Higher Plain Music is a small, niche blog ran by one man who loves his music. That’s me – Simon. I have a left of centre music taste and enjoy uncovering new artists. I’ve run my website since 2008 and it’s slowly grown into a humble but well thought of blog. I’m not drowning in page views and I’m not being retweeted to social media fame. However, my email address normally has between 3-7 submissions every single day from artists (and game companies) looking for exposure on this website.
My point? If I’m a small hobby blogger trying his best to do good and get 20-35 submissions a week – what on earth does a huge website get? I’m writing this so that when you do submit either to myself or a similar site, you’ll be making sure that your submissions have as best chance as possible to actually be posted.
01 – Do Your Page Research – Do They Cover Your Music Genre?
By far the biggest problem that I have is random submissions from genres that I’m clearly not interested in. You’d be able to tell the types of music I enjoy by either reading the About page, looking at the Tag Cloud on the left – I even link to my Last.FM page. I go out of my way to help with submissions. Other sites will let you know with at least an About Us section, you can read over the last week of updates, or google them in speech marks to see where their site ends up on the web. Get a feel for the site because you’d much rather have favourable reviews than dodgy ones from sites that will not understand you – or worse, nothing at all!
02 – Research Your PR Company Too!
This also goes for PR companies as well. There are two PR companies whom insist on sending me E-Mail’s every two or three days showcasing their heavy-duty rappers. Why? So I assume they can say they’ve hit their quota to their clients. I have no interest in the genre – it will never get posted. After some time of opening these I now actually delete them without opening them. They could actually now be sending me artists that would be of interest but after 18 months of pure mismatch – I’m not interested. I’d rather spend time with my trusted PR companies and artists.
In order to shine a light on some people who do things excellently Cyber PR, Fanatic Promotion, TopDollarPR and Think Press PR are some of my favourite PR companies that always offer excellent tailored submissions. They have taken the time to see exactly what would suit my site and have always been friendly and personable. I’m more likely to use them and trust their content than any other.
Quality over quantity. ‘Nuff said!
03 – Make It Easy To Find You
Although this has improved over time, I still get submissions that don’t actually include a website, a link to any audio or video media and often no social media accounts either. I’m a small-time cookie, if I like what I read I’ll probably try to track you down but I’m a minority. The bigger the site, the more they need spoon-feeding of content because they have a quicker schedule to turn round, money to make and ad space to fill.
The latest craze in my submissions is to link to an article an artist has had published about them elsewhere for an exclusive unveiling of a song on a site…. and then nothing else! If that SoundCloud stream is not then directing me straight to everything else you do, that’s potentially a published post lost.
It’d be amazing if a submission just included a link to the website, the content that’s being promoted, Twitter, YouTube and perhaps Facebook / SoundCloud. Why? I actually then follow and keep up to date with artists I discover so I can follow on with more posts on new albums etc.
The last thing I’d like to say as a general comment on being easy to find is that having an account on every music platform ever made is fine – just make sure you are constantly directing me back to a central hub (your website) so I can see everything at a glance too.
04 – Dropbox, Downloads & BandCamp Are Your Friends
30-second clips don’t cut it. I need to be able to at the very least stream the entire thing you want me to promote. I’m not going to risk my reputation for only hearing a 30 second piano melody when straight after that the song becomes some Dub-Step rap horror-fest with a talking gerbil.
Also, I’d seriously consider stream vs download for the type of music you’re marketing. If your music is not immediate and takes repeat listens to really get into, understand and enjoy – downloads simply work better. I can evaluate it over time. I’ve often held off on posting about something because it was sent as a download and I thought the track was OK on the first listen, but then over a few weeks found myself coming back to the song. Then when it clicks – I love it – everyone who follows the site soon knows all about it. With a catchy pop song, I hear its essence on the first listen and so I can evaluate it on a stream. I would still prefer a download, but a stream will do.
05 – Follow Ups
Be aware that the submission process can be a long one. There is absolutely tons of value on a follow-up, even if it’s a relatively generic e-mail. It can prompt, remind and show keen persistence and determination. However, I have had artists and companies send several follow-ups a day, or every single day. I work full-time. I have limited time to complete my hobby and I’m not going to respond to you whilst I’m working. Add to that if I’m in the UK and you’re in the USA, you’ll never going to get a response immediately.
Aggressive marketing, pushing and bullying only makes me stop posting something I may have actually had lined up for a post in a few weeks time. Friendly, polite, personable. Pushy sales make me sick.
06 – Social Media
If you can, reblog, retweet and post the articles with a nod to the author. You’re getting the press for yourself, it’s nice to remember who wrote it. It also allows more chance of things being re-publicised too and lengthens the social media presence of the article and your time in the spotlight.
If you are looking to get exposure by adding a blogger on social media, add them and don’t delete them immediately. My Twitter account has this happen several times a week. I get notified of a new follower and within 24/48 hours of following back or knowing you are following, I’m unfollowed. I find it rude and an outdated way of trying to promote yourself and make yourself look better in terms of followers. Sadly, anyone worth their salt in social media knows its engagement, not followers that matters and going about Social Media in that respect will see no one engage or buy into you as a brand.
Lately, I’ve also extended myself to LinkedIn to mutually help each other out with promoting the artists I love and enjoy. This would be great for smaller blogs and artists to grow together and build long-standing relationships.
07 – Do Not Add Sites To Your Newsletter Without Permission
I at least want a hello from you first before I end up becoming one of the fan masses. I may not unsubscribe, but I will block it instead so that I make sure I can’t see that newsletter ever again. A tailored approach is key.
08 – Stat Boasting Turn Off
As this site is about finding and promoting indie and underdogs, the more you tell me how amazingly successful you are with your major label, the less I’m interested. Don’t overcook the stats and accolades. Simply drop them in and leave them. I’d much rather hear about you, your story and how you describe your work. That’s what gets me excited. Getting your personal bio for submissions right takes a lot of effort and revisions but the more personal for me, the better.
09 – What Is It Your Promoting?
Speculative “Like Me Like Me” submissions are slowly dying away but just a word of advice, have something that is spearheading your self-promotion. Is it a single? New album? Video? You need to plan the path of your submission that’s going to ultimately say:
-This is what I do
-I think this would really be up your street
-If that was up your street, here’s where you can get in touch so we can continue working together
Ideally, I want to know the first two in the opening two sentences. Like a CV, you need to grab the attention by laying it out on the line – if I’m hooked I’ll read the rest happily.
10 – Hello & Thank You Go A Long Way
Starting “Hi Simon” and ending with “Thank you for your time” goes a long way with me. Manners should never be lost in this world.
I hope that has helped out some people with their submissions.
Best of luck!