[Sarcastically] Pictured: Yasmin Damoui (OTW editor), Maxamillion Polo (OTW lead writer)
Proudly introducing our newest recurring series, "Industry Infiltration," here to provide insider tips on various facets of the music industry. For the inaugural advice piece, we figured it'd make sense to tackle one of the most relevant questions we're asked on a daily basis: "What is the best way to pitch my music?"
After years of writing for various blogs, we've gathered a handy guide of best practices that publicists, managers, labels, agents, and artists can employ to ensure that their music gets covered. Beyond the baseline requirement, which is [of course] presenting original and high-quality music, read below for our 10 essential rules of pitching.
1. Always email.
Ten times out of ten, the most professional, direct, and appropriate route to presenting your case is simply via email - not Facebook message, Instagram DM, Twitter reply, or lengthy voicemail. All professional businesses operate and execute their services using email, so what makes music blogs any different? No one likes getting hit up on their home line, but if there's something you really want to get in front of us, always feel free to hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Know your audience.
The days of sending a mass and generic email blast to every journalist in your rolodex are long gone. If you're pitching Ones To Watch, then you should already be well-aware that all of our content is centered around up & coming artists - that is, artists who are new, original, and buzzy (taking into a consideration a variety of factors such as social media following, streaming numbers, and touring history). While these factors are of course subjective and there are always exceptions, we trust that you can make a proper judgment call.
When formulating the content of your pitch, remember that we are sifting through hundreds of pitches per day - the less words, the better. Carefully pick only the most important and enticing points, which typically include streaming links, social media links, and a few sentences or bullet points that highlight top accomplishments. Are you looking for a premiere? Want to play a showcase? General music coverage? A tour diary? Just someone I should be keeping on my radar? Be clear and concise about what you want.
4. Include social media links.
Piggy-backing on our "simpler is better" rule, it is very important to include social media links in artist pitches. While we hate to admit it, an artist's social following is a very significant factor in today's day and age. Considering the fact that we're going to have to look it up anyways, making our lives easier may lead to higher inclination to support your artist.
5. Give us enough lead time.
Time is precious, and time is required to produce an impactful writeup. While scheduling varies and on rare occasions, it is possible to confirm an exclusive premiere just the day prior, the general rule of thumb is: the more lead time, the better.
6. Spell our names right.
This may seem like a given, but you'd be surprised. Considering you went through the effort to dig up our contact info, and assuming you've read previous articles that we've written, it's safe to assume that you can call us by the proper names. Beyond that, make sure that everything you are hoping to showcase is indeed present and accurate.
7. If possible, give us the chance to see you or your client's music live.
There is so much great music out there in the world that it often is hard to choose where to allocate one's time. Yet, there's something magical imbued in a live performance, watching how an artist affects the crowd around them. We're much more likely to want to cover or interview an artist if we have an understanding of them in an actual context, outside of an mp3 or wav file.
8. Be excited about what you are pitching.
This does not mean sending us an email with a subject line consisting entirely of exclamation marks or emojis. Excitement is contagious. It's easy to tell if you are genuinely passionate and believe in what you have, and we of course want to share in this passion with you. After all, if you don't care, why would we?
9. Don't take it personally.
As I write this, I am trying my best not to stare at an inbox with over 500 unopened emails. The first thing that I cannot stress enough is that if I do not cover your music, your client's music, or even reply back to an email, it is not because the music is awful or anything of the sort. So, even though I would genuinely love to take the time to properly sit with and cover everything, it unfortunately is not feasible.
10. Put a face to the name.
You may not always have the opportunity to directly showcase your music, but as a person what you can do is make yourself known. Whether this be coming out to one of our showcases and introducing yourself directly, inviting us out for coffee, or even just saying hi for the sake of saying hi. It really makes your email stand out when it comes from "Mark who wore that flamingo print shirt and fell in the pool" rather than Joe Schmoe.
11. Say thank you.
If we do cover your music, a simple thank you goes a long way. This can be a number of things. A retweet, sharing our article on your socials, literally just saying thank you. Writing is a process one undertakes because they love it in some form of another, and nothing is worse than truly putting your heart and soul into a piece only for whoever requested it to vanish into thin air. We like supporting artists who appreciate the support.
12. Never give up…but don't follow up too quickly.
While this may sound like a generic fortune cookie advice, it is one of most clear-cut pieces of advices you can receive and take to heart in the music industry. You never know when or why something finally might stick. After sending you or your client's music, feel free to follow-up (within reason). Things get lost in mountains of e-mails or a particularly busy day. With that said, please wait at least 3 business days to follow up – no one likes a naggy publicist.