Posted tagged ‘Getting Reviews’

Where Do I Start? How Do I Get Album Reviews?

September 22, 2010

Tim Ruff

THE ARTIST: Tim Ruff (Pittsburgh, PA)
THE QUESTION: Would you be able to set me in the right direction for getting album reviews? Whether they be with online mags or papers?

THE ANSWER: Searching for online magazines and publications is harder than most people think. For starters there are millions out there! Where do you start and how do you know this starting point is the way to go.  How do you make sure your time and effort is spent wisely…after all, you could spend hours pitching magazine upon magazine and come up with zip. Here are some ideas on how to make the job a little bit easier.

1. Mimic: Determine what genre you best fit into and google a similarly styled artist who has been around the block a few times.  For example, Tim, your tunes are easy listening.  Your stuff could easily share a shelf with independent artist Denison Whitmer.  He’s got a pretty decent resume, but it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think you could get into some of the same magazines and blogs as he has.  Google his name and you’re sure to come across articles that have been written about him. Contact the administrators/editors of those websites and ask them to considering reviewing your music.

This has been the most helpful routine for me…and will give you a great starting point. You’re basically letting someone else lead you in the right direction…and you’ll know that the magazine is interested in your genre because they cover other artists with a similar vibe.

2. Blogs: These days blogs are very credible sources for reviews. Nothing like hearing an every day listener’s opinion on your album. There’s something more genuine about it.  So do a search for blogs and consider starting in your city.  Use key words “music blog” + “Pittsburgh” (or whatever city you’re in).  You’ll be surprised to find that there are probably a handful of avenues to pursue.

Ok so…some/most blogs don’t have the kind of readership that an “official” online magazine would have BUT its a trade off. Its’ll be easier to get reviewed, and you’ll have direct access to the writer (instead of having to go through a head editor).   Its also alot less stressful 🙂

3. Work around a specific event(s)…It’s often hard to convince media to review your album if its been out for a while. Writers are always looking for what’s new and fresh. If your CD isn’t brand new, try working around a specific event. College gigs are great for this. Playing at So-and-So University? Contact So-and-So’s student paper and ask them to consider interviewing you or doing an article in anticipation for the show. Things like this are really great b/c student papers are easier to work with and who wouldn’t want some student fans?

Do the same with local papers…but pick your poison. Make sure you’re hitting them up about a worthy cause or event. They get so many submission and you don’t want to be that artist who spams them about every single show you play. Hit them up about the big events…and pitch it well.

4. Check out these related posts…especially this first one. It’ll give you tips on how to write the perfect pitch.

How to Score Reviews of Your CD

Mimic the Artists You Respect

Persistent, Not Pushy

What’s Wrong With this Message?

Creating Content – Giving People Something to Talk About #1

***Subscribe to Grassrootsy


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

April 27, 2010


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.

***Subscribe to Grassrootsy

Promoting Your Press

October 28, 2009

Sam & Ruby

Maybe it sounds counter intuitive since press is supposed to promote you; however promoting your press will not only build your credibility, but it will also help you garner additional press. Chances are, whoever is writing about you, has a much bigger platform than you do.  Take advantage of that.

It’s not an easy thing to get a magazine or newspaper to write a review (read How to Score Reviews of Your CD).  But, once they do, take special care of that endorsement. What are you doing to spread the word to make sure people know that you’re being talked about?  Here are some thoughts on the matter

Why Would Someone Want to Know You’ve Been Reviewed?
Think of your website as one big advertisement. You create the content and you have control over what people know about you. This means that you’ve taken the opportunity to make yourself sound as good as possible. But if you take a poll, you’ll quickly realize that no one buys a magazine for the ads on every other page, and no one watches TV for its commercials (except the Superbowl, of course).  People take in media to see what’s being said about their favorite stars, to hear conversation about new music, movies…etc.

In other words, the public values an unbiased, third-party opinion. It’s the very reason no one watches Infomercials.  Prospective “buyers”  will put more value on your “product” when someone else (other than yourself) gives it a thumbs up.

It’s all about giving things their proper placement. Consider these ideas…

  • Work any media  recognition into your bio. Instead of talking about what you’ve done with your music, talk about what others have done. Here’s a clip from Katie Herzig’s Bio:
  • Katie has toured with the Tenn out of Tenn tour, Hotel Café Tour, PASTE Magazine songwriter tour and has supported national acts such as The Fray, Brandi Carlile, Shawn Colvin, Aqualung and others. In 2008, Katie is featured in Billboard Magazine’s “Now Hear This” as well as one of PASTE Magazine’s 25 “Best of What’s Next” Artists.”
  • Put endorsements on your homepage. Nashville artists Sam & Ruby get a thumbs up for this.
  • If you visit their homepage, you’ll see one of their songs was featured in the 2008 Blockbuster , The Secret Life of Bees. That’s a pretty big foot-in-the-door that can catapult a CD’s success to the next level. In fact, in a recent interview, Sam & Ruby said they sped up the production of their CD so they could release it at the same time as the movie.  That’s called using a huge opportunity to your advantage and building on momentum.
  • Also, check out Sam and Ruby’s myspace…as they put endorsements in the “About” section instead of a traditional bio.

Lastly, avoid sketchy-looking endorsements. If a radio host said he liked your CD but didn’t say anything concrete, don’t use it.  Make sure all quotes are as real as possible.  “John Doe of ABCF-FM likes the CD” doesn’t carry any weight.  And remember, the press certainly doesn’t need your help in publicizing their review/endorsement of your CD, but you do! 

Subscribe to Grassrootsy