While it may be the dream of many artists to end up on the front page of Rolling Stone or Pollstar, such a feat isn't only difficult to achieve, it's also not as beneficial as they may assume. This article offers several compelling reasons why up-and-coming artists are better off approaching smaller blogs for their promotional needs.
Guest Post by Adam Bernard
Everyone wants to be noticed by major publications and websites. Bands have long dreamed of being on the cover of Rolling Stone, and currently many artists have hopes of being on the front page of the most heavily trafficked sites on the internet. While that kind of placement is great, unless you’re on the level of a Taylor Swift, there’s a chance it isn’t going to do as much for your career as a placement on a smaller music blog.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but a great way to get big is by going small. Here’s why
1. The audience of a niche, or genre specific, blog is filled with the people you're actually looking for
Booking a premiere with the NYT, HuffPo, or some other gigantic, insanely popular, site may seem like a huge win, but is that where your audience can be found, or does a genre specific blog give you a better chance of reaching potential fans? The gigantic site may get 40 million hits, while the blog may only get four thousand, but don't let the larger number fool you into thinking that makes for a better chance of being heard. 4k users who are seeking out your specific genre of music are more valuable then 40 million users who want to read the news.
2. Your feature will receive a bigger push
Larger sites post dozens of articles per hour, sometimes even requiring writers to have a certain amount of posts per day. This means these sites have a plethora of content to promote, with the articles they feel will generate the most hits being the ones they spend the most time on. This leaves you and/or your publicist to do all the legwork when it comes to driving traffic to your specific post. When this happens, you aren’t getting any new fans, because the only people seeing the post are the ones you’re sending there.
I’ve seen this inaction in action many times over the years. An artist will have their song, or video, debut on a large site, sometimes a site not even known for music, the publicist will push it to the moon, but when I look at the number of plays the song has it indicates that basically the only people who listened/watched were those who were going to anyway.
Smaller blogs post less frequently, sometimes only a few times per week, and are far more determined to spread the word, with multiple tweets, Facebook posts, etc. They're writing about you because they like your music, and want everyone to know about it, not because they have a quota to fill.
3. Smaller blogs will continue to support you
A gigantic site that debuts your video will have completely forgotten who you are three hours after they run the story. It’s a one-and-done for them. They’ve already moved on to the next debut they won’t care about unless it generates an insane amount of traffic.
Smaller blogs support the artists they enjoy on a much more frequent basis. An album review can lead to an interview, a video premier, and a host of other opportunities.
4. Your relationships with bloggers will continue as their careers grow
You know that guy running a small music blog? He could end up a columnist at a publication you love, or the music editor of a website, or magazine. I know this because I went from blogging, to magazine writing, to having a newspaper column, to being the editor of a national publication. Now I'm a columnist for a few websites in addition to running my blog. Where will I, or any other writer who blogs, end up next? Who knows, but we're all working towards something, and speaking from personal experience, I fight hard for the artists I believe in, and who have always believed in me, whenever I’m in a prominent position.
5. Many bloggers also write for other publications
While some relationships will have the progression I just mentioned, others may advance much quicker, as a good general rule to remember is you have no idea who else a blogger might be writing for.
I have two recent examples of this from my own life. A few months ago a publicist put me on the list for a show, not even requiring coverage. I have since quoted his artist in two columns I’ve written for a major website. On the flip side, I had a publicist (who didn’t know, or ask, who else I write for) outright insult blog coverage when I pitched a show review, and because of this the artist not only won’t be getting a review, but will also be shut out from being quoted in future features, because the relationship doesn’t exist.
6. Your Google search results will have a greater impact
You want something other than your social media pages to show up when people search for you online. Blog content is a great way to make this happen. As a bonus, when dozens of articles, from a variety of websites, show up in search results, it makes it look like people are talking about, and are excited about, your music. Actually, let me correct that, it doesn’t “make it look like” that, it’s the reality of the situation!
7. You’ll get phenomenal pull-quotes for future press releases
One major hurdle artists have to deal with when pitching themselves to press is convincing writers to give their music a listen. Having a bunch of blogs exclaiming that your latest album rocked their face off can play a significant role in inspiring writers to check out your work. This, in turn, will make it easier to get reviews, interviews, and song/video placements on sites. It’s all about the buzz, and the buzz starts on the blogs.
With all of this in mind, the next time you’re thinking about who you should be sending your music to, or putting on the list for your next show, don’t forget about the blogs, and websites, that may have less traffic, but can have a real impact on your career.
Adam Bernard is a music industry veteran who has been working in media since 2000. If you live in the NYC area, you've probably seen him at a show. He prefers his venues intimate, his whiskey on the rocks, and his baseball played without the DH. Follow him at @adamsworldblog.