If you’re looking to promote your new music release or an upcoming performance, pitching your story to a music writer is one of the ways that you can earn publicity. If you take the DIY approach, earned media can offer the greatest return, basically for free (as opposed to paying for an advertisement). The catch is, you’re not paying for the publicity with money, but with your time. Pitching music writers requires quite a bit of leg work, but with some persistence and research, you could land some quality coverage. Here are some tips that I’ve gathered after working in music publicity for several years:
1. Reexamine the Need for a Press Release
This sounds counterintuitive to this article, but hear me out. Press releases were once common public relations practice, but with an increasingly accelerating news cycle, this practice is becoming more of a courtesy. A press release offers a complete overview of the music project that you are promoting with all of the essential information, but a brief email with a link to your website might be all the information that a writer needs to do a story.
You just need to give the writer some sort of hook, to first attract them to learn more, and then to give them something to hang their story on. But be careful, even the slightest clumsy phrase can be a huge turn-off for the ever-fickle music journalist. (See ye olde Why I Deleted Your Band’s Promo Email). In short, having a comprehensive landing page (with all of the information that would be on a press release) on your site, is the direction that the industry is moving.
2. Keep Your Pitch Brief
Imagine coming back from a week-long vacation and opening up your email on Monday morning. This is what a music writer’s inbox looks like every single day. You want to make sure that you’re not adding to the clutter, but making the writer’s job easy with a straight-to-the-point subject line and 200-word pitch. Be modest with how you describe your music and make it simple for the writer to discover why you’re worthy of press. Since you don’t necessarily know what streaming service they use, including a YouTube video is always a good way to do this.
Learn how to write effective email subject lines.
3. Research and Personalize
Take the time to research the music writers who you are pitching. Read several articles that they have written, and ideally keep them on your radar through social media and continue to engage with their work. When you have gathered enough information about a writer, address them by name in your email pitch and convey why they’d be the perfect writer to cover your story. Flattery always helps, but don’t be disingenuous. Don’t tell them you liked their story on the Fruit Bats if you didn’t actually like their story on the Fruit Bats.
4. You’re Not Confined to Email
All music writers have an email where you can send a press release, the question is whether it’s widely available to the public. Sometimes writers hide their emails, or only offer them to certain databases in order to keep the number of inquiries manageable. However, most music writers are very active on Twitter. You might find you have better luck tweeting a music writer or sliding into their DMs. This completely depends on the preferences of the writer, but it’s good to keep in mind that not being able to find an email address isn’t the end of the road.
5. Quality Over Quantity"When you’re creating your list of music writers that you want to contact, or media list, really think about who is the best person to write about you and your music." —@talmarie123 Click To Tweet
When you’re creating your list of music writers that you want to contact, or media list, really think about who is the best person to write about you and your music. If you have writers on your list whose beats don’t quite align with what you have to offer, take them off and focus on writing a really killer, personalized pitch to a writer who does align with what you have to offer. This will save you time, and the writer’s time, and help you put your energy into promising prospects.