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ACM's Top DIY Music PR Tips

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) is a world leader in music industry education. We caught up with the Academy’s Marketing Director, Oli Sussat, who teaches all students that pass through its prestigious doors about the importance of marketing and PR in the music business, and asked for his top tips on DIY music PR...


Music PR advice from ACM

Ironically, music PR campaigns are often hardest at the very beginning of your career. Getting the world to notice you, above all the other talented musicians, can be a difficult task, so in this article we hope to give you some handy pointers to get your release off the ground.

A PR campaign for a single release generally runs six to eight weeks ahead of launch. Before you can even begin to think about promoting your single/EP/album, your tracks must be mixed and mastered, you must have artwork and, if you can afford it, a music video too. 


Write a press release

Once you have these vital assets, you can begin writing a press release. Focus on the most interesting details – has one of your band members been in a more famous band before? Did one of you get to open for a big band when you were at school? Any facts that you can link into a bigger story can really help to get a journalist to listen to you.

Another key point to include in your press release is your sound: who do you sound like? But what makes you different from them? What genre are you? And why will people like your song? Finally, make it short – journalists get hundreds and sometimes thousands of emails every day; if they open an essay of an email, the first thing they’ll click will be the ‘Delete’ button.


Contact Journalists

Now you have your music, artwork and press release, you need a punchy email which will make journalists take notice, with the view to reading your pitch. Again, this needs to be short but polite. Make sure the first line of your email contains the most interesting information about your band – it could be something along the lines of “BBC Radio 2-playlisted band releases second single”; anything that will fit into a preview pane view on email (you can send a test email to check this first).

The same goes for your email subject line – it needs to be short and eye-catching. Now that you have an email template to work from, try to personalise it for each blog/website you contact – consider what they write about and see how you can fit into their box; make it easy for them to want to feature you.


Plan Your Pitch

Before you send out your first email, consider your targets. Do you want to premiere your single/EP/album? Do you want to do live sessions around your release? Are you supporting your release with gigs? (If you are, include these on your press release and invite members of the press down to review it).

Once you’ve ascertained your targets in priority order, you’re ready to start your campaign. When pitching, don’t forget to consider picking up the phone – showing that personal touch can be really effective when journalists are drowning in a sea of emails.


Approach Music Blogs

If you’re struggling to know where to start in the minefield that is music blogs, don’t worry. Search the Hype Machine for your genre for a start. If the blog owners don’t list their contacts on their site, check their Facebook ‘About’ section or Linkedin profile, Try to get the most personal contact you can. Avoid info@ email addresses where possible and make sure to save any details you find in a spreadsheet for next time.

Another valuable tool for new artists is SubmitHub: a site where you can submit your music to several journalists at once. Journalists listed on this site have opted in to being contacted in this way, so you’ll probably be more likely to receive a reply using this format. 


Perseverance Pays Off

The key thing to remember when running your first campaign is that Rome wasn’t built in a day – for every feature you get, you’ll probably have sent 50 other emails with no reply, but never forget that everyone who features you has taken time out of their busy schedule because they believed your music was worth sharing with the world. And you’ll be pleased to hear that the longer you persevere and the more music you release, the easier it gets.

So that’s how to run your first-ever music PR campaign! Below are a couple of tips to help you gain features and stand out from the crowd:

  • Be different. It’s hard in a digital age but it can be done. Visual content is key in an online world – you need to look at what other people are doing and be different. The music industry has enough acoustic guitarists sitting in fields; be bold and eye-catching with your imagery. 
  • Always share the coverage you receive – tweet it and tag the journalist; they want their work shared just as much as you do, and showing your appreciation will make them remember you the next time you release a single, EP or album.

Good luck with your releases, and if you want more tips on how to get ahead in music, be sure to visit us at ACM for an Open Day.

If you’d like to learn first-hand how you can kick-start your career in the music industry, submit your ACM UCAS application here before 6pm Sunday 15th January: tinyurl.com/acmcourses