This is a repost of the article “Press Release Tips for the DIY Artist” originally posted MusicianCoaching.com. Reprinted with permission.
Because I write so many bios for indie artists, I invest a lot of my time helping people discover how to tell their compelling stories and define the specific qualities of their music and personalities that make them different from every other musician out there. As I take people through the challenging self-discovery process, I’ve realized that a lot of indie music artists, at all stages of their careers, share a common issue: they are reluctant to celebrate success. They often feel uncomfortable announcing even the major milestones – like EP releases, show and tour announcements, notable press interviews – that are the product of their hard work, growth, and development.
Part of the mental and emotional block DIY artists experience is based on crises of confidence. Maybe this is due to the saturation of the modern music market, and the fact that the world trains us (thankfully) to be modest and realistic about our place in it. “Why is what I do important when there are so many other people doing the same thing?” But as someone who aspires to truly make a living making music, the pull to avoid inviting fans to applaud your successes through your PR efforts and join you on your long and winding journey is also the result of simply not knowing which of your plot twists are newsworthy.
Even if you are not reluctant to announce your accomplishments, and are sharing your story on a regular basis through Facebook, Twitter, and email newsletters, sometimes all this engagement is not enough. Throwing some tracks up on Facebook, expressing your excitement on Twitter about a track you recorded, or emailing MP3s to someone at Pitchfork will not make you the darling of blogs, podcasts, music communities, websites, and music magazines. Last year, I wrote an article about how musicians can get the attention of music journalists writing for blogs, magazines, journals and other publications, and inspire them to invest in the story of their ongoing evolution.
When you are managing your own career without the help of a public relations firm, you must think like an entrepreneur and build marketing strategies that not only show you are a professional, but also drum up excitement about your music and your unique brand. And to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to figure out stunning ways to call attention to your bright, newsworthy items as an artist through press releases.
Once you’ve found that exciting item, shout about it! Hiring a professional, experienced press release writer to put together your announcement for you is a great way to capture the moment objectively. But when you are a self-funded music entrepreneur, hiring out is not always an option. Here are six tips to help you craft an eye-catching, personal press release that can act as a complement to your on-going marketing strategy.
Understand the purpose of a press release
A press release is a written statement to the media that announces a news item, such as a scheduled event (live show, record store appearance, radio performance, interview), an award, or the release of a new product (e.g. a single, EP, or full-length album). Some people also use press releases as a way to generate a feature story, because writers, reporters, bloggers and other press people are more likely to consider a full-length story on a band if they first see a formal press release. Many consider press releases to be part of “old fashioned” PR strategies, but when used in conjunction with technology-based promotional strategies, a well-written press release acts as strong support for the other elements of an artist’s press kit and overall marketing campaign. It provides yet another way for you to tell your story as a musician and enrich your brand by shedding light on the fact that you are in motion, proactively putting yourself and your music out into the world and working hard to hone your craft.
Have laser focus
The best press releases are short and to the point. The headline needs to go beyond the mundane and provide some juicy detail without being overly clever. The first short paragraph – the summary – should be no longer than three sentences. This opening paragraph needs to draw readers in and keep their eyes moving down the page, while still expressing all the details about what has or will happen. To stick to the “short and sweet” rule, only announce multiple events within the same press release if they relate directly to each other – for example, an EP release combined with an official release party or an extended regional or national tour.
Cut the BS
Use real, meaningful language in your press release – not lofty, empty BS that you think will sound impressive. Using big words and industry terms, name dropping, or otherwise “padding” your release to convince others that what you are doing is important is just going to make you look like an amateur. Even major PR firms – especially those that churn out a lot of press releases – can fall into the pattern of just “going through the motions” and plugging in information, forgetting that while press releases do follow a set format, there is still a lot of room for creativity and meaningful interaction. The gist of the two most commonly-made announcements in press releases are “Band Releases Record” and “Band Plays Show(s).” The ability to tell an absorbing story about events that happen often in the music industry is certainly a challenge, but your job is to grab the attention of – and provide something valuable to – someone who reads countless press releases every day.
Freshen up your artist bio
Your biographical information is an incredibly important part of every press release, but resist the urge to just directly copy a section from your professional bio verbatim. (If you do not have a professional bio, read this article before you even think about writing a press release!) Add a few special details to your artist bio section that offer readers a new spin on you and your music. For example, if you are releasing an EP, provide a bit of insight into your songwriting and recording processes, which can make people feel more personally connected to you and help compel them to buy your music, come to your live shows, and interact with you.
Gather strong press quotes
Press quotes provide essential third-party endorsements of you. Of course, you may be sending out a press release because no one has ever formally reviewed your music (that is, you have no press quotes), and you want to get people to talk and write about you. If that’s the case, it’s even more important to deliver an exciting and objectively-written bio to make up for lack of quotes about your band. But you should also consider reaching out to popular local bands and musicians you have collaborated with on shows or other projects and ask them to jot down a few thoughts about you and your music, or about the experience of playing with you live, and then include the best one or two as quotables for your press release.
Rally around your press release
As with anything else you put out into the world – new music, a new website, a live performance – your press release will not magically get attention. You need to rally around it with engaging email and social media interaction. Many musicians use services like PRWeb, expecting they will pay the fee and the press release will get read by fans and everyone else they want to reach. Services like PRWeb act as tools to help your press release filter through some of the meaningless noise that shows up in web searches, but they cannot provide the sincere outreach you can when you energetically write about your event on Facebook and Twitter and respond personally to the excitement of champions for your music. Even when your press release finds a permanent home on the internet, you need to keep momentum going in the weeks prior to your notable show or album release by reaching out to your fans regularly and sending personal emails to those journalists and music industry professionals who will be thrilled to be among the first to discover you.
Champagne image via ShutterStock.com.
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Julia Rogers is the Editor in Chief of MusicianCoaching.com. She is a classically-trained musician, published author, journalist and music writer. She also writes about business strategy, social media and emerging technology for corporate clients, including The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and American Express. She was previously a grant writer and development/marketing strategist for several New York City-based non-profit Arts organizations and has written business development materials and produced online media for a variety of small technology companies. As a songwriter, cellist, bassist, singer, and pianist, Julia plays out regularly in New York City in various original projects. She has been working with MusicianCoaching.com since 2009.