The Secret to Getting Publicity for Your Band
Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
My band is releasing our debut album via Bandcamp in early 2014. I know it is a good idea to get a jump start on publicizing it to press, but how far in advance should we start? Do writers prefer CDs or downloads? I have done a little promo for the band before but mostly for shows and never for a release so I want to make sure I do it right. We don't have the money to hire a publicist.
Doing a good job is simple, though it can be fairly time consuming depending on how much media you are reaching out to. The thing artists mess up is the basics -- not having bios, photos or music available, being bad at interviews, not being timely in communication. I have a long section in my book that steps through how to do all of this for yourself, and I suggest you pick up a copy or check it out from your local library. Yes, the girl on the cover is all of 14, but everything I detail in the book works on grown up bands, too. Here I will step you through the basics.
If you are just doing local press, you do not need to start giving people (local papers, blogs, the public access cable music show, college radio et. al.) a heads up more than three months in advance. Three months is good because people can set aside space for you, or plan coverage because they anticipate it, and it gives them plenty of time to get around to listening or even see your band in advance of writing about you. If you do not have three months, that's OK, but try not to do it with less than six weeks. I have a column in the Chicago Tribune where I profile local bands and very frequently get emails from people the day or week before an album release, despite that they spent the last nine months making it or booked their album release show seven weeks before. Even though it's a daily paper, I'm working on stories three or four weeks away, not last minute.
If you do not know who covers local music in your 'burg, find out, track down an email for them. Worst case, you might have to call or tweet a writer/editor/blog to get in touch and see how much time they require. If there is a half-decent club in town, chances are they have a media list they provide to out of town bands or publicists -- or a list they work off of. Ask if they can share that with you in advance of your record release show. Make yourself a little spread sheet to work off of, so you can keep track of that information for future use as well as know where you are at with each person you have reached out to. Also, ask your most eager, ultra-self-promoting peers if they can kick some contacts over to you, have good suggestions of people who cover anything/everything. Those kinds of band people are totally annoying, but they are a solid resource.
Before you contact anyone, have these things in place: