Feb 2012
Posted by
Under Exclusive
DISCUSSION 19 Comments

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Contacting Music Blogs

Over the past few years, a lot of new ways to make your tunes heard by music bloggers and freelance writers have come up, with SoundCloud clearly leading the pack today. However, both blogs and artists/labels are still using emails a lot to discover new music or make their music heard, resulting in hundreds of emails flooding music bloggers’ inboxes every day. Lots of amazing music is often hidden beneath a pile of emails that are not even close to being relevant to our blogs, which makes it very hard for us to dig up the real gems. Unfortunately, a lot of artists, labels and PR agencies make it very frustrating and even harder for us to spot the music that’s really worth writing about by making thoughtless mistakes when sending their music to us.

I am aware of the fact that there are similar posts out there, with tips and guidelines on how to make your music heard and get the message home – for a good example check out this article by Tim from The Blue Walrus. There are also lots of great articles on how to fail at promoting music online (thanks to Tiana from Ride The Tempo for tweeting that article my way), written by frustrated bloggers. However, here’s a very subjective and personal list of DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to contacting music blogs about your music. Many thanks to Josh from Goldroom, Mel from Melismatic, Lorenz from l0r3nz music, Hot Biscuit and Lance from Remix86, Surrounding Sounds, Tracasseur and everyone else for telling me their points of view, adding some aspects to this list that I probably wouldn’t have thought about.

Reading this list (that mainly consist of DON’Ts, to be honest), one might get the impression that we music bloggers are an elitist group of musical snobs who think of ourselves as aristocratic tastemakers who graciously lower themselves to posting about your music. Even if that might be true to some extent, we still do not have any illusions about blogs needing artists just as much as artists need blogs.

If some of these “rules” might sound harsh to you, please keep in mind that we’re confronted with people making the same mistakes over and over again on a daily basis. All these guidelines below are rather common sense than definite rules made up by music bloggers. Obviously, following them will not guarantee to get your music posted to the front pages of every blog you email – they are just a guide to help avoiding common mistakes that upset us and therefore will lower the chance of your music getting the attention it deserves.

Step 1: The Subject Line

We get hundreds of emails on a daily basis. Needless to say, we only pick out the ones that we think are important to us. The subject line of your email is the first thing we see, and it’s also what makes us decide if we actually open your email and read it. Be creative, descriptive, brief but on point – and respect a few simple rules:

  • Addressing us with our blog’s name (or even better: our own name) in the subject line drastically raises the chances of your email being read.
  • Another magic word is “exclusive“. Every blogger loves exclusive content. Only use it if you really have exclusive content for us, though: If we open an email that is promising us exclusive content only to find 142 other email addresses in the CC, we’ll feel fooled.
  • Using these ∆ or these â–² in your email’s subject line will make us think you’re a 14 year old kid (or even worse, a hipster fashion victim), rather than a professional artist or label executive. Same goes for these:  ♥ ♪ ♫ ★ – and whatever else was cool 10 years ago.
  • Putting the genre in the subject line makes it a lot easier for us to pick out what is actually of relevance for our blogs, instead of wasting lots of time going through the endless flood of emails. No need for bizarre sub genres here – just tell us if it’s electro, metal or hip-hop.
  • Pro tip: If it’s that time of the year again, don’t put the word “Christmas” or anything related in the subject line when emailing music bloggers. Trust me: just don’t.

[Continue reading after the jump!]

Step 2: The Email

Keeping these simple key points in mind when writing your subject line and actually having content that might be relevant to the particular blog you’re emailing is no absolute guarantee for having your email opened and read, but it will make it stand out against all the others in our inboxes, and most probably we’re going to open it. Now that you have our full attention, don’t ruin it:

  • Never ever use the opening line “Hello Blogger” – you want us to take the time to listen to your music, so you should at least take the time to write the name of the blog here.
  • If you still think sending out mass emails is a great idea, never ever (let me repeat: NEVER EVER) put all the 250 blog email addresses you got from another idiot doing the same thing before in the CC field. Even though these are our public email addresses, and even though sometimes hitting the Reply All button to send out greetings to our fellow bloggers can be fun – as a matter of fact, this is the most stupid and unprofessional thing you can do. Period.
  • Don’t start your emails with “Introducing XYY” if said artist has been blogged the shit out of for weeks, or even months. We’re music bloggers, after all.
  • If you tell us “you love our blog and have been following it for years, and think this might fit in very well” and then send us some gangster rap tracks even though we’ve been blogging about electronic dance music from day one – how stupid do you think we actually are? This is definitely one of the quickest ways to get on a music blogger’s email blacklist.
  • If the first three lines of your email are basically a list of other blogs that have already posted about your track, how big you think our motivation is to do a feature on something you’ve obviously sent out to a gazillion of other blogs before letting us know about it?
  • If you’re an upcoming producer and new to the scene, don’t blatantly oversell your own stuff. A few lines on who you are and what your music sounds like is enough – let the music speak for itself!
  • Same goes for the expression “banger“: With every second email’s subject line praising its inside to be the new banger to end all bangers, this word’s meaning has changed from describing a song that truly makes your head explode to indicating a mediocre, crappily produced dubstep bootleg – face the truth.

Step 3: The Music

Once we’ve openend your email and maybe read a few lines, we’ll check out the music you sent over (that is, if you haven’t made us hate you by now by violating the above rules). At that point, it’s mainly your creative musical output that makes us decide whether to do a post about your music or not – obviously, I can not tell you how to make music that bloggers actually like. Still, there are a few things you should not forget about concerning the music you send to us:

  • Please, please, please: never ever send 320kbps mp3 files (or any big files) attached to an email. With you being the reason why we have to buy more storage on Gmail, we probably hate you before even checking out your track, and chances are high that your email will be sent straight to the trash.
  • We get hundreds of emails every day. While we try to read all of them, please understand that we actually can’t respond to every single one – there’s just not enough hours in the day. If we don’t reply to your email (because we’re obviously not feeling your track), do not keep sending it again and again. And if there’s an mp3 filed attached to every single email you keep re-sending, we’ll hate you even more.
  • Why on earth would you want to send us MediaFire links and force us to actually download your music before we can listen to it? Or even worse, host your tracks on some fishy file hosting site? We’re living in the 21st century – go use SoundCloud, like everyone else does.
  • Please don’t make us look for a SoundCloud link in two pages of press release sheet blabla. We open the email, read one or two lines, if we like what we read we click on the SoundCloud link and press play. If it takes more than 5 seconds to go there, we’ve probably already skipped to the next email.
  • If you’re offering a free download on your SoundCloud (which is great – who doesn’t love free stuff?!), please make it a 320kbps mp3 file with clean ID3 tags. No 128kbps files: I’d rather have no download at all, as I’m happy when I see it’s a free download, only to be disappointed a second later when I find out its 128k only. No wave files: Please don’t make us download 60 megabytes just for one track, we don’t need the 16-bit wave file you got back from mastering. If you think somebody does, put a link in the comments.
  • Don’t you ever send links to promo pages that start auto-playing music at high volume as soon as you open the page! These are tactics used by spammers, not professional people working in the music business.
  • Pay With A Tweet is a cool service to allow your fans to download your music for free while helping you to build your fanbase, but please don’t use it when contacting bloggers. We don’t want to tweet a link to your website just to be able to check out your track, neither do we want to like your Facebook page and invite all our friends to get a download.
  • Let’s just say there’s a certain limit to how many remixes a song needs, some kind of point at which the world just doesn’t need another remix of Coldplay’s “Clocks” or Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep“. Why don’t you dig up a cool underground band or singer to remix, rather than remixing a song that no one can stand anymore?
  • Bonus advice from Aerotronic: “Make damn sure your music doesn’t clip.”

Step 4: Blog Love

If you stick to the above rules plus we actually like your music, we’ll probably do a blog post on it. Now that you got what you wanted, there are some more DOs and DONTs you should keep in mind after your song got posted, to make everyone happy :

  • If we post up your music and reply to your email to tell you how much we like your stuff and to send you a link to the blog post – and you don’t even reply to say thanks, we’ll most likely never ever read your emails again. Didn’t your parents teach you to say thank you?
  • It’s not hard to make a music blogger happy. We do you a favor by posting your music, so why don’t you do us a favor in return? We all love traffic, so we’ll love you forever if you like our Facebook post about the blog post, tweet the article and/or post a link on your Facebook page (with an @link back to our page for some extra bonus love).
  • If you decide to make a song available just for streaming, no problem. An artist has got to make a living, and you can’t do that by giving away all your music for free. We understand that. Do you sense a big “but” coming? You’re right, here it is:
    But: if we do a blog post on your song, tell our readers how much we love it, hell, even tell them to go buy it and include buy links to iTunes and then ask you if there’s a chance of getting a promo download of the song, just for our personal listening pleasure, and you say no and send us the buy links – you can be 100% sure that we’ll never ever again even open an email you send to us.
    We’re giving you free exposure to a huge audience we’ve built over the years, and when we ask you for a song that is 1.49€ on BeatPort, you say no and tell us to go and buy it? That’s probably the simplest yet most effective way to say fuck you straight into a blogger’s face – and we’ll certainly not forget about it.

Having said that, feel free to send me an email about your music.
Any thoughts and comments on this article appreciated.