Inundated as they are with pitches, music, and countless musicians trying to capture their attention, the idea of developing a meaningful relationship with music bloggers or journalists may seem like an unrealistic goal, and while it is challenging, there are few practices that can increase your odds of connecting with music journalists on a more meaningful level.
Guest post by Hugh McIntyre of the Symphonic Blog
Bloggers and music journalists receive hundreds of pitches per day, they listen to an incredible amount of music, and they meet people—especially musicians—all the time. They are constantly inundated with requests and new faces and names, so how is one supposed to make an impression, and, more importantly, turn that into a relationship?
Forming a relationship with a music writer can be hugely beneficial to your career, even if not at first. You can learn a lot from them, make connections, and perhaps even have your own music written about. There are countless ways you can connect with these tastemakers, and I suggest you try some mix of all of the below options.
Follow Them On Social Media
This isn’t just the best way to forge a relationship with a journalist, but with everyone and anyone in the business. Social media is meant to be, well, social, so go forth and be social! When you see someone writing about a band like yours, or simply putting good work into the world, look them up on Twitter and/or Instagram and follow them. Make sure you continue to engage with them over a period of time in intelligent, friendly ways. Comment on their pictures and quote tweet the things they say on Twitter.
Don’t follow them just to send a message asking for coverage, and don’t post a comment on their latest selfie reminding them you have a new single out. Follow and interact with them as if they’re a new friend, and you’ll begin to see a friendship form—isn’t that a novel idea? Once you’ve been in contact with them for some time, you can feel free to reach out to them and ask if it might be a fit, but you’ll have a much better chance of having a productive relationship if you’re doing this for the right reasons to begin with.
Share Their Articles
You can, and should, be doing this at the same time you interact with journalists and bloggers on social media. In fact, this is one of the best ways to continue to reach out to them in an easygoing way. When you’re reading a smart article on a website, or perhaps when you catch a particularly good review of a new band or song, share it with your network. This is something you might do anyway, as musicians love to turn others on to all kinds of great tunes, so this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for you.
As you’re letting your friends, family, and followers know about that awesome rising singer you’ve just discovered or helping them press play on an awesome new album that just came to streaming services, make sure you tag the writer in your post. This is another way to remind them that you follow them, and it lets them see that you actually care about their work. Plus, journalists love when people have positive things to say about what they’ve written, and the more you do this, the better.
Invite Them To Shows
If you have a PR person working for you, this is something they should already be doing, but feel free to take it to the next level and make the invitation truly personal. If you are already following a music journalist, whether or not they follow you back, you should invite them to your concert when you’re in town. Let them know that you’d love to have them as your guest (which of course means you’re going to pay for their ticket) and that you’d be thrilled to have them see your set and you’d love to buy them a drink. Chances are most, if not all, will say they can’t make it (if they even respond), but the invitation, especially when it’s made in a very friendly and personable manner, is always lovely.
You should always thank people for almost everything they do, as it only takes a second to say it or type it out, but I’ve seen a lot of musicians skip this easy step when they don’t get exactly what they had in mind. Any time a music blogger listens to your work, responds to an email, or sees you live—even if they didn’t mean to—you should thank them! You don’t need to only reserve this kindness for when they write a flattering piece!
In fact, if a blogger meets you at a concert, even if they were only there to see someone else, go out of your way to follow them on social and thank them for coming. They are sure to remember you going the extra mile to show how thrilled you were that they took an interest in the art…even if they didn’t actually promote it in any way (at least not yet).
Send Them Something
Music writers receive hundreds of emails every day with links to new singles and albums, but getting packages is even rarer these days. If you want to stand out, be remembered, and even form some kind of a relationship, perhaps it’s time to spend a bit of money and mail them something special.
This could be a piece of your own merch or even something that has nothing to do with your music. A bottle of wine, chocolates for Valentine’s Day, or perhaps making a donation in their name to a charity of their choice—all of these are excellent options, and they will help the person on the receiving end understand that you’re really interested in being friends.
Hugh McIntyre is a freelance music journalist based in New York City. His byline has appeared in Billboard, Huffington Post, Mashable, Noisey, The Hollywood Reporter, MTV, Fuse, and dozens of other magazines and blogs around the world. He loves following charts and the biggest and most successful names in the industry, and he's always interested in highlighting incredible feats and discovering what's next.