Whether it’s sending music to a local venue in hopes of landing an opening spot at a big show or reaching out to blogs and playlists in an effort to get featured, pitching music is an integral part of making progress as an unestablished artist. It’s also an incredibly frustrating experience for many musicians who always seem to be pitching their work but never see the results they’re looking for. It makes perfect sense why so many musicians loathe writing pitches when most, if not all of them, usually end up getting sucked down into a digital black hole in which messages never return. The good news is that there are things we can do as artists to drastically increase our chances of catching the attention of music journalists and curators.
Most of the time, it comes down to remembering one very important thing: empathy.
So often, bands employ a mass copy, paste, and repeat strategy when it comes to pitching work. This makes sense considering that for many bands, chances of success are low, so why not reach out to as many blogs, radio stations, alt-weeklies, and playlist curators as possible? Well, for one, sending out mass emails that have been copied and pasted essentially makes you a spammer, even if the music you’re pitching is good.
If you’re a normal human being, you most likely hate getting spam emails, so why create more of them yourself?
Pitching with the idea that those you’re contacting are very much living, breathing human beings will increase your chance of being taken seriously in a huge way. Instead of obstacles keeping you from finding musical success, the music journalists and curators you send music to are people who are probably a lot like you, though there’s one major difference to consider which is that you’re creating work and they’re vetting it. But differences aside, the strategy you rely on to share music with industry influencers should be built first by remembering you’re pitching to humans, and second by trying to connect with them in a meaningful way. This means personalizing your messages, saying something thoughtful, and resisting the urge to copy and paste pitches over and over again to instead focus on a select group of outlets you think your music would have a chance of being featured on.
Empathy also means realizing that those you share your work with are often flooded with more emails than any human being could possibly handle on a daily basis.
Remember that next time you feel frustrated that your hard work in sharing music thoughtfully doesn’t pay off. We’re all making music at a time of unprecedented artist saturation, which means there’s no possible way all the good music out there being made can get covered. Luckily, there’s an ever-changing cast of small blogs, playlists, and internet stations you can share your work with. Nothing changes the fact that you can do everything right in music and still not find success, but adding a human touch to the way you pitch will give you the best shot at making something meaningful happen with your work.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.