First off, let me say that we are a happy bunch here at EarToTheGround. We do a lot of work for emerging artists at zero cost to the artist. We exist to help lovers of music and lovers of art find more of what they love. That said, once we got into this “business” we’ve come to learn a good bit about the predatory practices of the music business, especially in PR and marketing. So view this as a “what not to do” post if you want, but here are some thoughts that – as attitude-laden as they may be – come from the heart of someone who genuinely loves the music and gets just over ten thousand emails in a year (yes, the math is right).
1) If it’s a mass mailer, I’m not interested.
-A mass mailer means, to me, that the artist has somewhat of a following and potentially professional support. There’s usually all of the trimmings with that – an album release, a national tour, and a full PR rollout for the single. That might be fine for some folks, but with our niche being emerging artists, those mass mailers often get discarded. EXCEPTION: If the mass mailer is particularly relevant to the genres we cover and has a RIYL tag to one of our favorite artists. SUGGESTION: If you are a paid PR person, take the time to tailor the letter to the blog. Get to know the blog’s style and at very least the managing editor. Compare the artist with music they’ve covered. If it doesn’t fit the blog, cross them off the list. You’re not just a megaphone; you’re a cultural translator and salesperson.
2) If it’s in the wrong genre, I’m not interested.
-Listen I have been very forgiving with genres over the years. We sometimes let electronica slip in or even classical – neither of which are really our focus. But we do it because we connect with the spirit of the artist and what they’re trying to do. More often than not we have a previously-established relationship with the artist. EXCEPTION: Cross-over artists can be a real gray area. Label them correctly. SUGGESTION: If you’re going for a cross-over appeal, be upfront about it in your note to the editor. Don’t expect a yes, but give a realistic reason why you think it’s worth a shot and it will get past the inbox stage at least.
3) If it seems like you’ve never read our site, I’m not interested.
-We have a style on ETTG. It’s not just about the format and the pretty green (but I do like that green). It’s about the ambiance and the tone. It’s about a mission to help bands and music fans. It’s an ethos of something bigger than a few people with their laptops and headphones. It’s not just about free access to shows (but we like that) or free review copies of albums (dig that too), it’s about helping a band who might have 1000 fans get that number up to 1020 or 1050 because of our little contribution. That means something to us and it means something to the musicians. And for anyone who has ever found a song or an album that really got you through a rough patch or helped you celebrate a moment, it’s worth it. It will always be worth it. EXCEPTION: None. Don’t submit music to sites you don’t read. If you don’t have time or desire to follow the music industry to read music blogs, you’ll have to pay someone to do that for you. And I’m not entirely sure the people charging for that are reading blogs either. SUGGESTION: You don’t have to read the past ten years of a blog’s writing, but at least peruse your genre or look to see if they’ve covered a favorite of yours. Spend 15 minutes or so thinking, “would I like to be among this company?” If the answer is yes, write your letter about why that is. I guarantee you’ll get a listen. It’s not being a suck up; it’s being a decent human being (and a stellar businessperson).
*Bonus point: We do not have a shortage of music to cover. That’s what’s really key here; don’t just come rolling in with some project blowing up the hype train about how we HAVE to cover your work. No, we don’t. It’s our publication. Please present your art for consideration and if we’re interested we’ll let you know.