Wednesday, September 22, 2010
About a month ago, I admonished up-and-coming artists to embrace the concept of free music. The argument was simple: Free music makes it easier for artists to disseminate their product to as many people as possible. Exposure is the new currency.
Let's assume that you agree with everything I said and decided to put out music for free. A question remains: How do I get my music to the most people?
Dear musician: The bloggers are the most important people you need to get your music to. Yes, they're more important than record labels at this point, as record label reps pretty much just scour the net and listen to music on blogs to find the next big artists. Basically, if you don't have a buzz on the Internet, you have a slim chance of catching the eyes and ears of the record labels.
As someone that has been writing for the blog world for the last two years, I receive a ton of requests from artists looking for coverage. Some of the music is horrible. Some is great. Most is mediocre. And a ton of these musicians get ignored because they don't know how to present their music. Here are a few tips to help artists get the attention of the music tastemakers and get some all-important exposure.
The Art of E-mailing
First, learn your crowd. Scour the net and find the top music blogs for your genre. For hip-hop, you want to try the majors: NahRight, RapRadar, The Smoking Section, IllRoots, etc. Also, try a few smaller blogs that may not get so many songs every day. Each website will have an e-mail address for music submissions. Believe it or not, most sites actually check those e-mails.
Now—and this is a big one—e-mail every website individually! I can't tell you how many times I've gotten e-mails that say "Exclusive Music" addressed to dozens of people. Tacky.
Keep the body of the e-mail short, sweet and flattering. The age of the press kit is over. Save those page-long histories of your career for your VH1 special. All this e-mail needs is a quick overview of who you are, your project and when it's coming out. Be suree to keep things brief because ...
Time is of the Essence
I'm pretty low on the hierarchy of the world's important music bloggers. Still, I get no fewer than 30 new e-mails a day from artists wanting me to listen to their music. Add that to the amount of new music established artists put out every day, and I'm looking at about 50 new songs on an average day. So imagine how much music the big-time bloggers and music journalists get.
Because of this endless flood of new music, listening can sometimes be a chore. The only music that gets heard is the music that takes the least amount of effort to listen to. A lot of artists like to use Bandcamp, but Bandcamp music rarely gets listened to. To get the project, one has to send in an e-mail addresses and then download. Those few seconds are like hours to someone who has hundreds of songs waiting in the inbox. Instead, download the song to Usershare or another file-sharing site and simply supply the link. A lot of bloggers are short on inbox space, so don't attach the file. Those are the first to get deleted.
Don't Be The Annoying Guy
This is most important. The worst type of musician is the one who uses Facebook and Twitter to relentlessly shove music down people's throats. Twitter and Facebook are where music writers go to get away from the e-mails. If you want your friends to see your music, great. But tagging your blogger of choice in your video or song is so annoying that some (see: me) will never write about your music solely out of spite.
Twitter is the same. Look at Twitter like after-work happy hour. You wouldn't want to bring your resume to happy hour to show your boss. You want to show up, create a rapport and network, so when you want a promotion, your boss will remember your face. Twitter works the same way. Talk to the bloggers. Reply to them. Be clever. So when you do send the e-mail, they'll remember your name and give your music a shot.
Of course, now all you have to do is make sure the music is great. But that part's easy, right?
David Dennis Jr., aka Jackson, is a rapper. Check out his music at http://www.myspace.com/jacksontherapper.