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