« 15 Step Guide To Starting A Local Music Festival | Main | NEWS BRIEF: Microsoft Readies New Music Service, Apple Soars, Jay-Z, BandsInTown, ReDigi & More »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Rob Shelby

What about DIY bands marketing themselves in unique ways?

Do you still want those bands to contact you?

Tom Schmitz

It's called media "RELATIONS" for a reason and too many PR flunkies (as opposed to real and trustworthy PR professionals) forget this. Here is my guide to media relations, the right way. http://bit.ly/yNjC4y


They call it Spray and Pray.


OTOH, it's not hard to eliminate/skip over the obvious offenders. I wouldn't make such a fuss over it, except that indeed some people are paying for the service.


This tends to happen because a skilled publicist starts an agency but gets too busy so they hire a bunch of entry level people. Bands come in hiring the head person but get the lower level person who has zero relationships other than an email list and an @companyname.com email address to get in the door.


It's not only PR companies. They are all these stupid brainwashed people who refuse to read any key directions written as bold and visible as possible. Somebody must have told them to 'take a risk to get noticed' so unfortunately they do.
To give you an example. I administrate a specialized music group on SoundCloud and it's clearly written in About and next to a submission button what kind of music I may accept and what genres I refuse to feature or even listen to. Now, every week I receive 80% of songs which are not welcomed! Moreover, to figure it out I can't even judge by the song owner's label but need to waste several minutes to preview these 20 or 40 songs to finally discover they do not comply with my group requirements.
The same thing with including my email to PR companies and bands mailing lists even though these people have nothing in common with genres I promote or I am interested in (again, all necessary info is provided on my magazine website, social profiles etc.). Then, when I offer them help and business to do, showing them some interest of mine, they refuse to pay for any services, but instead they continue sending me their press releases with big attachments and 'buy now' links!
I have no other solution to this problem but blacklist these people or mark their messages as spam.


Blacklist them Bruce! They're not providing any value to anyone. It is just too dang easy to get info on your targets these days for this kind of spam to be acceptable. The people who are doing it right should be obvious from email #1.

Clyde Smith

Yes, in my case and I think in Bruce's as well. Bruce is referring to artists and pr firms that contact him about music reviews and the like with no hook related to what we actually do at Hypebot.

But he forwards stuff to me where there's an interesting business angle or marketing angle on a regular basis. So, yes, that's of interest.

Except for rare occasions where someone's music is so bad that it would be embarrassing to mention or, in my case and probably Bruce's, is something like NeoNazi tunes, the music itself doesn't come into it.

I've written positive posts about a number of bands whose music doesn't interest me in the least but is at least competent enough with a solid marketing hook that I was happy to write about the marketing part.


I have more patience with the artists, though. When I was blogging actively I *hated* having to move a musician or indie label to the junk folder, so I would usually reach out and explain why my blog wasn't the right place for them to submit their new track or album. Whenever possible I tried to point them to other bloggers in my network who might be a better fit for what they were trying to get out there. I still get several "Wazzup ;) Check out my dope new trackz!" messages weekly on Twitter. Unfortunately, I can't bring myself to reply to those. It's spam, people! You are creative individuals - you can do better!

Bruce Houghton

We'll, I guess I hit a nerve with this post!

Clyde is right (above). We love being contacted by bands with interesting marketing plans. What wastes everyone's time is the pitches for music reviews and the like. We've never done them on Hypebot and probably never will.

Arnold Stolting - Stolting Media Group

If the folks that send us emails daily seemed serious in their pursuits, had an interesting marketing plan, combined with some sort of professional approach, then even though we are not a music blog, or an artist development company or a label etc, it would be easier to grasp what they are trying to do. But for some reason we get emails from individuals who obviously just purchased their first music production software yesterday, stayed up all night practicing, and then send us an email the following day with a one liner of: "YO check out my hot new beat!" and we ask ourselves, why??

Janet Hansen

It's very important that bands and publicists KNOW what kind of outlet they are asking to consider their pitch. I'd wager, most have Hypebot in a list of media contacts and send a blast. This is totally inappropriate and bad form. I still send all my press releases one at a time to make sure no mistakes are made. Once you offend someone who could potentially help, you've likely lost them for good.

Edward from RemixComps.com

I get this through my site a lot. I list remix contests for musicians except all the PR firms from all over send me contests for winning various things like pushchairs and event tickets. They don't seem to be able to read that we only list contests specifically designed for musicians.

Suzanne Lainson

Great comments.

I've been on all sides of this, as a freelance writer pitching article ideas to national magazines, as an editor receiving releases, and as someone who occasionally does music PR for friends.

The best training I ever gave myself was being a freelancer. I was successful getting assignments because I put in a lot of time studying each magazine I approached: learning the style of the magazine, what topics it had previously covered, and who to send a query letter to.

As an editor of an online tech/business publication, I got press releases, though not an overwhelming amount. They were helpful because they alerted me to possible story ideas, which meant I didn't have to go looking for them myself.

Being around musicians, I've seen so much bad promotion. Most musicians don't even bother to check out where they are sending show and music info. They send it to everyone/everywhere without regard to who is interested. It's the "MySpace spam" syndrome. As for the publicists they hire, I've seen some wasted money there. I've read some poor releases put out by expensive agencies. Paying a lot of money doesn't guarantee that the release writer knows what a good hook is or can even write well.

I suppose the best advice I can give is what others have already said. Read the sites/publications before contacting them. Don't use a generic mailing list. Check out every place first. Learn what's there.

I don't think you have to "befriend" writers first before approaching them, but do learn what kinds of stories they are likely to write about.

Joan Myers

You did hit a nerve for all the right reasons but to whoever said something about people telling these indy bands to take a risk, that's what we are all doing but as long as it's a relative risk.

Thanks Bruce..great piece.

Suzanne Lainson

Here's one tip I'll give musicians.

The world doesn't revolve around you.

If someone is going to do a story about you, it is likely because your story offers something to him/her:

An easy way to fill a slot that day.
A story so good millions of people will take the time to read it.
A story on a topic that the writer specializes in and, even better, if you bring something new into the discussion.
A story that is great background material and will work well for an archive.

Well, you get the picture. As a musician you aren't inherently interesting just because you are a musician. And while it is tempting to find a gimmick to create a story, that approach sometimes works better than others. A gimmick for gimmick's sake might get you coverage, but might also bring on ridicule.

Unfortunately most musicians aren't even good at coming up with innovative gimmicks. Usually whatever clever promotion they think they doing has already been done to death. (Think of all the generic album art and band photos and you'll realize how little innovation there is.)

Given how much bad music promotion I have seen, I don't have high expectations, but I'll toss this advice out anyway.


As a PR pro I take pride in reading a writers coverage before contacting them. I have never had success email blasting. The problem is that even really good firms have bad PR people working for them, so the good ones could get blocked because of a co-workers bad business habits.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Musician & Music Industry Resources