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« The joy of discovery; Marketing in the brave new media world | Main | Rock History: A Dialectical Narrative »
Tuesday
Jun292010

How to REALLY Get Your Music on Blogs: Crafting a Killer Pitch Letter

Cat typing

Writing an excellent pitch letter is really an art form in itself. Popular music bloggers receive TONS of e-mail daily, and it’s impossible for most of them to read and respond to every single submission that they get from an artist. So how do you stand out in the crowd, and make sure that bloggers open up YOUR e-mail while scanning their inboxes?

First and foremost, your pitch letters have to be personalized. This doesn’t mean that you have to start from scratch with every e-mail you send, but there should be at least a sentence or two (preferably a paragraph) tailored specifically to the blogger you are e-mailing. Your pitch needs to sound more like a conversation, and less like an actual pitch. If your e-mails usually sound dry and generic, then you’re e-mail will be instantly lost, forgotten about, and/or deleted from the blogger’s inbox. Here are (in my opinion) the ESSENTIAL steps to follow in order to craft the perfect music blog pitch letter:

1. Strong subject lines

The subject line of the e-mail is the one thing bloggers see before even opening your e-mail, so it absolutely needs to hook them in. I find that singing bloggers’ praises right off the bat usually gets e-mails opened up. Try a few subject lines with something like “Hey, your blog is the best!” If you don’t like the “kiss-up” approach, you could try being bold with subject lines like “Your blog needs this music.”

NOTE: Some bloggers ask that you include a specific subject line when you submit your music to them. If that’s the case, make sure you do that. It makes it easier on them, and shows that you’re paying attention.

2. Begin with a greeting

It is incredibly important to introduce yourself right off the bat. In one sentence, tell the blogger who you are, what you do, where you’re coming from, and why you’re contacting them. This is not the time to boost your ego with lofty descriptions of yourself. Keep it plain, simple, direct, and real.

3. Talk about THEM

The first paragraph is always about the blogger. Talk about a particular post that you might have liked, the layout of the blog, lightning fast page load times, or any related artists that the blogger might have featured recently. This paragraph is where most of the personalization will go in your letter.

4. Talk about YOU

Here is where you make your pitch. It’s pretty easy to get carried away, but resist the temptation to blabber. Keep the pitch to a paragraph or two (max), and mention the most important things about you and your music. If there is anything that clearly stands out about you, or anything cool you may have accomplished, mention it here. The key information you want to include is your band/stage name, your genre of music (and any subgenres), your location, any related press/awards/accolades, and a few well-known artists that sound similar to you.

5. Provide a link to download music, pictures, and video

This is probably the most important part of the letter. You can hype yourself up until your blue in the face, but if you don’t provide any links to the artist’s music, pictures, and video, the blogger simply isn’t going to care. Upload some .zip files of your albums (with artwork), pictures, and videos to a filesharing website like 4Shared, or Rapidshare, and paste the download link into the e-mail. Or, create an electronic press kit (EPK) on Sonicbids and upload your bio, music, some hi-res press photos, videos, and press quotes.

Tip: Place your download/EPK link right underneath your pitch. Call attention to it by inserting a blank line above and below the link, so it sits alone by itself in the middle of the e-mail.

6. Politely ask the bloggers to feature you

FINALLY, mention to the blogger that it would be totally awesome if he or she featured your music on the blog. Make sure you know what kind of posts the blogger writes (album reviews, song reviews, strictly MP3s, videos, pictures, whatever), and ask for that specifically. Whatever you do, DON’T BEG.

7. Thank the bloggers for their time

In the event that a blogger actually decides to open your pitch letter and read, it is vital that you include some sincere thanks for taking the time to consider featuring your music.

8. Include an e-mail signature with contact information

After thanking them, make sure to include a detailed e-mail signature that highlights the best ways to get in contact with the artist. This is also a good place to encourage the blogger to visit your official website, and follow you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networks that you might be active on. If you use Gmail, I highly recommend generating a professional looking HTML E-mail signature in Gmail with this convenient website.

9. Still no response? Send a follow-up e-mail

Always, always, always, ALWAYS send a follow-up e-mail if you do not get an initial response from a blogger. I have landed several job interviews from follow-up e-mails, they are SO MUCH more important than you would ever think. It is way too possible that the blogger accidently overlooked your first e-mail, or wasn’t impressed by your initial pitch. In the follow-up, briefly re-introduce yourself, and politely mention that you recently e-mailed the blogger in regards to featuring your music. If you feel it is appropriate, include a small blurb saying how important a feature on the blog would be for you, but don’t make it sound like your desperately begging for exposure. Begging will only hurt your chances of getting featured. Next, include a slightly re-worded version of your initial artist description. Say something like “In case you missed it the first time, here is a short blurb about the music I create…”, and try to squeeze everything into a paragraph. Finally, close out your follow-up in the same way as your initial e-mail.

If you think its necessary, offer the blogger something more exclusive the second time around, like a free MP3 download of an unreleased track, or some a photo that you have not posted anywhere before. A little bit of generosity can go a long way in the eyes of a blogger, and could be the tipping point that gets your music on the blog.

This post is part four of the “How to REALLY Get Your Music on Blogs” blog series here on Tight Mix. You can download the entire series for free in the form of a .pdf e-book here.

In the final installment of “How to REALLY Get Your Music On Blogs,” I will be stressing the importance of tracking all of your hard work!

In case you missed them, here are the links for the previous blog posts in the “How to REALLY Get Your Music on Blogs” series:

Part 1: Defining Your Music, Your Lifestyle, and Your Fans
Part 2: Finding the Best Blogs for Your Music
Part 3: Becoming an Active Community Member

Reader Comments (20)

Not only great content but great presentation -- strong images, steady pacing...really good stuff, Chris. Thank you.

June 29 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

muchos gracias, justin.

June 29 | Registered CommenterChris Bracco

We did all of this, and got pretty much no where, then started doing amaziing/interesting things and they started to write about us.

Also, one peice of great advice is to target none music blogs/communities. Everyone likes music.

June 29 | Unregistered CommenterBen Denison

^^Everyone likes stories, too, which is exactly why you got coverage for Doing rather than Asking.

Think in terms of Narrative as much as possible, amen.

June 29 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

I think using sights like Rapidshare is slightly unprofessional & much more likely to be distributed as a free link in a post (which is fine if that's your goal). I personally like the idea of hosting things yourself so you know how many downloads are going on & such. I do think it is very important to let a reviewer know if you are turning them on to a release to be freely distributed or you are turning them on to something that is for sale (& if so where & how) & if you have a physical product you should let a blogger opt in either for free or deep discount copy if they don't do downloads.

On the follow-up email, hopefully somebody has reviewed the music by the time of the follow-up wave & you should quote a good review in there that you didn't have the first time around.

Also, it seems especially true with blogs (compared to magazines) that a review might be placed without them contacting you back. So you should look at the blog to see if you're in it before writing again. Google Alerts can be helpful with this.

In regards to the follow-up email, I'm curious what you think the spacing should be? I've had some responses to blogs six months later. I'm not sure where it shifts from informative to spam...

^^I've had a lot of cats who turned out to be extremely talented send me stuff as a rapidshare or usershare link....sure, it looks like a pop-up ad got raped by a bear on those sites, but that's all they could afford at the time and the music was great, so...I'm not as prejudiced as I used to be.

Still, artists who are broke should be using Bandcamp, because it's 1) free, 2) works, and 3) looks good doing it.

June 29 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

Hi chris,

Do you have any sample cover letters or EPK's that you could share with us that we can reference?

June 29 | Unregistered Commenternath

Me to want to include music on blog,well nice to hear that one.

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterRuben

Nicely done. I'm weighing joining sonicbids vs. having a page on my own website. I can make a page for free but something makes me think the standardized format of sonicbids might be comforting to the end user. Heck, I like seeing sonicbids epk's to check out a band.

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterElvis Duffy

As a music blogger myself, I agree with most of what you said, although I don't think that the flatter part is not that important. :) References to posts and artists are helpful though. A majority of all mail I get are not relevant to what I write about, and it's a timesaver to know that people have understood the focus of the blog.
The first link should be a link to a music player with the music. Don't use Myspace, because of the bad sound quality there. Using only zip-files, introduces more steps with downloading, unzipping and so on. Don't use Rapidshare and services like that for the downloading. It's spammy and slow. There are plenty of other better services.
If it's an mp3-blog, tell the blogger directly which tracks are free, or if he can choose for himself. And even better: host some tracks yourself and supply the links. You then save bandwidth for the blogger, and time, and you get stats of downloads, as mentioned above.
Finally. Nine out of ten bands (at least) don't have stories to tell, no well-written bios on their pages. Bloggers are writers, so help them out to tell a good story. Supply a link to the bio.
Just a few points that helps.
And, like you said Chris. Write personal mails. Mass mails always come last, if read at all.

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterPär Berglund

@Pär Berglund thanks so much for those extra tips! They are really excellent, I saved them to a text document on my desktop, and I plan on including some of them as quotes when it comes time to revise the e-book.

What are some of the services that you consider to be better than Rapidshare? I'd really like to know so I can use them in the future.

June 30 | Registered CommenterChris Bracco

^^Bandcamp is 10,000x better than rapidshare

I just found this discussion that anyone doing their promo should probably read through, a lot of chatter compared to the volume of actual information, but it gives you ideas of what bloggers want.

@Justin bandcamp as a file sharing tool? True, I remember Dr. Quandary sending me a special download code for his album when I reviewed it....I guess it didn't really click until now! Thanks dude.

@Brian thanks a million for those links.

I just remembered (& I don't know if it's still going on), but there was a point where I-tunes had something where bands could offer free downloads (it was somehow related to being a student in a university). Don't know if that's still happening. But I remember getting some of those links & wondering how they made it happen.....

I'm glad you thought it was helpful Chris, thanks a lot.
Well, as Justin said, Bandcamp can be an option as well as Soundcloud and services like Fairtilizer. Services with players where you can allow the user to download. For pure filesharing Dropbox is a good option and Microsofts Skydrive that comes with the live-account should work. Selfhosting is also an easy option as I said before.
Many times though, it's a dialogue, where the artist send me the album in the second step after I have listened to some tracks. It's very common then to use services like yousendit.com or sprend.se which is very convenient.
If it's not an mp3-blog, at least then the promo mail could contain an offer to receive a zipped album, rather than including a link to the zip file. Then you create a dialogue, and take the relation a little step further.
There are people who insist of sending me CD:s by snail mail, even if I tell them it's sufficient with a download. What happens then is that I feel more obliged to write about them, since they have made this extra effort. Also, if a music blog is run by music journalists, I'd say that in most cases a physical CD is necessary along with a well written press release, since they are used to that. Know who you are talking to as good as you can, and act accordingly.

love this post! It speaks to all I believe about being polite and considerate of other's time.

Thanks for the signature creator too!!

Love the presentation too! Really grabbed me!

FYI...I just released an updated version of this e-book, if interested please head on over here: http://tght.me/pJrOZm

Thanks!

July 28 | Registered CommenterChris Bracco

Great post by Chris and awesome tips.

I stress that artists keep the about you section short. Nobody wants to read a novel, keep it short and sweet.

Make sure that you use streamable links as well (think YouTube, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Audiomack, ReverbNation) as opposed to Mediafire, Sendspace, Rapidshare, etc. The key is to make the listening process as easy as possible for the blogger.

Patrick

February 9 | Unregistered CommenterPraverb

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