If you have an upcoming release in 2021 or have just released new music, you want to make the most out of it. Making music is like showing your most precious possession to the world. It’s really about expressing yourself. Submit your music to indie music blogs and use the following tips and list of music review sites in this article.
A great way to get your music heard is to get a review on music blogs. Sure, a positive review on a blog like Pitchfork will boost your career, but there are many other smaller blogs out there that are worth checking out. In this blog post, we have gathered valuable tips on how to promote your music for free on blogs, dos and don’ts of music promo, a 130 + list of indie music blogs and review sites and a few paid services (not in our music blog directory) worth checking out if you don’t want to do all the hard work yourself. Getting featured on one or more of these indie music blogs will surely open new doors, get you new fans and can be the starting point of a musician’s career. If you’re an independent artist you’ll most likely do all the hard work yourself but how do you do that? Find out in this blog post.
First of all, congrats on your new release and all the best of luck getting it out there!
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What is a music blog?
Music blogs have been around for quite some time. In the early zeros, before streaming platforms existed, these (indie) music sites were the go-to place to discover new music. Can you imagine a world without Spotify now? Spotify wasn’t founded until 2006 so music blogs were the place to go when you wanted to discover music.
Music blogs are great for exposure and to help artists build their fanbase and visitors to discover not only new music but also the stories behind the music. Most music blogs not only publish music reviews, but also feature artist interviews, music industry tips, and showcase videos. The exciting recent introduction of popular music podcasts elaborate on the stories behind the songs, provide in-depth interviews with the artists and much more.
Another big advantage of getting featured on music blogs is that the content will stay on the website indefinitely. This means whenever people Google your genre/mood or adjectives describing your music, they could find the music review about you, start reading and become a fan!
Tips how to submit to a music blogger
Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for musicians
Your first impression is the most important one. Make an awesome impression with music media using an up-to-date EPK (electronic press kit). An EPK is a CV for DJs, bands, artists and musicians and shows your portfolio. A good and well-structured EPK includes everything a potential blogger will need in order to write a blog post about you without having to look up all in the information themselves. Music bloggers, like musicians, don’t have all the time in the world and are most often doing everything in their own free time. Having a professional EPK at the ready, will most definitely help you get music reviews. It shows bloggers you actually care about your music career.
How to create an EPK
There are various free tools out there that will enable you to make an EPK yourself. Check out Adobe Spark, Wix, SonicBids, ReverbNation, Drooble, Canva, Epresskitz, ArtistEcards for free options. Websites like Bandzoogle offer a premium option that are also worth checking out. If you already have a website, you can easily create your own and make sure to include the information listed below.
Tips for your EPK
- Make your EPK eye-catching and unique so it really stands out. Music bloggers and industry professionals see many EPKs daily and an outdated shoddy looking EPK will make them look away and move to the next one.
- Keep your EPK simple. This sounds easy because you want to stand out but remember, as mentioned before, industry folks like music bloggers don’t have all the time in the world to filter out the relevant information. Always make sure a quick glance will show them everything they need.
- Only include your best stuff.
- Keep your EPK up-to-date. Have a new track? Include it. Have new press photos? Include them. Have a new music video? Include it. Have new gigs or a tour coming up? Include it. Have a … well, you get the point.
- Don’t add very large files. If you want to add high-quality, large PNGs, videos or tracks, include a link to e.g. Dropbox in case a music outlet needs it.
What to include in your EPK
Make sure to have your best three tracks on top. Most people mostly will only play the first tracks in your EPK. Ask friends, fans and family what your best track is if you’re unsure yourself.
- Band photos and album art
Combine band photos (press) and live photos here. Live photos are cool, but only if they are really awesome and striking. Make sure to also include your band photos here.
- Logos and branding
Add your logo and other branding material for e.g. venues and clubs to use in their advertising and posters.
- Embedded audio and video
It’s easy to embed YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify and other music and videos in your EPK. Find out how to do that here.
This is a very important part of your EPK. Your bio should be well written and well structured. Make it short and concise. Start with the present, a bit about your history and end with the future. Find more info on how to write an effective musician bio (with examples) on Bandzoogle.
To social media, your website and where to purchase music
- Past press and or testimonials
Add a few positive words from music review sites that already featured your music. Always add a link to the original article for people to read the entire story.
- Gigs or tour dates
Apps like BandsInTown are great for showing your past and current tour dates and connect with fans. Sign up if you haven’t already. BandsInTown lets you promote events, talk to fans, have an events widget and a tour trailer to showcase your band. It will encourage more fans to see you live. It’s also easy to share on your socials (automatically) so you only have one place to manage your gigs. Alternatively, add your tour dates manually.
- Contact info
Add a contact form, e-mail address or other ways to contact you.
How to get music reviews (and how not to)
Use the directory with a list of music review sites below this article to find useful contact information on how to submit to music bloggers. But the most important thing here is to really stand out and have the blogger want to write about you. How do you do that? And also, how not to submit to an indie music blog… At For The Love Of Bands, we have seen submissions in all forms and shapes and more often than not they don’t follow our guidelines and or don’t match our niche. That brings us to the first tip.
Select blogs within your niche
Simply put: do your research. Don’t just send your music in BCC to hundreds of irrelevant media outlets at once. Demonstrate to the music blogger that you actually care and are a frequent visitor of their website by reading their reviews. Or, at least pretend you do. If you’re an alternative rock artist don’t submit music to a hip hop blog. If you’re an indie-pop artist don’t submit to punk, garage or noise bloggers. It makes you look bad and not serious about your music career.
Follow the indie music blog’s guidelines
Most blogs have a preferred way of receiving reviews. Some only accept submissions on e.g. Submithub. If they do, only submit on Submithub. Most music blogs, however, also accept submissions via their own system. Most even have their guidelines spelt out for you. E.g. if they want you to contact them via a submission system on their website use that option and don’t send them e-mails. We at For The Love Of Bands often get e-mails (mostly via mailing lists) about new releases asking about music reviews. These are not personalized and don’t show the submitter knows he or she submitted music specifically to us. Long story short: follow the music blogger’s guidelines. If you can’t find instructions on the website, send an e-mail to the blogger keeping in mind the information shared below.
Tip: Check if you can find contact details of the writers on the blog. If so, see what kind of music they’re into. If they like your genre, try to connect with them and e.g. refer to a few articles you read.
Don’t use BCC
This sounds harsh, but receiving a bulk e-mail is really off-putting. You’re right, receiving a BCC’d message is still better than seeing hundreds of bloggers in the CC but BCC is bad. If you don’t care about the blogger, why should the blogger care about you? If you don’t take the time to get to know the blogger, why should they? If you’re sending an e-mail (more about that below), address the blogger personally. Maybe even look up some writers on the blog and address them. It makes your e-mail so much more personal.
Video source GMass
Engage with the music review sites you’re submitting to
Prior to sending your music, establish a (virtual) relationship with the blog. Follow their socials, start liking their content and maybe even share a publication. Refer to the content you liked in your first contact with the blogger.
Keep your e-mails short and relevant
Many e-mails we get start with “I know you must be really busy…”, “Hey, check out this new release…”, “You must be getting hundreds of these a week…” etc. Start with something nice, engaging and compelling. E.g. by mentioning what you like about the blog, which artists you discovered, that you added music discovered via their blog to your road trip playlist etc. Don’t add lots of images and design to your e-mails. It really clutters your message and makes it hard to read. In short: keep it fresh, nice and simple. If you really knock your socks off, it almost looks like a mailing list subscription the blogger didn’t sign up for.
Make sure your music is easily accessible and playable
Use an EPK (see above) or structure your e-mail or contact form nicely to make sure the blogger has easy access to your music. Always actually add your music to the e-mail. You can also use Dropbox (2 GB free) to host your MP3s, WAVs or (unreleased) videos. When you’re sharing cloud-hosted files, make sure to properly ID3 tag your MP3s. Find 5 free MP3 tag editors here. Another big plus of Dropbox is that you can also use it as an alternative to a web-based EPK. Simply include your bio, audio, press photos etc. here, easily sharable and easily accessible for bloggers of music review sites.
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Many bloggers get hundreds of e-mails per day. Follow up e-mails really clutter blogger’s inboxes and in fact, most will simply ignore follow up e-mails. Remember that writing a cool article about music takes time. Bloggers are human beings, not machines. Take a look at the website, see how many articles they post weekly and do the math. It’s not strange if they only write about less than 0,25% of all submissions, so if you’re not hear something back, don’t stalk the blogger. It won’t do you any good. You can, of course, ask for a follow up if the indie music blog answered your initial e-mail and told you they are writing about your music.
Music promo e-mail etiquette
E-mails sent to nobody in particular starting with “Hello!” or “Hi there” or are sent via mailing lists or other automated services, are mostly not read or followed up. Mostly they also end up in the blogger’s spam inbox. Ask yourself: do I reply to all the junk mail I receive? Imagine getting hundreds per day … 🙂 A few tips for e-mail etiquette:
- Do your research
- Address the blog you’re contacting personally. If you found out who writes for the blog, address them personally.
- Share something nice about the blog you’re submitting to
- Why does your music fit the blog?
- Follow the outlet on their socials
- Maybe even share a blog article or playlist you liked on your socials?
- Mention what it is you want from the one you’re sending the e-mail to
- Write what you have to offer for the outlet (e.g. social share?)
- Avoid stupid subject lines
- Don’t use CAPS-LOCKED subject lines (or CAPS-LOCKED e-mail body…)
- Don’t be rude or overly friendly calling the blogger dude, guy, brah, bro, friend.
- Never attach MP3s or videos to an e-mail. If you want to attach an unreleased track, use a private Soundcloud link or share a Dropbox folder with all the relevant information.
Find more tips here on Here Comes The Flood.
Paid services worth checking out
As you can read above, getting your music heard and contacting all the different blogs individually takes a lot of time, practise and, most probably, stupid mistakes. The music promotion services listed below, are services we at For The Love Of Bands use or have used in the past. The biggest blogger outlet is Submithub and you’ll either love it or hate it.
Musosoup connects musicians with a wide range of content curators for reviews, interviews, radio play, playlists and more. Simply submit your music. Once approved it will be made available to all curators for 45 days. During the 45 days you’ll get access to instant reports that will let you know who has listened to your music, who is considering creating content, and links to content created about your release.
There are 784 active blogs and labels using Submithub at the time of writing this blog post with a combined reach of 103.6 million fans. Submithub is a website started by Jason Grishkoff in 2015 that makes it easy for musicians (or their representatives) to send their songs to blogs, record labels, radio stations and playlisters. Find all the pros and cons listed here. Submithub is has a premium option ($1 per credit) or a free option. With premium credits your submission filters to the top of each outlet’s dashboard and the blog has to respond within 48 hours and listen to your track for at least 20 seconds and provide feedback. With free credits a blog can choose whether to provide feedback or not.
HumanHuman is a platform where you can discover new music and can conversely be discovered. More than 75,000 artists have already been discovered and added by HumanHuman users. Music bloggers, A&R representatives, managers, radio makers and all-round music professionals are on HumanHuman sharing their expertise. They all set their own price (ranging €1 – €10) and you pay a fee to benefit from their expertise. Submit music via this link.
With Groover you can, like Submithub, send music to relevant media and labels. Feedback is guaranteed, as media and labels have 7 days to listen to your song, write feedback and decide if they will share your tune. You can send your music for 2 Grooviz credits (€2 per credit) per contact. If you don’t get feedback, you’ll get your credits back.
Use our discount code FORTHELOVEOFGROOV to get a 10% discount on our next Groover campaign.
List of music review sites
So, now that we’re 2500 words in, it’s time to share our Indie Music Blog directory with the list of music review sites. Surely at least one of them will want to write about your piece of art, right? The list below shows everything you need to get started submitting your music to these media outlets. Remember to always check the website before submitting, read a few posts, see if your music is a good fit. You can search the list by entering your genre, or search a specific blog. Many outlets cover most genres, these are simply listed here as ‘All’ or ‘Multiple’, although they might not feature your style. Make sure to always check the ‘about’ page, as the blog mostly outlines their submission guidelines there so you won’t go wrong there.
This is a dynamic directory and we’ll add more blogs all the time. Do you have a blog and want to be listed here as well? Send us an email. If your blog is listed here and you want us to change anything, email us as well. Feel free to download the table below as CSV or PDF and add an extra column to keep track when you submitted music (and what) and another column when you received a reply.