How to Get Your Music on Music Blogs

There are many facets of a successful music publicity campaign, but among the most common questions I hear from newer artists are about how they can promote their music independently and get it covered on music blogs.

Since many new artists often don’t have the money to embark on national tours, advertise on major music outlets, or sometimes even print physical copies of their own album, getting coverage on music blogs (both local and national) is the best way for them to spread the word about the music they’re creating.

This post was difficult to organize because of how many different ways there are to approach promoting music. I’ve done my best to explain the psychology of why music blogs write about the music they do, how to prepare your own music for publicity efforts, where to find music blogs to email, and what your emails should look like for best results.

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5 Marketing Ideas for Your Band for Under $50

I know how tough it is for an indie band to find the funds to put up flyers around town, print promotional CDs, etc. That’s why I’ve come up with 5 marketing ideas that could either be copied, expanded upon, or used to inspire more creative juices to come up with some clever marketing tactics of your own. Not saying these ideas are anywhere near perfect, but if you’ve got the balls to give them a try, let us know how they go! The point is to get creative.
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How Much Does a Publicist Cost?

You’ve got the music and you’ve got the spirit, now it’s time to take things to the next level and hire a publicist to pitch your album to big review sites and the like. Unfortunately, many new bands don’t realize that sites like Pitchfork, SPIN, Consequence of Sound, etc. require knowing the right people behind the door to even be considered for a review. That’s where a publicist comes in. Publicists have built professional, working relationships with music bloggers, magazine editors, and TV music supervisors and will pitch your music on your behalf. Now, publicity isn’t cheap, but paying people who are in the know and who can get you press around your album to lift you to a national (or international) stage is well worth it in terms of what you’ll recoup from ticket sales, record sales, and other revenue down the road.
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Use Your Own Wristbands at Shows

Let’s talk about wristbands (yipee!). This is an idea I’ve been toying with for a little while after seeing it posted by a few other music blogs around the web, but I haven’t actually put it into practice yet. Wristbands are required at the door of just about every show you’ll be playing, so why not see if you can distribute your own wristbands at the show to get some additional branding/exposure for your band both before and after you’re done playing.

You’ve probably seen venues with custom wristbands before (where I’m from they’ll print coupons for Domino’s pizza onto the wristbands), but have you ever considered asking the venue if you can use your own?
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Fix Your Bandcamp Tags Now!

I see it all too often on Bandcamp; unoptimized music tagging. What do I mean? Well, when you upload an album or a song to Bandcamp, you have the ability to “tag” it with different genres and cities to help other users find the tags. You’re allowed to add 10 tags per song/album that you post to the site. Unfortunately, bands either don’t take advantage of the ability to post 10 tags, or they don’t post the RIGHT tags to describe their music.

Actual Tags vs. Made-Up Tags

Alright, so there’s going to be a bit of flack thrown in my direction for this one trying to distinguish between actual tags and ones that are entirely made up, but hopefully the point makes it across anyway. “Actual” tags are ones that are commonly accepted within the music community to help identify certain sounds. Duh. Things like folk, rock, folk-rock, indie, hip-hop, etc. are all legitimate tags.

“Made up” tags are ones that look like “rockin bluegrass” or “crunk.” Although you can have a good laugh with your friends about these genre descriptions, if they’re not something you’d find in a record store to differentiate between sounds, there’s a good chance that you shouldn’t be using them.

ONLY use actual genre descriptions and tags to characterize your music and leave the fun at home. The more actual tags on your music, the better chance someone will find it. Very rarely do people search for “crunk” in the Bandcamp discover feature. Hip-hop on the other hand is searched for every day.

Tag Benefits

Tags help people find your music on the site. Many music seekers use the “Discover” feature of the site to actively look for new music (http://bandcamp.com/discover). But if your music doesn’t fall into one or more of the tags that Bandcamp has deemed “actual” tags, there’s no hope in it ever being found.

Use All 10 Tags

If Bandcamp gives you the ability to post up to 10 different tags to describe your music, you should use them all. The more categories you’re in, the better chances you have at being found in one of them when people are browsing.

Example

Here’s a band I found that has a mixture of useful tags and some not so useful tags.

Before: hardcore, hip hop, hip hop/rap, hiphop, ill bill rap, goon musick, sicknature, underground,

After (A Recommendation): hardcore, hip hop, hip-hop/rap, underground, [their city name], [their state], rap, indie, r&b, beats

Best-Selling (Popularity)

Bandcamp keeps its cards close to its chest on how it calculates the best-selling albums and the “most-popular” albums for each tag page.

A tag page is like this: http://bandcamp.com/tag/hip-hop

From what I’ve been able to tell over the past few years, popularity is calculated by a mixture of two things. If you’re only getting free downloads, each of these downloads DOES NOT count towards the popularity of the album. If however you make money from some of these downloads, the monetary amount PER ALBUM seems to carry weight in terms of what Bandcamp deems “popular.”

That means that having $10 in revenue for 10 album downloads ($1/album average) would be consider a less popular album than one that gets $10 in revenue for 5 album downloads ($2/album average). That means that although you may have more downloads of your album overall (via free or pay what you want downloads), if the per album rate is lower than that of the competition, you’ll be placed lower on the popularity scale.

You should take this into consideration when trying to determine what you should charge for your music.