Promotional Outreach and Building Media Relationships

You’ve worked hard recording your album or planning your tour, and now it’s time to tell the world about it. We know radio, newspapers, music blogs, and magazines are good channels to reach your audience, but how do you initiate those media relationships? In this article, we’ll discuss the steps for targeting media and building your own press release to effectively get the word out about your music.

Do Your Research

Radio stations, blogs, and music periodicals are typically focused on just a handful of specific audiences or music genres. Building media relationships starts with meticulous research to find the various outlets which suit the genre of music that you produce and the audience you intend to reach. That said, investing in a notebook to record the information pertaining to each organization is a good idea.

A good first step with radio is an online directory of stations. There you can filter by location and genre, but when you factor in the sheer number of stations in the country, you will likely be running into the hundreds. At this stage, it’s helpful to decide who it is you want to reach.

One method to hone your target stations is to draw a circle on a map around your home market and start from there, working out from the center. Alternately, you could pick a sampling of stations from each state to garner some degree of representation throughout the country. Such a wide net may seem ambitious, but if you are going on tour, targeting the locations to which you will be traveling is a smart strategy for generating interest ahead of each show.

In your notebook, write down the name of each radio station, print media source, or blog, and under that include their mailing and email addresses, and the name of the program director or editor. This is the person who decides what will be played or featured on their media channel. It can also be helpful to contact a show host or writer directly if their particular style or tastes compliment your work.

Prepare Your Materials

There is a standard set of up-to-date materials every artist should have on hand. These are common for a venue, booker or talent buyer, or media outlet to request from you for bill curation and promotion. When they do, they’ll generally ask for 1 of 2 typical formats, a press kit sometimes called a one-sheet or a press release. These are essentially short and long-form versions of the same document containing details about your project.

Brainstorm notable places your band has played, previous press you’ve gotten, any exceptional accomplishments, bills you’ve shared with national acts, and reviews you can quote. Samples are available online to help guide your design, though you basically want a high-resolution photo, the name of your tour or album, stand-out single, release date, details of your local show if applicable, a list of questions an interviewer can ask you, and a bio for your band or blurb about your record or song.

You can use the same basic information from your one-sheet to help you create a press release to send to newspapers and music bloggers. Your press release will be written in paragraph form, with your first paragraph detailing the who, what, where, when, how, why, and how of your band before launching into your bio and noteworthy milestones. Include contact information, where listeners can purchase your music, social media accounts, your website, and upcoming projects.

Open Communication

Address a short email introducing yourself and briefly describing your band and upcoming project to the appropriate contact with the press release beneath it, and enclose the one-sheet as an attachment.  Be professional, but use a warm tone, remember your contact is a person, not a machine. Include a professional email signature, and if possible, send the email from your band’s website domain email address. Ideally, all materials should be sent out three months prior to your release to give ample time to generate interest and time to follow up with your contacts.

If you’re sending a CD to a radio station ahead of your release, it need only be packaged in a simple white sleeve, as this is how record labels and other professionals send music. The sleeve should have the tracks listed, with the stand-out single denoted, band name, PRO, website, and contact info. If you still have room, you can include a blurb, and some musical acts will print this on a sticker that is affixed to the front of the sleeve. Create an attractive letterhead with your logo or project name and a short letter in a standard business format which states who you are and what your project is about, and be sure to thank the station’s program director for his or her time. Enclose your disc, a cover letter, one sheet, concert tickets, and other extras in a manila envelope or a small box addressed to the program director, radio show host, or music magazine contact.

Follow Through

The next steps are important. Gaining media traction after all that work can feel like the end of it, mission accomplished, but dropping the ball there can land you in a place worse than where you started! A relationship with a media outlet should not be taken lightly, and it should be your goal to build on it with each interaction. A blog needs readers, a radio show needs listeners, a print publication needs subscribers. That’s what you as an artist have to offer. When your project receives a nod from the media, give a nod back. Acknowledging the favor to your fans draws more attention to them as a source for related content. Neglecting to reciprocate could end up gaining a less favorable reputation for yourself, and the media outlet may be less enthused about promoting your work.

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