HIP-HOP EDUCATION: HOW TO GET FREE MUSIC BLOG/PRESS COVERAGE

Share

Blog/press coverage is a tool that is important, not necessary, for your music (project or single) promotion. We will lay the foundations of the music promo, show you the framework of this promotion channel, and give some recommendations on how to put blog/press coverage to strategic use in your music promotion plans.

Recline a chair, and let’s ease into the article.


Types of Music Blogs

Music blogs and backend structures are like fingers; they are not equal. As an artiste, you are eager to hit the big breaks. Your excitement about being published is linked to the exposure the publisher will give you –local, state, national, continental, and international. That aside, an essential aspect of the conversation is how the different tiers of music blogs and their various structures affect how you reach out to them for free coverage.

Top Tier: Major Industry Blogs

You’d most likely need an inside connection to get covered by music blogs in this tier. Random submissions usually don’t get listened to and have almost zero chance of getting featured by pitching without a relationship with one or more staffers. You’d probably have better luck getting manna from heaven or pitching to those in the next tier.

Examples: Rolling Stone, Pulse NG, Legit.NG.

  • Ownership: Media conglomerates, music labels
  • Audience: Big. The average number of repeat readers
  • Editors: Full-time, paid
  • Writers: Full-time, plus paid contributors.

Middle Tier: Indie Blogs

This tier may also require a personal connection inside the company, but it is unnecessary. You can build a relationship from scratch with these companies by emailing staffers directly or sticking to their submission guidelines. Random entries or submissions get listened to in this tier. 

Examples: NotJustOk, TooXclusive.

  • Ownership: Independent entity – Ltd or sole proprietorship
  • Audience: 100K+ per month with a slightly higher percentage of repeat readers than the top-tier
  • Editors: Usually full-time and paid
  • Writers: Part-time and sometimes paid

Lower Tier: Bedroom Blogs

For coverage, follow submission guidelines or email the owner directly. This tier will provide you with press coverage most of the time (if it’s a genre fit for the blog) and also listen to random submissions.

Example: Rhyme & Reason®, .wix or .wordpress in domain name

•Ownership: Someone who does this for fun or building from scratch.

•Audience: 1K+ per month and not many repeat readers

•Editors: Probably not. The “editor” is the owner.

•Writers: A few volunteer contributors, but nobody full-time


Importance of Press Coverage

You are now familiar with the three tiers of music blog coverage, how to contact them, and their general audience sizes. Without furnishing you with the importance of coverage, you might not concern yourself with getting one.

Artistes are between press coverage being “a good thing” or “insignificant without”, without really understanding why. Simply put, you don’t have clear goals about press coverage until you figure out how it should impact your fan community.

There are many importances out there, but what matters is the true ones and the myths.

Fact: Press Coverage Builds credibility

Press coverage builds your credibility. It can help you to get opportunities down the line. When you submit your music to other publications, you can quote excerpts from existing coverage as proof that your music is good. When you reach out to venues, you can do this, too. Contagion Theory suggests that we’re automatically more interested in something other people are interested in. Social proof helps to open doors.

Fact: Press Coverage builds a fan community

Press coverage is crucial in building your fan community rather than increasing your audience size. The press coverage gives fans a new way to consume your art and read about you.

I’ll use an analogy to simplify this: I’m a Red Devil. Oh well. As a fan, I read news about the team and get to talk more about them; thus, I become a bigger fan of Manchester United because of all the talking points I get to use from all the coverage my club is receiving. That is how it also works in music coverage, providing your fans with a place to practice becoming bigger fans of yours.

It strengthens your community around additional context.

Fact: Press coverage counts on Spotify–Just A Lil Bit

Lastly, press coverage helps position your music on streaming platforms. Spotify, for example, uses natural language processing to scan the web for mentions of songs and artists, then filters coverage through an algorithm to identify descriptive words or related artists. This information is one factor they use to place your music. It impacts their decision to put your music in Release Radar or Discover Weekly playlists, for example, and influences which Related Artists show on your profile.

While this can lead to new fans, it’s just one factor out of many that Spotify uses to sort your music and shouldn’t be used as a primary growth tool. When it happens, it happens.

The Myth: Press Coverage will directly grow your audience

The primary view of press coverage by artistes is as a tool to expand your audience. More precisely, when a publication provides you press coverage, their audience will get the coverage, and some of them will become your fans almost immediately.

The problem with this hypothesis is that only a few publications have a significant number of regular readers. Over here at Rhyme & Reason®, our returning viewers for the last 30 days (at the time of writing this piece) are 12% of our visitors in that period. The way most music press publications function is the other way around; the majority of traffic we get is proportional to the audience size of the artists we give free coverage.

The breakdown is this: R&R® features Taofeek or Samo Agbero on its exclusive segment. The artistes are excited and share it with their audience, who in turn come over to read more about their fave, and most of these fans never return to our platform once they are done.

Even though we have our community–a thousand subscribers on our mailing list who we reach directly and some music industry people who are return readers–we generally don’t significantly grow your audience with free coverage. Significant growth from press coverage can only be noticed with coverage from the top-tier folks like Pitchfork or The New York Times. Even these outlets, though, are primarily read by people interested in the artistes they cover – not by people primarily interested in the outlets themselves.

You will reach more people if you’re covered in many places, but if you treat it mainly as a way to build your audience size, you’ll probably find press coverage disappointing.


Conclusion

Press Coverage is valuable, but it will not help you get more fans immediately, at least significantly. So, it would be best to focus on getting covered not primarily by blogs you think have big audiences but by blogs in your music genre or niches associated with the culture or industry of your genre.


Recommendations

  • Ignore top-tier blogs at the start.
  • Target middle-tier blogs for a premiere. You have a better shot at getting coverage.
  • Target lower-tier blogs for supplemental coverage.
  • Over time, use the coverage you get to build credibility and get more coverage.

There should be a snowball effect – and hopefully, it won’t end until you get covered in Rolling Stone.

Leave a Reply