Anyone working in the music industry, either as a musicians or on the business side of things, can benefit from having a press database on hand. Spend an afternoon creating a list of newspapers, magazines and blogs that might review your music and shows, as well as a list of freelance writers who cover your genre of music. If you've never had any reviews/press coverage, then start locally by making a list of the publications with arts/music sections. Branch out and check out who is writing about musicians with similar sounds - that can be a great clue to the kind of places your music is likely to find favor in the future. If you're starting from scratch, there is a fair amount of research involved here, but remember two things - first, your job isn't to create a completely exhaustive music industry press contact list in one sitting. This list is going to evolve constantly as your progress in your career. You are creating a starting point. Second, you can break the job up by giving yourself a focus. Start out by building a list of contacts in the region around where you live. Devote another day to researching blogs. If you think you might get some shows in a new region, repeat the process for the press in that area. Most importantly, keep in mind that having a database of ten names is better than having nothing at all.
With your list in place, invest some time in finding out the following info for each contact. Some of this information may be available online. You may need to call and ask for the info in other instances. Don't be intimidated about calling. Media outlets field questions about contact info all day long - it comes with the territory. Here is what you need to know:
- Name of editor/writer/column
- Mailing address
- Email address
- Phone number
- How they prefer to receive music (hard copies, MP3s by email)
- For print media, when the publication closes (how far in advance do you need to get info to them if you want something to appear in a particular issue)
- Additional information about preferences, notes about who has shown an interest in your work before, reminders about conversations you had ("writer X loves 70s sitcoms!") - anything that will help you target new releases to writers who are likely to be interested in them and that will help you build a personal rapport with them when possible ("hey writer X - here's the new release by artist Y, press release enclosed. Did you see that Sanford and Son marathon on TV Land last week? Loved the one where Lamont takes Fred out for his birthday!"). Don't be insincere, but if you legitimately have some shared ground, the personal touch can go a long way in getting reviews. Plus, it makes the often painful job of PR a little more fun.
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