DIY mailing lists – don’t all artists love and hate them at the same time? Some think they don’t need them at all. Sure, you can go freestyle and just start contacting anyone and everyone from press the moment your first single is ready but if you’re here for the long run, a little more preparation is necessary to build healthy, long-term relationships (even friendships!) with some of the bloggers and press representatives out there.
There are two main ways to approach creating your own mailing list – one requires a lot of time but happens in a rather natural way; there’s also the quick way that involves either buying or “borrowing” someone else’s list which, obviously, isn’t something we’re going to talk about here. Let’s focus on how we think it should be done to fully maximise your release’s promotional potential.
THERE’S NO BETTER THING FOR A DIY ARTIST THAN GOOGLE DOCS
If you want it or not, Excel should be your best friend during a release campaign. We always recommend using Google Docs and Sheets, the online equivalent of Microsoft Office. It’s not only free but you can easily access it from anywhere.
Start with formatting your spreadsheet to be able to include all the necessary information about all your press contacts. The name, www, what kind of music they usually go for, their email address or another form of contact information – those are the basics that you’ll need to be able to create a solid pitch with your music. However, to maximise your chances of getting their attention, it would be great to know more – in your spreadsheet, include a column that links to example articles that you can refer to in your pitches. Most of the people you’ll be contacting are not only great writers or bloggers but also listeners who are able to spot a generic liar immediately, so make sure you put some effort into getting to know their taste.
It is good to remember that you’re here for them as much as they’re there for you, so don’t feel bad about sending them new music if you’ve done your research – even if they’re as busy with tons of submissions as they claim to be. You don’t need to know all of their articles and blog posts from the last ten years but having a general idea of what they’re up to music-wise is required and will help you stand out from dozens of emails they get every day.
START WITH THOSE WHO HAVE TALKED ABOUT YOU
If promoting music was a religion, not having a list of those who’ve already shared your music in the past would be a deadly sin. If someone knows and likes your brand, there’s a higher chance of securing a blog, magazine or playlist placement with them.
Having all the reviews and mentions linked in one place can also help with creating press materials and it would even save your future publicist’s time – an additional step is to order the features from big to small so that the PR person knows which ones were of higher importance to you. Some artists prefer giving interviews, some want to stay away from those in order to maximise the number of reviews or new music posts. People who decided to take their time to get to know you in the past should be the essence of your mailing list, sitting on top of it and getting regular updates from you.
Even though unique sound, look and brand should be your goals, sometimes it’s important to know who do you sound or aspire to sound like. When you’re just starting and releasing one of your first singles or EPs, go for acts that are more experienced but ones that still care about having their music featured and reviewed in smaller magazines or niche music blogs. Track down their recent album or single campaign path and make a list of all the music outlets that published something about it – they would usually share links to them via their socials. Repeat the process with several acts; 5-10 is the recommended minimum depending on the number of websites you can find.
COLOUR CODE YOUR LIST
As soon as you hit several hundred Excel rows, it will be hard to keep track of all those people, websites, previous coverage, press quotes. We recommend colour coding your spreadsheet to be able to find different categories and outlets quickly – we love colours, as you may have already noticed! For example, make the rows with Submithub blogs purple, those with your previous press coverage orange (it’s not a green light for your new release yet but it’s close), and the ones who will have declined your music in red.
We are going to talk more about colour coding your mailing list soon – make sure to check our blog entries or subscribe to our newsletter to have regular updates delivered to your inbox.
AND LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST…
You need to remember if you approached someone already, and when that happened. Have a column where you put in the date when you first sent them a message about your upcoming single, and keep adding to that every time you follow up. It feels like we say this to everyone we work with but being organised and having everything planned out in advance is the best thing one can do for their release, apart from composing and recording it.
If you have more questions about designing mailing lists, make sure to get in touch and talk to us about it – we’d love to help!