I get a lot of email. A lot. It’s not uncommon for me to get off work, head home, pull up my inbox and see dozens of messages, all from indie bands, begging for coverage. Most of the time, however, it’s not the bands themselves constantly attacking with an overwhelming surge of information. No, it’s usually a PR company or publicist somewhere that has no clue who I am, what I write about, or even where this blog is based. The amount of email from Brooklyn I get is ridiculous.
I will admit that a lot of these emails get skimmed over. There are things you look for in an email that indicate whether or not the company sending you this announcement is friendly or if they just plucked your email off a list somewhere.
Do they use your name? Could be a human. Could be a machine. Ok, what about blog title? Again, either/or. But if it alludes to something you’ve written before, that one gets your attention.
Don’t get me wrong. I love good PR companies. I worked for one for a while. I know what effort goes into them and I’d be a bit more clueless without them. But if you are a band seeking web-coverage, writing your own emails might be worth looking into. You’ll see why in a second.
I suppose I started thinking about all this at lunch today, while reading Fred Mills’ column in the latest Stomp and Stammer. In it, Mr. Mills discusses going through his record collection and finding all sorts of personal notes from artists asking that he only consider them for review.
He compares this with the lifeless one sheets that anyone that has been in the music review game for more than a week has seen.
“But at the risk of coming across as quaint, I can’t help but feel that when a band took the time to write down something personal, it humanized them to a far greater degree than anything a publicity agent could possibly cobble together. Somehow I had a greater stake in checking ’em out and giving their music a fair listen.”
Exactly. I always get this little warm and fuzzy feeling when an email is personal. You can attach whatever your publicist wrote, list your tour dates, cd releases, etc. at the bottom. That’s useful information. But in a highly impersonal age, using faceless communication, you want to catch someone’s attention and make it important to them.
There is too much noise online for any one band to shout over. Bands get followings because the people that listen to them and write about them CARE. Maybe the reviewer hates their guts and spews out nothing but venom toward them. You know what? At least they got your attention Mr. Grumpy pants.
I guess what I’m saying is try to be personal. It takes a lot of time but it helps. Talk to people on Twitter, read the blogs you submit to, and converse with your facebook fans. It’s the little things that mean the most.
One of my most prized possessions is a little cd from the Sleepy Horses. It’s got a sweet message written on it, addressed to me. And I’d take that over a million faceless one sheets any day.