One of the best things about this whole site is meeting the people who I have met through it. For the most part, those meetings have happened via some sort of electronic medium. Which is no bad thing, the internet is glorious for allowing people who would never normally meet to interact easily and frequently, regardless of location. But rarely are these introductions anything less than a touch awkward. On occasion when I’m busy between this site, the others I write for, my job and previously studying for my degree I don’t devote a lot of time to those introductions to really delve into the content and if it doesn’t catch me off the bat I tend to write it off. I may well have missed on some tremendous opportunities because of that, but that is the nature of the game.
So for whatever it’s worth here’s a bit of a crash course in how to create those kind of introductions that would make myself, and I imagine sites of similar inclination and size, take notice and investigate the e-mail further.
Do your research- Before you even considering sending off press releases and review requests to websites find the ones you genuinely want to look at your stuff. Look for sites you like yourself, or who seem like they may be sympathetic to the type of music you’re making. For example, if I was sent a message from a pop punk act asking for review I can be reasonably certain they don’t really know what this site covers and they’re sending it out everywhere. Which maybe isn’t the worst policy, but it’s not as effective as a targeted policy.
Contact the site how they ask you to - The majority of sites like this one have somewhere on the main page a tab for a page detailing how to contact the site. ONLY CONTACT THEM VIA THIS. Don’t go leaving random links on Facebook walls or hitting up the sites Twitter page. They use those pages to share about content and interact with followers, not to find new material so it’s clearly not the best place to put your material if you want it to be taken seriously. If nothing else, contacting the site exactly how they ask you to shows that you have done your research and quite possibly take your shit seriously. If I feel that, I am much more likely to look into your shit further myself.
Don’t overwrite- It may seem difficult to decide how much to write and what tone to take but it’s not really. It doesn’t need to be an essay, a paragraph or two introducing yourself, your band, some sort of brief genre tag and asking for what you’re looking for. That’s it. If you’ve gone with the aforementioned targeted thing then briefly say why you want your music reviewed by the site in question. It shows you’ve put the effort and thought in, and throws in a bit of ego rubbing, it’s much more likely to get you a response. Get them short, sweet and professional. Clean cut electronic signatures at the bottom or attached necessary promo material is much more likely to get a response than a few lines asking if you’re interested in a review or a three page history of your band and its development.
Send all the essentials - This is the big one. Make sure your e-mail includes all the essentials for a modern band, particularly if you’re an independent band with no label or PR support to throw the weight behind you. These essentials may seem pretty obvious but they run as follows: your facebook page, your twitter account, your YouTube channel, your Soundcloud or Bandcamp page. Any other social media links should also be included as should an official website if you have one but those first few are key because they can all easily be shared by the social media outlets of the whatever site is reviewing you and thus expand the chance of new potential fans finding your music. Also, including all these makes you look on the ball, aware and professional. Another aspect much more likely to get you a response than an e-mail with a simple embed link or anything else. If you make a reviewer have to go looking for your music then they won’t.
Oh and by the way, see any of who have the ‘like’ the page thing on Facebook before you can hear all your songs you can get yourselves to fuck right now. Now that there’s an excellent bandcamp app for Facebook there is no excuse for such behaviour.
Have a form of EPK- nowadays this is easy. If you’re an independent band then your EPK(Electronic Press Kit) should be thus: the cover of your release, a promo shot of your band and the files for the music you want reviewed. For the sake of size you’re best off using MP3s but alternatively if your release is already out or available for streaming on Soundcloud or Bandcamp send that link instead for higher quality audio. This EPK should be stored in a dropbox folder for easy sharing. Stay away from things like mediafire and rapidshare. They may be effective, but they’re not as smooth or easy as dropbox. This is true for any of us who may use tablets and smartphones as well which allows us to view the contents of a dropbox anywhere and on the move. Often times there’s also no need to extract these files with a dropbox folder, which saves time and effort on the part of the reviewer. The harder you make it for them to get at your music the less likely they are to try get at it. Arguably us reviewers should be less lazy when it comes to getting our hands on your classic album in waiting but…we aren’t. Life’s tough.
If you REALLY want to get noticed hire PR- whether you’re at level of needing PR or not is entirely up to you but this WILL get you noticed more than an e-mail from yourselves well. Those of us who review develop PR contacts, who we grow to trust and so when they send us something we open it if we’re known them to send quality stuff in the past. I do this and I know other sites do to. It is literally all about who you know, by that token if you want your stuff reviewed because of a review a site did of a band you know mention that. They more you’re associated with quality and trust the more likely you are to get the response you’re looking for. Assuming your band isn’t shite that is. No amount of good PR can fix that.
If you’re not sure if you need PR check out this excellent piece from Lisa Coverdale of Hold Tight! PR and Basick Records to gauge that for yourselves. She knows more about that I do, or ever will. In fact, she knows more about it than most people as she’s among the best. Keep an eye on her new website for all the industry insight you need. Click here to visit said site.
Don’t be a metal band - This is fundamental to getting noticed. Most bands who openly endorse themselves as being ‘metal’ and nothing else are pretty balls these days. Not all are, but most are. Cynical bastards like me may judge you based purely on this unimaginative and quite possibly inaccurate description. Be something more exciting and interesting.
If you must be a metal band, be really, really fucking good - This probably means you aren’t much of a metal band by traditional standards anyway. In which case don’t call yourselves metal. Say something exciting like ‘progressive’ or liken yourselves to bands who are also not really that metal but are really that awesome. There are so many metal bands you really need to do all you can to break free of the preconceptions of amateur music journalists. Because if the rest of them are half as much of an asshole as I am then they sure are assholes.
If you think you’re that good and you don’t hear back, get in touch again in a few weeks - sites like this are labors of love. They don’t make money, they’re done on the side of life. And even though I am ginger I do have a life and as its starting to look a proper grown up job, so it seems to safe to assume the much more handsome editors of the other sites do as well. So give them some time, a few weeks if you receive a response suggesting you’ll get review is fair, but do pester if you really want them to look at you. Just don’t be a dick about it. Use your standards of dickishness on this one.
That’s more or less it. Do with it what you will. Hopefully this means I can get a whole of tonne of wonderful new music to do my best to expose to the world with the meager resources and talents at my disposal. More than that, hopefully it will allow a whole host of other sites to do the same.