The process of attaining a review for a live performance or an album release is one that often stumps DIY musicians. Between the plethora of online and print publications and the pressure to have their music publically promoted, some emerging artists tend to opt away from chasing any real media attention. Without an understanding of how they are organised, it can be difficult to even know where to begin when trying to get a review published in one of your favourite local mags or online publications. Furthermore, a publication is unlikely to follow through unless they are provided with the correct information and are intrigued by your request. Luckily, here at Mixdown we are well versed in the art of wrangling in a review.
Step 1: Collect All Of The Necessary Information
Before you can even think about sending off a review request to a media platform, you must first collect all of the crucial information.
Start with the basics: who, what, when and where. To attain either a gig and album review, you will need to tell each publication who you are, what you are doing, when it is happening, where it is happening (or when the album will be released and who it is being released by in the case of an album review) and what makes it remarkable. So before you do anything else, figure out the answers to the 4 W’s.
From there, you’ll need to curate a mini press kit. A press release, biography and a few hi-res press images (both vertical and horizontal) will enable you to communicate to your chosen publications in an efficient and professional manner. If you’re a bit hazy on the details, check out our ‘Perfect Press Package’ column.
For an album review you’ll need a private streaming or download link to the unreleased album. Also, for those of you that are in a band with multiple members, you will need to decide between yourselves who the ‘go-to’ contact is going to be.
Step 2: Create A Tailored Mailing List
Now you’ve got all of your information together, you need to decide who you’re going to share it with. While it’s easy enough to send out an email to as many publications as you can find in your area, this approach is not going to effective, or timely for that matter.
Instead, you need to create a tailored mailing list. You’ll want to identify which local street press, newspapers, online publications and blogs are suited to your specific music style, location and level of success. Let’s be real, if you’re a virtual newbie on the scene, it’s highly unlikely Rolling Stone Australia are going to be reviewing your release. However, there are countless publications that could be more than willing to jump on board.
Once you’ve decided on at least ten different options, you need to carefully select your contact point. Between the publications website and social media platforms, you should be able to obtain a contact address that’s more tailored than the generic ‘enquiries’ address. Ultimately, emailing an editor, online editor or specific writer is the way to go.
As well as your own research, never underestimate the power of those around you. If you’re a typical muso there are sure to be plenty of other music-lovers and musicians in your life. It’s likely that if you can’t source the perfect contact yourself, someone you know will be able to.
Once you’ve got all of your email addresses – use a free and easy platform like Mail Chimp to create your mailing list.
Step 3: Contact A Variety Of Relevant Media Platforms
It’s finally time to spread the news about your gig or album release and to ever so coolly ask them to review. When it comes to this step we have a few hints and tips that will help you to maximise your potential.
Be aware of each publications allotted lead-time. For a ‘glossy’ (bi-monthly or monthly) magazine, you will need to be in contact about an album review at least two to three months in advance and the album should be set for release throughout that particular month. Whereas the lead-time for a weekly street press or online publication can be as little as three to four weeks.
- Be clear and concise in your pitch email. Introduce yourself, your music and tell them about your upcoming venture.
- Attach all the relevant press info and include links to your music and music videos. For an album review, include a private streaming and download link to the unreleased release.
- You should explicitly request to have the gig or album covered, but keep it casual. The aim is to keep the conversation open so that even if a review doesn’t go ahead, you’ve made yourself another contact in the meantime.
- Tailor each introduction to the individual you are contacting. The last thing anyone wants to receive is a generic email. Show them that you’ve chosen them for a specific reason and that you are a supporter of their work.
- Include any relevant quotes from previous reviews of other releases or live shows.
- Make sure your subject line details what you are trying to achieve. For e.g. ‘Phoebe Robertson – Debut Album Review Request’. Or get a bit creative and use an eye-catching statement or question.
Step 4: Continue To Follow It Up
In the case that a particular publication does not contact you in the weeks before your release or show, it’s time to get back in contact.
The number one rule here is don’t be a nag – one follow up email is enough guys. All that is required is a reminder of who you are, your previous email and its contents. Reiterate the review request, provide the necessary information and keep your fingers crossed that you will get a reply. But do not – I repeat do not –keep bugging a publication that has chosen not to pick up your pitch. When it comes to the cold email approach, sometimes it’s just best to admit defeat than burn bridges that could be great for future use.
Step 5: Communicate With Your Online Audience
If your review request does get granted and your album or live performance ends up published on a certain publication, you should spread the good news.
By sharing the review with your followers on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you are not only supporting your own work, you are also supporting that of the reviewer and therefore, the publication as a whole. Make sure to tag the publication to ensure they see it. Ultimately, by showcasing reviews on each your pages you are virtually saying thank-you to the publication and keeping the doors open for your next venture.
Want to test out the 5 C’s on us? Feel free to request reviews with Mixdown and have your album or live show covered here on our official website.