This is broad topics. First its important to know that if you’re trying to score a review in a print magazine, you need to contact them 3-4 months ahead of when you want the review to appear. Why? Print magazines work seasons ahead of time- they need to brainstorm cover stories, features, do all the “research” behind each article, send out to the printers, mail out to subscribers. It’s a long process. So don’t expect to contact a magazine and get a review in next month’s issue. This is why everyone…especially indie artists love Blogs, E-zines, and Music Sites. Sweet!
Do Your Research
First things first – make sure you’re not wasting your time. Pursue publications that cover your kind of music (i.e. don’t persue a hip-hop site if you’re a rocker). Make sure you’re checking out the music by the other artists reviewed on the site. If they have a similar style as yours, then it might be worth contacting the site editor. Check out yesterday’s blog about Googleing your favorite artist for more insight.
Do Your Research Some More
Once you establish what sites you would like to be reviewed on, fish around the site until you find a Submission Guidelines page. Guidelines are great b/c they’ll inform you about the proper protocol. Some zines like to be emailed with a link to your myspace, some like to be sent an mp3, most like to be sent a hard copy of your CD and press kit. (I’ll cover putting together a Press Kit in a future blog)
If there is no Submission Guidelines page, fish around for a contact person. If you’re on a major e-zine there are likely to be several different people you can contact. Only email one person! Emailing every single reviewr is annoying. So find the editor who you think is most appropriate and shoot him/her an email. If you can’t find the editors name, come up with a generic title…i.e. Dear So&So Magazine.
So What Should You Write to a Potential Reviewer
Keep it short, simple, and clean. Don’t try to include everything about yourself and your CD in your email. Too much information discourages people from reading all the way through. (Much like this blog. My posts are extremely long and I doubt anyone reads the whole way through. I’ll work on that). Here’s an example:
Dear So&So Magazine,
My name is [YOURNAME]. I’m a musician based out of [CITY, STATE]. I ran across [MAGAZINE NAME] today and wanted to know if you are currently accepting new music for review.
In short my music is [BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE] and can be compared to [SUGGEST A COUPLE WELL-KNOWN ARTIST THAT YOU SOUND LIKE TO GIVE REVIEWER A POINT OF REFERENCE]. My new CD [NAME OF CD] will be releasing in a few months and I’m currently working on its promotion.
I’m happy to send over a press kit and/or any additional information. I hope to hear from you.
Work Ahead of Time
If your CD is coming out in June, start contacting publications in March! Reviewers get so many submission letters and CDs in the mail…so they like to cover music while it’s fresh. The current shelf time for a book or CD is approximately 3 months after is release. After that, it dies a very quick death…unless the first 3 months have been good. Ask me how I know this! If your CD is already out, that doesn’t mean you won’t get a review. Ask and you shall receive…sometimes :)
Don’t Send CDs to “Nobody”
Always try to establish a contact at a magazine. If you are sending CD and haven’t made personal contact, there is huge likelyhood that your CD will get passed off to the secretary, the intern, or never even reach a reviewer. Period. Ther are some magazines that do request you send a CD without first contacting them. In this case…go ahead and send. I usualy dont expect to get a review since there is no personal touch.
Don’t Forget a Cover Letter!
Assuming the publication want to review your CD, make sure to include a cover letter, basically thanking them for accepting your submission. It’s just nice! And make sure your contact is visible in the letter. Here’s an example:
123 Fake Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
January 10, 2009
Dear So&So Magazine,
Please find enclose a copy of my latest project, [CD NAME]. Thank you for considering this CD for review in your publication. If I can provide any additional information just let me know.