So your album is complete and now you want to share it with the world. The only problem is how do you get people to give your album the time of day? At Blues Rock Review we get hundreds of album submissions each month. So how can you stand out in a crowded field? Here are some simple tips that will help increase your chances of getting reviewed.
Don’t ask permission
Often times artists will send us emails asking if they can submit their music for review. You don’t need permission to submit your music for review. We are a music publication, so if something is good, obviously we have an interest in sharing it with our audience. The only thing you’re doing by asking for permission is creating an unnecessary extra step. You want to make it as easy as possible for the blog or publication to review you music, so don’t create extra steps. It comes across as amateur.
Send a download link, not a streaming link
When you submit your album for review make sure to send a download link. There are several ways of doing this. Dropbox, wetransfer, and Bandcamp are popular and easy options to do this. Do not send a streaming link! Streaming links are not convenient. Someone has to sit down and listen at the computer with a streaming link. With a download link the reviewer can take the music on the go and it’s much more convenient, which leads to a better chance of being reviewed. If you’re a well known and established artist you might get by with a streaming link, but if we don’t know who you are, send a download link!
Physical copies can be nice, but a download link is quicker and easier. You can always say “Physical copies available upon request.” You worked hard on your album, spent a lot of money getting CDs produced, so don’t waste them by sending physical copies to people who aren’t even going to listen to the album.
Provide album art and band bio/press release
The download link you send to the blog or publication should include the album cover art, preferably a high resolution. If your album is great and we want to feature it in on our main page content slider, don’t rule yourself out because you didn’t provide the album cover in an adequate format.
Take your album cover very seriously! Bad presentation will hurt your chances of being reviewed. Make sure it looks professional. It sounds terrible, but if your album cover looks bad and we aren’t familiar with you it’s another reason not to review your album. A well done album cover that looks professional can give you a leg up.
Your download link should also include a band bio or press release. These are things that make it easier for the reviewer. Don’t make the reviewer have to dig for information, provide it.
Make sure your tracks are labeled!
This is one of the most frustrating things we deal with. Quite frequently artists send us a download link and we load the album into iTunes and none of the tracks are labeled. All we see is “Track 1,” “Track 2,” etc. If you aren’t a well established artist, good luck getting reviewed. With all the submissions we get there isn’t time for us to label all the tracks. Your chances of getting reviewed are ruined by a very simple and correctable mistake. Don’t make this mistake!
Make an album trailer, EPK, or music video.
When you’re a new artist or a band the publication is not familiar with you NEED to do something to stand out. A professional album trailer, EPK, or a music video is a great way to do this. You don’t have a lot of time to impress, and these type of videos can grab the attention of a publication. It also shows you are serious and professional.
In 2011, Warner Brothers released an album trailer for Gary Clark Jr.’s Bright Lights EP. This is a perfect example of an effective album trailer. At the time, Gary Clark Jr. was not well known, but I remember the feeling of watching this EP for the first time and thinking, “This guy is going to be a star, we need to cover this guy.” Four years later, he has a Grammy and his music is all over television shows, movies, and commercials. This is how you build hype, this is how you make someone pay attention.
Don’t submit your album on a weekend
If you want to increase your odds of being reviewed don’t submit your album on the weekend. Avoid Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In a general work week, most people are checked out by Friday afternoon. It’s the way of the world as people are less productive. You don’t want be at the bottom of a bunch of submissions over the weekend. People play catch up on Monday. Pick a week day, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday probably work best.
Make an effective pitch
As much as you might feel compelled to tell the publication your submitting to every little detail about the band, don’t. Stick to a few brief, key bullet points.
A very effective technique I have seen publicists use is RIYL, which means “Review If You Like.” You are the company you keep. For example, you could say RIYL: The Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr., etc. Those are well known artists and that lets people know what they can expect. If it’s more of a niche blog that you’re submitting to, find out who they’ve given good reviews to and if your sound is similar, mention those artists. At Blues Rock Review we pride ourselves on discovering emerging talent, so if you mention an artist that perhaps isn’t a household name but is an artist we’ve covered and reviewed favorably you will probably grab our attention.
A few press quotes if you have them can be helpful. Again, you’re trying to provide credibility and give people a reason to check you out, but avoid your life story. Tell us who you are, what your sound is like, give us a download link, and a video or track to hear.
Follow up with patience and persistence
Once you’ve submitted your album it’s time to play the waiting game. Be patient! Getting reviewed takes time, especially if its a bigger blog or publication. Established artists will leap to the top of the pile and beat a new artist in the review queue. It generally will take weeks or even months to be reviewed. Follow up! A good time to wait is two weeks before sending a follow up. If you don’t hear back, wait another two weeks to follow up again. Persistence can help. Sometimes your submission will simply be missed. It happens, which is why following up is important. At the same time it’s a balancing act. Don’t send a follow up email every week. After a while it becomes annoying. I can assure you, emails are being received. If you poke and prod too much you can hurt your chances, so while it’s important to follow up, patience is key.
A numbers game
Finally, getting your album reviewed is a numbers game. Don’t take it personal if your album doesn’t get reviewed. It could be due to many of the reasons listed above. The more blogs/publications you submit to the better your odds. There are a lot of very talented artists out there struggling to get heard. Submit to as many places you can and good luck!
– Pete Francis
Artists, bands, labels, and publicists can submit their music to Blues Rock Review by sending a download link to email@example.com.