Building a local fan base is great way to have a “jumping off” point for your music. While you may have dreams of selling out Radio City, you have to start small sometimes to build up recognition on a regional level. Starting locally and then branching out to nearby cities will give you a solid touring structure to base your work from as you progress. It’s not the most “attractive” and “rock star” way of doing things, but starting with your local area to build a name for yourself is my personal recommendation for any band looking to make a sustainable career.
Recently, I’ve been helping a band get some local press. The press they’ve been going after is in a city that they don’t currently live in, but are planning on moving to in the coming months. The city they currently live in has a pretty small music scene, so they’re moving somewhere that they can make a bigger splash.
Even though they don’t currently live in the city they’re aiming to get press in, laying the ground work 6 months before they get there will help them book some shows and get more write-ups when they finally arrive.
After a little bit of research, I found some of the music bloggers, magazines, and newspapers in their target city.
What I found was:
4 Music Bloggers
2 Local Magazines/Music Magazines
My initial goal was to simply reach out to all of these publications and make the presence of the band known. Interviews/album reviews weren’t at the forefront of the conversation, but they wouldn’t be turned down if offered! Instead the band was trying to just leave an impression on local press so that actual album reviews would be much easier when they finally made it into town.
This is the template of the email I sent out to all of these publications. There’s not a whole lot of variation between each email we sent out because the goal of these emails was THE SAME. If we were trying to get bloggers, press, etc out to a show or to a review an album, this template would have been different for each person.
“Hi [blogger/press/newspaper writer],
[Introduction with a band member’s name] I’m in a [genre] band called [band name]. We’re from [city name] but will be moving to [new city name] in about 6 months and wanted to email you our music for consideration [on your blog/in your magazine/etc].
This next paragraph reiterates the band’s current situation about how they’re currently based in X, but will be making a permanent move to Y in a few months time. I finished the paragraph with a little bit of a joke about how the band doesn’t have a place to live yet and are hoping that the local Domino’s Pizza is currently hiring.
Our music draws comparisons to X, Y, Z bands. We put out a record back in January called [record name] and would love it if you checked it out. If you only get to listen to one song, we recommend listening to [name of the single]. You can stream it on our Bandcamp here: [URL] We’d also be happy to send you a copy of the album if you want or anything like that.
Finally, we’d love it if you had any recommendations of cool places to play there in town. We’re obviously going to be new to town, so we’d love to have some smaller places to play or good places to check out some of the local bands when we get there.
Have a great afternoon,
Paragraph 1: When you’re reaching out to press for the first time, be succinct. Give them all of the information they need right out of the gate. Keep it short and keep it simple.
Paragraph 2: Give them some background about who you are, what your plans are, and show that you’re a human being with a joke/anecdote. Press releases get lost in the fray because they’re all the same. Lighten things up a little bit and you’ll likely bring a smile to the reader’s face. That’s a plus!
Paragraph 3: Give comparisons to bands you sound like so that people know what to expect before hitting play. If it doesn’t jive with their tastes, you won’t be wasting their time. This exchange goes both ways. Be kind to your readers and they’ll be more likely to reciprocate. Offer up some free merch if they’d like it to help sweeten the deal. In this case, free merch would help the band keep a permanent presence in the blogger’s mind for when they finally make it into town.
Paragraph 4: This 4th paragraph is REALLY important. In marketing terms, it’s a little akin to a “foot in the door technique.” What we’re doing here is making it really easy to open up a line of communication with the blogger/press person by asking them a NEUTRAL question. We asked for venue/local recommendations just to start a conversation “off the record” so to speak. This conversation and email response can help open up lines of communication that would otherwise go ignored. Talk business and then talk one on one as someone just seeking help. You’re more likely to get a reply this way. It also makes it much easier to send followup emails down the road, be they for “hey, did you get a chance to listen to that record yet?” or future press help.
Thank You: Don’t forget to thank them!
Tips: If at all possible (and it’s definitely recommended), try and include something in the email about an album review/post they’ve made in the past. If you check out a band they’ve recommended before and let them know what you thought about it, you can prove that you’re not just a PR robot, but instead pay attention to their blog and actually care what they think. Don’t try and bullshit this one. It’s easy to spot.
We sent out 8 of these emails and heard back from 6 different people. I won’t give too much away for fear of jinxing things (superstition and the music business go hand in hand), but so far the band has done 1 interview for a music blog, 1 story is ready to be posted within 2 weeks, and a mini-feature is lined up for a music magazine. The other folks haven’t promised any sort of story yet, but they promised to listen to the record and consider it for a review.
Considering these were the first emails the band has sent and they left a good impression with the press, they’re more likely to get coverage when they finally start making a presence in the scene in 6 months.
Questions of comments? Leave them below!
NOTE: A question I’m anticipating that I’ll address now is that even though I’m not in the band, I pretend that I am when sending out emails on the band’s behalf (They approve EVERYTHING before I send it). Because I’m not a “certified” PR person, press releases are going to be really ineffective If you’re looking for national coverage, a PR person is the way to go, but when you’re just making one-on-one connections in your local scene, personalization is IMPORTANT.