Ten Rules When Submitting a Press Release

Ever wonder how music gets noticed by the writers at Gimme Noise? Some musicians hire a publicist, but many artists go the DIY route these days. Are you thinking, "I want to be featured on the site. I need to send them a press release; how should I do so?" We put together a list of things to keep in mind when submitting your music for consideration. A press release will not always guarantee a write-up, but by using these guidelines, you are one step closer to getting the world's attention.

Note: A Facebook invite does not equal a press release.

1. Send a link to stream the music - Downloads are fine, but streaming is ideal. When you get a lot of press releases with downloads, it can clog up your computer really quickly. Unless a writer knows about you and really loves your music, most will not aimlessly download music they have never heard of. Send a link to stream the album along with a few song suggestions. I've clicked on your email. You have my attention, make it easy for me to listen to your music.

2. Contact information - Are you living in a cabin in the woods, writing feverishly and cleansing your soul a la Bon Iver? No? Then on your website/social media, provide a way to contact you. Please don't provide no other option than to send you a straight up Facebook message, which you may or may not receive. If I like your music and want to get in touch with you, I don't want to jump through hoops to find your email. Don't want to provide your email or don't have time to answer your email? Hire a manager to do this for you.

3. Photos - Scouring the web for a photo at 2 a.m. for an article is not my idea of fun. A good photo is always appreciated when sending out your press release. "What constitutes a good photo?" you ask. A nice shot that captures your face(s) -- don't try and get too artsy with it, especially if no one knows who you are. A blurry iPhone pic won't catch anyone's eye, and won't suffice for a headline image on a blog post or feature article. Make sure you have one clear, professional quality photograph that press can use if they want to write an article about your band.

4. Freelancers are your best friend - Always send a press release to the editor, but keep in mind that editors get more emails than anyone, and they're always busy with stories. Research the freelancers who are writing for the publication to see what kind of music they are writing about. If they like your stuff, they will pitch to their editor, and an editor is more likely to respond to their freelancer than a stranger with whom they have no connection.

5. Lead time - If you are looking for an interview, there is a small time window that hits the sweet spot. Depending on their story cycles, some writers ask for three months lead time, but the majority would say six to eight weeks before a show is perfect. A day's notice is not enough lead time, and honestly, at that point, an article is not going to fill any seats at your show.
6. Have a comprehensive bio - Recently, I had a band send me a generic two-sentence bio, making it a tough sell for me to want to write about them. Mystery is cool if you're doing it right, but if your bio is short because you are lazy, don't bother. If you don't want to write it yourself, pay someone to write a bio that makes you sound interesting.

Erik Thompson advises, "Don't get too cute with your band description -- let fans know what you sound like, without trying to create a nonexistent genre in the process. If you are electropop, and a fan of that style of music goes to your site/Facebook, they should be able to know clearly/succinctly that you are indeed an electropop band."

It sounds counterproductive, but a good bio should be sufficient enough that I don't have to listen to the music to know what you sound like -- and it should get me excited to hear the music. 

7. Write good music - Okay, so this is relative, but you want to make a statement with your music. In a world where everyone is clamoring to be heard, why put out something that is subpar, in writing or recording? Have a friend you trust listen and give you some pointers before sending out your press release. Maybe the music is just not ready yet; you don't want your first impression to be that you have shitty music. That's a good way to get people to ignore your next email. 

8. Following up - If you don't hear back right away, don't be offended. I most likely read your email, but don't have the proper response yet. Do feel free to follow up after a week if you don't hear back. Your email may have gotten lost in the shuffle, just don't send me multiple emails a day asking if I want to write about your album.

9. Sincerity - It's nice to hear in an email that you enjoyed an article that I wrote -- let's be honest, we writers are gluttons for praise -- but if you didn't, there's no need to go on and on, including false compliments.

On another note, social media is great for many things, but beware of how you use it if you want to be taken seriously. Depending on how well you know a journalist, it may be appropriate, but keep in mind if you're using more than two forms of communication (email, social media, Facebook, Twitter, text, etc.) to let people know what's happening, you're most likely annoying the writer. Writers want to know about your music, but please don't spam. 

10. Success is relative - Always keep in mind that just because you get a writeup in any publication, it doesn't always equal success. A friend once said, "It's the job of the press to help artists become successful." Uh, no. The music has to be great enough to stand alone. We're not the ones buying your music and paying for tickets. Good press is great for artists, but finding your audience is what will give your career longevity.

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