Getting Press For Your Music Harder Than Ever, But Maybe That’s Not A Bad Thing

1New information suggests that indie music publicists have been struggling with a media landscape that's getting smaller and smaller, making it that much harder get coverage from an ever shrinking pool. Still, as Chris Robley here suggests, as the power of the press decreases, it's one less gate keeper for musicians, who can instead invest their resources elsewhere.


By Chris Robley of CDBaby for their blog,  DIY Musician

With the dwindling power of music press, DIY musicians get to bypass another gatekeeper.

A recent Billboard article illustrates how independent music publicists are grappling with a shrinking media landscape.

It’s an interesting read with valuable perspectives from music PR experts.

The story focuses on the challenges music publicists face:

  • The decreasing value of premieres (due to streaming)
  • Declining traffic to music “blogs”
  • Fewer pages devoted to music in print publications
  • Longer odds on emerging artists getting attention
  • A growing number of artists clambering for press

The article sums it up this way:

.. according to the music editors interviewed for this story, far too many publicists seem to be replacing quality with quantity — blasting more and more press releases to an ever-shrinking pool of outlets whose music coverage, especially of independent and emerging artists, is reaching fewer readers.

Depressing, right? Maybe not. There’s a silver lining here for DIY musicians: The unlikelihood of getting good press might be a positive thing.

Why would getting NO PRESS be good for you as a musician?

Well, don’t get me wrong, if you can get good press from a respected outlet, that’s great!

[Ten ways of getting press for your music besides the usual album launch or tour PR.]

Favorable press quotes can help you open doors, demonstrate critical (if not financial) viability, and make you feel good about your day. And in those ways music publicists perform a difficult and still-valuable service. That value is amplified if you’ve already established a story, a brand, a following, an infrastructure, and a reliable source of revenue. PR can play a role in scaling up those successes.

Most independent artists aren’t at that point though. For them, it’s probably a healthy thing that print and blog publications are losing influence to social media and streaming platforms (NOTE: I’m not suggesting similar trends in the news media are healthy for society).

Where else could you spend your resources?

Musicians are obsessed with getting press. Expensive press. REALLY expensive press.

But hiring a pro music publicist to run a PR campaign for $1500 a month or $10,000 per quarter (or whatever your publicist quotes you) promises even less of a return today than it might have 3 or 4 years ago.

When your resources are limited, what else could you do with your money, time, and mental focus?

Musicians should STOP worrying about getting press, and START worrying about connecting with their fans.

Music fans are more likely to discover new artists on Spotify or YouTube these days than on a blog or in a local weekly. So good press is less meaningful. As a result, blogs and weeklies shrink their music coverage as ad revenue contracts. Less space means that press is now harder to come by.

Maybe musicians are now freed up to focus on more important aspects of building an early audience? They can use the budget they’d have spent getting press on reaching their audience directly. Marketing to a target audience will at least get you measurable results!

You can spend $3000 on a PR campaign that nets you a few press quotes (maybe). Oh, and cross your fingers those reviews are favorable.

At the end of the day you’ll have little insight into who read the review, what those readers did once they saw it, or how to re-target those people to convert them into fans. Realistically, hundreds of people at most saw the coverage. Some tiny percentage of them clicked the Soundcloud player, YouTube video, or read to the end of the review.

INSTEAD — you could spend half as much on social ads to put YOUR message, YOUR videos, YOUR voice directly in front of someone YOU choose. No middlemen. No gatekeepers.

You can realistically reach hundreds of thousands of people or more for that amount of money. And even if a tiny percentage demonstrates deeper engagement, we’re still talking THOUSANDS of people.

Social music marketing & advertising provide you with:

  • Measurable results
  • Dynamic ad audiences
  • A way to connecting the dots between “engagement” and CD sales, email subscribers, or Spotify followers

Great press is good. But it’s better to have a direct connection with your listeners.  

Here are 4 things you should know about marketing directly to your target audience:

  1. What every musician should know about remarketing
  2. Sequential marketing with social content (or WHY YOUR MUSIC VIDEOS AREN’T WORKING!)
  3. How to decide WHERE to promote your music
  4. A whole new way to think about marketing your music

And of course all of this begins with making great music, and then making it available.

is the Editor of CD Baby's DIY Musician Blog. I write Beatlesque indie-pop songs that've been praised by No Depression, KCRW, The LA Times, & others. My poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, Prairie Schooner, The Poetry Review, & more. I live in Maine and like peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, a little too much.

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