How Do I Score Reviews of my CD Before the Release?


Natalie John


So here’s the second installment of  “Ask Grassrootsy”.  If you have questions, be sure to send them in.
Today’s Ask Grassrootsy question is something I’m sure most artist wonder about…

THE BAND: Natalie John
THE QUESTION: I am working on promoting my first original jazz music album. I’d love to score some reviews of my music. I would like to release the album in two months, but it won’t be completed for another month. If you say that this requires months-in-advance notice, what should I send reviewers if the album’s not even completed yet? Thanks for helping me solve this puzzling Catch-22.

ANSWER Yea, this is definitely a catch-22, but there are definitely ways to work around it.  Here are my suggestions.

1. Create an Online Press Kit. People like Sonicbids for this but i highly recommend putting something together on your own website because you’ll have so much more flexibility.  Ya, you don’t have the CD, but you do have rough mixes that will continue to progress as the project nears completion. So…put together a press page with…

*** everything the Media could ever want to know about you and your project – bio, press release, endorsements, etc.
*** include an audio player with the latest mixes of your song.  Put a disclaimer saying “songs not in final form”
*** make the  media aware that you will continually be updating this page with new information and the latest mixes of your CD

I’ve been spent all my time and energy working on this idea since I’m putting out a new project. Here’s what that looks like.

disclaimer: this requires being up on your html and/or using the available resources out there to help you.

2. Make a Pre-release Copy. As much as the media will benefit from your Press Page, most people still prefer hard copies when reviewing. Why? Well, what if you were a reviewer at a magazine and you had 20-50 artists emailing you large audio files on a daily basis? Yea…you get the point. This is why hard copies are still the most desired form of submission.

A pre-release copy is the same idea as audio on a press kit. Here’s what you do.

*** order blank discs from a printing company. Blank as in there is no data on them. The company will basically print some simple artwork that you supply. The artwork says something along the lines of “Advance Pre-release Copy. SONGS NOT IN FINAL FORM”.
*** Once you receive the data-free CDs back from the company, burn your latest audio mixes onto the discs. Burn a couple new CDs each time you have newer versions of your songs.
*** Voila. You have a pre-release copy. Media will expect it not to perfect since you’ve clearly stated that the songs aren’t in final form. However, try to send audio that sound at least a little bit shaped up.
Here’s an example of the latest artwork I sent in to get printed on a disc: I got them printed and shipped for under $100 from Their quality isn’t superb but they’re great for short-run low-maintenance projects like this that aren’t detail specific.

I am knee-deep into the process of releasing a CD, so if you all have any additional, related questions, please feel free to send them over.

If this blog helped you, please tweet about it and pass it to a friend.

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6 Comments on “How Do I Score Reviews of my CD Before the Release?”

  1. Jon Patton Says:


    I’ve talked to some music magazine publishers (Dirty Linen) in person about this, so I thought I could shed some light.

    1) First things first, unless you already have a show booked as your CD release and are actively selling tickets to a CD release party, don’t put it out in two months just because you want to put it out in two months. You’ll have a stronger product if you wait, because you’ll have time to get reviews.

    2) Some reviewers don’t require that they get an copy before the release and are perfectly fine with reviewing something already released

    3) On the other side of the coin, there are also publishers that simply won’t bother with a copy like what Joy is suggesting. These tend to be the more established magaziney types, and also tend to be “better” places to score reviews.

    **I’ll say that again: Some publishers will actually ignore a CD where the songs aren’t in the final form.**

    Why? Step into the magazine’s shoes. Every single review they publish can define their reputation. What happens if you give the CD a bad review because the mix is really hard to hear properly on your sound system because it’s unmastered? (Think of going to a show where you stand in the back corner and the band sounds mediocre, but then you get closer to the stage or move to the center of the room and they suddenly sound very good.) What happens if the artist changes or remixes a song or redoes some vocal tracks before release?

    What if they completely change a song you reviewed and it makes the publisher look like they didn’t listen to the CD?

  2. Jon Patton Says:

    Although given the state of the music publishing industry and the rise of digital over physical distribution, things like this will have to become more accepted, so maybe artists forcing the issue will make the above irrelevant.


  3. Shane Says:

    Thanks Joy Just ordered 100 CD’s from Indy Pendy mentioned you refereed me.

    I should receive the discs by Friday Only $36 more for rush shipping to Baltimore.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrea Cumbo and Grassrootsy, Grassrootsy. Grassrootsy said: Today's Post: "How Do I Score Reviews of my CD Before the Release?" […]

  5. grassrootsy Says:

    they should totally give me a discount for all the ppl i refer to them.

  6. Establish a strong online presence first, through social media. That will cost you nothing and only requires your own time to do it. That may even net you some interest and get invitations to interviews.

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