How to write a music press release
If you are an independent musician and want to promote your latest single, album, music video, tour, or launch party, you will need to learn how to write a music press release. Why? Because press releases can lead to free publicity, and indie artists can never get enough free publicity…
Most musicians know what a press release is, but very few know how to write an effective one — one that entices media professionals to run a story about you. Here are pointers to help you write a music press release that will get plenty of free publicity for their career.
What is a music press release?
A press release is a standardized document that is used to alert the media about newsworthy events. Press releases are sent to media professionals at newspapers, blogs, radio stations, magazines, etc., usually via email. The goal of a music press release is to capture the attention of your media contact and compel them to run a story about your news item or new music event.
Your press release must include all the crucial information the media needs to know to determine if your item is newsworthy, along with your contact information so they can get in touch for more info.
Music press releases should also be posted on your website so everyone can see what you’re up to.
When should I write a music press release?
When it comes to content for social media, it’s cool to post about even the smallest of details. Break a nail playing the guitar? Post about it on social media, no problem.
Press releases, however, are only for big news. If you write and send a press release about every little thing, your emails will get ignored when it really matters.
If you have a new album coming out or a new single or you’re going on tour… those are press release-worthy events. Going back into the studio? Not so much. Putting together a big benefit concert with other acts for a popular local cause? Press release-worthy. Playing another gig at your local venue? Nope.
So, the question you need to ask yourself before writing a press release is this: Why would a random person care about this?
In short: Is this a story?
“ArtistX releases her debut album” isn’t a story. “ArtistX launches a successful Kickstarter campaign to realize her lifelong dream of releasing an album” is. The second angle has an element of human interest. It has specifics. This is the kind of story worthy of a music press release.
How to write a music press release
Press releases follow a fairly standardized format. Here are the five key elements to any great press release.
1. Writing style and format
A press release is written to make a media outlet or journalist’s job easier. In theory, a reporter or blogger should be able to lift whole portions of your text for their article. Here are some pointers to help you write a compelling press release.
- Use third person. Write your press release like a newspaper article, not as a personal statement.
- Use objective language. Don’t say your newest album is the album of the year. That’s not how journalism works. Do, however, cite facts that make your album sound impressive, like you’ve hired a famous engineer or you’ve added exotic instruments, etc. Avoid using exclamation marks, and make sure your copy doesn’t sound like an advertisement.
- Provide quotes. This is important, as it’s the only part of your press release that a journalist can’t change, so make your quotes count. Offer up not just a quote or two from you, but also quotes from other important people involved in the project. Make sure your quotes are not simply repeating other statements made elsewhere in your release.
2. Craft a gripping title or headline
Every press release has a headline or title. Media professionals are busy. Depending on where they work, they may get anywhere from dozens up to hundreds of press releases a day. So, your headline (also known as a title) has to grab their attention and make them want to read more. Keep it snappy. Avoid puns. Ask yourself if it conveys the story behind the press release.
3. Write a subhead
Immediately below your title, you should include a subhead that gives context for your headline and which highlights the story aspect of your press release. This is usually two sentences long.
So, for example, if your headline announces the release of your new single, the first sentence of the subhead might mention how it’s a collaboration with a famous artist/producer or how the song is being used to raise money for a charity. The second sentence might mention the name of the album on which the single can be found or perhaps the date and location of your upcoming show to promote the song’s release.
Here’s an example:
- Headline: BandX releases new single, “Perfect Strangers”
- Subhead: The popular group’s new single features local favorite Jimmy Twofinger on guest vocals. BandX and Twofinger will perform this Friday night at Frisky Freddie’s.
4. Include a photo
Below your subhead, you will want to include a hi-res photo of yourself or your band, the cover art for your album or single, or something relevant and captivating. When choosing a photo, ask yourself if it’s something a journalist would want to include on their blog or newspaper.
5. Include a dateline
You want to start the body of your press release with the date and location, along with the words “For Immediate Release” or “Release on [date]” to let journalists know when they can run the story.
This will look like this:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 8, 2023 (Philadelphia, PA): [Start your press release copy here…]
6. Write the introduction
You want to succinctly sum up your story in the opening paragraph of your press release. Paint broad strokes here, then you can add details in the paragraphs below. Again, think of how newspaper articles are written. You want to work in the five Ws into your opening paragraph: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
Here is an example of how a first paragraph might read:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 8, 2023 (Philadelphia, PA): Local singer/songwriter ArtistX was selected to open for NationalArtistZ for her December 22nd performance at Franklin Music Hall. This will be the largest concert by far for ArtistX, who has been a staple in local venues for the past two years. “NationalArtistZ loves to support regional acts,” said Davie Davison, Z’s manager, “and she was blown away by ArtistX’s debut album and live YouTube videos.”
7. Add more details
The next few paragraphs will give your media professional everything they need to know to run the story. Include details about you or your band: the kind of music you perform, who is performing on your album or joining you for your show, etc. Often your last paragraph will be a brief artist bio.
8. Include contact info and band socials
Finally, you will want to give the journalist the contact info they need so they can follow up with any questions or to schedule an interview. If you are in a band, use your managers’ info or select one member to be your press contact. Be sure to include your website and social media links.
You should also include a link to your Electronic Press Kit. (You do have one, don’t you?)
Where do I send my music press release?
Where you want to send your release depends on what your music press release is about. If it’s about a local event, you will want to contact all the music media professionals in your area. If you are on tour, contact the pros in that city.
Ask your friends and fellow musicians for any music industry or media outlet contacts they have, and be sure to share your info with others.
Typically, you will send your press release via email, though you can physically mail it. If you mail it, be sure to include a CD as part of your promotional efforts. If emailing, do not send large files — use links instead.
If you don’t have a robust media list, you can hire a press release distribution service to send your release for you. Popular companies include PR Newswire, GlobeNews, EntertainmentWire, and Everyone’s Internet News (EIN) PressWire. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 per release, depending on the number of outlets you want to reach.