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.
Dear Fan, My band all boy/all girl is about a year old and recently self released our debut album. On my days off, I've been tirelessly emailing blogs that I've found on the Hype Machine blog generator as well as seeking out music blogs from other bands that have gotten press. I look for blogs that focus in the same world of music and I make sure to keep my emails short, concise and not copy/paste. I've emailed possibly hundreds of blogs at this point and have received little to no response even from blogs that likely don't have a large following. Maybe it's that my band isn't very good, but I have a sneaking suspicion that some of these blogs are more flooded with emails from musicians than with actual subscribers. Do you think I should continue spending time emailing these blogs or should I be focusing my efforts somewhere else? Sincerely, Danielle
Danielle, It's a rough row to hoe, girl. Knocking at the door of the tiniest blogs for naught. After perusing your site, your assemblage of press clips, your soundcloud, and the nice video you made, here are some things I diagnosed, in order of most potentially problematic:
You Are Burying The Lede: Unlike most bands, you have a story--push it to the fore. Even if it's a 200-word bio, you are a co-ed seven-piece band with classic/chamber leanings--get that up on your site. Do not make me have to skip along through your video to find out. (That's a quirky enough angle to get local press any place you play a show. Getting non-blog press--tour press--might be an easier sell on the uniqueness.) Put a bio on your site. Put a similar description in any pitch you put out there. You do not even mention this in your letter! For all I know, you could be sounding like Týr. Also, tell people you are from New York, rather than Syracuse. Syracuse is not sexy and if people wanna assume you mean "City" rather than "state" well, that's their problem.
Your Sound is Not Very Popular: Many blogs take their cues from Pitchfork, and/or the other namebrand, tastemaker blogs that dictate the trends of the music-zone they cover. No band on Pitchfork sounds like your band right now, though twee seems to make a come back every other year, so you can maybe hold out hope. If you were more roots or more symphonic and dramatic, or could find some work being the backing strings for someone else's known band/album--that could change. You might do well to tag yourself as "cinematic" or offer to license instrumentals for cheap or free to student filmmakers, might help get your name out.
Your Songs: Both your singles are pushing six-minutes. You could accomplish what you do in three. Six minutes is a long ass time to mellow out and vibe and wait for a minute at a time between singing parts. Like, what is your band doing? For having all the orchestral aspects, you do very little with them. Your voice has that clarion-musical theatre thing going on, the rest of the band is like ethereal, twee, maybe a porch-rock band? There is not a lot of edge there, there is not a lot of direction, it's all a little saccharine. I would guess this might be the biggest issue right here -- you might need to get even quieter, more genrified or significantly louder. You are in a milquetoast middlespace.
Bloggable Hook: Unless you have a brand new record, a record about to come out, a new single, a national tour or a new video--something newsworthy or notable, there is nothing to peg it to. Some sites do cover bands at a random and some blogs cover almost anything, but they are quite small.
The Amount Of Press You Have Is About Right: Sure, you could have more. But you are also still playing on bills with tribute bands now and then.
Your Band Name: Sounds like it could be an amateur porn site, but other than that, it's really generic. The fact that the cover of the first EP looks like a still from the creepy homeless girl terror videos from season three of The Killing super does not help that cause at all.
Your Website: People should land there and have a good idea of what you are about immediately. "We are a seven-piece chamber pop band from New York"; that cute picture of you beardos out in the woods; Soundcloud embed of your BEST song right under it.
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You should have a "news" kind of section out front--how old is that record? Address us, tell us of these upcoming shows, give us a whiff of your bands fun-loving/morose/quirky personality. Beige on white is a bad color scheme for anything--pick any other colors. You need a press section with a bio, downloadable photos at hi and lo-res, links to songs or embeds. Do not make people run around to your Facebook and Bandcamp and Soundcloud for different things. Also, a couple links are broken, and what's up with your "Friends" listed under the "People" link? Are those personal friends? People who are sometimes in the band? TCB on that front. Your website needs personality and it reeks of "timid local band" and doesn't make you seem interesting.
So, maybe it's not worth emailing hundreds of blogs until you get a few of these ducks in a row.