How To Get a Write Up In The Local Music Scene

Recently I had a great show. We did a lot of promotion for it, including some Facebook ad campaigns. One thing that I didn’t expect was that we got a write-up in the Nashville Scene which is one of the weekly free magazines that goes out here. A lot of bands and other artists frequently ask me how I get all this attention from these types of publications.

Sometimes I will get booked for shows that don’t make sense just because they think I am going to bring us all press attention or something.

There really isn’t a formula; it’s not something I can control really. I do want to share some thoughts I have as to why this has been happening for me and what any artist or musician can do on their own.

BTW: Here’s a video clip from that show!

First, let’s look at your mindset.

Do you hate the media and the press? Do you think that they are purposefully ignoring you and all others with talent? Do you think the entire world is against you and your music? This is your first obstacle; maybe your biggest. I’ve never worked at one of these publications, but I did write for my high school newspaper back in the day. Let me break down how I think it works. These magazines have to write about interesting topics and bands, so that people in their target audience will pick it up and see all of the very cool ads that businesses have paid to place on each page. So the magazines actually NEED fresh interesting content. It’s in everyone’s best interest for them to keep up with what’s going on. And while there are probably volunteers but I imagine it’s mostly people who pay their rent every month based on how well they can make the weekly publication interesting enough to pick up so that businesses will have their ads seen every single week.

Still with me? So as far as the music section goes, they need all the different artists, bands, and DJs to write about. But you must be thinking to yourself “Well that makes logical sense but the local weekly in MY city only writes about the same couple of bands every single week.” Well, these are real people on the other end of that column. they are probably music fans too! They might even be in their own bands. These writers are going to have tastes of their own. You need to be able to accept that.

Ok, so what can you do? Here are some steps.

1. Submit to the website. Normally the publication will have it’s own website with it’s own calendar to which you can submit events. At the very least, it will have instructions on how to inform them of you and your event. Follow the directions. This is very easy. It’s an easily missed step though. People would rather do a really elaborate stunt to get attention. This actually works though. Beyond that, there is usually a contact page. That’s there for a reason. Go ahead and hit them up on email or twitter.

2. Submit to other places. Look for other publications, calendars, and blogs to submit your show. Your weekly might not want to be the only place that doesn’t list you. In my case, I got lucky. A venue I was going to play actually listed all of the local media outlets that they thought I should approach. See? They were trying to help. No one was trying to hold me down personally. People just don’t have time to do everything for you, so you have to get it done yourself. Beyond that, you can search for your city, plus “music blog” for some other ideas. You might even meet some other good people that you need to know.

3. Have your own site. Musicians should definitely have their own site. Have you ever noticed that those bands that you say are always getting promoted; they have their own site with its own news feed and it’s own blog? And all you have is your facebook fan page or your myspace page? Well, when you reach out to your weekly mag to tell them about you and your show. They need to verify your info. Where will they go to do that? Help them help you. You have a blog? Update it? You had a show? Post pictures. Post video. Give them content.

4. Be interesting. Maybe this should be first. If I put 100 DJs in a room, only one of them is the BEST. 99 out of 100 of them are not. So not everyone can just be the best. But everyone one of them is unique. So what makes you unique? Are you a guitarist? Great. Are you a guitarist in a Journey cover band? Ok. Are you the only Journey cover band that played 300 shows last year around the country AND you have a show in town in 2 weeks? Now you’re talking.

5. Check your attitude. Don’t forget. If you’re a bitter musician, the press and media can tell. They can FEEL it. It’s not interesting to read about a bitter dude who thinks everyone owes them something. No, not really. Think about it. You know those women who just HATE men, and then wonder why men don’t ask them out? Well who wants to deal with that? Same with the press. Who wants to write about a press-hating band? Unless you are the most awesome and amazing band ever? And remember if i put 100 bands in a room…okay I made that point already.

Do YOU have any tips and pointers on what has worked for you?

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  • Good post Greg. WE should totally do a collab at some point.

  • Nailed it! Like, really, really nailed it.

  • Promote when someone writes, reports, or talks about you (so, promote that people are promoting you). nnThis will cause your website to have more content & will cause additional people to see that other people have liked and promoted you. nnBit by bit, it causes more people to take notice, or to do a second article on you.

    • Dude, you’re right! I think I may be missing some opportunities there!

  • As usual, Greg, your thoughts are well written, interesting and totally true! While some of the old school, traditional methods of music promotion may be fading, there are so many viable ways to get your name out there and be noticed by the press. Plus, the internet makes it much easier to figure out who to contact and customize your approach for the audience you’re trying to reach. You don’t have to resort to the methods employed by Adam Sandler and Brendan Fraser in Airheads (which probably wouldn’t have worked so well in real life anyway).

    • I haven’t seen that movie. That needs to go on my list. Yeah, the internet is great for everything we’re all trying to do.

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  • Chris DeLine

    Hey man – think you’re focusing on some good stuff here. Just wanted to let you know that I exist (in Nashville, as a matter of fact) and you can hit me up whenever you’re dropping some new music. Would love to hear it. nnReferenced a quote of yours here in an article I wrote yesterday:

    • Hey! Thank you so much, Chris! I just tried to leave you a comment on that blog. Great post. I’ll be in touch for sure.

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