Growing a fanbase can happen much quicker with authentic support and influence of the media. By borrowing an audience already eager for new music, an artist can gain hundreds, if not thousands, of new followers and ticket-buying fans. However, music editors and radio/tv coordinators receive TONS of submissions every day. The competition for publicity is fierce, but the payoff can be greatly rewarding.
Armed with the right tools and knowledge, you can begin planning your media campaign the way the pros do. Here is some advice on how to gain more media exposure:
GET YOUR BUZZ UP
One of the best ways of gaining the media’s support is to be highly active in your music community and engaging with fans online. If you want a story written about you, there has to be a story. Create one by giving your all and best to your music career. Networking, doing shows, going live on social media, and staying consistent with releases are essential.
Content is king: The media looks for artists who are on a routine with releases and have a structured plan for premiering a full-length project. One single may get you noticed, but it takes a catalog of good music to be taken seriously. Having a variety of content such as music videos and interesting behind-the-scenes visuals can increase the chances of being seen.
Optimize your social media pages and Youtube channel to take full advantage of directing fans to your projects and email list opt in page. Direct outreach to fans is one of the quickest ways to build a buzz. There are many email services, such as Mailchimp, which allow you to create an account for free. You must have permission before adding anyone to your list. (You’ll want to keep a separate list for media and industry professionals -- more on this below.)
Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and advertise. Advertising does not always lead to magazine features and blog posts, but it can help generate awareness and increase your fanbase which is what journalists look for when choosing music to cover.
HAVE AN E.P.K.
Along with optimizing social media pages for a professional look, you’ll also need to have an E.P.K.. An E.P.K. is like an artist’s resume. It contains all the history about the person’s career, along with current promotions and future plans. This is the information a music editor needs to create a feature about an artist. An E.P.K. is a digital file containing several documents:
- Artist bio / one sheet
- Several professional high resolution photos (always include the photographer name)
- Current press release
- Contact info and important links: social media, discography / streaming links, past media features
- Songs and album graphics
- Social media graphics
These are the basics. Some artists include the song files, video clips, and a graphically designed bio/one sheet page. Be sure to properly label all the files and include the artist’s name on each one. Organization is essential. Once the file is organized, it is shared via a read-only link to a hosting site such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
Update your E.P.K. to include any new media features and music releases. You’ll need new photos about every six months, or at least annually.
With the amount of submissions an outlet receives, you’ll want to increase your chances of getting a response by targeting the right people. The people behind the outlets are who you want to get to know.
Make a list of 10-20 media outlets you would like to appear on. Go to their website and read the articles. Watch their videos on Youtube. Pay attention to who created the content. Follow them on socials and get to know what types of music they like. There’s no point in submitting to a person who isn’t into your style of music. Keep a contacts list (such as an Excel spreadsheet) of responsive people for future reference.
When it comes to contacting media pros, always start with a personal introduction. Do not add people to mass email blast lists without their permission.
Along with the people, get to know what types of features the media outlets run. Do they have special segments for independent artists? Do they publish music reviews? Do any of the journalists have their own columns? Being in the know will give you a better idea how and when to pitch yourself for coverage.
Research their deadlines for submitting music and learn when they publish content. Timing is everything.
Get started early when planning and executing a media campaign. You should be building anticipation with both fans and the media before ever releasing music. Building connections with people takes time. Having established relationships and name familiarity ahead of time will greatly increase your chances of getting media coverage.
When pitching music to your connections, advance notice is key. One of the biggest mistakes artists and their management makes is waiting until after the release to notify the media. There are many people in line ahead of you, and it takes time to create a feature.
The other mistake they make is not sending a formal announcement addressed personally to the recipient. This is why it is important to start early and do research. A personally addressed email, along with a professional press release and E.P.K., sent ahead of the release date will greatly improve your chances of getting a response and feedback once the music comes out.
Another reason for starting early is you’ll need time to do follow ups. Busy people often need a gentle reminder. If you don’t get a response, move on to someone else. Once you have #1: Get Your Buzz Up accomplished, you’ll have a much easier time getting responses. Have patience.
START SMALL AND WORK YOUR WAY UP
Many artists and managers try to go straight for the national outlets without any previous media coverage. Start small and work your way up. This will help you gain experience.
Be realistic in your expectations. The artist’s fan base size should be comparable to the size of the outlet’s audience. An outlet with millions of viewers and listeners would expect the artist to have more of a buzz before showcasing them. Until this happens, you should focus on targeting smaller channels.
Reach out to local entertainment publications and smaller music sites. If you can’t get a main feature, try for the smaller segments. You can also try to get quotes or feedback first. Crawl before you walk. Build your press kit. Run some advertising. Then work up to bigger outlets. Don’t give up.
Get as much engagement as possible on any media coverage you receive. No matter how significant you may feel it is, all media coverage is important. You should support the outlets as much as you want to be supported. You’ll have a much better chance of getting repeat coverage.
The bottom line is, the media publishes content their readers want to see and hear. Show them you have music and a story people are already interested in. You’ll get much better results.
About the author:
Jennifer McKinnon (@msrivercity) is a media expert, international-publicist journalist / photographer, and P.R. consultant. She was an editor at OZONE Magazine and has run successful campaigns for Lil Baby, Future, 2 Chainz, Migos, Zaytoven, and many more. For more information about working with Jennifer visit www.creativegold.net.