With the world of music journalism in a state of disarray, navigating when and how to get press coverage of your music has become increasingly challenging. Even once you've selected an outlet, getting that publication or personality interested in your music is a major hurdle, one where adding a personal touch can go a long way.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
In an age of abundance, adding a personal touch to promotional efforts can go a long way toward securing coverage.
The world of music journalism is a bit of a mess. After years of major publications downsizing or going out of business entirely, blogs rising and falling in popularity, podcasts emerging, and influencers becoming a reliable source of promotion, it’s hard to know where to turn for coverage. Even if you can figure it out, there is another challenge in getting the outlets or personalities you want to cover your music to pay attention.
The number of ways to promote your music has grown over the last decade, but the number of artists competing for the attention of those outlets has grown even more. The average music writer/influencer receives more than one-hundred emails a day, with many receiving several hundred more than that. Those messages contain everything from advance access to a record to news about tours, premiere requests, and countless ‘heads up’ emails about emerging talent.
Most music influencers are unpaid. A select few work full-time, with many more working freelance on a story-by-story basis, but the vast majority promote the music they care about to the people who trust their opinion without compensation. To say these individuals are stretched thin as far as time and attention are concerned is an understatement. The music press has been running themselves ragged for years, and it’s likely they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
With all this in mind, it’s important that publicists and independent artists alike take an interest in the outlets and influencers whose attention they hope to gain. Sending a pitch to an outlet unfamiliar with your work in 2019 is like tossing a coin in a wishing well. Even if it works, will you ever know if it’s because of your email or sheer luck?
The path to raising interest in your latest release lies in making members of the media feel seen and cultivating a friendship with them before asking for coverage. A few ways to do this include:
- Following outlets and writers online.
- Interacting with current content offerings (Like, reply, share, etc.).
- Initiating contact by referencing specific articles or content.
- Asking how they are before asking if they can help you.
- Follow-up pitches with personal emails. Tell them why you think the material will matter to them, and tell them why it matters to you as well.
- Avoid copying and pasting the same email to everyone. Make each communication unique.
Just like making friends, not every attempt at engagement will immediately produce results. Everyone is trying to gain the affection of people who can help them, so even the more earnest messaging may be lost in the whirlwind that is someone’s daily activity online. The key is to not lose hope and remain persistent. Don’t be over-eager and absolutely do not get offended when replies do not happen as fast as you desire. Everyone is caught in the struggle, and everyone is doing their best. Remain calm and always be looking for an opportunity to help or otherwise show support. If you can do that — and if you write music fitting of what your target covers — results will come in time.
James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.