How To Get Coverage In A Music Magazine

If you are a musician, chances are you have something to promote – whether it is a new track, video, EP, CD, or tour. You work hard to make a quality recording or video, and now you want to show it to the world. Easy, right? Not so fast, cowboy. Usually what happens at this point is that you open your laptop, compose an email with a link to your finished product, and hit send, sending it out to about 4,000 different music bloggers, journalists, and / or radio stations. This is not going to work in your favor. Let’s back it up a little.

As the owner of an online music magazine, I can just about say that I’ve seen it all when it comes to email pitches. There are the good, the bad, and…. oh boy… the ugly. This article was born out of a really ugly email that I received just a few weeks ago from an artist looking to get some coverage for his new track. I reached out to a few peers, and also some musicians, to see if they had any advice or questions that could be addressed. Now, I don’t know it all, but I can certainly offer a few tips to up and coming musicians, when it comes to trying to land some coverage on a music magazine.

It is important to note right up front that online music magazines likely receive hundreds (YES, HUNDREDS) of email pitches every day, and it is virtually impossible to turn each email into content on their website. Simply put, many pitches will be passed on, and if you send a poor and UGLY pitch, its possible your email will hit the trash can almost immediately. However, if you follow some of these steps outlined below, you’re one step closer to getting coverage in an online magazine.

#1 – Know your audience

This one should be easy, right? If you’re a rap artist, and you are reaching out to a website that generally promotes indie rock, then chances are you won’t have luck with getting a feature. Now, there are many blogs / websites out there that cover an array of genres, but you have to do your homework. Spend some time reading the content of the websites you want to be featured on, and see what their style is. You might be looking to be featured on a site that doesn’t have the audience you’re looking to reach. That’s pretty counter-productive.

#2 – Build a relationship

Oh my. This one is very important, and cannot be completely covered in this article. I will just touch upon a few things, here. You want to be covered in a particular outlet, but you’re a complete stranger to the writers and the editor of the site. What will make you get a chance to be covered on their site?

You know that old adage – flattery will get you everywhere? Well, it can translate over to the music world, too. Not insincere flattery, mind you, but music writers and journalists will take notice if you are following them, engaging with them, sharing their content, etc.

You are more likely to get a second glance if you are familiar to the outlet. The editor may take a second look at your music and consider sharing it if they know that you’re a true fan of what they do, as well.

Note – just because you have a relationship with a writer or editor, this does not guarantee coverage. There are times when there are just not enough slots available to squeeze your music in, or they just might not like what you’ve sent them. Don’t be disheartened. Try again with your next release.

#3 – Follow the submission guidelines

Ok, you’ve completed step one – you’ve done some research on blogs and websites that cover music. Even better, they cover the type of music you make! You’ve built up a relationship with the outlet you are trying to land coverage on. That’s great! Now what? Well, now you want to get on over to the website and find out their guidelines for submitting music. Some do not want any attachments, some want hi-res photos, some want streaming music only, and some want green eggs & ham. Everyone is different, and every submission guideline is different.

They took the time to outline what they need to do their job, so you need to take the time to follow those guidelines when submitting your work to them.

“Always keep your pitch brief, but full of pertinent information. Who you are, where you’re from, who you sound like, and what you want (review, news post, etc). Include a link to stream your music and never ever send an email with attachments.” – Angela Mastrogiacomo, Infectious Magazine / Muddy Paw PR

“One thing I would recommend is a hi-res image. You want to make it as easy as possible for the blogger. We are busy folks who don’t have time to go searching for your stuff.” – Keith Pro, Indie Music Guru

I do think that one thing almost all outlets agree on is how they want to consume your music. If they are going to share it on their site, then it has to be streaming. Sites such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud are excellent for this. This also makes it easier on the reader when they are visiting the site you are looking to get coverage on. No one wants to download a .wav or .mp3 in order to listen to your three minute song. Throw it up on a website for all to stream! I understand you want to make money off of your music, but if you want it to be shared, there has to be a happy medium.

#4 – Personalize your request

“Dear Music Lover,” “Dear Editor,” “Hey, guys!,” “Sorry for the email blast!,” “Hey, [name of site],” or “Hey Bob,” when your name is NOT Bob – these are all things that make editors and writers cringe. None of these work! This just shows the writers that you don’t give a crap about them. Take the time to find out who the person is that runs the site, or what the writers name is that you’re reaching out to. It’s not that hard. Also, it will go a long way. Or at least it will go further than “Hey, dude!”

Side note – keep your request professional. No need for a slew of f-bombs when looking for coverage. You don’t know how they will be received by the person reading your email. Would you curse in a job interview? Probably not. So, please don’t curse in your email looking for coverage in a music magazine. It’s safe to say it won’t be received well.

“Personalization is key. If you don’t take the time to get to know the blog and the writer that you’re approaching, why should they bother getting to know your music?” – Angela Mastrogiacomo, Infectious Magazine / Muddy Paw PR

“For radio and digital media (including playlist makers), there are a few absolutes that will get your email deleted straight away. One is BCC-ing the recipient (that’s an indication that you don’t know what you’re doing). Also, attaching any files to your email will get it deleted and you possibly marked as a spammer.” – D Grant Smith, The Growth Farmer 

#5 – Be patient

Ok, you’ve done it! You’ve followed all the steps lined out above, and your email has been sent. Now what? Have a bit of patience. Give them at least a week to respond. Remember, they have hundreds of emails to respond to. If you email them on a Monday, don’t email them on Tuesday to see if they’ve read your email. Also, sending an email that starts out “I know you must get A LOT of emails, but….” – wait… you know I get a lot of emails, but now you have just added another one on top of the pile 24 hours after you sent the first one? How is that helping?

A little patience goes a long way. I know that I lose a lot of emails in the inbox abyss, but usually once a week I will go through everything that has come in over the past few days, and if I land on yours and it’s picture perfect based on my tips above, then chances are I’m listening to what you have to say. If your music is good, then there’s a good chance you’re getting coverage on my site. Hopefully this same scenario is happening with all of the other outlets you’ve reached out to, but if it’s not… it’s ok. Try again when you release another track or video.

#6 – Sharing is caring

You’ve successfully gotten some exposure and coverage on your favorite music magazine! Congratulations! Now, one of the most important steps is to reciprocate! First, get on over and thank the outlet. Just like patience and flattery, a simple thank you goes a long way.

Next, jump on all of your social networks and SHARE the content with your followers! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, your website… share share share. We love that sort of thing. We notice when you do, and we notice when you don’t!

“When you do get coverage, don’t forget to promote it and TAG the outlet that featured you. Not only is it common courtesy, it’s part of building relationships.” – Angela Mastrogiacomo, Infectious Magazine / Muddy Paw PR

Thank you to Angela, D Grant, and Keith for offering up some of their tips for this article. We hope that you find some of these tips useful the next time you release new music. We look forward to hearing your music, and to working with you in the future!

Kelly Murphy
Owner, writer, and editor of Indie Minded; Social Media Marketing & Relationship Consulting via Indie Minded Media; Be sure to give me a follow on Twitter @IndieMurphy or @IndieMindedMedia