You’ve always wanted to see your name in lights, haven’t you? Masses of fans waiting to get into your show, singing your lyrics back at you, dancing through the night? The labels would notice, the festivals would book you, and soon you’d be touring the world; praise everywhere you go…
You’ve thought it all through — the only thing you need to do to get there is to keep putting out good music and maybe obsess over your Instagram follower count and you should be good right? The rest will take care of itself.
Too many artists live in this fantasy world of thinking that their next big break is going to come from some mystical person that holds the keys to the music industry’s next investment, who just happens to hear your music. But the reality is, if you want a successful career as a musician, sometimes (okay, all the time) you have to take matters into your own hands and create the opportunities you want.
In other words, you make your own luck. And one of the easiest ways to that is to learn how to run your own public relations.
While there are plenty of firms out there that you can hire to do this for you, if you have the time, the determination, and the skills, running your own DIY PR campaign is totally doable and can be a game changer later on in your career. But first…
Why does PR still matter in a streaming world?
Because stories still sell, and your music on its own is not telling your full story. You can have all the streams you want but if no one knows who you are or an ounce about you, they’re not going to last as fans.
The thing that flips people from an average fan to a superfan is that they truly connect with and like the artist. And that happens when the artist is relatable, shows their personality, and invites fans into their story. It’s when they become candid and real, and show the human side of their art. And this can happen pretty much anywhere outside of asking fans to buy your latest record.
In other words, it happens when you get press. Press gets you in front of new fans at a much faster rate than streaming does, and it helps to elevate your personality with existing fans. When you get a feature on a blog, or an interview on a podcast, that’s hundreds if not thousands of new ears on your music. If you just toss a song onto Spotify, you’re not likely to get that kind of traction.
So how do you do it? Let’s find out!
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Step 1: Create your media list.
The first thing you need to do, besides building your network relationships, is to figure out what press outlets you want to reach out to. Be reasonable here. If you’re brand new, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone are probably not interested in featuring you. Then again, you never know. But it’s a surefire bet that a lot of up and coming outlets will be, so start to make connections there.
Small outlets have a fiercely loyal audience and will always promote more aggressively than the major outlets, so while you may want those major outlets to give you an ego boost with a feature, odds are you’re actually reaching more people with the smaller outlets that will work harder to get your name out there.
But, feel free to build various press lists such as a “Personal Contacts” one and a “Reach / Stretch” one.
Step 2: Craft your pitch.
Keep it simple. We don’t need your life story or 100 links. Just introduce yourself, what it is you have out right now, and what you’re looking for, and leave it at that. Don’t forget to include necessary links like your EPK and your music, and don’t forget to start the email off with personalization.
If there’s one thing in PR that’s crucial it’s this: always personalize your pitch emails. Remember, you are talking to a human being who is taking time out of their very busy day to read your email and possibly spend an hour of their time not getting paid to write about you. So treat them like a person and remember that your relationship is symbiotic.
Step 3: Don’t give up.
Here’s where most artists falter — they give up too soon. They don’t follow up, they stop trying to get new features, they just throw their hands up and say the system is rigged and nothing is fair.
I hate to tell you this but if this is how you react, you might want to find a different industry, because the music industry is not for quitters, and it’s not for people that are going to just assume the system is rigged and give up.
So definitely send follow up emails after a couple weeks, and be nice and polite about it and not spiteful. Keep pitching new outlets, keep trying new angles and stories, and commit to getting your name out there.
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