“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Ted Roosevelt, talking about some wanker music PR, probably.
The fact is: if you’ve actually bothered to channel your creative influences into the medium of recorded song; if you’ve braved band practice severely hungover because that new track needs smoothing out; if you’ve sunk time, money, and more money into creating a tangible distillation of your musical tastes and creativity - then fair fucking play.
However, for the seasoned (read: jaded) music journalist who receives far too many new music emails per day, the appreciation of that initial creativity (and execution) can give way to a lethargic ‘meh’. This is sad, and if you’ve put a lot of effort into your pitch it can be pretty annoying - but before unleashing those rage demons, do remember that there could be a host of other reasons, such as life, or a real job. Having said that, there’s no harm in being prepared, and in knowing how to give yourself the best chance of being picked up in someone’s overcrowded inbox. Having been on all sides of the journo/artist/PR axis of evil, we’d like to share our tips for a successful pitch. We’re nice like that.
We’re aware the title of this article talks about pitching to music blogs, but the majority of these could be applied to magazines, radio stations, etc. Multi-faceted advice!!
[Pictured - Us, listening to your music submissions]
Do Your Research
You are almost certainly a relatively active consumer of your local music scene, so much of this should be straightforward, but it helps to have a clear idea of who you’re going to approach from the get-go. Do not be tempted to adopt a ‘spray and pray’ approach; if your new EP is a collection of post-punk missives inspired by a long-lost Walt Whitman poem, it’s unlikely that U105 will be interested. “What’s the harm, Lazy Bones?” - the harm is that Ireland - and Northern Ireland especially - is a small place, so sending your music to outlets when it’s apparent you haven’t done any research on them leaves a bad taste in the mouth - which they’ll remember. Think about magazines/stations/PRs who have played or have worked with bands like yours, and who you think you’d be into yours.
Get A Hold Of The Right Person
This is, admittedly, also part of doing your research - research is important, ok? - but it warranted another paragraph, so. There’s a few reasons why emailing the right person is important. Firstly, you want to make sure that you are going through as little people as possible to get to the decision maker. Secondly, you want to - again - make it look like you’ve done your research on who to get in touch with. Thirdly, if you email the wrong person - like, completely the wrong person - the chances are, you’ll be stuck in a weird music pitching limbo forever. I received an email from a PR a few weeks ago asking whether I’d considering featuring a new track for a publication. The problem? I haven’t written for the publication in nearly five years. Try and get a hold of the right person. If it’s a bigger outfit, then give them a call. Speaking to real people is, obviously, awful, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Write Your Pitch Email
We’ve all seen music journalists on twitter giving off about pitch emails they’ve received - much to the amusement of their followers - haven’t we? I don’t really get it, to be honest; you are a music journalist/PR and you did pretty much sign up for the odd clunker of an email from an overenthusiastic indie band, so maybe don’t rip into them in front of your mates? Anyway, I digress. The point is, these people exist, so don’t give them the satisfaction. When it comes to The Email, keep it simple, stupid. I read recently that a music pitch email should be “no longer than one A4” - I would not take the time to read the entirety of one single A4 even if it contained the specific date, time and location of my death. Say hello, say who you are, say what the track/ep/album is, include a link to listen to the track/ep/album, attach some artwork, and make very clear (maybe twice, maybe once in bold) when the thing is released for scheduling purposes. Let me know if you need anything else, thanks, bye. Your email signature should also include links to your band’s social media pages - don’t take up prime email real estate with that.
So it’s been a few days/a week, and you haven’t heard back from anyone. Your music is rubbish, right? They’re laughing at you, aren’t they? The music blog based in Swindon you emailed and the Irish radio DJ and the NI music blog, they met up, somehow, in this post-covid world, and they’re having a right old laugh at you. Gutted for you mate.
Not true, is it? Didn’t actually happen. The fact is, not getting replied to is actually a pretty important part of the whole pitching process. First of all, because it’s going to happen plenty, so you’re going to need to learn how to deal with it. Protip: a rant on twitter about how “some PEOPLE appear UNABLE to respond to A SIMPLE EMAIL!!” isn’t the one, here. There are, frankly, a thousand things that could be more important than your email, so try and chill out. The other reason it’s important is because once you’ve calmed down and realised that you are not being personally victimised, it’s important to follow up. Been two weeks and not heard back, and your thing is released next week? Sounds sensible to follow up. ‘Hey, hope you’re well - just following up on the below! Hoping to release next week so would be good to get some coverage. Appreciate it’s really busy at this time of year though so no worries if not! Just let me know.” - who could take issue with this? No-one. And if they do, fuck ‘em.
There are, to be honest, a lot of other factors that could go into whether your email is picked up. One of them is luck - which we appreciate will be fuck-all squared use to anyone reading this in the hope of breaking through - but it goes back to the earlier point that in all likelihood, someone has not sat down and decided that your music is rubbish, but that they’re actually just busy/something else happened that got their attention. As seasoned music journalists/PRs/writers/people in bands, we like to think we have a reasonable idea of what tends to go down well, so if you’d like to chat to us about the best way of exploding into people’s inboxes, then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just don’t take it personally when we ghost you.*
*this is a joke. Probably.
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