it comes to building relationships with useful people in the music and publishing industry.
So I thought I would share a few pieces of advice that stem from my own experience of dealing with such aspiring artists and hopefully shed some light on how bloggers and journalists like myself prefer to be approached…
Research, research, research
First and foremost, make sure you know who you are messaging and what exactly you are messaging them about. As well as music blogging, I currently write for Reveal magazine – a national celebrity gossip mag and website – and I’ve lost track of how many times artists (and lazy PRs) have sent me their new track for consideration on Reveal.co.uk.
Just one minute of browsing the site would let you know that Reveal hardly ever reports on new music, unless it is aimed at women in their 20s-30s and made by One Direction or Britney Spears. So asking me to write about the latest single from a south London MC is pretty ridiculous and makes it clear to me that you haven’t bothered to do any research before getting in touch.
Know your audience and bear in mind which websites they frequent. It is always better to have your music on the right site that will reach the most amount of people, as opposed to just any site or blog that will have you. Also, a lot of bloggers just want to fill space on their web pages to make it look like they have more varied content. But if their audience isn’t ideal for you, there’s nothing stopping you from declining their offer of a write-up and getting in touch with a blog that would be more suitable.
By professional I don’t mean using ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’ at every opportunity, but I still feel there needs to be a sense of formality in your approach – and politeness. I once had someone private message me on Twitter saying ‘Yo Tash, can you blog about my new track?’ We’d probably only interacted briefly three times before this.
Unless you are friends (and good ones at that) there is no reason for you to be approaching a blogger like they owe you a favour or like they’re part of your crew. Just because we shared a couple of jokes on Twitter or we discussed the latest Jay Z album doesn’t mean we are on super friendly, informal terms.
It also goes without saying here (though I’ll say it anyway) that you should check your spelling before sending anything and more importantly, that you have made sure the blogger’s name is written correctly. I’ve been called Natalie more than once [sigh].
Oh, and don’t try and flirt with me. That’s just awkward.
Have confidence and faith in your music. You have to give bloggers a reason to press play, otherwise your e-mail will get lost among all of their other messages from unsure artists who failed to make an impression. Tell them which other rappers inspire you. Tell them why you made this record. Tell them what you like about it. Anything that might encourage them to listen. There is a fine line between being confident and sounding too cocky though, so watch out for that.
I would also stay away from trying to sell yourself too much on Twitter by repeatedly tweeting links to your new track. That can be extremely annoying and worthy of an unfollow. Instead, send over a well-written and concise press release…
A good press release can go a long way
When someone hits me up on Twitter asking if I will check out their new song I always ask them to e-mail me with the link and a press release. The power of a well-written and attention grabbing press release should never be underestimated.
If you can’t afford to hire a PR to write one for you (they don’t always get it right either) then as long as you have a couple of paragraphs about the track with a little context, a few details about you as an artist and maybe a quote or two – from yourself or from an industry connection – then you’re good to go. Also try to personalise your press release to who you’re sending it to, include the single artwork and don’t be afraid to name drop if you have worked with other known artists or have had support from popular radio DJs.
Steer clear from making sweeping statements about how you are “the best underground artist in the UK scene” or “hailed as one of the most skilled rappers in London” unless you can back this up with a source. Of course YOU think you’re the best, but everyone else might want to have a second or third opinion on that.
I was recently asked whether journalists and bloggers pay attention to a press release when it is sent from the artists themselves, as opposed to from a record label or a PR company. As long as you’re content is legit and the passion for your music comes across, then there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be intrigued to check out your material alongside that sent to us by the likes of Interscope or Rocnation. We may get to your press release a little after the others, but 8 times out of 10, if you’ve managed to engage us with your approach then we’ll get back to you.
Chase them up
Finally, don’t shy away from chasing up a blogger or journalist. People do get busy and are inundated with e-mails on a regular basis, so there’s no harm in following up your message. You could even remind them of your e-mail via Twitter, as checking mentions can be a lot simpler than checking an inbox. But if you do choose this method, keep it polite and don’t pester.
Now, I’m not claiming that these are fool-proof points that work on everyone or that I know the ins and outs of the music industry, but I do know what works on me.
What do you think? Are there any pieces of advice I’ve missed? Do you disagree with any of my points? Let me know in the comment section or tweet me: @natashananner