I get asked this question several times a week, and though I have a sneaking suspicion it's often an ego stroking tactic or worse a blackmail technique, "but you said if I did this you would write about my music!", I generally take the time to answer in case it's genuine.
My favourite campaign last year, Shafiq Husayn "En' A-Free-Ka" [Plug Research]
Firstly I have to say, this is aimed at emerging independent artists who don't know very much about marketing & PR, and start-up "labels" (who probably have a lot of good will but don't have distribution or a marketing & PR budget, rendering themselves pretty pointless but hey). This list won't work for all music blogs (especially the big ones who run more like online magazines), but it's a start.
1. The most important thing is to make sure you're ready. If you send out underdeveloped music you've blown the first impression, and we won't be eager for your next email. Test it out on a few people you trust to be honest with you before sending it out to blogs.
2. The story - who are you and why are you and your music exciting? Where are you going? Who are your peers? Work it out, it's hard but it's important because if you don't know then your press release & campaign will probably be vague and ineffective.
3. Research: if you don't know what kind of press you want, you probably won't get it so find out - especially before paying someone to get it for you. If doing it yourself make a shortlist of bloggers you think might genuinely be interested in your music & familiarize yourself with what they post.
4. Presentation is important! Get some great artwork and press shots done (quality videos too if you can), so that before we even listen to your music we know you're serious and you're artistic.
5. If you are sending out links to your music, make sure we can listen online before choosing to download because our hard drives are groaning.
6. The press release: A lot of bloggers are not writers they're curators, so you need a well written paragraph which gives some interesting key information about the project, not a 2 page press release. Bloggers love quotes and so should you - they get to cut and paste, and you get to talk about the project in your own words to their audience.
7. You don't have to hire a PR, but if you do make sure they're credible - do they get thanked by artists & bloggers online? Do they have lots of followers on Twitter/ Facebook (ie do they know a lot of people)? Do they genuinely like your music, because if they don't you're just a job they'll probably do bare minimum work on. Ask to see previous communications they've sent out, and try asking artists who get good press who they work with. Remember! The best PR in the world will struggle if your music isn't ready and your marketing approach is wrong.
8. DIY PR - great for building up contacts you can keep. Make a shortlist of 20 key bloggers you think would genuinely like your work and send them personalised emails. It's way more effective than sending a blast to a random 2000 bloggers, and you won't just end up in a spam filter.
9. Tip: ask a few key bloggers for their feedback or pitch to offer exclusives a couple of weeks before your music comes out. A lot of us like to support!
10. A lot of bloggers get hundreds of emails per day. If we don't reply it's not personal, and we are usually grateful if you send a polite follow up email or two.
11. Say thank you! It's amazing what we'll do for artists who are grateful and friendly (we send your music to other bloggers & influential people for free, put you up if you come to our city, help promote & book you shows...) Bloggers are often people with big on and offline networks and we like to share information - make sure it's good.
12. Harness data and use it. If you put out a project for free, use Bandcamp, collect email addresses and stay in touch with your mailing list, it's probably full of bloggers, journalists, DJs and music nerds, not just fans - it's your PR list.
What NOT to do
> SPAM. Don't send unidentified links on Twitter, don't promote yourself on our Facebook walls, don't send emails people can't unsubscribe from (use a mailing list provider). We'll just block you.
> Send too much "polyfiller" content: "here's the EXCLUSIVE behind the scenes clip number 278 of the making of the trailer of the prelude to the mixtape!" - we'll stop reading your emails, it's not exclusive, and when you really have something of worth it'll get lost.
> Don't send low quality content: Youtube clips with still images over your track, you rapping to your camera phone, random MP3s with no artwork or press release - come correct.
> Slag Bloggers/ blogging off as a whole online then expect our support. We're nerds. We see all.
> Think it's us just "hating" for no reason, I promise it's not personal. We love good content - just make some. There's a blogger out there for everyone.