Let's face it. Promoting music over email isn't the most glamorous of jobs. It's like herding sheep at the best of times, but like with anything; the more sheep you herd, the better you become at it.
It's the same with email music promotion; the first couple of promos you send will probably flop, but over time you refine your audience, segment your mailing list, and learn to write better copy.
With practice, tastemakers will start to take notice. But getting to that stage is a bit of an unknown territory, but thankfully for you, I'm going to break it down.
To send the perfect promo campaign, you'll need to read the following:
- Have a suitable email address
- Creating a DJ or Press email list
- Sending promos manually or by using software
1. Having a killer email address for promoting music:
I know this is blatantly obvious, but to start sending promos over email, you will need an emailing address. Yet, you shouldn't use any email address, for example, your personal account.
Remember, the ultimate goal of promoting music is to gain awareness about the music you're selling.
If you're sending music, from firstname.lastname@example.org, then your chances of winning features are going to be pretty slim. This is especially important if you own a record label.
Branding is massively essential. Domain names are cheap. Buy yourself one. They'll make your business look more established, authentic and trustworthy.
There's plenty of places that sell domain names – I like Namecheap. Signup for an account, do a search for your record label name (or company) and see what's available. You'll probably find your record label name is possible. But if it's not there are some pretty unique extensions accessible, such as .club, .agency, & .digital. Once you've picked up your domain name, you'll need to create an email address from that domain.
Namecheap offers email hosting, or you can go down the route most people take, and that is Gsuite. Gsuite is simple to set up, and Gmail is a trustworthy email client.
I recommend creating an email address with your name as the handle, especially for email outreach. Receiving a music promo from a personal business address, such as email@example.com is more reputable. Whereas receiving an email from firstname.lastname@example.org just looks a little impersonal. Maybe that's just me – I'll let you make that decision.
2. Creating a reliable DJ or Press email list for promoting music
This is a hot topic. It baffles a lot of people. They think it's some sort of elaborate mystery with very complicated resolution. Well, it's not. I'm going to share some advice on it.
Whenever someone emails me, enquiring about building a DJ list, I always reply with the same answer. It usually starts off with "Having 10 DJs on your email list that love your music is far better than 1000 DJs that don't care for it."
I've seen record labels who have blatantly scraped their emails lists from the internet and subsequently wonder why less than 2% opened their promo email. Well, that is because their email list doesn't know they are and probably not interested in their music.
Harsh, I know, but also true.
Think about it like this: If your friend sent you an email, would you read it? Probably.
If a stranger sent you an email, would you read it? Probably not, unless something caught your eye.
What's the difference between a friend and a stranger?
The answer is a relationship.
Having an affiliation with that person is the key to getting your email opened. So, how do you build a relationship with a stranger?
Talk to them.
But how can we open those lines of communication and maximise return on that investment?
Well first work out what you're trying to achieve. For example, your goal is building a DJ list, filled with DJs who love your music and want to play your latest release in the clubs and on the radio.
Let's say you own a tech-house label. Start by writing a list of people who would play your music. Would a dubstep DJ who only plays dubstep play your music? No, well axe them off for starters. Do the same with anyone else who wouldn't be interested, this includes your blog outreach research.
You're definitely not a charity.
Firing content around with abandon will devalue the product over time. Promoting music to tastemakers who are not interested is simply not worth your time, regardless of how 'big in the scene' they are.
Instead, start a small list of potential DJs or press contacts and build them incrementally over time.
Also, don't dismiss the lesser-known DJs, they're very useful. Some of them will become successful and invariably will end up leading the scene.
One of the easiest ways of getting hold of DJs or bloggers is to message them on Facebook. Most companies/DJs/bloggers will have a Facebook page, so getting their attention is pretty straight forward.
Send them a message
Perhaps say something like "Hello Bob, I'm Pete, I would like to send you some music over email. Would it be possible to have an email address for you, please?"
Keep it simple, don't over complicate it and whatever you do, don't whine at them if they don't get back to you within 5 minutes. Believe me, this happens. People are busy. If they want to get back to you immediately, they will, if they don't, accept it and move on.
Maybe give it a week and provide those people with a gentle follow up. When they reply, they'll probably ask for some information and a taster of your music. Give the tastemaker what's needed and perhaps drop a link to your promo. Promoly has a 'secret link' function, which is ideal in this situation.
When I was running a record label, I used this technique; it worked well, and I built a decent email list (~1000 contacts) tailored to my record label's 'sound'. But I didn't accomplish that over a week. I grew the mailing list as the years went on and I still dip into it occasionally when I need to contact someone. A couple of things to remember:
- Use their real name; this shows you've done a little research.
- Don't spam them with 10 releases or send them your life history.
- Don't be needy, annoying or pester them.
- Be polite when reaching out and promoting music!
Here's my personal favourite (read: unconventional) way of obtaining an email address; Use an app that will find an email address based on the domain name you provide.
I use hunter.io for gathering email addresses. However, there are other alternatives available which are comparable. Hunter works very well, and many companies use this technique for cold emailing purposes.
If a DJ/label/etc., has a website, plugin their domain name and the app will display the associated email addresses for the domain provided. (Hunter also has other impressive functions, like email tracking, which could be used in conjunction with promoting music.)
This will save you A LOT of time and give you a personal address instead of a generic info@ address. Here's an example, using our domain promo.ly.
Once you have their email address, send the contact a simple email, like the Facebook message but this time ask for permission to send them promos. Just because you have their email address it doesn't mean they want to hear from you, so don't spam them with release promos without seeking permission first. You don't want to be flagged for spam or get strung up in a GDPR fiasco.
Remember: music PR is about building relationships. Once you have their approval, build a relationship and then consider sending a promo. Also, don't forget to check in with them from time to time. Don't be that person who only contacts someone because they need a favour.
3. Sending promos manually or by using software
So you've got your email account and press list in the making. And I assume you have some music to promote?
But how do you promote music successfully?
There's a couple of ways sending promos can be achieved: you can either send a promo to a segmented email list, or you can do manual outreach over email. Both are excellent ways of gaining features, plays and premieres.
Using a tool like Promoly is a great way to organise and to track crucial information, such as plays and downloads.
Promoly caters for sending promos as well as for generating secret links for manual outreach.
If you wish to send a promo to a whole list, you'll need to start adding your mailing list in Promoly. Segment the lists into appropriate groups. Really dig deep here.
Segmentation is the key to getting reliable results. Spend some time going through your email list with a fine-tooth comb. Think about the music the tastemaker/DJ would prefer.
Add the contacts to different groups. The work you put in will be worth it in the long run.
Now your mailing list is organised, polished and ready to roll; it's time to create a promo campaign. You'll need artwork, press information and music for this part.
Think about your subject line – what makes you open an email in your inbox?
If you're stuck, we've written an article here which will give you some ideas about creating a click-worthy subject.
Subject lines should make people want to open your email, not delete them.
Unfortunately, many record labels often fall into the 'bland subject line' category when promoting music, but it's ok… this is why I write articles like this one.
Hopefully, you'll learn something, and if you do, drop a comment in the Facebook comment box at the bottom.
What information should be included on a promo?
3. Press Release
4. Release dates
These are crucial factors. Here's Promoly's campaign creator:
Including artwork, music, press release & release dates are absolutely vital when sending promo campaigns to your recipient list.
Without all the necessary details you're cutting down your chance to get featured.
There's nothing worse than receiving a promo and having to chase the sender for the relevant information. Get this right the first time, and you'll automatically be in with a higher chance of getting noticed when promoting music.
Finalise your promo, save it and make sure the preview looks good. Promoly will automatically create an attractive landing page for your music to be showcased on.
Here's an example:
Manual outreach vs bulk sending, what's the difference? And what's the best way of sending a promo?
Manual vs bulk sending is entirely up to you and totally depends on your goals. If you wish to circulate music to DJs inline with your release date, then don't go sending individually, as that's counterproductive and could take too long.
But, if you're promoting music and seeking a premiere, I suggest manual outreach. Including a Secret Link (created by Promoly) is also recommended. Secret links are direct access to the promo landing pages. They eliminate having to send a whole promo campaign via email.
Instead, Promoly can generate a secret link which you can drop into a Facebook or Whatsapp chat. This is great if you're chatting freely with a tastemaker about a premiere and want to strike while the iron is hot. Promoly will record all data on that secret link and compile the data into a report. Try doing that with WeTransfer or other link sharing services. Yep, thought so… you can't!
When you have a release ready to promote, start thinking about when the promo needs to be sent to tastemakers. Do bloggers take 4 weeks to respond? Does Mixmag need your music 4 weeks in advance to their print cycle? All of these questions need to be thought about before you start to promote music. Sending a release into oblivion and hoping for the best isn't the most tactical way. Hence the importance of segmentation and pre-planning.
There are many ways to promote music
As you've probably worked out, there are 101 different ways to promote music.
This article on email music promotion is only scratching the surface. When promoting music, it's all down to what works for you and what gets you great results.
Every record label and publicist works with different methods; they may have some secret sauce from time to time, but essentially they're doing similar methods highlighted in this article.
The most crucial factor to take away is you must test ideas and stay consistent. Try out an idea for a solid couple of months without changing direction. Results will not appear overnight, but Promoly can help you to achieve them over the long term.