After resurrecting the Eardrums Music blog, I sometimes find it difficult to write about some bands, because they don’t make it easy for me to find the info I need. In a time where a blogger is constantly bombarded by promos and emails from bands, labels and promo agencies, and their time and focus on each new band is limited, it is really important to have the important info about your band available when a blogger decides that “wow, this is a great track! I want to write about this!”.
Here are some advice on how to do just that. Some of the advice is fairly obvious, but I often see bands who fail at all of these.
1. ONLINE PRESENCE
Have a website. It’s old-school, I know, but it works.
You can never be sure of the survival of your preferred Social Media service, – they come and go. I am pretty sure that even if Facebook is widely used and popular now, their time will end. And they sometimes do changes to their service that may not be good for you. Having Facebook or other services as your only band-site, makes you vulnerable. You NEED a place where you control everything.
Get a domain name with your band’s name in it. Don’t try to be cool and get the domain “bndnm.com” if your bandname is “bandname”. Get “bandname.com”, or “bandnamemusic.com” if “bandname.com” is occupied. If bandname.com is occupied and you are just starting out as a band with no releases and few fans, consider changing your bandname.
Your website should (as a minimum):
- point the viewer to all of your other sites, Facebook, Bandcamp, twitter, Soundcloud etc..
- have a good, to the point biography. And again, don’t try to be cool. We need the facts, – the who, what, where, how, why – and not a well written novel about your music sounding like a pink cloud filled with angels and unicorns. Update the bio when noteworthy things happen to your band. Stories that make your band special are always good. But again, and I can’t say this enough, the most important things are the basic facts: who are you, what do you do, what do you sound like, where are you from etc..
- have a section with band photos that can be used on blogs. Go hi-res. Have photos both in “landscape”- and “portrait”-layout, since some blogs prefer one and other prefer the other. When I as a blogger can’t find a proper band-photo, it’s not a good thing to go to Google for help, since I never know if the photo I find in some article on Pitchfork is YOUR property, made for promotion, or Pitchfork’s own photographer’s property. I don’t want to steal, so make it easy for me to find something I can use.
- A contact section. And make sure that the person who read your mail, also can answer it quickly and make decisions on behalf of the band fairly quickly. Bloggers are restless creatures. We don’t want to wait too long for an answer, and we don’t want to wait a week or two before your band-democracy can decide if you’re up for that interview or “livingroom session”. Say yes. Often.
- A sound and video section, with embedded soundcloud/bandcamp-streams and youtube videos.
- Preferably also an updated news-section. Relying on Facebook alone is not good enough, since most bands use Facebook for lots of not directly news-related things, like pictures from the last tour and other things, and often news posts disappear in the feed after a few days.
Have a presence on social media.
You should at least have a page on Facebook, Bandcamp and Soundcloud, but I also recommend you to be active on Twitter, Instagram – AND Spotify. Here are some advice for each service:
Post actively, at least a couple of times a week and no more than twice a day. When someone comments, at least like the comments, but an answer is definitely best. It builds a relationship with the fans.
For me as a blogger, it is great if bands have all I need on their Facebook. More and more bands use Facebook as their only band-site (not a good idea), so it’s often the first place we go to find what we need about the band.
Use the about-page for what it’s worth. Don’t think that no one reads it and post just silly nonsense there. Your about-page should include a short bio, the names of your bandmembers (and what they do), a correct description of your style, your label if you have one, where you are from, links to your other sites, contact info. All this is important info for us bloggers when we are looking for info for a post about you.
Most bands post lots of fun pictures from tours or just silly things that show the personality of the band, which are great for building a connection to your audience. Continue with that. However, when I am looking for a picture of the band for my blog, that makes it difficult, because I have to go through lots of silly pictures to find one I can use.
So, make an ALBUM under your photos tag on Facebook, with hi-res photos of the band that you think will look ok in blogs. Call it Bandphotos or Pressphotos or something. Like on your website, include both landscape- and portrait-layout pictures.
I don’t think I am wrong if I say that most people find your FB-posts in their own newsfeed, not directly on your FB-page. The ones visiting your page directly are either really interested fans looking for news or bloggers/press looking for info. So, it is not a bad idea to use the “pinned post” option when you have something really important to tell people, like a new album, a new video etc.. That way, the most important post about the band will always stay on top of your page, and the less important ones, like the picture of what you eat on your latest tour, can come below — but still appear in the feeds of your fans when you post them.
To get other artists and blogs to notice your FB-page, tag them whenever you mention them. Maybe you’ll get something back one day. or maybe they will share your post on their page, and your post will be seen by more people. Examples of when you can do this: Blog X have written about you, and you mention this on your page. Tag Blog X. The guitarist from Band X and the producer from the popular Band Y is working with you on one song – tag Band X and Band Y. They will get a notification, their visitors may see it, and the bands will definitely appreciate it.
Posts with pictures or in-site uploaded videos are seen by a lot more people than regular posts or links. Use it!
And… get rid of those numbers in your Facebook address….please! A FB address with Facebook.com/bandname is so much easier to link to than Facebook.com/bandname0578223984024….
Similar to Facebook and your website, make all your info available there in the about section. Bio, where you are from, style, links. Some bands think it’s cool to make up silly genres for their music. That’s not cool and definitely not a good idea. The tags you write to describe your music are clickable, and if I see the tag “indiepop” on your album page, I may want to discover other bands in your genre, and when I click on it, I get to a selection of new/popular records with the tag indiepop. Your band can also be “accidentally” found this way. Be precise and thought-through when you write your tags for your music. A tag like “psychodreamgameboypop” won’t do you any good.
If you have a personal Bandcamp fan-account where all the albums you buy show up, and have people who follow you there, you may consider buying your own record. Yes, that sounds silly, but that way it ends up in the feed of your followers as “NAME bought the greatest album ever recorded.” or something similar. And it will also end up in your collection, so people may discover it if they stumble into your page. Maybe you’ll get a couple of extra sales that way?
This part is also a message to some labels, distributors and shops:
If your band’s album is released on your label’s Bandcamp or via some shop who use Bandcamp for sales, make sure that they write YOUR bandname in the “artist” section when they upload the release. Bandcamp has an auto tag thing, that tags the songs you upload by the names you write in the song name-section and the auto-artist tag will be the name of your Bandcamp page, – which for band-pages are your artist name, but for label- and shop-pages are the label’s or shop’s name. If your label/shop is named LabelX/DistributorX/ShopX and they only fill in the song names and only write “Bandname – Album title” in the “album name”-section, THEIR Label, Distributor or Shop name will be the artist name when you download the release and add it to your iTunes-library or something. I know LastFM is close to dead, but when someone plays your song, it will be registered there as “Labelname – songname” not “Bandname – songname”. It is very fan-unfrendly and bad for promoting your own bandname as well.
I’ve seen so many examples of this, and I hate it. Make sure your label, distributor and shop knows too!
I used to love Soundcloud, but the recent developments has faded my love for it. It is however one of the preferred ways for many bloggers to receive promos, and it is an easy way to reach an audience with your songs, since it easily can be embedded on blogs and websites. I don’t have many advice on Soundcloud, other than to be a bit aware of what you add and how your profile page looks. The songs on your Soundcloud page, should be the ones you want to represent you as a band, NOW. Not demos from ages ago or the worst songs you have made. Clean it up, regularly.
As an artist, I use soundcloud often to get advice and feedback from other artist-friends or personal friends on song ideas, but I don’t want those demo-ideas to get on my Soundcloud profile page for all to see. So I use private links a lot. If you want to send an exclusive song to a blog, that is also the way to go. If a blog is told that it can get an exclusive song from you to post, it doesn’t feel very exclusive if it is posted publicly on your soundcloud. They can embed a private song as well on their blog, as long as you check the “make available for embeds” (or whatever it’s called) box when you upload it.
Also, if you want to make your song downloadable for the blog or your fans, make sure that it is tagged and named properly before you upload. Unlike Bandcamp, Soundcloud does not tag or name the files you upload. If your song “Summer Holiday” is uploaded as a low quality mp3-file named “mysong57.mp3” that was tagged with BandY before you recently changed your name to BandX, that is just what the downloaders will get, – a bad mp3 called mysong57 by BandY. The same way, if you upload a super high quality wav file originally meant only for your label, and decide that you should make it available for your fans as well later, the fans will get a huge file that sounds great but – to be honest – I don’t think most common fans or blogs want that. I think most people and blogs still prefer high quality mp3s, not wavs.
TWITTER and INSTAGRAM
Use these services to show your band’s personality and to build a relationship with fans and bloggers. Make sure you get a twitter- and instagram-name that has your bandname in it, preferably only @bandname, but @bandnamemusic or something else that is easy to remember and preferably short is good. Put a short, laidback description of your band WITH A LINK to your website in the description on your profile and choose a nice photo as your profile pic.. Both twitter and instagram can be updated more often than Facebook, without causing annoyances. Twitter has recently added the option to add photos, videos and music directly to your tweets, and you should use that. A picture gets a lot more attention than a link.
Talk to people. Make connections. Retweet, comment, favourite. ANSWER. Do NOT send promos @ people or private message people with promos UNLESS you have built up a good relationship with them before. It is just annoying, and will rarely be listened to. It is REALLY annoying.
If you send a promo to a blogger via email (more about that further down in this article), they are much more likely to notice it if they know who you are or feel some goodwill towards you because you have mentioned them, answered them, retweeted them, talked to them in other not-promo situations on Social media. Take the time to show interest in other people’s work. It will be good for you, in many ways.
As I mentioned in the Facebook section, tagging other people when you can, is also a good thing on twitter and instagram, for the same reason.
Yes, I know you hate it. No matter what you say, you should be there. It is a great discovery tool for music fans, and the best way to be discovered is to get on other people’s playlists. Use some time to follow people with the same taste in music as yourself, and find those who publish good playlists often, and especially those who have many followers on their playlists. Send them a polite and humble direct message on Spotify, – don’t do this often (!!!) -, and ask if they could include your song on their next playlist. Sometimes they do. Also, use the “share” option, and share your new album inside Spotify – and make playlists yourself with music you like for users to follow.
Just being on Spotify is not enough. You can do a lot to get noticed.
There are also several good blogs out there who only focuses on new Spotify music. Send them your Spotify music!
2. Sending your promo emails and preparing your songs
How to get noticed in the blogger’s filled up inbox and make your chance of being written about a tiny bit bigger.
Blogs get a lot of promo emails. A LOT. Many of them are from trusted sources of good music, – good promo agencies, and they often get opened first. You know that they may include some interesting music or news. A lot come from labels and bands that the blogger haven’t heard about. Some get opened and read, most sadly don’t. We have limited time for blogging, and reading emails is not high priority.
Answering is even less high priority.
So, number one, don’t expect an answer.
Number two: If you don’t see anything in the blog about your music, it can mean either that the blogger didn’t like your music, or that your email got lost among hundred other emails received that day. It’s ok to follow up ONCE. It is NOT okay to follow up twice. If you don’t get an answer, you just have to accept it, and realize that the blogger most probably has a day job, a family, friends and other hobbies, and that it is not their obligation to spend valuable minutes of their time to answer emails they never asked for in the first place.
You can do a lot to stand out and get noticed in the pile of emails.
The first thing is to know who you are sending your music to. One of my biggest annoyances is receiving promo-mails from EBM-artists, Hip hop artists, metal artists etc, when those genres are very much not what I focus on in my blog. Have a good understanding of what the blog is about before you send, and at best, be a frequent reader yourself. One way to find blogs that write about bands like yours, is to do a search on Hype Machine. Search first for your own band name, and check to see who has written about you before. Then search for bands you feel are related to yourself in style. Have a good look at the blogs who write about them, and note down their contact info.
As I wrote in the social media section of this post, give the blogger a reason to notice you. Build a non-promotional and relaxed relationship, by occasionally commenting on posts, discussing on twitter, retweeting, tagging them and favouriting what the blogger writes.
Don’t send mass emails. Although it may be convenient, it doesn’t work unless you work for a promo-company or a good, trusted, semi-famous label. I know. I have tried. They don’t get opened.
Send a short, personal, polite, friendly to-the-point email to the blogger. Don’t be overfriendly, though. You don’t write to your best friend, so don’t call the blogger mate or something. That is a direct turn-off.
Think five times about your subject line. That is what the blogger see first in the pile of emails. Your selling point. Avoid words that can be thought of as spam, because we get a lot of that too. A simple “Hello” will never get opened.
It may be a good idea to describe your music in the subject + of course include your band name. If you know that the blogger have a soft spot for dream pop and you play dream pop, use the word dream pop in the subject. It may also be an idea to include the blog’s name in the subject (and WRITE IT CORRECTLY – my blog has been called Ear Drums, EarDrums etc, and I hate that. I especially dislike being called Kunt, when my name is Knut…) . That way you say that this is probably not a mass email, and people usually notice their name more often than other words.
When you have reached the point where the email is opened, you want to make it easy for the blogger to write about you. Make it short. We have short attention spans and limited time. Make everything we need available, -in the short introduction, you can tell all the basic facts about who you are and what you do, then add a link to a bio, link to promo pictures and album art, link to music and your website. And ask us to contact you if we need something else. If we write back to you, answer quicker than we will answer you…
Preparing your songs/promo
When you are planning to send your song or album to a blog, there are certain preparations that are very important.
For single tracks, most blogs are happy with only a stream from Soundcloud or Bandcamp or a Youtube video. You should add that to your email in any case.
For albums, it’s high quality mp3s that are preferred, – at least on this blog.
Some blogs prefer exclusive tracks, and it may sometimes be better to get an exclusive in one well visited blog, than 5 blog posts in not so popular blogs. If you go for an “exclusive” they prefer you to make it a “private soundcloud link” that will not show up in your soundcloud page, but can be embedded to their blog anyway. Make sure that you add the correct settings in Soundcloud, so it can be embedded.
If you send albums for review, remember to tag the mp3-files properly (artist, song, album, artwork, bandlink in the comment tag) and name the files artist-song.mp3. I personally use free software like mp3Tag and xrecode for this.
In addition, add everything a blogger needs in the zip file: songs, hi res cover art, band photo, a short bio as a text or word file. Name your zip file with your artist name and your album name (artist-album.zip). When you get lots of promos, a zip you have downloaded 3 weeks ago named “songs.zip” and the files inside are not tagged with artist/song and the file names are just songnames, you often can’t remember who sent you this, – which means it will be deleted and not written about no matter how good it is. Making it easy for the blogger is also very important, so they don’t have to spend half an hour searching the internet to get a photo of you or your bio.
Use zip to pack your files, not rar or any other filetype. It is most common, and at least windows computers have an unpacker installed already.
So, when should you send your promo? Difficult question. Some want it a long time in advance, from 3 months to a couple of weeks. I often find that if I get an album several weeks in advance, it’s easy to forget about it. The smartest thing is probably to ask the blogger directly via twitter how they want it.
The most important thing is to make good music, play gigs, get fans and the very best way to get promotion for your band is by word of mouth. The old, reliable way.