Jon Ostrow is the co-founder of MicControl, a music blogging network based on a music social networking platform. This post originally appeared on the MicControl blog on October 14, 2010. Jon can be found on Twitter (@MicControl) and Facebook.
For emerging artists, music blogs present a unique opportunity as a prominent and well respected source of new music recommendations, while maintaining an unprecedented level of accessibility. As music blogs become more desired by fans, bloggers are seeking out more and more music to offer their reader base. For bloggers, high value means stronger reader base and engagement.
So for you, an emerging artist, a large part of your marketing strategy should be to receive promotion from music bloggers. However without any direction, finding the right blogs to get involved with can be difficult.
Here is a checklist of 10 important things to keep in mind that will greatly increase your chances of success when seeking and reaching out to music blogs:
1. Pick the proper keywords for blog research
There are many great search tools and mp3 aggregators that allow you to search for music blogs located all around the net. However, unless you have taken the time to choose the proper keywords, you may find it difficult to really sniff out the blogs that best fit you and your music.
Try testing out keywords from all over the spectrum – words that may reflect your style of music, your fans, your influences and even your peers within the emerging scene around you.
Go for words that are specific rather than broad – “indie rock” may get you results, but its not going to help you pinpoint anything. However, searching specific bands like “Broken Bells” (an indie rock band) may do a better job of showing you which blogs have covered similar styles of music.
2. Think nationally (or internationally) AND locally
While bigger blogs (with strong engagement of course) are always a good thing, don’t overlook local bloggers as well. Regional bloggers that cover entertainment of all types are a great way to build upon the presence and influence in your own local market, not to mention it is a great way increase attendance at upcoming performances.
3. Strong use of social amplification tools
A way to increase your presence online and through the promotion received by blogs is the use of social amplification tools such as the Twitter “Tweet” button, the Facebook “Like” button, Digg’s “Digg it” button, Reddit buttons, etc.
There are an incredible amount of tools out there, however the Twitter and Facebook buttons seem to be the most popular and most widely used. Make sure that the blogs you get involved with are set up to allow their readers and amplify your content cross-platform.
NOTE: This is also a very helpful way of determining reader engagement. Some blogs may have very few comments, but hundreds of retweets and Facebook likes.
4. Is there strong reader engagement?
Far too often, musicians will focus on the size of the reader-base rather than focus on the amount of engagement that a blog has. This is a big mistake that could waste your time and effort when trying to get in touch with a blog. Especially as an emerging artist, you want to put your effort into blogs that have a decent sized reader-base, but have even stronger engagement. A blog with 1000 readers and 500 people interacting regularly is infinitely more beneficial than a blog with 10,000 readers and little to no engagement.
Right now, your purpose is not to maximize exposure, but to develop a meaningful fan base and genuine relationships. Reader engagement should be one of the most important components in the criteria guidelines you setup for finding and connecting with the right blogs.
5. Does the blogger maintain good practices when using social media?
Just like an artist, bloggers are building a brand around valuable content, strong relationships, and influencing power. And just like artists, bloggers are also using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Twitter to expand their reach and help them build upon the brand forming around their content. When you are looking into blogs, do a little research and check out that blogger’s use of social media.
Keep any sort of tips that you have received as an artist in mind – they can all be applied to evaluate how well a blogger uses other forms of social media.
- How often are they using social media?
- Is there original content on the blog or is it just aggregating other RSS feeds?
- How strong is the reader engagement?
6. Does the blogger have influence?
Obviously, you want to ensure that whomever you become involved with, they have the sort of influence across the web to ensure that your association with their blog is a meaningful occurrence.
Do a quick Google search of the blog name, as well as the name of the author, and ask yourself these questions:
- How high do they appear on google search?
- Does the blogger gain recognition by other bloggers?
- Has the blogger ever been featured, guest posted, or have had content syndicated on other blogs?
Not only do you want to do a regular Google search, but it would also be helpful to run a search using Google Blog Search, which searches only through the blogosphere.
There are also ways to gage just how influential a blogger is on other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Klout is a fantastic, FREE service that allows you to gain some insight into the influence of a person across both Twitter and Facebook.
7. Is there positive engagement?
Unfortunately, there are just some blogs out there where readers troll each article, just looking for something to rip a new asshole. While the old saying goes ‘any press is good press’, you will want to take this into consideration when looking for a blog to get involved with. You just may not find it a pleasurable experience, or even a beneficial experience if all of the engagement surrounding your post is negative.
8. Is your music the right fit?
This seems a bit obvious, but make sure that the music that you write, or are trying to promote is a proper fit for the blog. Although some blogs feature multiple genres of music, and may have great engagement on many of their posts, there may be some genres that the readers lack interest in as much as the others. You will want to make sure that that your style of music is well received and is engaging to the readers to make sure you maximize your potential outcome from the feature.
9. Choose the right media for each blog
Not all blogs focus on streaming or the downloads of mp3 files, choosing to use embedded videos as the preferred way to spotlight music. Making sure that you can offer a blogger your music in different forms of media is a great way to increase your chances of getting featured. Not to mention, if the reader base is used to a certain form of media, it will increase your chances for further engagement as they turn around and share the music with their friends and family through Facebook, Twitter and the like.
10. Your “demo” appeals to the blogger
Hopefully you don’t have 30 tracks that sound the same – if you do, you might want to consider going back to the drawing board. Assuming your music has some variety, you will want to make sure that your “demo” for the blogger, or the track that you either send or link to is the right fit for the blog and the audience of readers.
Say you happen to be an emerging hip-hop artist, but if the blog you are trying to get involved with specifically covers dub step, make sure you aren’t sending out something with an old-school sound. Even if the music is not your most recent release, make sure what you send is the right fit and you will greatly increase your chances of being featured.
What would YOU add to this checklist?