Getting Your Music Noticed in a Noisy World

Get press coverage for musicOne thing I’ve noticed that separates struggling artists from up-and-coming artists is press.

It seems anyone that has some momentum behind them is using the power of newspapers, blogs, podcasts and television.

How can a struggling artist get press

The easiest way to get press is to pay for it. No, not paying the reporter, but paying a public relations firm to get your story in front of the right reporters.

A public relations firm has the experience that you don’t. They’ve done this before and they know what approach will work to best tell your story.

They also have connections. This is probably the most important thing they can offer you. If they can’t pick up the phone and talk to someone at Rolling Stone, they will at least know which reporter at Rolling Stone is interested in your story. Most likely, they are on a first name basis with a lot of reporters, bloggers or even television producers.

When you hire a PR firm you’re really buying their experience and access to their network.

But unfortunately, most Indie Artists I’ve met haven’t set aside a budget for PR. So now what?

Do it yourself PR

If you have no budget to hire someone then it looks like you’re on your own.

Running a PR campaign is no small task. So the best place to start is to get organized.

Begin by making a list of all the podcasts, newspapers, magazines and radio stations you want to contact. Don’t start with Rolling Stone. They won’t publish you without some history.

Start with local papers and radio stations. They are the most likely to share your story. And you must have a story. “We just released an album” isn’t a story. That’s a fact. — And it’s boring.

Everyone has an album, so what makes your band different than every other band out there? THAT’S your story!

After you’ve exhausted your local scene it’s time to move up to blogs, magazines, regional papers and television. Again, start with a list of possible media outlets.

If you want to cut corners and have someone research a list for you, start with The Indie Bible. They have put together a list of about 7,000 places that feature independent musicians. Wow! That’s a lot of leg-work.

Their 2014 edition was just released, so you know all the data is up-to-date. Great resource. imho 🙂

Run the numbers

After you’ve made your lists, it all comes down to the numbers. The more places you submit a story idea, the more places you’ll get published or played.

So create a goal for yourself to reach out to X number of outlets per week. Put all their names in an Excel (or Google, or whatever you prefer) spreadsheet. Create columns for publication name, contact name, contact email, day you sent, day you heard back, day you followed up, etc.

Having a spreadsheet will keep you organized and moving through your list. It will also be extremely valuable when someone contacts you 6 weeks later and you can’t remember who they are or what you sent them. It’s the same system I use with our own PR for Only Sky Artist. Trust me on this one – it works.

Be relentless. The more you can consistently push out requests, the more you will get featured. It’s just a law of numbers.

Not everyone will respond. But if you can get 10% or 15% of outlets to listen to you, then you’re doing great. So if you want to be in 10 papers or blogs, then you’re going to need to send out 100 requests. That’s a lot of work!

Hopefully, you’ll have a story everyone will want to share and your percentages will be much higher. 😉

If you want a jump start, remember to check out The Indie Bible. Or we also have a list of 11 places you can submit your music for review. It’s a short list, but it’s free and it will get you started.

Use the Power of the Written Word to Make Your Music Safe

Let people know about your musicMost people don’t like to be first to anything. I hate being first to the party. I wasn’t the first to buy an iPhone. And I don’t like to buy products from Amazon with very few reviews.

I guess I like to have a few people there ahead of me to say “it’s okay, come on over!”

And I’m not alone. When new potential fans land on your website they want to know if anyone else likes your music. It’s a way for them to quickly filter out what’s worth their time and what isn’t. They also want to know that they won’t be ridiculed for going against the grain and liking something uncool.

One powerful method to let new listeners know it’s okay to stick around is to display a quote from someone of authority. If Rolling Stone said your music is “the second coming of Elvis Costello” then people are going to be drawn in. They want to hear for themselves and see if they agree with Rolling Stone. The authoritative quote will get them to stop and listen.

But it doesn’t need to be Rolling Stone; and probably won’t be. Honestly, the chances you’ll land a Rolling Stone interview the week after your first show is as close to zero as you can get. But you do need some quotes from someone of authority. A quote from a local paper or blogger can be just as powerful if presented correctly.

So start with platforms that are looking for content. Local papers and magazines have trouble finding content to fill their publications each week. If you can make it easy for them, you can get some free PR. A well-written press release could get printed as-is, or it might land you an in-depth interview.

Another great source for quotes is online review sites and blogs. Again, some of the smaller, newer sites are starving for content. Search through Google for ‘free music reviews.’ It will take some doing, but after wading through a few pages of results you’ll find a few gems.

If you’d like a shortcut, we did some of the work for you. Download our PDF of 11 Free Music Review sites.

Or if you want the ultimate collection of newspapers, magazines, websites and more that will review your music, try The Indie Bible. A great collection of resources for Indie Artists. It’s not free, but it packs a ton of great information.

Once you have some great reviews prominently post them on the home page of your website. Next time a new fan lands there, they’ll be assured you’re worth a listen.

If you find some great places to review your music, let us know. We love to share!