DOs and DON’Ts of Sending Your Albums to Get Reviewed
So, you’re an indie band, and you want to be just a tiny bit less “underground”…at least above ground enough to be out of your grandmother’s basement and heard by a number of people acceptable enough to not put you in the “mainstream” category. So, you start checking out indie music websites and emailing and mailing your heart out. This is your baby; why do so many people not respond?
For one, even small indie music sites like Gravy and Biscuits get hundreds of submissions a day. Even then, most of our 26+ writers would rather review something that’s actually on an indie record label than have to listen to another bootleg basement recording. And if we get 10 good established albums to look at a week, we’ll get a thousand horrible demos to go through. So already, getting picked as one of our up and coming artists is pretty much slim to none.
So, would you like to improve your chances? The following DON’Ts have seriously happened to our writers. So pay attention, heed the following advice, and you might just be on your way to being one step closer to getting out of that basement.
DON’T be Bossy:
Head writer Jebbica (that’s me) once got this email:
Subject: Review our Album!
Message: Because the [indie music reviewer directory] said you would. Love, Some Band
Time after time, we get people who just demand that we review their stuff. They think it’s awesome, so we will too, right? Well what we’re actually thinking is, this asshole cannot go into the “round file” fast enough. Just because you send something doesn’t mean it’s going to get listened to. And if it does get a spin, it might not grab the writer one way or the other enough to write a review.
DON’T Pester the Hell Out of the Recipient:
Hey, did you listen to my album yet? Hey, have you written anything yet? Where’s my review? Hey, are you still alive? Why haven’t you reviewed my album? Hey, I’ve looked all over Gravy and Biscuits and I can’t find the link to my review. Why don’t you like me?
Not only do we not have time for this, but this is really annoying. Can you imagine getting 200 of these a day, and 199 of them are from you?
Because there’s that stupid saying, but mostly you’re just making an ass out of yourself. Sending a Post-It that says “send me the link when this is reviewed” is an almost guarantee that you WON’T ever get reviewed.
DON’T be Eeyore:
I once got a message that said something like, “I was wondering if you would consider reviewing my music. I recorded this in my basement, and I think you should review it. I’ve never played live because nobody likes me, and I don’t have a Facebook or MySpace page because everyone thinks I’m terrible. Please review!”
So, if nobody likes you, and you don’t even really seem to like yourself, I should review you…why?
DON’T Try to Make Writers Pay for Your Music:
No self-respecting music critic is going to pay to review an album, especially not some local yokel’s album we’ve never heard of. We have enough free music to keep us busy for a lifetime. Saying “here’s a rough copy of a bootleg you can have, but if you want to hear my real CD, you have to buy it. BUT you need to make sure your review is indicative that it’s a bootleg and not the real thing.” NEXT!
DON’T Make it Hard to Get to Your Stuff:
“Check out my YouTube page, and on the 37th comment, there’s a link to Soundcloud, where you can stream online 30 second clips, and then you can check out my MySpace for a picture, but not any of the ones of me and my cat–those are copyrighted.”
DON’T Send Your Album to the Wrong Person:
Asking the jam band guy who hates electronic music to review your dubstep album is probably not going to have the best results for you.
DON’T Mass Email:
Recently, I received an email that was CC-ed to 200 other reviewers from various websites, and the only thing in the email was a link to a band page. It was pretty funny as members of those 200 recipients started to “reply all” with why this was a bad move.
So, this is a lot of DON’Ts, and you’re probably scratching your head wondering what to do now.
DO be Nice:
This should go without saying, but you’ve seen the aforementioned examples. Instead of saying “Review our album!”, would it kill you to say “Hey, we’re this band, and we thought you might like our music. We’d like to send it to you for possible consideration.” I’m thinking no, it won’t. Thank you.
DO be Personal:
Take the time to get to know the place where you are wanting to get reviewed. Not every site is Pitchfork. If it’s a local outlet or a site like Gravy and Biscuits, take a look around and see what they write about that resonates with you. Say something like, “hey, I really enjoy your layout” or “that review on Apex Manor was right-on!” or something. THEN, go even further and get to know the person you want to review your work.
Check out our About page with a list of our writers and find the writer that seems like the best fit. Our writer Lindsey Pickett recently got a perfect email from a band (and if you check out her About page, you’ll understand why). It said:
Subject: We beat up Nickelback and eat Thin Mints by the box!
Message: Hello Lindsey, My name is Some Guy and I play in a poppy rock band called Some Band out of Some Place. We are just releasing our new EP “Some EP Name” this month and I was wondering if you can give it a listen for a possible review on Gravy and Biscuits. You can stream the whole thing at Some Link,
or you can download a zip file including all the mp3′s and the artwork at Some Other Link.
I assure you that there is plenty of feeling in these songs and I don’t bullshit! You can definitely enjoy this while driving, even with the kids going bonkers in the backseat! Pictures of everything awesome will fly into your head while listening!! Your days of work will be more exciting starting from your drive there rocking with Some Band and it will make you look forward to the drive home to listen to it again! I don’t think I drop the F bomb once in any of these songs, although I say shit in the first song? Is that cool? haha well I hope you enjoy it and Im looking forward to hearing your opinions about it…Let me have it!! Thanks and take care.
Some Band’s Webpage
Some Band’s Twitter Page
DO Hire a Publicist:
If you’re in a band, chances are, you’re already an asshole. You might want to think about hiring someone who can handle doing all of this for you. For one thing, you’ll have more time to concentrate on your music and will have less of an excuse for sucking. For another, it’s a publicist’s JOB to be nice and to send the right materials out to the right people. And they have ways of sending things out by volume that aren’t annoying. Just make sure you find someone who actually knows how to do their job: ie get your name out there, replies to emails received, etc. Don’t make your best friend your publicist unless he already knows a thing or two about public relations.
DO Spend as Much Time on your Music as You do your Album Cover, Press Materials, etc.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve actually popped a CD into my laptop because the cover and/or packaging was original enough to grab my attention, only to be disappointed by the actual music. So that would be your first DO–have an eye-catching cover. Avoid being generic. We all know what your average metal album (black) or electronic album (bright and colorful) or indie album (made out of recycled cardboard and hand-drawn) or rap album (black with some dude flashing his grill and his underwear) will look like. Think of what your average album cover looks like for your genre, then do something else. But make sure you’ve spent as much time on your music as you have everything else. I mean after all, we’re not judging your CD cover–at least not until the end of the year when we do the Best and Worst Album Covers of the Year. But the MUSIC, that’s what it’s all about, or should be. Not the font of your lyrics booklet, not how you were able to fit into those size 0 women’s skinny jeans, not if you should rock a beard or child molester glasses. Think about all that stuff after you’ve mastered your sound, and it will benefit all of us.
DO Be Patient:
Our writers are lucky if they get to write one review a week. Most of the time, it’s not going to be an up and coming artist. But if you’ve followed the above steps, you might just be one step closer to sticking in someone’s mind and not being immediately forgotten. But even then, it might take a week, it might take a month, it might be never. Just know that we’ll share the link with you if it gets done.
DO Send Efficient Emails:
Your emails need to have these things:
A personal message
A little about what kind of band you are and what you do
A link to download your album
A link or attachment to your press photos and bio
Links to your website/Facebook/MySpace/Twitter page
All of these things will get you closer to not just a Gravy and Biscuits review, but possible reviews by all sorts of publications. And even bad reviews are better than no reviews, right? Because one man’s “terrible” might be another man’s “awesome”, but if no one is writing anything, you’ll continue to remain in the basement with only your mom in your fan club. So please take these DOs and DON’Ts in consideration when wanting to get your music reviewed.