Once upon a time, record labels would send music journalists batches of LPs (and later CDs) with fancy folders containing everything a writer would want to know about the album and the artist. As the significance of record companies dwindled, DIY artists took promotional matters into their own hands, and that’s when things got frustrating for reviewers like me.
Sure, we loved the free tunes but got tired of reading the penciled cursive writing on half-sheets of loose-leaf paper addressed to “Madam/Sir.” But at least those artists thought enough to enclose a note; more often than not, I receive CDs from independent artists without so much as a business card or even a web address.
Here are five ways to make reviewers like me love musicians like you before even hearing a note of music:
1. Don’t just mail a CD or email a download link. At the very least, include a brief note that says: “Thank you for taking the time to listen to our new album. More info is available on our website: [URL HERE]. If you review this, please let us know: [EMAIL ADDRESS HERE].” See how easy that is?
2. Make sure that if you do include a press release and/or a bio, they actually inform the reviewer. Include details about where you’re from, how long you’ve been making music and what inspired the new songs. Regurgitating the album’s credits won’t cut it. If you’re not comfortable writing something compelling that’ll make reviewers want to put your album at the top of their “listen to” pile, have somebody else write it.
3. Add a personal note, even if you don’t know the reviewer’s name: “We know your forced to listen to a lot of music you’re not familiar with, so thank you for making our third and latest CD a priority. We hope you like what you hear.” Even if I don’t like it, I’ll still listen to it. Because you asked so politely.
4. Don’t send CD-Rs. I understand it’s a cost-savings measure, but it also looks unprofessional. Just don’t do it.
5. Make sure there are no typos in your liner notes. More than once, I’ve seen song titles and even band member names misspelled. Printed lyrics can get botched, too. Again, if you don’t trust your spelling and grammar, ask someone to proofread your CD booklet. If you don’t care, why should we?
Taking these suggestions won’t guarantee a completely flattering review, but your efforts will go a long way toward making sure your music at least gets heard.