Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

How to get blogs to cover your band: a best practices PSA

August 20, 2011

As I noted yesterday, I recently transitioned from the workforce to academia. There are three major differences for IC with this change:

1. My daily round-trip commute went from 75+ minutes to 5, which significantly cuts into the time I have available for music listening.

2. I will spend a great deal of time attempting to comprehend complex and esoteric theory, the reading of which is not conducive to simultaneous music consumption.

3. My old job allowed me to listen to mainstream indie music at work, allowing time for undiscovered indie stuff on the commute/at home.

These will all work together to ensure that I listen to and write about less new music. I’m still hoping to update IC daily, but it could be about anything music-related, not just undiscovered CD reviews.

BUT!

Even though my music consumption will constrict to stuff that I feel is fantastic (Sorry, Bon Iver, it’s just not as good as For Emma), I’m not going to leave good bands high and dry. I’m not the only blog in the world, and there’s a quick’n’dirty way to find blogs that will potentially like you and write about you.

1. Go to Hype Machine. It’s a blog aggregator, pulling MP3s from a ton of blogs and hosting them in an easy-to-use format.

2. Figure out a band that your band sounds like, or a band that would share similar fans with yours.

3. Enter that band into Hype Machine’s search box (top right).

4. Look at the first listing. It should be “Artist – Song Name.” Under that line of text is a small link that says “Posted by x blogs,” where x is a number. Click that link. (If this link is not below the text, that blog is the only blog that posted the song. Note the name of the blog, then move on to the next listing.)

5. A dropdown should appear, listing the names of blogs that posted the tune and an intro paragraph to the corresponding post. At the end of the intro paragraph will be a link that says “Posted on x y,” where x y is a date. Open that link in a new tab.

6. You are now at the blog that posted about an artist you sound like. Find the contact info for the writer of the post. For larger blogs like Aquarium Drunkard, this person will be different than the editor of the site. Smaller blogs may be a one-person outfit.

7. E-mail them nicely, mentioning the band you sound like in the subject line.

8. Have your music, bio, picture and contact info easily available from the e-mail but not cluttering the page. You want to keep your e-mails short and to the point. Your bio and picture could be good attachments. Blogs have different policies on music submission, but I hate getting huge, attached files. A nice, discrete link to a download site or Bandcamp is great.

This process will help immensely, as blogs get approximately a gazillion e-mails a day, and quick connections make you stand out.

In practice, it looks like this. The band King Rey e-mailed me their EP Street Friends. It’s heavy on the doo-wop pop sound that’s enjoying a resurgence. I’m not a big fan of the genre, even though King Rey sounds talented in their craft. I know that Tennis is a band that has some similar sounds going on. Plug in Tennis, and “Tennis – Pigeon” pops up. Eight blogs have posted it, including Tune the Proletariat, Indie Shuffle and We All Want Someone to Shout For (twice!). Those blogs would be a good idea to hit with an e-mail for King Rey.

Similarly, Killing Kuddles is a rockabilly band. Punching in the word “rockabilly” doesn’t produce very good results, as the word “rockabilly” doesn’t appear in band names or song names often. Searching “Legendary Shack Shakers” brings up several blogs that would be good for KK to e-mail (I am a Moonshiner, ninebullets).

Even though this gives you a good in, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get heard. Blogging is a horribly inexact art, driven in great part by “what I feel like doing today.” There are very disciplined bloggers, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I don’t feel like listening to x band because I’m in y type of mood, even if I would probably like the type of music x band plays if I were in a normal mood. Based on the number of e-mails bloggers get, that disconnect (which is entirely not your fault) could deposit you in the “get to this someday” or “deleted” pile. And that sucks, but that’s the way it happens sometimes.

I love new music, and I’ll still be covering it. But if I send you back an e-mail that says, “Hey, it’s good but it’s not my style, and here’s a way to find some other blogs that will like you guys,” don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s me. No, really.

Some thoughts on Hype Machine, pt 2

October 19, 2010

After complaining about Hype Machine’s inability to successfully choose bands to feature, I am pleased to see them promoting the uber-now girl-rock band Warpaint this week with a pre-release stream of their upcoming album The Fool. It sounds really solid. The pensive, powerful sound that has been circulating on the blogs for months does not seem to lose any force when songs are dropped in a mass quantity. That’s good news, because many blog bands just can’t get over the hump.

That’s an entirely different post.

Regardless, get over there and check out Warpaint, if you haven’t. It’s some good indie rock, especially if you’re into female vocalists.

Happy 7th Birthday to us, pt 1: We are living in charmed times

May 15, 2010

We are living in the best musical times the world has ever known. This point was driven home to me by a band called, incredibly appropriately, The Very Best.

Yesterday at work, I was having a hard time getting going. It was rainy, it was Friday, there was not much work to do. But I had some work to do, so I needed a pick-me-up. I remembered a Facebook (1) post talking about Stereomood (2). The site features static playlists attuned to mood, instead Pandora’s (3) revolving playlists based on musical attributes. I pulled up the “energetic” playlist, which treated me to tunes by bands as disparate as Etta James, Nirvana, Broken Social Scene and House of Pain (“Jump Around” is nothing if not energetic). Third track on the list was the enigmatic “Mfamu” by The Very Best. The indie/techno beats combined with African language and vocal style gripped me. I needed more.

I jumped over to their Myspace (4) and let it roll. The tunes were tight, and I noticed that they were all remixes (5). Because remixes are almost entirely free to download and handle, I jumped over to my favorite rare/unreleased music site.  Hype Machine (6) aggregates hundreds of blogs (7) and puts their downloads and posts in one location. I searched around a bit and found a digital mixtape (8) that they had made at Gorilla Vs. Bear. I listened to a track off the mixtape and was seriously stoked.

I jumped over to Amazon (9) to see if their album was available stateside. The members are from Malawi, Sweden and France, all meeting up in London.  Music knows no international bounds any longer (10). I found out that it had, indeed been released across the pond. I found that I’d also missed the boat by about six months, as The Warm Heart of Africa came out last fall, but that’s alright by me. So, by this time I’d gotten through all my work for the morning (thank you, the Very Best!) and took lunch.

Since my local record store (11) is literally down the street from my workplace, I went down to Guestroom Records and had the clerk order the album for me. It will be there for me Tuesday or Wednesday. Score!

Later I found an interview with the members of the Very Best, and I found out that they self-recorded the album (12). They’re also not on a major label (13), according to their Myspace. Best of all, they seem incredibly down to earth and devoid of any rock star excess (14), seeing as the front man (still? maybe?) runs a second-hand store in London. I also found out that their title track features Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, which is awesome because collabs rock (15) and it’s a guy who wants to be African singing on a track with someone who actually is African.

So, as the guys and gals here at Independent Clauses celebrate our seventh birthday, we’d like to give a shout-out to people with unrelated day jobs who keep it real (16), people with related day jobs that keep it real (17) and people who don’t have jobs and keep it real (18). Major props to the unsigned musicians (19) who keep this place running; without music, we’d be ships without a sea.

With those nineteen reasons anchoring us, we celebrate all the reasons (listed and unlisted) that we’re living in charmed musical times. May you never take it for granted. And if you ever feel inclined to, let me remind you that…

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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