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Understand the purpose of a press release
Learn how to write a memorable headline
Make sure your press release finds the right audience
Do Musicians Still Need To Use Press Releases In 2020?
Yes, they do. Whether you’re playing a show in a new town or releasing your third album, a press release is still one of the most important tools you have to make sure you get coverage.
In fact, some publications will publish your press release word for word, making it all the more critical that you do it right.
But where do you start?
What should you include and what should you leave out?
Here are a few quick tips that will help your music get the coverage that it deserves.
1. Get to the point quickly with a catchy headline
Even the smallest music blogs are inundated with submissions every day. You have to make your point quickly. The best way to do that is a well-worded headline. Here is an example from a press release sent out recently promoting a new video from Lizzo.
“LIZZO RELEASES HIGHLY ANTICIPATED VIDEO FOR “TEMPO” FEATURING MISSY ELLIOTT”
In once short sentence, this headline tells me what is happening, and why I should care. Make sure your headline includes the name of the artist, the song/album/event, and if possible a little detail to make things a bit more interesting. (In this case, its the inclusion of another well known artist)
Here is another the headline to the press release for singer/songwriter Andy Shauf’s new album:
Andy Shauf Announces New Album, The Neon Skyline,
Out January 24, 2020 Via ANTI-, And North American/European Tour
Not exactly rocket science, is it? It’s one simple sentence telling who, what, when, where, and why. Notice that including the record label gives it credibility.
2. Don’t be boring, but don’t exaggerate.
A press release is not the time to be hyperbolic. If you claim to be releasing the best psych-rock album since Revolver, you will lose all credibility, as well as any chance of receiving the exposure you want. However, you don’t want to be completely bland either. Here is an example of the opening sentence from a press release promoting Wilco’s most recent album.
Wilco return with Ode to Joy, out October 4th via dBpm Records. Ode to Joy comes three-plus years after the release of the “world-weary, wheezy – and wonderfully warm” (The Guardian) Schmilco, and encourages the act of finding joy in a dark political climate.
A few things stand out about this opening paragraph. In very few words, it explains what is being released, the context in which it is being released, and perhaps most importantly, what the album is about. Music bloggers are overworked and underpaid, and they don’t want to spend endless hours trying to come up with an angle to write from. Including the phrase “finding joy in a dark political climate” makes their job easier by giving them a starting point.
Additionally, including a quote from a well-known publication re-enforces the idea that this is a band that has demonstrated that they are worth covering.
If you haven’t been reviewed at all yet, get creative. Find a way to make your music sound compelling without bragging.
3. Make it easy to read
This isn’t a Powerpoint production or a place to show off your design skills. Your press release should be no more than a page long, with easy access to links, pictures, social media etc. Leave plenty of white space on the page, using short sentences and short paragraphs.
Different publications have different standards regarding submissions, but most people would prefer that include the text directly in the email instead of as an attachment.
Use your headline as the title of the email, so the recipient knows exactly what they are getting in to.
And to state the obvious, make sure you’re sending this to an outlet that covers your style of music. If you’re just starting out, look for small, generalized blogs that specialize in your style. They’ll be happy to hear from you.
4. Get your timing right
You’ve probably seen the words “For Immediate Release” at the top of most press release examples.
The modern world moves fast, and if you’re a lesser-known artist, no one is going to plan ahead to cover an album that’s being released four months from now.
Even more so, most publications have no interest in covering a single that has been out for days, never mind months. So make sure you get your timing right.
Send out your press release anywhere from 1-3 weeks before the scheduled event for best results.
Make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Nothing turns me off an artist faster than broken links, half set up social media profiles, and ‘coming soon’ sections on their website. If you present yourself as a professional, you maximize your chances of being treated like a professional.
You wouldn’t try to write a novel if you’ve never ever read one, would you?
Yet many artists have never even bothered to read a published press release. Many press releases are posted online, and can easily be found on Google. Look up your favorite artist’s press releases and study them. Consider the following:
What kind of language do they use?
Are images included?
How is it structured?
Once you’ve done a little research, do your best to emulate that style.
Recording a great album or scheduling a tour is just the beginning. Put as much work into your publicity as you do into your music, and you’ll be rewarded for your work.
If you’re pressed for time, or just can’t find the right words to craft the perfect PR, consider outsourcing a marketing professional. George (author of this article), can be booked to write a stellar PR piece for you, at an affordable price.