Although I’m a publicist now, I started my career in the music industry as a blogger, and in the six years since I created that blog, I’ve seen my fair share of submissions from bands and publicists alike. Thousands of emails have landed in my inbox, but I’ve only covered a fraction of those stories on the website.
At least two-thirds of them are boring, poorly written, and just plain ineffective.
Being on both sides of the game has given me a unique perspective in regard to the art of pitching. As a blogger, I quickly learned what kind of submissions I preferred to receive and which information is most helpful when writing up a feature. (For example, an actual link to the music you’re pitching would be great—you’d be surprised how many artists leave this out altogether with the assumption that you are going to take the time to track down the song or album yourself). By the time I became a publicist, I already had an idea of what worked and what didn’t, which has helped me write pitches that get opened and covered, no matter the level of artist I’m working with.
When you’re a band or solo artist running your own PR campaign, it’s critical to understand your own story and be able to present that story to outlets in an effective, newsworthy way. And while you’re focused on making music and establishing your brand, sometimes it’s easy to forget that crafting the perfect submission email that incorporates all of these elements is just as important as making the music itself.
Talk to any music blogger about the submissions they receive on a daily basis and you’re sure to hear a few complaints. An email that says, “My name is X, here’s a link to my music,” does not a feature make, and just won’t cut it when you’re competing against thousands of other artists for coveted real estate on a blog. So here are a few tips on exactly what NOT to do when pitching your music to bloggers so you can avoid being THAT artist.
1. Don’t ignore the blog’s submission rules
Nothing will get your submission deleted faster than ignoring the rules an outlet has laid out very clearly on their contact page. If they request that you format your subject line a certain way, do it. If they only take Spotify streaming links, don’t send them a SoundCloud link, and vice versa. If the outlet states that it doesn’t review albums, or doesn’t want to know anything about music videos, don’t waste your time sending a pitch if that’s what you have to offer. And please don’t send your music if they don’t accept submissions at all. Plain and simple, ignoring guidelines is the easiest way to land in the trash.
2. Don’t be that person that uses BCC
I automatically delete any pitches in which I am copied on BCC, and I know other editors who do the same. Sending out mass emails shows that you didn’t take time to research the outlet, the writers, or put any effort into personalizing your submission at all. Yes, it may be easier for you in the moment to hit send once, but it won’t benefit you at all in the long run.
Instead, personalize each and every email you send out by including a compliment about an article you really loved on that particular blog, or why you’ve been following that site for so long. Something that simple truly means the world to the writers who are working tirelessly behind the scenes, and it hardly takes any effort on your part to do so if you’re a true fan of their work. Not to mention that, on a larger scale, the music business is all about forming and maintaining relationships, and you won’t be doing yourself any favors if you’re not trying to get to know the people who have the ability to help you share your music with the world.
3. Don’t send a million attachments
Editors receive an overwhelming number of submissions each day. Don’t clog up their inboxes with unnecessary attachments, press releases, downloads, or unsolicited press photos that will take up valuable storage space. All of those materials can be uploaded to your EPK, which you can instead send in your submission via a simple link. Unless the outlet’s guidelines state otherwise, links are always best.
4. Don’t submit old music
There is an insanely fast turnaround in music these days, so a release, whether it’s a single or album, becomes old news FAST. If you submit an album that’s been on the market for a year, you’re just going to get laughed at for sending it in the first place. Seriously. Keep in mind that those first few weeks that follow your release are crucial when pitching, and if your music has been out for longer than a month, your chances of locking down a feature are much lower.
5. Don’t assume the writer or editor is actually going to listen to your music
There’s nothing more annoying to writers than when we get a pitch that reads something like, “Here’s my new single in case you were looking for new music to cover.” We look out for new music to cover all the time, and a lot of it lands in our inbox every week. So much, even, that we can’t keep up with it all. You are not an exception, nor are you the answer to our prayers.
On the other hand, remember when you learned how to write persuasively in school? Now is the time to use that skill. The best thing you can do is present your music and your story in a way that will appeal to the outlet, keep it short, don’t follow up more than once or twice, and always remember that there’s a real live person on the receiving end of your pitch, whether they listen to your music or not. Treat them as such.
Pitching your music to bloggers is truly an art, but with a little practice, and if you follow these five simple rules, you’ll avoid a lot of frustration along the way.
Erica D’Aurora is a senior publicist with Muddy Paw PR. She finds her greatest joy in helping artists achieve their dreams.