Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about every type of press coverage!
As a PR firm, we’re so immersed in the many kinds of coverage that it’s often easy to forget how few musicians actually understand what kinds of coverage are out there, how they are valued, when you can expect to receive different kinds of coverage, and what kind of formats different sorts of publications use.
I’m hoping this post breaks it all down in a way that is easy to ingest!
When does your music get premiered?
When a band has brand new unreleased content like a new song, album, or video that hasn’t been made public yet, they’re in a position to give a music blog the opportunity to exclusively premiere it, or in other words, make it publically available for the first time.
It’s important that the music in question not be previously available anywhere on the internet because in exchange for covering your new song, whoever premieres it is counting on you to share the link, thereby directing all of your friends and fans to their website, thus increasing their traffic.
What is considered new material?
Ideally, when we send new music out for premiere consideration it’s actually new and has never been made public, not even as an early version on Soundcloud.
If you have a new song or album that you’ve put up online, but which has barely been noticed or shared by any publications, it’s still possible to get a premiere for the music. In this case, we advise that you take the music down ASAP and re-upload it to a private streaming link before sending it around for premiere consideration. Having music up online before it gets premiered is less than ideal, but it happens every now and then and can usually be managed if tended to quickly and thoroughly.
In this situation, it’s also incredibly important to do a quick google search to make sure nobody has covered or shared something you’re looking to get premiered.
What does exclusive mean?
Most publications like to be given a 24-hour period of exclusivity, meaning that, as publicists, we make sure not to line up any other coverage for a release before or on the day the premiere is scheduled to go live. Our primary objective after securing a premiere is to schedule post-premiere coverage so that as many people as possible are writing about and sharing the new release as soon as the period of exclusivity is over.
What do premieres look like?
Premieres tend to be pretty light on words. Usually, a premiere consists of a couple of paragraphs saying something nice about the band or their music alongside a video or Soundcloud embed.
What publications are good for premieres?
Since a premiere is the first place you can hear the music, you’re pretty much always going to want an online publication to do a premiere. In the past, we’ve gotten premieres places like NYLON or The Oregonian – both of which are traditionally print publications, but also have strong online readerships. You get the point. You can’t stream a song in a print magazine.
The goal with a premiere is to get your new content placed somewhere as high-profile as possible. Our system is to submit music for consideration to relevant publications in order of readership size.
How are premieres valued?
The reality of premieres is slightly less glamorous than many imagine. What is written is generally pretty short. Even if a music video premieres on a site with 5M+ visitors per month, it could easily only lead to 2K or so plays/hits in the first few days.
That said, the real value is in showing people (industry folks such as booking agents, labels and managers, as well as other music writers) that someone at a respected publication has vouched for your music. It also shows people who understand the world of promoting independent music that you take your own project seriously enough to have invested time and money into moving your project forward, which is more than the vast majority of bands can say for themselves.
When do you get reviews?
Reviews usually happen for albums. I’m a huge advocate for bands releasing singles, but one drawback is that it can be trickier to get someone to really review a shorter release like a single or a three-song EP.
Sometimes singles do get reviewed, but it’s generally shorter and probably not called a review. But hey – a couple of nice paragraphs and a link to your Bandcamp never hurt anybody.
What do reviews look like?
Different writers have different reviewing formats, but generally album reviews are one of the longest coverage formats. A good album reviewer gets into what’s special about the music, the story behind the creation of the album, and maybe even offers some well-placed constructive criticism.
What publications are good for reviews?
Lots of publications do reviews. Since reviews are labor-intensive on the part of whoever is publishing them, we find the majority of album reviews are done by local publications, such as newspapers, podcasters, and bloggers in the city where the band is most active.
Sometimes national publications will review a brand-new up-and-coming band’s album. It’s good to remember that the more active you are regionally and nationally, the better a candidate you become for national press.
How are reviews valued?
In my experience, bands love getting their albums reviewed since good reviews can show a great deal of appreciation and understanding for what a band has made. If you receive a great review on a high-profile publication, it can lead to a ton of new listeners.
Are all reviews good reviews?
Lukewarm reviews also sometimes happen. They’re nobody’s favorite. When a band gets a less-than-amazing review, I always remind them of my Lou Reed thing. My Lou Reed thing is that I can’t stand Lou Reed. I could write a long essay about it if that were my thing. But that doesn’t mean that Lou Reed isn’t beloved and important and objectively great. So even if your musical contributions are as important as those of Lou Reed – we should all be so lucky – there would still be people out there who were super not into it. It’s all good.
Shares are when a publication posts your song as a featured track of the day, adds it to a Best of the week/month/year post or playlist, or shares it, either by itself or along with a paragraph or so of commentary.
When do you get shares?
Whenever you have newly released content like a song, video, or album.
What publications are good for shares?
How are shares valued?
Sometimes, even if song has gotten a ton of media attention, the coolest piece of the campaign can be watching a song take off because of shares on platforms like Soundcloud,Tumblr, or through being added to sweet playlists on Spotify. That’s why, in addition to submitting music to the biggest music press outlets, we also send to carefully chosen influencers whose followers count on them to share the best new music.
Having a good amount of press around your release is a great way to get your fans/community excited and make sure they know about the release without having to tell people about it directly over and over again.
When do you get Features?
Features are usually longer-form pieces about bands that are active and doing cool stuff like recording a new record, touring the midwest, or releasing some new music.
What kind of publications do features?
How are features valued?
I love features because they can pretty substantial in length. Since they usually focus on the band as a whole, rather than just the music, it can be a great opportunity to share intimate facts about band life and behind-the-scenes stuff that might not make it into your artist bio.
When do you get show previews?
Show previews usually post during the week leading up to a weekend show.
What kind of publications do show previews?
Local print, online, and radio outlets will often have weekend show coverage formats.
For this reason, it’s important to always have your release show somewhere reputable (not a house show or a tiny cafe) on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
How are show previews valuable?
Show previews help get the word out about your upcoming show! Venues love to see that you’ve done the work to help publicize a show.
What about show reviews?
Some publications also do show reviews. These can also be great, especially if they include photos, though they lack the obvious benefit of helping bring people out to a specific upcoming show.
I know local press isn’t a coverage format per se, but if you’ve read any of our previous blog posts, you know all about the glories of local press and how helpful it can be in stimulating a band’s career. For this reason, we always include local print, radio and blog outreach in every campaign, even if it’s an otherwise digital-only push.
When do you get local press?
Bands are good candidates for local press when they’re actively releasing music, announcing a tour, singing to a bigger label or otherwise creating news.
How is local press valued?
Especially if your band is new and you haven’t received substantial coverage in the past, a few nice links to recent local press can help show writers at national media outlets – not to mention managers, booking agents, etc. – that your band is making some waves in your hometown and might be worth real consideration in the near future.
As mentioned before under show previews, people looking for something to do on a Saturday night will be likely to turn to cool local blogs to check out what shows might be worth hitting up.
When does the premiere go live?
We like for premieres to go live in the 1-2 weeks before the corresponding release show. This leaves time for plenty of other coverage to post in between the premiere and the release, which means you can use the subsequent press to promote the release show.
How long does it take to secure press?
We like to have a full 6-8 weeks between the time we send out a press kit and the official release date. This gives us time to set up a great premiere, alert press about the upcoming show, and do a first round of send outs to our broader lists in the US, UK, and Canada all before the release show.
FAQ About Publications
How do you give publications private access to the song?
Our press kits include an embedded stream of the song hosted privately on the Public Display Soundcloud account. On the morning of the premiere (or the evening before), we upload the song to the band’s Soundcloud page and send the writer the public link, which is then approved for posting.
There are other ways to do this, as well, but this is the most common.
How does the publication share the song?
Why might publications pass?
Virtually all music writers want to write about cool new artists whose music will be relevant to their readers. In general, if they pass, it’s because a band doesn’t fit that description well enough. Here are some specific reasons why people might pass on an artist:
• The music is poorly recorded.
• The music might be in a genre that isn’t relevant to a given publication. For this reason, we’re very careful to only work with bands who will be a match for the majority of our contacts.
• They may have no shows on the books, thereby seeming to be inactive and not necessarily relevant
• They have no previous press. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to promote at least one lead-in single to gain traction before releasing an album or EP.
• The writer has received the press release with not enough notice or already has their schedule full. This is why we aim for a 6-8 week lead-in time for each release.
What can you do about it?
In my experience, a band is more likely to level up when they’re firing on all cylinders. That means playing actively in multiple cities, frequently releasing new, well-promoted content, and working tirelessly to grow and cultivate real relationships with their most valuable asset: their fans.
More on that later, kids. I’m spent.
Oh and Happy Jawbreaker Day!