Tuesday, 8 March 2011

How To Get Your Music Featured On Blogs

The question that Breaking More Waves receives from artists more than any other is “How do I get a feature on your blog?” The answer is not a simple or straightforward one.

First it’s necessary to understand how blogs, or this blog in particular, work and how they evolve. By doing this you can enter into the blogger’s mind set and have a better chance of being put under the spotlight.

For many blog writers their site started as a hobby, but developed into a respected online publication. Established new music blogs, from big hitters to smaller ones such as this are often recognised for their ability to pick up on great new music months before the mainstream media. This awareness of blog influence has seen Breaking More Waves participating as a pundit on The BBC Sound of 2010 poll, a judge in the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2011, quoted in the Guardian and on BBC 6 Music as well as being asked to participate on a variety of radio show features including Express Fm and Amazing Radio. Yet blogging is not our day job. We write this blog for one reason and one reason only – because music is our religion – David Cameron would probably call our efforts part of the ‘big society’.

Music bloggers pay a price for this passion - time. It’s misconception that bloggers are sitting at their laptops 24 hours a day just waiting for your email. Most, like Breaking More Waves, fit in their blog between full time jobs, social lives and for some of the older bloggers in web-town, families.

Understanding of the time limits placed on music bloggers can help in submitting music for consideration. In an average week Breaking More Waves receives between 400 and 600 emails and we only have a spare hour or two writing posts for the week and then any additional capacity is spent listening to music. Therefore it’s vital when contacting a music blog that the email is succinct and user friendly. By and large bloggers are a friendly bunch, but they have to be ruthless as well.

So here are some suggestions for submitting to this blog and we would suggest that some of these hints would apply to most blogs out there.

1. Keep your email short and to the point. Don’t waffle. Our pet personal hates are “Hi, we know you’re really busy, but wonder if you would give consideration….,” or the dreaded “Hi, we really like your blog particularly your recent post on (insert name of post written in the last week).” Sucking up in this way won’t do you any favours – we get hundreds of emails like this. However make sure you state what type of music you play – and avoid “our music is unique and impossible to pigeon hole,” – we see a lot of those as well, generally from bands that sound like sub-rate Oasis / Libertines copyists.

2. Do your research and think about your target audience. Try to only send your music to blogs that you think will feature your style. There’s no point sending indie rock to a hip-hop blog. Also if you’re a UK act, statistically you stand a better chance of getting coverage on UK blogs than you do American ones so target them first – think about your market.

3. Ensure your email presents the music in a way that is quick and easy to access – one click to access the song instantly, 1 click and copy / paste to embed the player. We prefer Soundcloud embeds. Most bloggers doesn’t want to waste time downloading MP3 files from complicated web hosting services. Soundcloud is ideal as the band retains control of the content. If you no longer wish the song to be available on line for any reason you can easily remove it – no hassle, no further emails required, no DMCA notices. You can also control the method of delivery - for stream only, free download or purchase. Soundcloud is useful for music blog integration with other linked sites such as the aggregators Hype Machine and Elbows as well as blog radio such as Shuffler FM. Soundcloud players are recognised by Hype Machine and therefore if the blog is listed there it means that the music will get automatically posted on that site – meaning a higher degree of worldwide exposure and more chances of the music being heard. It therefore also makes sense to find out which blogs are Hype Machine listed – they’ll almost certainly be getting more traffic.

4. If you are using Soundcloud label your songs like this Band Name - Song Name. The - is important. It will make you more visible on Hype Machine.

5. Then there’s the music itself – it should be amazing. Bloggers drown in a sea of averageness. Make sure you stand out. This applies from the moment somebody clicks play. If the first fifteen to twenty seconds of a song don’t grab immediately there’s a high chance the time pressured blogger will press pause and delete. Make it count. Make it brilliant. What works in a live setting, where there is no option but to hear and watch you play doesn’t necessarily work on-line. Consider this in the studio environment. Once you’ve drawn someone in with something then you can fully set out your table.

6. Include a decent quality photo of the band / artist. Save the blogger time having to email you for one. Most blogs use visual as well as audio content.

7. Include other relevant links – for videos on You Tube, the band website etc. As for Myspace - it’s dead. Most bloggers hate it. It’s not 2006 anymore. Think what having a bulky, user-unfriendly Myspace page says about you as an artist. If you're going to use one keep it clean and simple.

8. Make sure you include contact details – not just a return email address – a phone number is really handy as well and often forgotten.

With that you are ready to go, so ping your email off, sit back and wait for internet fame, followed by radio play, a record deal, world tours, naked groupies, as many drugs as you can lay your hands on and worldwide success. Simple.

Except in the vast majority of cases you will get nothing. Not even a feature on a two-bit unknown music blog. If that’s the case, then what’s going wrong? Consider this and let’s be blunt; if you are sending your music to 50 or 100 blogs and have got the content of your email right, it may be time to admit that your music just isn’t that good. It’s easy to play in a pub in front of thirty of your mates, buoyed up on a couple of pints of lager and be told how brilliant you are – but when you’re up against hundreds of other artists maybe the reality is you’re not quite as stellar as everyone is telling you. Fact – most bands are pretty mediocre.

Finally let’s touch on PR companies. Some bloggers will probably say that they give every email equal attention, but many will give preference in terms of listening to music that PR companies send their way. This is for two reasons – first because the hope is that a PR company will only deal with an act that they believe in and hence there has already been some filtering and secondly because many of these companies follow much of the advice that we have stated above. Remember also that some bloggers may develop relationships with PR companies and begin to trust their output. So whilst we’re not saying that PR companies are essential for a new band, they may have the necessary skills and contacts to get you increased exposure.

Irrespective of if you use a PR company or do it yourself, we don’t ‘discover’ all of our new music simply by our in box. Much of our discovery is much more organic than that – from seeing bands play live, to hearing stuff on the radio to reading about bands on other music blogs and many more methods. So if you want to get your music heard the most important thing is to get out there and get exposure – someone may pick up on you. Blogs are a small but important part of that initial visibility – in worldwide terms their audience may be small, but their audience is often highly influential and good blog coverage can produce a snowball effect that can lead to bigger and better things.

Now let’s finish with some music. One of these tracks came into our inbox with an email that pretty much ticked all the boxes above – a lush synthy rhythmic remix of Jensen Sportag by Teeel, the other is one of our more organic finds but with a very non-organic sound – the glorious moonlit deep-sex electronica of Toronto duo Trust and their song Candy Walls. Enjoy them – they’re tasty and alongside the 1000's of other hopeful's Trust will be appearing at this years South by South West.

Jensen Sportag - Everything Good (Teeel Remix) by CASCINE

Candy Walls by TRUST

19 comments:

Ian said...

Hello thankx for an interesting post - useful tips. I'm just looking into releasing my first recorded material d-i-y stylee. If I don't hear from any bloggers I send stuff to is it ok to send a follow up email or is that a waste of time? Also you have a drop box for Soundcloud should I use that?

Thankx Ian

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Ian

My view would be the follow up email is unlikely to achieve results.

If any other bloggers read this maybe they could help (and give their own views on what I've written)

Yes Drop Box is cool, but worth an email as well to include photo etc unless (if you are clever) your Soundcloud provides the necessary links to the other info I might need.

Dots&Dashes said...

This is completely and utterly spot on. Every aspiring band ought to read/have read this. So succinct, so bloody good, so spot on.

Follow-up emails are infuriating I'd say - if it didn't wash first time round, it's hardly worth turning the washing machine on for a second go...

Anonymous said...

Just been sent here via another blog twitter Nialler 9. Wow for someone who doesn't have a lot of time to write you do a bloody god job. Keep up the good work and this post was awesome.

Leigh said...

Good post Robin.

Agree with nearly all of it.

My biggest gripe is an email that starts along the lines of "Great blog, I particularly like your post about 'so and so'..." - We know it's a lie and the chances are I won't read the rest of the email.

Know what genre you are. I post a lot of dark, moody rock / electro so often get people who think they are the new Siouxsie, yet sound more like Belinda Carlisle.

For me, a good email will contain a band / sleeve picture, a link to embeddable song (my preference is also Soundcloud), perhaps a download link, a paragraph on the band, links to site / Bandcamp / facebook (not myspace!), contact point.

If you give me an 80MB mediafire link without a stream or link to stream it's doubtful I'll listen.

The snowballing effect is helped if bands share any posts you receive on facebook / twitter - quite often the blog itself will re-tweet it and you could just get a follow up blog post.

Facebook / Twitter are best for community - stay active but not overbearing.

A follow up after no response is pretty much a waste of time, you have to accept that some blogs get hundreds of mails and most mails will get ignored. Maybe give it a second chance on your next release.
Do contact blogs though, there is nothing to lose.

Bloggers love a thank you, strike up a rapport with those who post you and you'll likely find they'll cover your new release without you needed to contact them at all.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Thanks Leigh (click on his name for his blog Just Music That I Like - he shares a fair amount of common ground musically with Breaking More Waves)

The point you make about the snowball effect and the use of sites such as facebook and twitter is a very good one - artists can use a single blog post to good effect if they are clever.

Thanks for your comment and keep up the good work.

Liz said...

Lots of brilliant points - especially relating to the proper use of soundcloud.

I do, think, though that follow up e-mails can be very useful, dependent on the person you're e-mailing. I get the feeling from what you've written, Robin, that you're very methodical and organised with your e-mails. In comparison, I'm slightly more erratic and often receive follow up e-mails which make me wonder what happened to the first e-mail and for what pedantic reason I deleted it. Ultimately, if a blog hasn't replied, a follow up e-mail just can't hurt - you've nothing to lose.

I'd also contend that MySpace is still a great resource - most bands have just 1/2 songs on soundcloud, but on MySpace there are generally 3/4 tracks on one page, which is undeniably convenient. From my point of view, I'd rather back a band with 4 very good songs than a band with just one excellent song.

Overall, though, this should be printed, bound and stapled to every musician in the country. And as you point out, it would be very helpful if, in most cases, the staple was applied across their mouths just to make them be quiet.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Thanks Liz - I'm glad to see that at least somebody has a couple of different opinions - it shows that not all bloggers are created from the same mould at the blog factory !

You are very right - I am horrendously organised - if I wasn't the blog would never be produced.

Thanks for the comment - what blog do you write ?

Phil said...

Haha sorry Robin, I had left the communal work google account logged in that - I'm afraid it was me!

Anonymous said...

Great post and 2 awesome pieces of music !

Kyle said...

Hi

Just came across this blog via the 6 music website.

Loads of useful tips here - things I hadn't considered. Thanks !

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Simon Mark Smith said...

This is the most useful article I've seen about getting on music blogs, thank you.

I will definitely be making a few changes to my approach because of this.

I'm doing a blog about my experience of promotion so I'll post a link to this blog on there.

Thanks again.

marycigarettes said...

i personally would never request that any blogger listen to, or write about my music... this is the age of pull rather than push...i just take care of the main thing,put the hours in,and hope that the rest takes care of itself..and even then i'm not gonna get too hung up about it if nothing happens...it's actually more fun to write my own blogg,which doesn't even have to be about music....i find the less i talk about music,and more about the life i lead that actually informs my creativity, to be more entertaining for folk..so far in it's own small way this is working for me...a healthy youtube and soundcloud channel,and i never bug anyone for attention... it's just pointless and demeaning...but i do enjoy reading the music bloggs...'dangerous minds' and 'accidental bear' are favourites of mine..they do music but other stuff too,which gives more of a feel and context...i get a sense of where the blogger is coming from which is nice....but i would never in a million years ask them to listen to my music....if they found it and liked it,that would be great,but they probably won't,and that's okay..we can still get on with the main thing of being creative and having a fulfilling day.[excuse my crap spelling and messy typing]

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Thanks for the comment marycigarettes.

There's certainly a good % of music that we discover through our own searching rather from bands emailing to ask for coverage (other blogs do this to a greater or lesser extent depending on the blog), but in order for the blogger to find the music there has to be something leading you there. A trail, a path or something on line linking to the band in another location can sometimes do that. It's a bit like the way people find this blog - they must have clicked something or read something that led them here !

Tom Robinson said...

I'm with Liz on this one, too. Personally I get a torrential amount of email every week and also have a family life, so my inbox is overflowing and incoming messages can get overlooked. For me, persistence + outstanding music are the very essence of a professional, winning attitude and I never mind being nagged to listen to a brilliant tune. I never mind people nagging me about their music so long as they don't mind blunt rejection if it's sub-standard. But then it's my fulltime job. As you rightly point out, many great bloggers actually write in their spare time and simply don't have time for timewasters...

Richard O'Brien said...

A great post with loads of helpful and logical tips. I completely agree with all of the points that have been raised, particularly regarding social media sites such as facebook and Twitter, and how it is important to keep an online presence but not be overwhelmming...there's only so much people can take of self promotion, particularly if it is seemless and not backed up with a solid track, image, website or product etc. Ultimately I think that as long as you are personable and honest in the way you contact and approach people online, be it press or radio contacts or blogs and fans, then it will come across on your music/product and help you build and maintain relationships both on and off the net. Being clear and concise is definitely key.

Shaun said...

Brilliant advice. I wish I had found this a month ago!!! We live and learn!