How to Triple Your Odds of Getting Music Media Coverage

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This post was written by guest contributor Bob Baker,  www.TheBuzzFactor.com

 

I view getting media coverage as a two-way exchange. You have something of musical value to share with the world, and the media source has a vehicle to help you reach more fans. However, you’d be surprised by the number of musicians who expect the media person to bare the brunt of the workload in this transaction.

 

Want an example?

 

For 10 years I was the editor and publisher of my own music magazine in St. Louis, Missouri. Over that decade, I wrote about or assigned stories on hundreds of bands. I was regularly amazed by the roadblocks that so many artists put up when I wanted to give them exposure.

 

I’d meet some band members at a show and express my interest in writing about them. They would seem excited about the prospect and promise to send a press kit that I could hand off to a writer. And guess what? Often, that press kit never came.

 

Then there were musicians who called or came up to me in person to gripe about never having been covered in my magazine. Typically, I’d ask them if they had ever sent me something on their band or followed up with a phone call or email to my office.

 

Usually, the answer was, “Uh, well … no.”

 

You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but it’s not. Too many musicians feel they deserve press coverage just because they exist or because they believe they’re the coolest thing since Menudo.

 

But every so often I was blown away by an artist who not only created good music, they also understood the two-way exchange of media exposure.

 

These artists would call and say, “Bob, I really enjoy your magazine, especially that recent article on …” (A little ego stroking doesn’t hurt.) Then they’d pitch their act with a newsworthy story angle.

 

But the really smart ones asked one key question: “What can I do to help you make this happen?”

 

Take a look at that question again. It doesn’t ask me to do extra work or jump through hoops to provide the coverage. In fact, it shows that the artist is willing to supply me with whatever I need to get the job done. Ask that question and you’ll triple your odds of getting media exposure!

 

And when I say “media exposure” I’m not just talking about traditional journalists with newspapers, magazines, radio programs and TV shows. This exact same principle applies to bloggers and podcasters, as well as people who can book your band for live events.

 

Most people in the music biz are overworked and under paid. If you help make their jobs easier — by providing quality music, photos, artist bios and good story ideas — the media will reward you with the exposure you deserve.

 

(This post is adapted from Bob’s PR package called “Killer Music Press Kits – Deluxe Edition.” Link: http://www.bob-baker.com/buzz/presskits.html )

 

Bob Baker is the author of “Guerrilla Music Marketing Online,” Berkleemusic’s “Music Marketing 101” course, and many other books and promotion resources for DIY artists, managers and music biz pros. You’ll find Bob’s free ezine, blog, podcast, video clips and articles at www.TheBuzzFactor.com andwww.MusicPromotionBlog.com.

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  • good stuff. im all about helping and making things easier. but know one hears me though.

  • Anonymous

    so true! great piece. that being said, if you are a musician looking for exposure, please consider http://iGiveapoop.com for new music promotion promoting change on http://JackTheDonkey.com the social network to meet new people, discover new music (or be discovered) while driving change to the charities we give a poop about…freely.

  • Great advice. Being helpful, accessible and having a good angle will get a much better response.

  • M Purdue

    It makes good sence, but a lot of bands are already juggling working in restaurants, trying to get the time off for rehersals, gigs, travelling and recording. I think band these days need a few good street teamers they can trust to be a press officer, T shirt designer, tour manager, getting music on itunes, accountant and all the other things that need doing. There's not enough time to do it all let alone be good at it.

  • “What can I do to help you make this happen?” This was the key to this whole article, and an exceptional one that most people overlook. It can apply to many other things we want in life as well.

    Dale Carnegie's book, "How to win friends and influence people" should be read thrice by any one attempting a career in music, or anything else. It covers a lot of ground in this essential area.

    Too many people have watched "The Secret" today and were duped in to thinking that all they have to do is visualize and want something and it happens. REALITY CHECK, success takes actual EFFORT!!!

    • Wait! You mean that in order for something to happen, you have to make something happen? Revolutionary! I know what you mean about "The Secret."

      • Bassee Newsblast

        All the Secret is saying is let your mind your words and actions be one I feel like you guys never watched or read the Secret cause you missed the all point….

    • Bassee Newsblast

      Oh but Au Contraire Mon Frair….The Secret doesn’t work without action so in no means is it telling u to sit still and just visualize your positive thoughts and actions work hand and hand….

  • Wolf In Wool Productions

    Awesome! Thank you.

  • Spot on! Musicians should remember that nobody owes them anything – not the audiences attention, not a review from a magazine, and especially not money. When people give you their respect through reviews, money, and attending your show, it is a privelege. So work your butt off and don’t like you’re entitled. And soon enough, you’ll work your way up. It’s a ladder.

  • Words of wisdom, thanks. BTW, it’s “Menudo”, not “Menuto”.

  • Get Outtahere

    this is so messed up i don’t even know where to start!!! it’s true that these advices will ease artist’s way to the media coverage, but that doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be like this! i so had enough with journos that ask artists to do their work.
    YEAH, IF HE IS THAT GOOD, THE ARTIST DESERVES TO BE WRITTEN ABOUT JUST FOR THAT, THEIR PR AND PRESS KIT IS NOT AN ARTISTIC QUALITY CRITERIA AND SHOULDN’T INFLUENCE THEIR MEDIA COVERAGE! IF THEY AREN’T THAT GOOD, YOU SHOULDN’T WRITE ABOUT THEM AT ALL, KIT OR NO KIT!!!
    but most journos are just slobs bored out their asses that like to earn money for copy/paste jobs.

  • Melody

    Perhaps a discussion of what constitutes a “newsworthy angle” would be helpful. We all know to send things, follow up and be polite and helpful, but that’s not specific enough.

    What makes things “newsworthy”?

    Gimmicks (genre-bending, bizarre instrumentation, fashion statements, all-girl band, avant-garde videos)
    Awards and Accolades (did you win a Grammy as an unknown indie band from Canada? Did you raise one million dollars on Kickstarter?)
    Unexpected Collaborations (musically or philanthropically)
    “Human Interest” (sob story: did your lead singer overcome throat polyps and then save a kitty from a tree? we love tragedy and chicken soup stories)

    Feel free to have a ton of written material, from bios to blogs to personal stories, available on your site or press kit. Many reporters simply don’t have the time to come up with an interesting angle of their own for your band. Spoon feed it to them. Plagiarism is still good publicity, so bait them with a story that is already written, what do you care? I have found entire sections of articles on my bands simply copied and pasted from our website. Bad journalism, but still great press!

    Good luck!

  • Lonny

    SO, what can I do to make your job easier? I’d LOVE to have someone listen to my album. I’m told “it’s great” but getting the media to even listen to a track is daunting. Warm regards, Loveandrevolution.com

  • Joe

    nice..but i think you meant Menudo…

  • Jzcmpsr22

    “What Can I Do To Help You Make This Happen?”
    There it is!

  • Brilliant. I always include DL links to an EPK, but I’ve never actually outright asked what I could do to help… that might end up in my email signature!

  • Great advice. But I have to point out that I thought it said by “Bob Barker.”

  • JediBret

    My website focuses on independent musicians. We choose who to write about, we always try to contact the musicians first, and it is surprising the response, or more accurately, lack thereof. If musicians want publicity, they should make it easy.

  • Chanteuserose

    Why should a journalist wait for a press kit from a band? for what is he or she a journalist, are they idiots?
    Lazy bastards or what? A musician has enough to do with creating the music and finding places to go on stage, He or she have no time to do the jobs of these idiots.

    • Schoolson

      all depends on whether you really want to be heard or not..music business is very hard and requires 24/7 on everyones part. They have the job of getting it out to the people who need to hear it which requires loads of time of them massaging stations, editors, producers, directors etc… try doign their job in full and you will see that supplying them with the material is teh best way to represent yourself. All depends on what kind of representation you want.

  • SW

    It’s true so many bands expect you to do all the work just because they have been in contact with you…we are in a band & are always suprised how few other bands have got a proper press kit but also two of us present a radio show & get hundreds on facebook messages that either just say ‘check out my band’ with a myspace link or they ask how they can get played even though there are detailed instructions as to what to send & where on our page, they are just not proactive enough to bother to check! It’s very time consuming to respond to these messages, especially when the info is right there for any who looks for it -& the ones who have blatantly found the info & sent a press kit & cd are the ones who get radio play. Oh, & when we have replied to messages to say what & where to send only 1 in 10 actually bother to send anything at all!

  • Kushadeep

    Its a tuff gig eh, got to love the press though!
    http://www.soundcloud.com/kushadeep
    best
    D

  • Coxymusique

    Very good ! Everything is available for the artist Steelcox who is a French singer and songwriter on CD Baby. Thank you very much in advance for any contact. Debbie coxymusique@gmail.com

  • Ben Travis

    Could you list some possible ideas for media places that would promote music on web sites even if the musician isn’t touring? (hey, maybe the musician in question just had a baby!) And once you find those places, how do you get the email of someone useful and not just a contact email? Any tricks we should know? 🙂

    Thanks,
    Ben

    http://www.bentravis.com

  • anonymous

    Great article. I believe you mean “Menudo.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menudo_(band)

  • That's the band!

  • Hey Ben, check out the Indie Bible. Good contact info resource there.

  • Follow-through ain't a lot of people's strong suit.

  • They don't need to wait for a press kit. But without the press kit, they won't know about your music since there are 8 billion other bands competing for attention.

  • Indeed.

  • Remember to get your pets spayed and neutered.

  • Amen.

  • I can only speak for Portland, Oregon and a few people I know in SF and Seattle, but the music critics I know are not bored slobs. They're busy people. Very busy. They are inundated with music to review, events to cover, and features to write. They don't get paid very much, either. Given that, I think it makes sense that bands need to be proactive in reaching out to journalists if they want to get a little coverage. This is the reality of the world we currently live in. If you don't want to do your own PR, pay someone else to do it or simply move forward in your musical life without PR outreach. Just don't be surprised if your albums and shows never get talked about in the press.

  • "Plagiarism is still good publicity." Ha. So true.

  • Yes, indeed. Menudo it is.

  • RTM

    It would be nice if the various street press and entertainment supplements of newspapers actually recognized that 2-way street. Too often I have done all the right things, an interesting angle, stroking egos, great press kit, for a great band, follow up calls / emails… all for nothing. No give, just take. No replies / return calls, just 'if you advertise with us we'll give you editorial, let me put you through to our sales department'. Bunch of snobs.

  • Dusty Donley

    I understand that writers/reviewers/critics are busy people. And I also understand that these people get tons of emails a day from bands requesting coverage, but it’s so frustrating when you send someone an email and you don’t hear squat. Ever. I make music with one other person. We don’t play live and don’t really have any intention to ever play live, but I feel like we make really great music. The obvious problem is that since we don’t play live, the only way we can get our music “out there” is by word of mouth, reviews and other things of that nature. So, I bought the Indie Bible. I thought it was a great idea and would be a great resource, especially for a band like ours. I began sending emails. The whole, “I’m interested in getting my band reviewed in your magazine/on your blog, blah, blah, blah” type of stuff. I described the music, mentioned several options on how to get the music to them and so far I’ve gotten three responses. Two of which were automated, saying something along the lines of, “Send us $25 and we’ll *probably* review your music.” The other 40 emails I’ve sent, a lot of them directly to people named as contacts in the Indie Bible, have gone unanswered. It gets really frustrating when you spend all this time sending emails, trying everything you can possibly think of to promote your music, but all you end up feeling like you accomplish is bashing your head against a wall. The writer claims this process is a two way street, but in my experience, he can’t be more wrong.

  • yet another fantastic article by bob baker!

  • One thing I know from experience is that "follow-up" makes a huge difference. When I released my first album, I sent out about 50 copies with one-sheets and then emailed those folks telling them to expect the disc in the mail. About two weeks later, I emailed again asking if they got it and if they had a chance to listen to it yet? Then I emailed folks again about 2 weeks after that. Of those 50 discs I mailed out, I probably got 10-15 positive reviews. For the next few records, I hired a publicist who is a maniac about follow-up. He basically keeps calling or emailing everyone he sent a disc to (sometimes as many as 400 CDs) until they either write about the album or respond saying "We're not going to write about this." So, first, I'd say go ahead and pick 25-50 appropriate magazines, blogs, or websites where you'd love to see your name in print. Mail them discs and a one-sheet. Second, follow up with them. I'll bet you'll get a few results. Then you can build on that.

    • I think what the early commenters on this piece were tryna say is .. its a lil difficult when you have to write , produce, arranged, record, promote, edit vids, be ur own camera man, use ur money to put all ur albums on cdbaby, buy FB ads .. be ur own manager .. etc all buy your self, trust me i feel ur pain , but you really can expect a label or station to just call u up like yea .. WE DISCOVERED YOU !! haha good thoughts

  • JeffWyatt

    I have to say that I've had very good experiences with music journalists. Mailing a CD and a press kit is the only work I've ever been asked to do. Sometimes not even that. That's a minimal and reasonable request and trade off for some journalistic publicity. If someone is asking for anything more than that…. Well…I'd call that lazy.

    • Unless, of course, they want to interview you.

      • Jeffwyatt

        Yes!!!! Good point. Excuse my oversight.

  • Jon Patton

    Wow – anyone here commenting that the journalists are just being lazy has obviously never met one and has absolutely no concept of what it's like to be a music journalist. I write (and do some editing for) an online blog called Driftwood Magazine – we're a smallish blog but we get hundreds of e-mails and over 250 CD submissions a month. That's not even a large load. Double or triple that for a local radio station.

    On the editing end we have to deal with this in addition to holding down full time jobs.

    If I have to choose between Googling your band to hear your music and reading another e-mail, it's over. Pretty much a waste, don't you think?

    What most people don't realize is that in a pile of one hundred cds, there *might* be one extraordinary one that will be worth writing about despite a road block, and 15 that are all of high enough quality to say something about. If you're interested in media coverage – which is presumably the reason you're reading this article – then do you really want to gamble that someone else is willing to go the extra step of actually making it easy to hear you and learn about you? The belief that you made that one extraordinary CD is not going to help you. Everything takes work.

    If you don't want to do the PR work and want media coverage, there are lots of PR agents out there looking for clients.

    If you think media coverage is worthless, that's your decision. But don't crap on the folks who believe in music enough to tell hundreds of people about it every day.

  • I don't know..I bust my but with my music all day everyday. I live way out in the middle of nowhere and im trying to do all of my music solo (Hip-Hop). ive tried everything in every way to get anywhere other then local (local my name is def. around). Internet is pretty much my Golden Gun. but the internet is a huge lottery and a rough game to get an active fan base. but If i get any chance to network with anyone even if they're a nobody, i do it, and take it very seriously. Ive been making hip-hop for almost 13 years now and im not stopping until my goals are met and prolly never stopping after that. the closest ive gotten to anything major in the industry was Will Power Of Supahot beats (eminem,yelawolf) saying yo back and is following me..that made my month! But like i said i told him whats up bc he said ill work with indies, hit me up, serious inquiries only. and i said i take this very serious this is my life ..no write back.. i even asked him what you said above "What can I do to help you make this happen" and nothing. i think im trying to hard. But i def put in mad work..All of the things ive really wanted in my life like love or a kid..both happened when i pretty much stopped caring and gave up. but i cant give up HIP-HOP! sorry about the bad grammar and spelling.

    • Don't give up on Hip-Hop! Maybe just adjust your expectations. Who knows, maybe if you stop being attached to a particular outcome, things will start to happen on their own. That'd be very Zen.

      • Zen? I def cant give up regardless. It makes me the happiest while im in any process of producing with my art or anyone elses. One day at a time.

  • Byrnemusic88

    my daughter clara….www.clarabyrne.com…we finding it difficult to promote her ……….even with media coverage…..being 14 may be the issue any tips

  • This might not be what you want to hear, but my tip would be to not rush it. If she's only 14 then there is plenty of time, time for her to develop her talent, time for you to continue promoting, time to keep networking inside and outside of the music industry. Time is on your side.

  • Colinhealy

    Can you tell me what a press kit is please and what should be in it

    • A press kit is a package you put together to present your music to the press. It usually includes your CD, a picture, a band bio, any relevant information about the making of the album, press quotes from papers, magazines, websites, etc. Check out this video for info on a one-sheet (kind of a condensed version of the press kit): http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2011/07/how-to-make

  • We stand corrected. I did watch it about 5 years ago. I think I may be ris-remembering it because I've since known a few people who focused heavily on the visualization aspect of it (almost like wishing) without much of the follow-through and work.

    • Schoolson

      totally agree, that was all just positive thinking but not much action to seal it. It wasn’t much of a secret.

  • That sounds like a good approach. I know what you me about the process. I can get totally lost (in a good way) in songwriting mode and the next thing I know 6 hours have passed as if it's been 30 minutes.

  • Awesome advice here – Seems it should be common sense lol But there are a lot of lazy Musicians out there –

  • Owls Teeth

    Great read! Much appreciated.