Music Press: How to pitch an artist
September 3, 2014
I thought I would outline a helpful strategy for artists who do their own PR, or for those who are interested in the field. I founded Stardust-Ent.com back when I was twelve, so I’ve been part of the music media for more than half my life. I also have experience on the other side of it with having worked for a major label. This is a field that uses a blending of experiences and education. There are people out there who may use their friend as a “publicist” but please reconsider that unless you are sure they know what they are doing.
Actually, I received a press kit one time where the artist’s publicist was also their manager and tour manager. The biography mentioned how as tour manager, she jumped in the van and hit the road with the band. I don’t care what she is doing, I care about the artist. Make sure you work with someone who knows the difference.
Your publicist needs to not only make sure you have an artist bio that allows you to stand out, but they are also responsible for pitching you to media sources. There are some things that really irk me that a so called “publicist” tends to do so in an effort to maximize your exposure or the exposure of your clients, here is the rundown.
1. Include a press photo.
Doesn’t this seem obvious? You would think. More than half of the press releases that are currently sitting in my inbox do not include a photo and chances are, I will not post them. You have to think of it this way… websites and music news sources that are established receive a large volume of emails every day. Going through the emails to see if a story is relevant to our readers takes up a good deal of time. We’re not going to go search the internet for a press photo. You either have one or you don’t. If you don’t, I have the rule of thumb to delete.
2. Include links.
This seems obvious again, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, when some “publicists” try to pitch an artist, they are more focused on trying to get the outlets to post something about the artist that they include their own, “This artist is super awesome and like oh my gosh you totally need to feature them. Like wow.” (Yes, people have sent emails like that before.) I don’t want to hear your personal plea, I want to read the facts, I want to check the artist out. Readers are always excited to learn about new artists that they like, so they might really be interested in what your artist sounds like… give them that opportunity.
3. Know grammar.
We all experience oversights in our work because nobody is perfect. I understand when I’m reading through a press release that someone may have missed that they used the same descriptive word in the last two sentences and again in the following paragraph. The thesaurus is your friend, as is spell check and a proper read-through before you hit the send button. One thing that I don’t find forgiving is when someone mistakingly uses THEY’RE instead of THEIR, YOU’RE instead of YOUR, or TO instead of TOO. This press release is a direct reflection on you as a writer and the work you are able to produce. Please have the courtesy of showing that you take pride in your work. You can use the Purdue Owl as a quick reference for how you are supposed to correctly handle album titles vs song titles. Or, just remember this: Album Title, “Song Title”
4. Understand your target demographic.
If you have an artist that is fifteen years old and plays pop-rock tunes, you should not be trying to pitch them to an outlet that covers heavy metal. Don’t look desperate. Do not waste your time or the time of the person that has to sort through all of the press releases. Know that your artist has substance that is worth researching correct outlets to further your reach. Concentrate on the news sources that best suit the style your artist plays, any publications in the markets that tend to be popular for that style of music and any avenue that caters to the general age of the artist’s fans. It is not a one size fits all world in music. Make a plan so that you clearly understand what type of audience you want to put your artist in front of. Here is an example of a breakdown of just a few questions that you can use to get yourself started:
What is the age segment of people who would listen to this artist? (i.e.: 15-24, primarily female)
Where would this artist’s fans purchase their music? (i.e.: iTunes)
What categories does this artist’s music fit in? (i.e.: Post Hardcore/Rock)
When you know your market, you have a greater chance of success.
5. Use a subject line that makes your intention clear.
Are you just trying to push a press release? Are you looking for support with an interview? Do you want someone to review a show? Don’t be bashful, let everyone know.
Bad subject line: NEW STUFF FROM MY PROMO COMPANY!!!!!!!
Good subject line: Alt Rock artist Xxx available for interviews
These are actual examples of press releases that I have received. After reading the suggestions above, see if you can determine why these were not successful.
An otherwise really well written email pitch becomes obsolete. Featuring a band that is described as, “thrash legends,” won’t exactly appeal to the 13-24 year old demographic of Stardust that is not into that genre.
Who exactly is this band? Thanks for the link to SoundCloud, but I actually took the time to look at their account on SoundCloud and didn’t see a link to a page either. Obviously it says that this band has been featured in places but they seem more like a myth to me. They have an upcoming EP release? Where’s the information about that–you only mentioned it?
The subject line is frustrating. The contents are not promo material. This is an artist, and they have a name just like you have a purpose for sending this press release out.
These are just three examples of emails that I have received in the past week.
Subject line: Xxx playing City Month, Date
Xxx is going to be playing in City, State on Month Date and I wanted to extend an invitation to you to come check out the show. The band is also available for an interview the day of, or in advance to promote the show. I’d love to talk to you more about it so let me know if you or anyone at your outlet is interested.
Additional Company Details
[Include latest press release following this information so the outlet is able to learn more about the artist. This faux press release is very minimal and being used as an example.]
[Artist Image – Centered]
Xxx announces tour with Abc and Def
Orlando, FL rock trio Xxx announced today that they will be joining Abc and Def on Tour Name. Tour Name will be reaching x-amount of cities across the US this spring. Xxx recently released their debut EP EP Title on Date via Record Label and are very excited to be billed alongside established artists whom they consider to be an inspiration in their genre. EP Title was produced by Producer(s) Name(s) (include notable artists here that producer has worked with) in City, State over the span of x-amount of weeks. Frontman NAME explains, “EP Title was a dream for us to record with Producer Name. The EP is about INSERT THEMES HERE. We can’t wait to share it with everyone on this tour!”
To purchase the EP, head to (USE A BIT.LY LINK HERE SO YOU CAN MEASURE THE TIMES IT IS CLICKED).
[CENTER QUOTES FROM MEDIA SOURCES WHO HAVE REVIEWED THE ALBUM]
[INCLUDE LINKS — MAKE SURE ONE IS FOR A HIGH RESOLUTION PRESS PHOTO]
For more information:
(Give or take any applicable links)
Clearly this example is for a newer artist. You can expect that with a more established artist, including music video links is a great idea. Brag. Don’t be afraid to boast about your artist’s accomplishments. Your goal is to get the person on the other end of the press release to buy in to the hype you are creating. Make it exciting.
In order for any campaign to be successful, the press and the media need to have a good working relationship. This is why I wanted to help you because in the end, it is not about me and it is not about you–it is about the music.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I am always available to artists seeking help with obtaining press opportunities as well. For questions and business inquiries, firstname.lastname@example.org