Category Archives: Music Blog

How To Approach Music Journalists (And Get Online Coverage For Free)

All unsigned artists are looking for the same thing from music journalists – more coverage online. Whether that be to help drive ticket sales for their shows, sell albums and EPs or just gain more streams of their music online, a few lines from an influential publication or blogger can help send them in the right direction.

With the printed music press being somewhat dwarfed by online publications, bloggers and even social media, the days of sending off demos to record labels and music magazines and waiting to be signed or covered are long gone (and many would say that they never even really existed).

Artists in 2017 need to utilise a whole different skill set to get coverage for their musical projects online. Whilst larger sites undoubtedly carry a lot more Klout online and a link from their site to yours can do great things for your search visibility in Google and the like, it is important to build yourself from the ground up. In truth, a lot of popular publications will look at your social following and if they don’t think you already have an audience, they may not even consider mentioning you, even if you are the next Hendrix or The Beatles.

This post won’t deal with building an audience, as that is a massive project and even the basics would take a great many posts to get to grips with. Instead, it will give you 6 simple questions to ask yourself before sending out that email to music journalists to help you get in the writers’ good books and maximise your chance of gaining coverage.

What To Ask Before Approaching Music Journalists

Do they cover your genre?

The first thing to ask yourself before sending an email to anybody is “does the writer or publication cover my genre?” If the answer is no, find somebody who does. There is nothing more frustrating to music journalists than receiving unsolicited emails from bands that you have never heard of and whose genre that doesn’t fit in with your publication or website. If you only write about metal bands, you will likely not be interested in the next Johnny Cash. A little bit of research will save you a lot of time and give you a higher success rate.

Summary: Only contact writers who are likely to cover the type of music that you make.

Where are they based?

A lot of publications such as MOJO, Q Magazine and NME cover national music news, including festivals, album releases and other wider musical news. There are also national publications that only focus on a particular genre, such as Kerrang!. You will then get location-based publications, such as BN1 Magazine and Brighton’s Finest, which tend to only cover news in the local and surrounding areas.

A lot of local music bloggers also tend to cover artists who are performing in their local area and who are from their local/surrounding area. I fall into this category myself, and whilst I do some work reviewing festivals and artists nationally – e.g. Bill Laurence at The Glee Club, Birmingham – I generally spend about 90% of my time covering artists who are performing in and around Brighton.

Summary: Only contact publications that cover the geographical area that you want to target.

What do they do best?

Just like dating, wooing the press to cover your band or act is a game that requires patience, practice and a reasonable amount of online stalking. When approaching a music journalist, make sure that you know a bit about them, rather than giving a generic ‘we love your blog’ and hoping that their ego will persuade them to give you the time of day. Find out what types of content they do and see how that can help you. Do they specialise in reviews, interviews, gig previews or album reviews. Each website has its place in promoting your music, with its audience that you hope will take an interest in you. Most publications will probably only cover you once, unless they become real fans, so timing is key. Don’t approach a reputable live reviewer if you only have 3 tracks and no shows lined up. It’s a good idea to keep a spreadsheet with all of the local publications, their specialisms and contact details of the writers.

DOWNLOAD My Music PR Database TEMPLATE

Summary: Find out what type of content websites like to produce and tailor your request to meet this.

Do you know them?

As you can imagine, even smaller blogs and websites are inundated with bands and solo artists who think that they deserve the audience of the press. The best thing you can do is find a way to bridge the gap between yourself and them – and a good way to do that is through your network of other local bands. If you know somebody that has recently been covered by a publication that you are looking into, ask them how they got coverage from them.

If nothing else, don’t be afraid to name-drop in an email. Whether it’s a local act that you often play alongside,  plays the same genre as your music, or your friend’s band that you know they’ve written about, the writer is going to be much more interested in you if they feel like they know you (even through a friend of a friend) so make it a bit more personal.

Summary: Find a link to the writer, ideally in their previous work, to get them interested in you.


Do I Need A Press Release?

I don’t know how other music journos feel about press releases, but personally, I hate them. While some larger publications may copy and paste them into their news section, from an SEO point of view this is bad news for the website and the artist, so it is something that I don’t do. The problem that I have with most press releases is that they are written like a new story and it takes a lot more work to turn them into something original than something a lot more stripped back.

The bare bones of a what you should send a music journalist are;

Band name, genre, line-up and home-town/based in

Latest release – release date, title, bit about the release, where available, link to video/audio

Next gig/tour – link to full tour dates on website, mention local dates and link to Facebook event for local date if available

Social Media Links – only up-to-date profiles please

Link to high-quality images to use (do not attach to the email)

EXAMPLE INFO:

Tom Sayer (singer-songwriter) from Brighton

Latest release: Remember Us (July 2017), written about the characters from The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Listen on Soundcloud

Next gig: Open Mic at The Greyhound on Thursday 17th August 2017

Social media: Twitter: @tomsayeruk SoundCloud: @tomsayeruk Facebook: @tomsayersingersongwriter 

Images available on tomsayer.co.uk/blog

Summary: Don’t feel like you need a lengthy press release. Keep things simple, intriguing and easy for the writers.

What makes it news?

The problem that I have with most press releases is that they are written like a news story and it takes a lot more work to turn them into something original than something a lot more stripped back. By their nature, press releases are blanket statements written to give the facts to multiple writers in hope that they will cover the story, but in general because they are so broad, they cannot cover the local details that might make the story interesting for you and your website.

For example, a band performing a UK tour and having a show in Brighton might not be a real scoop to your publication, but if the band haven’t played in Brighton in 10 years and the venue has just been refurbished following a council grant, then that is something newsworthy. It’s all about how you present that information to the writer.

Try to think of it from the other side. How is a press release stating that “BAND NAME is performing at VENUE NAME on DATE” or “SINGER NAME releases NEW ALBUM NAME” interesting?

Summary: Turn what you’ve done into a unique story and it will be much easier to gain coverage.

Approaching Music Journalists: A Summary

Save yourself a lot of time and effort by only approaching the writers and publications that are likely to have an interest in what you have to offer. The scatter gun approach will only end up in you being blacklisted by the press. Remember that writers are human too so be polite, make it easy for them by giving them a good story and then hopefully you’ll make some good contacts to help your band on their way to stardom.

RELATED READ – HOW TO WRITE A MUSIC BLOG

What’s On Brighton May 2016 – Tom Sayer

Welcome to this month’s live entertainment guide What’s On Brighton May 2016 featuring 3 metropolitan Festivals – Brighton Festival (7-29 May), Brighton Fringe (6 May – 5 June) and The Great Escape (19-21 May) – and much more besides. If you’re not one to go out to gigs, theatre, comedy and the like, then this month is the perfect opportunity to see some of the finest performers, musicians and artists from around the world showcasing their wares in our humble city. I will go into more detail with them as the month goes on and my show previews begin to surface. So for now, it’s business as usual with my monthly what’s on live entertainment and music guide for Brighton for May 2016.

What’s On Brighton May 2016

whats-on-brighton-may-2016-adam-buxtonLive at the Theatre Royal with Adam Buxton

Invisible Dot Promotions – Sun 1st May – 7:45pm
The Theatre Royal – Tickets £22.90 – £32.90 +b.f – BUY TICKETS

Many of you will have no doubt heard of Adam Buxton through the same way that I did – his YouTube hit series BUG, where Adam would trawl through the internet for the best comments on music videos and rip them to shreds with a clever deadpan delivery. His comedy comes not only from his delivery but his great choice of content, which resonates with the average internet user – and some would say the more time you spend online, the funnier BUG becomes. Fast forward a few years and Adam Buxton has moved on from BUG – I recently saw him on 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown which was also hilarious.

In a similar format to the Live at the Apollo comedy nights, Live at Theatre Royal features a number of other comedians alongside Adam Buxton including Edinburgh Comedy Award winner 2015 Sam Simmons, mischievous observations from Dane Baptiste and comedy pop star Mae Martin MC for what promises to be a memorable night of comedy!

For those who’ve not heard of Adam Buxton, below is an episode of BUG to give you an idea what may be in store for the show.

adam-buxton.co.uk
@AdamBuxton

whats-on-brighton-2016-ed-sansom-ep-launchEdward Sansom EP Launch

  Facebook Event – Tue 3rd May – 7:30pm
The Hope & Ruin – FREE ENTRY

Local singer-songwriter Ed Sansom is releasing his long-awaited debut EP, The Talk at this FREE EP Launch at The Hope & Ruin. Moving from being a solo artist with a loop pedal to enlisting a full backing band, Ed’s music has taken a step away from singer-songwriter towards a fully-formed frontman for his own band and I look forward to hearing them in force at the show, having only seen Ed playing solo before.

You can listen to the EP on Spotify and it’s available to buy online from iTunes for just £2.99. Support comes from some great emerging local talents, Megan Lara Mae who will be playing a full band set and Sam Jordan, ahead of his own EP launch at The Joker on Friday 6th May.

www.facebook.com/EdwardSansomMusic
@ZedRansom

whats-on-brighton-may-2016-time-for-tTime For T

Facebook Event – Mon 9th May – 8pm
The Prince Albert – Tickets £5 adv + bf, £7 otd – BUY TICKETS

After seeing Tiago performing a solo set, in support of Basia Bulat last month at the Hope & Ruin, I’m thrilled to see that Time For T will be back performing in Brighton as part of their May tour – and not just once, also performing at Marwoods on 21st May as part of the Alternative Great Escape Festival. Which vocals off the scale and impressive guitar licks to fill in, Tiago is very comfortable in his own skin when performing solo and takes it to another level when playing with the full band. Tiago’s solo EP released last month and is available to buy now – you can get a cheeky preview of it on Soundcloud too. Head on down for what will undoubtedly be a busy one at the pint-sized Prince Albert.

Support comes from regular gig companions Normanton Street and Little t.

www.timefortmusic.com/
@timefortband

What's On Brighton March 2016 - FoxesFoxes (RESCHEDULED FROM MARCH 8TH)

 One Inch Badge
Wed 11th May – 7:30pm
Concorde II – Tickets £16- BUY TICKETS

Following a number of sell-out performances in Brighton, including at the Concorde II in October 2015, Louisa Rose Allen (better known as the artist Foxes) is returning to Brighton to showcase her new album, All I Need, which released on 5th February this year. With just shy of 300,000 YouTube followers, I imagine the last few tickets will sell out quickly so don’t hang around!

www.iamfoxes.com
@iamfoxes

whats-on-brighton-may-2016-9Bach9Bach

DHP Presents – Sun 15th May – 7pm
Brighton Komedia – £14 – BUY TICKETS

Welsh language folk music group 9Bach is returning to Brighton this month, fresh from the release of their latest album Anian – which translates roughly as temperament, nature or instinct (I am sure this will be clarified at the gig). Their previous 2014 album Tincian won Best Album at the BBC Folk Music Awards 2015, so the bar is set pretty high with the follow up, and judging by the music reviews that I’ve seen of it so far, it does not disappoint at all.

Whilst listening to music in a language other than your own can be challenging at times, you appreciate the melody, intonation and feeling of the songs more without having to make out the lyrics, something that I usually find takes dominance when listening to folk songs. 9Bach’s performance last year was intimate, intricate and engaging and left you with a sweetness in your ears in the way that a lollipop leaves its residue in your mouth long after you’ve finished it.

Read my review of Tincian 

9Bach return with the same support as their last Brighton show , Scottish duo Twelfth Day, who are well worth arriving early for!

www.9bach.com/
@9bach

If you have any gig suggestions for next month, please drop me a line on tom@tomsayer.co.uk

What’s On Brighton April 2016 – Tom Sayer

Welcome to this month’s live music Brighton What’s On Guide – featuring two EP launches, the return of a Canadian folk favourite of mine and much more.

Before we begin, I’ve created a playlist for you to sample the artists coming to Brighton this month – it’s great listening whilst you’re at work. The playlist is just under an hour and has some great new music for your ears. I hope that you enjoy it!

What’s On Brighton April 2016

What's On Brighton April 2016 - FoxesGood Rockin Tonight with Si Cranstoun

 Terry Dash Music – Fri 8th April – 7:45pm
The Old Market, Hove – Tickets £17/16 concessions – BUY TICKETS

Fancy a night of something a little different? Then head down to The Old Market in Hove for ‘Good Rockin Tonight’, the latest show from doo-wop crooner Si Cranstoun. Combining influences from many of the greats from Northern Soul and Motown, Si has been likened to Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson – certainly not something that you hear every day!

Complete with a 6-piece live band, Good Rockin Tonight promises to be a night where you won’t be sitting down quietly and politely clapping between tracks. With his overpowering vintage vibes and contemporary R&B edge, Si Cranstoun will start your weekend with an energetic bang that will leave you on a high until Monday morning. Check out his track Dance For Evermore below and buy your tickets from the link above from The Old Market.

www.terrydash.co.uk
@SiCranstoun

What's On Brighton April 2016 - Tom SayerGiorgia-May EP Launch

 QM Records – Tue 12th April – 8pm
Patterns – FREE ENTRY

The latest in a series of regular nights put on by QM Records, local talent Giorgia-May will be launching her second EP, the follow up to her debut Trouble Sleeping (2014) at Patterns in this FREE night of great live music from a host of emerging Brighton musicians – the city where many great musicians are born, but even more visit and never leave (except to go on tour of course).

Giorgia-May’s music is smooth and well-crafted easy listening, mixing jazzy chords with a sultry vocal which doesn’t need to shout to draw the attention of the listeners in – it’s the musical equivalent to draping a silk scarf around somebody and slowly pulling them towards you.

Supports come from some great local acts, soulful rising star Mariella West (who will hopefully be performing her recent release ‘Sober‘), Francesca Fulmini (playing with her amazing new band) and fresh from his very own EP release show in February, Rob Godfrey. It’s a free entry show so if you’re free, get down and support some local live music.

www.giorgia-may.co.uk
@GiorgiaMaay

the-island-club-whats-on-brighton-april-2016The Island Club

One Inch Badge – Thur 14th April – 8pm
The Prince Albert – Tickets £5 adv + bf, £7 otd – BUY TICKETS

The instantly likeable The Island Club caught my attention with a single track, Paper Kiss (video below) and I straight away felt like they were a band that I’d been listening to for years. Headlining at the intimate Prince Albert (just underneath the arches of Brighton station), The Island Club’s music will surely have people up and dancing, bouncing off the band’s infectious energy and feel good music.

Island Club have been busy over the last few months, playing some packed out London shows, including gigs at KOKO and Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. Catch the band live in Brighton ahead of their upcoming set as part of The Great Escape Festival (19-21st May 2016) where you can be sure to expect big things, with industry scouts on the look out for the hottest new talent to snap up.

Support comes from Brighton based guitar duo Tuska, performing their spacious alternative anthemic tracks to start the night off.

www.facebook.com/theislandclubuk
@theislandclubuk

normanton-street-ep-launch-april-2016Normanton Street EP Launch

Fri 15th April – 7pm
Patterns – Early bird £6. £10 otd – BUY TICKETS

Returning from a recent crowd-funded trip to perform at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Normanton Street are sure to receive their usual strong local support for their first Brighton show since their return (and since their NYE bash at Prince Albert).  The show is part of a 3 date tour Brighton – Manchester – London) to support their new EP, ‘Life’s Real’, starting with the official EP Launch show in their adopted hometown of Brighton.

Turning what was formerly Audio, primarily a club venue not particularly associated with live music, into a regular venue for emerging live music, supporting local artists through their label QM Records has been one of their great contributions to the city of Brighton – and one that people need to take notice of.

Support for this show comes from Lebeaux, One Eyed Jacks and old friends Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn.

www.normantonstreet.com
@NormantonStreet

basia-bulat-brighton-april-2016Basia Bulat

Good Lies – Wed 19th April – 8pm
Hope&Ruin – £11 adv – BUY TICKETS

Two years is too long to be away from Brighton in my opinion, but Basia Bulat has finally returned, bringing with her the spoils of her labours in the form of her latest album ‘Good Advice’, which was released in February this year.

Following on from a mammoth USA tour, including a number of shows at SXSW, Basia is in the UK for just a handful of dates before continuing her tour across Europe throughout April and into May. Her catchy melodies, charming stage demeanour and assortment of instruments that she plucks out of her flight case are three great reasons to see her live – and if you’ve heard her music then you’ll know it’s not a particularly hard sell.

Read my review of her last Brighton show in 2014 on Welovebrighton.com – Basia Bulat Blows Brighton Away (Feb 12th 2014) – and watch the video for the track that I first discovered her from ‘Tall Tall Shadow’ the title track from her 2013 album.

http://basiabulat.com/
@BasiaBulat

laura-reznek-uk-tour-april-2016Laura Reznek

 Fri 21st April – 8pm
The Marwood – FREE ENTRY

If you’re into fine coffee (or tea), cake and music then The Marwood is the venue of your dreams. This cafe is filled during the daytime with everybody from businessmen to hipsters, students to single mums – a wide array of the people from the cosmopolitan city of Brighton, and in the evening a few nights a week, the place doubles up as an intimate music venue, particularly suited to acoustic acts and stripped down band sets.

Laura Reznek is a Canadian singer-songwriter, based in London who is heading to Brighton as part of her mini UK tour, showcasing her 2015 album ‘Who Came Before Us’ – You can listen to the album on her soundcloud page. From first listen there is something captivating about her music, from her soprano highs to her gravelly lows and her smooth tones in between, Laura’s songs are varied in mood, texture and style, with an album that effortlessly fluctuates between slower ballads and up-tempo Alanis-esque tracks. Watch the video for her track Staircase below and come along (if not just for the coffee and cake, but also for the great music).

www.laurareznek.com/
@LauraReznek

If you have any gig suggestions for next month, please drop me a line on tom@tomsayer.co.uk

AfterDark Brighton – Be Seen & Get Heard

Calling all Bands, Musicians, Djs and Artists!

afterdark brighton

Finding it hard to get yourself seen and heard from within the throng of talented musicians in Brighton and Hove?

Online credibility and visibility have never been more important, so take the chance to stand out from the crowd by signing up for a FREE artists page on AfterDark.co/artists

With over 1,500 great artists and musicians already listed, you will be in good company in the directory and you never know who might see you there and what local or national gig opportunities may come about from your listing. It is not what you know, but who you know so get to know AfterDark and see where your music could go.

To sign up, have a browse of the AfterDark artists page and get in touch using the contact form to find out how to add yourself to the artists section.

For more information about social media management, copywriting for musicians and general music PR, drop me an email on tom@tomsayer.co.uk

www.AfterDark.co/artists
www.facebook.com/brightonAD
@BrisAfterDark

 

How to write a music blog

In an age of mobile technology dominated by social media and online press, the power has been handed over from the few to the many, particularly with multimedia journalism. It’s easy to find reviews of almost anything online, from obscure indie films to mainstream platinum albums, but it’s not as easy as it looks to write the reviews.

Here is my 10 step guide to writing a music blog that people will want to read:

1. Know Your Stuff

To debunk what may be a common myth amongst music journalism, you do not need to have a formal music education to write about music. You do not even need to be an expert in the field. But what is important is that whatever it is you are writing about is something that you understand and would feel comfortable having a discussion with a fan of the artist about. If you want to say that an artist reminds you of Damien Rice for example, make sure that you know what Damien Rice actually sounds likes and justify (to yourself at least) why you think that. It is easy to make sweeping statement about music to overgeneralise or to look like an expert, but it won’t be long before your reader’s realise you don’t know your Dylan from your Ke$ha. Know your stuff and you will earn your reader’s trust, and if you are lucky, their loyalty too.

2. Write About What You Like

It is so easy to give something a good panning. By nature, we are critical beings and like to cast shade on what others are doing, and often justifiably so, but I ask you this: why? Who wan’t to read a bad review of something? You have have the razor sharp dry wit of a seasoned stand-up, but if nobody know who you are or your voice, then you are just another sarcastic hater who trashes things online. Unless you really hate something with a passion and feel compelled to warn others against it, I suggest writing about what you love, what you really enjoy and you and your readers will want to read about it – and so might the people who you are writing it about, which is the best way to get your work shared around.

3. Meet The Musicians

It’s easy to hide behind a computer screen or smartphone at a show, but the best way to find out information about a band is to get chatting to them. Most local bands are thrilled to talk about their music with anybody that listens, particularly if they might get a review written about their show from it. So get to gigs early to see the supports and stick around afterwards to get chatting with them. It will give you a unique insight into their music that other will not have and it will be interesting to your readers. Plus, you never know which support act you review might be the next big thing, and they may just remember that guy or girl who wrote about them back in the day.

4. Compare and Compère

Two things that audiences like about music blogs is for the acts to be compared and compered. By comparing particular tracks, or the band/artist in general, with known figures helps people to gauge their interest and also helps you as a writer to compartmentalise the music a little, which allows you to be more specific, which is always a good thing. There is nothing worse than vague wishy-washy music journalism, saying things like “the band sounded like Mumford & Sons on crack”… By compèring the acts that you review, you are introducing them to a potentially new audience so give a little background information – not a full Wikipedia biography. If you are reviewing a show, review the support too. It’s a good way to engage with more people, as support acts and local acts are more likely to share your work amongst their networks, and if you like them, odds are that other people will too.

5. Write Regularly

Not everybody can polish off a swift 2,000 words in their lunch break – and that is definitely a good thing. People have a finite amount of time and attention, so don’t overstay your welcome or become a nusiance. Write when you can, but regulate it. If you know you won’t be writing something for a while after a busy period, why not schedule your posts to go out evenly rather than writing in sporadic spurts every so often. People crave regularity, as much as they may not admit to it, and consistently well written work is the key to gaining and keeping readership of your blog. Keep it fresh, interesting and really care about what you write – writing regularly will really help you with this and prevent you from writer’s block or general writing malaise.

6. Good Quality Images

We’ve all done it, but don’t just grab any old image from Google Image Search for a band. Make sure the images you use are current and where possible signed off by the band. Most bands will have a press section on their website, or at least a gallery of recent images which should be fine to use to accompany your blog. If you can’t find anything, drop them an email to request some images and they will more than likely reply with what you need – after all, it is free publicity for them and it will really make your blog stand out by having the latest and best images to complement your writing.

7. Look Good/Mobile Friendly

Before you start throwing everything you write out at the world, you may want to think about how it actually looks. Depending on which platform you use, there is a lot of functionality and deign elements which you can customise, so it helps if you have a clear design idea in your head for how you want your blog to look. If you lack a creative eye for design, seek advice from friends, as your blog template and theme is like a shop window, and if visitors don’t like it, they are much less likely to stick around to have a browse. Most blogs automatically optimise for mobile devices, but make sure that yours does by testing it on your phone/tablet. Most users will be accessing your blog through mobile devices so if it doesn’t look good then it won’t keep them coming back for more.

8. Check It Twice

Just like Santa Claus, you should check everything in your blog is how you want it to be. Do your image link to the right places? Do your web-links work? Have you spelled all the names correctly? Is your factual information correct? It’s always better to double check before publishing to avoid the embarrassment of being corrected online, or losing reader through silly grammar, spelling, punctuation and formatting mistakes.

9. SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a huge field in itself – people work full time just in this field of IT – but put simply, it about making sure your website/blog shows up when people are searching for the information which you are giving. There are a lot of tools which can help you do this through your blog site which are very simple to use and can have a real effect on online traffic. It is helpful to get into good habits, such as giving articles useful names that are likely to be search terms for people, and inserting meta descriptions for articles and images. If you don’t know what these are or how to do this, its easy to find out online, and this would really help your blog to get noticed.

10. Spread The Word

This should be quite obvious, but once you have your work all polished and ready to publish, be sure to send it out to all of your networks with whom it might be relevant. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube are all powerful tools with huge numbers of online daily users, so use the resources that you have available to you and network, spread the word and take constructive feedback on board to help you become the best writer that you can be. You never know when it may turn into more than just a hobby – it could well lead into a full-time career!

www.facebook.com/tomsayeruk
www.twitter.com/tomsayeruk