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Artist Advice Column: Do's & Don'ts Of Approaching Digital Media Pt. 1

Getting your music heard requires a multi-pronged approach. Going to digital media for exposure is still an important part of any strategy and we look at best practices for getting yourself love.

So you made a song. Now what. Are you going to post it online and hope that somebody notices? You will be one of thousands or millions of people who will be posting songs on any given day, especially if it is a Friday, so blindly up a song and hoping for the best probably won’t work. Sure there are the instances where songs seem to bubble up out of nowhere, but counting on success like that will probably leave you homeless. Don’t expect the luck to come, go out and make it. For a new artist, that means getting eyeballs on your music. There are many avenues to do so whether it is radio, digital media, syncs or the main focus now, streaming. While much has been said about the flagging importance of radio and digital media, ignoring digital media as a new artist would be a bad idea. However figuring out how to approach bloggers and journalists can be hard. If you don’t have the budget for a publicist, then doing this on your own will be your job. Let’s go over some do’s, don’ts and other tips on how to maximize your chances of getting coverage and maintaining relationships.

The first thing to do when you are ready to put out a song is identify who might cover your song and a potential release strategy. Do you want a website to premiere it? Streaming services will make it harder for you after a premiere if you are pitching their playlists because they want to be the exclusive source for music being heard, however if you are a small, independent artist, those big playlists may not be an option. So consider trying for a premiere, since this will allow for a better chance someone will pick it up and get your song out a day early for fans.

If you are a small artist, create a spreadsheet with the websites and contact info of the places you think you would cover your music. If you are a rock band, don’t start sending your music to hip-hop exclusive websites. You are wasting your time, cluttering their inbox and leaving a bad impression that you don’t know what they cover. The same goes as a rap artist sending your music to an indie rock website. Know whom you are pitching.

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Then understand the size and scope of whom you are pitching. If you are posting your first song ever, don’t send it to Billboard, Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, or the arts sections national newspapers. If you see smaller artists on big sites, it is because they have label connections, big, well-connected PR or other big money behind them. Go for smaller blogs that fit your genre and try and cultivate connections with them. Make them feel like they are a part of your story and they will do the same to you. 

Find the person who is right fit for you to pitch's individual email. It might be found on the website, in their author profile, on Google, LinkedIn, Twitter or even Facebook. Take every step you can to not message the person. If that is the last resort, ask them on Twitter or even Facebook for their email. Do not send them the song there, just say you want to submit a song and would like to keep the conversation professional on email. Your message might get ignored and your email could easily get ignored, but at least you made the effort to show you care about them and they will likely remember who you are once they see the email.

What you send in the email is vital to keep this short and to the point. In your title, if you want them to premiere the song, make sure that is the first word. If, not make your title catchy and succinct. Put your artist name and song title. You can include who it sounds like if they are not familiar with you are and one or two other descriptive words, but DO NOT go overboard on the superlatives. Praise yourself without being over the top.

This goes for the body of your text as well. Include a sentence or two about you, clear links to your songs, your social accounts and a website. Also make sure you have a good, horizontal picture of you or your band with the photographer credit and any album art for the song. If you have a larger press release ready to go, include a link to that or push that to the bottom of the email in case they want to read it. 

In the end you have to create a narrative not just in your emails, but in your entire marketing push, that forces bloggers and journalists to care about you. They should want to be interested in you and your music. You can have a great song, but there needs to be more than that, because great music can only take you so far in the music market. You have to have a story people want to invest in. 

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