By Janelle Rogers
Anyone running their own national publicity campaign for a record release knows how frustrating it can be. You send press releases, emails and packages, sometimes without a single response.
As the climate changes with publications folding their print versions and moving to digital, all with a limited staff, it’s important to play smarter by focusing on quality over quantity and a strong dose of timing.
1. Set the national release date at least three months in the future. You’ve spent months, if not years, on your album and you just want people to hear it. However, rushing publicity without proper lead time can grossly limit the press you receive. In fact, many major publications like Spin Magazine, Paste and Magnetrequire 3 month deadlines in order to even consider an album for review. April, May, September and October tend to be the most crowded months for releases, so unless you are an established independent act with significant existing coverage it’s recommended to avoid those months for a national release.
2. Create a great story angle. You need a compelling story to set you apart. For instance, a band we work with, The Motion Sick, have a series of hooks including being inspired by author Kurt Vonnegut, a reference in their album title to the TV show, “Twin Peaks,” and a song which included the video cheat code, “Konami Code.” This caught the interest of the media as well as Dance Dance Revolution who included the song “30 Days” in their latest release of the video game.
3. Target the right media contacts. Research the best publications for your type of music and then send to the music editor and/or reviews editor at those publications. Don’t send a metal album to a writer who only covers bands like Neil Young. No matter how good your record is, he won’t be into it and most likely the only coverage you’ll get is on his wall of shame. Google bands that you think are similar to you and see who’s covered them. Metacritic.com can also be a great source. By seeing what releases are coming as well as ratings and reviews of current releases, you can determine who may be interested in your music.
4. MP3s. If you want coverage on blogs, offer at least one mp3 for the readers. In fact, many blogs won’t even consider a band without an available mp3. Also as more print media goes on-line, they are creating “Song of the Day” columns which can be a great avenue to get your music heard. Using your music as a promotional tool can often facilitate additional press coverage, licensing deals and tours.
5. Press kit. A press kit should consist of a one page bio with a strong story angle. Press clips that are a maximum of four pages (two pages front and back) and a CD with finished artwork. It’s no longer necessary to send a printed band photo but you should have a hi-res photo available and viewable on your website.Typically veteran writers and larger magazines prefer print copies, but as media transitions into digital formats and blogs, EPKs are becoming common place. In fact, most often they are looking at your EPK prior to asking for a physical package so make sure you have a hi-res publicity photo (at least 300dpi), bio, mp3s or streamed audio they can hear. We create media pages for our clients based on what the journalists request from us.
6. Great publicity photo. As more people move into the digital realm, the publicity photo has begun to replace the CD cover as the primary visual piece. Look at some of your favorite blogs to see what types of photos they post to give you ideas. It should tell a story about your band, look professional and catch attention. Photographer, Alicia J. Rose, does this really well and as a result the photos she’s shot have appeared in magazines like Filter,Elle and Magnet.
7. Announce news and keep media updated on your progress.Stay active. In the cycle of a national publicity campaign, press coverage typically comes within the first month of the announcement of release or around the release itself. In order to keep press coverage coming in those down times there a few things you can do. Tour, release another mp3 or play at events or festivals. Does one of your songs play into a theme or something occurring in the news? One of our clients, Golden Bloom, wrote a song inspired by Rod Blagojevich which gave us a great angle to approach media while he was finishing his upcoming album. And if we know one thing about the former governor, he gives the publicity gift that keeps us on giving so this song is likely to have longevity.
8. Video. In the multimedia world of journalism, a video can make a great visual impact. Pitchfork in particular has created a specific video site dedicated to this. Look at the types of videos they cover to see what works and what doesn’t.
9. Be persistent without pestering. Don’t give up just because you don’t receive a response the first time. Many journalists don’t even respond until the second or third email. The basic rule of thumb is to email a press release and then wait about 2-3 weeks after you send the CD to make sure they received it. Don’t keep going back unless you have a newsworthy update to send them—perhaps a great review you received that could influence coverage, announcing tour dates, or commenting on a review or article that they wrote that could relate to your band in some way.
10. Hire the experts. For the bands that prefer to focus on the music and leave the business to the experts, there are a few things to know before hiring a publicist. Make sure they work with your genre, look at their web site and see which bands they work with and what press they’ve secured for those artists. This will give you a great idea of what they might be able to do for you. I also highly recommend working with publicists who only works with bands they feel passionate about because they will have more respect with the media. Hence, they’ll have a greater chance of their clients being heard.
Running a publicity campaign can be challenging and almost always takes longer than expected to reach your goals, but if planned out and approached from a journalistic perspective it can highly increase your chances of getting there.
Janelle Rogers owns the publicity firm, Green Light Go Entertainment LLC, which is located in Detroit, Michigan. Based on honesty, integrity and passion, Green Light Go provides entertainment publicity services for goal-oriented music and arts entities. Without compromising your individual expression they create plans based on appealing to the media they solicit. Embracing an ambitious attitude, they believe with the right plan and a little guidance the signal changes, sparking endless opportunities!
With over 15 years experience in the music industry, including working with Caroline, BMG Distribution, and SXSW, Rogers has created over 500 campaigns for artists such as The White Stripes, Ray Lamontagne and The Handsome Family.
Janelle Rogers can be reached at jrogers[at]greenlightgopublicity.com. More information on Green Light Go can be found atwww.greenlightgopublicity.com
Written by Janelle Rogers for Atlas Plugged
The Hit Music Academy | 2010