So, you’re in a band. You spent hours in the studio, and now you have a single/EP/album. You want people to listen to it. But how?
One answer to this age-old question is pretty simple, but understandably intimidating to think about: Music reviews!
Deciding to send out your music for review is a big step, but it isn’t the end of it all. Just because you send a reviewer your music doesn’t mean they’ll review it! But…how do you even find someone who wants to review your music in the first place?
Hang tight! If you want to submit your music for review, but don’t even know where to start, you’re in the right place! While I can’t claim to know everything about the process, I am a reviewer, so… Do with that information what you will, and read on if you’re interested!
Step One: Decide if you’re really ready for review.
If your album isn’t completely finished or just on the verge of being so, you should typically not be contacting a reviewer. Why waste our time and the potential for a great working relationship if you won’t be ready to send us your music when you claim you will be? While we reviewers do understand that things happen, we cannot always be flexible in terms of waiting until the night before publishing to finally receive the materials for review.
On another note, is your ego ready? While my site generally focuses on the positive and kind, constructive criticism, you will have to read comments that aren’t always what you want to hear from any reviewer. If you aren’t prepared to deal with all of the feedback, you shouldn’t submit your music for review until you feel confident enough that you’re giving us your best, but still want to improve in the future. Music is never perfect!
Step Two: Do your research!
It’s great to want to send your music out, but knowing where to send it is a big deal. Some blogs or magazines specialize in certain genres, and you’ll feel like an idiot if you’re rejected because the writer doesn’t even work in your genre. Please, please read a few reviews before submitting to a magazine or blog. Make sure to submit to people whose other content fits with yours in terms of genre, values, and especially level. Your music is probably great, but if Altpress doesn’t know your name, they’re not likely to just give you a feature. Supporting mall bloggers and magazines is a great way to give back to the scene, but also to break into press to start with!
Step Three: Read the requirements.
Many of the reviews that I pass on are due to silly misinterpretations of my submission requirements. In the past, I’ve had bands address me by the wrong name (Mrs. Rory O’Kane?? Really??), not realize that I charge a small submission fee, or send me music that I am not interested in. Since I do accept unsolicited submissions, I have to sort through a lot of slush, so any band that sends me what I need within an email or two immediately shoots to the top of my list. Include everything I ask for on my contact page, and I’ll be more likely to say yes!
But be careful: Not every reviewer accepts unsolicited submissions, and many want different things from me in order to write a review. Reading the requirements for submissions is a must to create a successful professional bond with any reviewer.
Step Four: Take What’s good and leave the rest!
You’ve done everything right so far, and your music review is out in the world. Congratulations! Now what? The first step is to read the review. Make sure to take note of positive and negative feedback, but also how the writer describes your music. Is their description in line with what you want your music to be? If the answer is yes, you’re doing something right. If the answer is no, it’s not always a bad thing; people have different interpretations of music, and you might get to see yours in a whole new light!
One of the best pieces of advice I have been given as a writer during workshop also applies to musicians reading reviews of their work: Take what’s good and leave the rest. Reviewers are in the suggestion business, but not everything we suggest will fit your idea for your own music. Ultimately, it’s all up to you!
Step Five: Promote the hell out of your review!
Good or bad, press is press. By promoting the review on your social media, your fans will get to read about your music and think about it in a new way. Sharing your review also allows your fans to learn about other amazing artists and support your reviewer, allowing them to continue helping musicians like you! You’ll gain fans who would not have read the review via the blogger’s channels, but also benefit from the blogger’s fans who make it onto your pages and see the mutual support.
Step Six: Be Grateful!
Music reviewers get a lot of shit in this industry, and it’s nice to feel appreciated once in awhile. Think about it: My job is to write about your band to help you either improve, or to tell fans how much I like your music (or, of course, a combination of the two). Shouldn’t I at least garner a thank you for all my hard work? A like on Facebook or support in the future are always great bonuses, but even a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way in making hardworking music writers feel valued and respected as much as they do for you.
Thank you for reading! Don’t be shy about submitting to me, but for god’s sake, please follow the steps! 🙂