Blogging etiquette is a tricky beast to tame. Having jumped through the hoops and hurdles of hosting your music online, you are far from done. Reaching out to tastemakers who can help to make the public aware of your work is a crucial, albeit challenging step to take.
It’s also a step that can induce rage from all four corners of the music industry’s schmorgesborg, sometimes to the point of insanity. That, it has to be said, is not exactly a kind reaction. As your driving instructor may once have told you following your third wing-mirror collision, we were all new to this once. Regardless, bloggers have a fiery temperament to match their passion for new music, and a little research on blogging etiquette will serve musicians who are new to the game well.
Beyond the nitty gritty and peculiar habits of individuals; the biggest blunder at large is to misname the object of your desires. Addressing a blogger by the wrong name, or even under the wrong blog, is sacrament to capital punishment, as far as us lot are concerned. While many will replace bashing their keyboard to bits with a gentle guffaw and the sound of trash hitting the can – we all have a point. If you’re not paying enough attention to get our name right, the chances are you haven’t really read our blog and you don’t “really dig” what we do.
“the fact of the matter is, in promoting… your music you’re trying to build a business, and all businesses need to be aware of their demographic.”
On a more personal level, misnaming will also rub our ego up the wrong way. We like to think we’re the only blogger privy to your work, and it would be nice if you could at least play along with the delusion for the time being.
Name set, the next bullseye to hit is knowing your target audience. I am aware: marketing, yawn. But the fact of the matter is, in promoting (and presumably selling) your music you’re trying to build a business, and all businesses need to be aware of their demographic. Bloggers are not excluded from this. Hip hop blogs are highly unlikely to cover the work of Vogue-era Madonna. DrunkenWerewolf categorically will not cover men screaming about killing their ex with a meat cleaver while conjuring up an image of the Spirit of the Goat. MTV do not want to premiere the work of a brand new lo-fi trio from Kent. It’s not going to happen, ladies and gentlemen.
On the flip side, don’t be too hasty to exclude a blogger who might actually be open to your work. We get a lot of artists contacting us with an opening message of “we’re not from Bristol, but…” or “we’re not all women, but…” We are neither location nor gender specific, so I’m not sure where that misconception has come from. We’re also more than open to covering unsigned musicians, so don’t let that put you off, either. I don’t think any blog would openly admit to boycotting unsolicited artists, so you can but try if you find yourselves in this position.
“It breaks my heart when a musician contacts me with a stream, I really love their music, but I cannot find a single thing about them on the internet. The most basic requirement is a presence elsewhere, even if it’s a sparsely populated Facebook page.”
Name and taste down, the only essential left on your tick list is to provide some basic information about yourself. It breaks my heart when a musician contacts me with a stream, I really love their music, but I cannot find a single thing about them on the internet. The most basic requirement is a presence elsewhere, even if it’s a sparsely populated Facebook page. We need to be able to direct our readers towards some sort of website or social media account, so they can continue to follow your work after we’re gone (sob). We’re also not allergic to research, so linking to a page that permanently provides information on your project will save you the time of explaining yourselves again and again. It is, however, also really helpful to know your vitals: where you’re from, who you associate with, and whether you have any music available to purchase. This is especially true if you have a project name such as ‘Toast’ but your PageRank isn’t up there with the fairies, ‘cause Googling that word will not your band bring forth. If you fail to provide the above information, you’ll have to accept that some of us are going to get our facts all jumbled up, or omit information entirely.
With all of the above under your belt, you are now moving towards meeting individual expectation and ideals. This is fundamentally exhausting. If you’re emailing multiple blogs at one time, or creating a template – sensible you – your best bet is to try to find a happy medium. All bloggers will want to listen to your music, but few will want to download it straight away. Try to include a link to a stream of your work near the top of your initial correspondence for ease of access. Also, for some God forsaken reason I frequently find musicians have taken their music down before I can get around to covering it. Make sure what you’re uploading and linking to is the finished product, before you reach out to anyone about it.
“The key is to efficiently and effectively demonstrate your work within a maximum of 10 minutes”
Finally, a clear image with public rights or a clear credit requirement will come in handy, too. Above all it proves you mean business, but it also helps to categorise your work. That sounds fickle, right? That’s because it is – it’s really fickle. But the truth is the music industry functions on fickle antics. If anyone claims prejudice sentiment you can set me on them: otherwise you’re only going to help the blogger pinpoint your genre and ideologies via your clothing and/or dance moves. Dance moves are always nice.
Additional manoeuvres are a welcomed extra, within reason. By example of a really bad pitch, a musician recently emailed me 10 long paragraphs of information with no link to their music, and no multimedia attached. I love music, but I’m not going to spend a good half an hour reading an essay when there’s no promise of something fruitful coming out of it at the end. I’m fortunate enough to work freelance on the side, which means I have a lot more time to concentrate on music than other bloggers may do. The key is to efficiently and effectively demonstrate your work within a maximum of 10 minutes: anything beyond that is unnecessary, and liable to put bloggers off.
Tiffany Daniels is the editor of DrunkenWerewolf, a new music website and monthly digital magazine specialising in reviews, interviews and features. For more information, head over here: www.drunkenwerewolf.com