Thursday, June 24, 2010

How to write a press release (and create buzz for your band)

Someone asked me about this awhile back, and I realized I'd need an entire post to cover it. Here it goes.

So you've got a band, and you've released an album (or are about to release an EP, or something like that). Maybe you play live shows, or maybe you're running a bedroom band. But whatever you do, you're going to want attention. (Don't we all?) If you don't have the money to pay for a street marketing team yet, you can still get the word out about your music, by writing a press release.

Press releases might sound intimidating, but they make the world of journalism go round. Most of reporting is digging for facts and trying to find interesting stories and calling and e-mailing people endlessly to confirm tiny little details. So it's a breath of fresh air when someone contacts us and says, "I have an interesting story and I've done all the basic legwork--do you want it?" Music blogs absolutely want these.

But first, some questions to ask yourself:

Am I timely? Music blogs don't want to cover an album that's two months old. Is your release date coming up? Do you have shows coming up soon? Timeliness will matter.

Do I have something to offer? A free press copy of an EP, an MP3 you're willing to share with the world, a great-looking music video--those will launch you way ahead of the rest of the competition.

Is this the right blog for me? Most music blogs profess to be "indie blogs," but from just a few posts it's clear they have specific preferences for music. Take time to read many of them and choose which ones fit your project.

(Also: local blogs and newspapers that are dedicated to covering specific cities will be more accommodating to covering a local band, so explore that angle.)

What am I looking for? Getting a positive review in a music blog won't shoot you to Lady Gaga status. In fact, it may not even net you any sales. It will, however, get your name out there, maybe win you some fans, and make it more likely that blogs will write about you in the future. 

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With all that in mind, here's how to write the press release. Newspapers have a specific format, but with the arrival e-mail and links, some flexibility is allowed for music blogs. However, the following would be acceptable to have:

- a short greeting
- your band's name and what you're promoting (album, EP, etc)
- what your hook is (New video released? Are you giving something away for free? Offering music blogs a press copy of the album for review?)
- a short bio and link to your band's web site
- links to sample songs, if any (and if you can offer them for download, say "Approved for posting.")
- links to promo photos and any new tour dates
- an offer for interviews, if you want to go that route

Some bands I know also have a dedicated e-mail for promotions/talking with fans, so their name shows up whenever they send a message. It's a nice touch.

Sample:
New music and free downloads from The Krebs Cycle
Hey, I hope you're having a great summer! I'm pleased to announce that my band, The Krebs Cycle, is releasing a new album, Enzymes, on July 1.
The Krebs Cycle formed in 2009 in Cytoplasm, NY, and plays indie rock. Our web site is [link], and we are playing a release show at the Anaerobic Theater on June 30. Our album will be available on iTunes and Amazon.com. Press copies and interview opportunities are available.
Simple, huh? Now write up something similar, put that in an e-mail and send it to music blogs that 1) take submissions for review, 2) review the same type of music you play. If you've hit the right targets and you're good, some of the music blogs will do a post on you. For some places to get started, check out the list of music blogs on the right panel. By the way, Paisley Sound also takes submissions of indie rock music.

Let me know in the comments if this guide was helpful.

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