MBP002 : How To Contact The Media To Promote Your Album

Welcome to Episode 2 of The Music Business podcast. In this episode, we look at how to contact the media to promote your album.

Listen to the Audio

In this episode James talks about:

  • Pre-Launch Marketing of your Album
  • Album Launch Marketing
  • Post-Launch Promotion of your Album

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think.





Hello James, this is the world jazz guitarist, David McGregor from Scotland, and this is my question for you today: When you’re releasing a new Cd and your contact in the media, such as music magazine, or radio, newspapers, etc., is it necessary to contact all the media contact you already have on your list before the CD comes out? Or do you think it maybe better to contact some of them before, and then once it’s released, start to continue to contact the others maybe in a space of a few months or a year or so? Or maybe it’s better to contact places where you have a stronger presence? For example, for me in the UK and Mexico, and then afterwards contact medias in new territories, for example such as Japan or something like that? Well, that’s my question for you today, and I hope all is well and all the best. Bye.

James: Hey David, that’s a great question, how best to contact media to promote a new album. You’re asking obviously about timing and countries. I’m going to bring the answer in a couple of different ways. First of all, when thinking about stages of album promotion, I’m actually thinking of two distinct groupings of promotion. First one is actually promoting the album, and then secondly, is actually promoting the tour that promotes the album.

So this gives me the ability to contact any kind of media twice. One is contacting them about the new album, trying to get them to write about the new album. But then I contact them again to write about, either to preview a live show, where you play the music from the album. So that give me those two different ways.

Often, you find two different journalists, or two different departments of a media outlet for those two different areas.

So the first thing I’m gonna say as well, is that you want to be thinking of your media campaign in a very, very strategic way. So you really want to have mapped out many months for exactly the big chunks of what you will be doing for the stages. In the different stages, we often talk about the pre-pre-launch stage, the pre-launch stage, and the launch stage. Actually, there’s another one, which is the post-launch stage, which I won’t get to too much on this.

Now, I’m going to take you through the two different ways to campaign an album. The first is the more traditional way, where I have been involved with many types of over the years, from Sony, to Universal, then to my own label as well very very effectively. Then I’m going to talk about a new way of doing things, which is still in it’s infancy but we’re finding out has great traction. Let me tell you about the traditional part first.

So in the pre-pre-launch stage, you often want to focus on your favorite writers that you’re going to be pushing something out to. So, this could be, let’s say, you had a writer or a journalist who has covered you before and you have some kind of relationship with. This is the type where you do a quick email saying “hey, here’s a photo from the studio where we’re now just recording a new album, or finishing a new album…” and you’ll be doing a similar thing to the fans as well. You’ll be teasing it in some way, a little bit of content maybe, some video, you could have  couple of preferred media outlets for this, or preferred journalists  or writer you want to push that out, bloggers. So that’s kinda the pre-pre-launch stage, it’s kinda like teasing the release.

Then we move into the pre-launch stage. This is like three months before the album comes out. This is where you’ll be focusing on your long leads. So this is your, predominantly print, they need a little bit longer to work on things.  So, it’s also features writers. What kind of stories do you have about the album that you could go to a features writer and have them write about? So, often what I’m doing when I’m brainstorming with an artist is thinking about any ideas, any sub-genres, some strand I can pull out or something that’s related to the album in order to go for different features. And these features can be traditional ones where you’re going for music magazines and you’re trying to get featured about this because you’ve been recording in a different way, or it’s the first album after awhile for an artist. But it can also be really kind of a niche, so these could be feature about, say, if you had a lot of time traveling on the road, you may be going after travel magazines with features how you could record an album while you’re traveling, on the road all the time. So these are features, pitching them around three months before the album comes out.

Then, also the pre-launch, about two months beforehand, you do the medium leads. And these are often still print again, cause these guys often need the longest lead times, and here you’re pitching actual album reviewers. You’re going to be giving them advance copies of the album with a one sheet, and you’re pitching them to, getting into the heads of those who want to review you. I can’t at length, and I’ll do it, I’ll record it at some point, just purely on this part.

But usually doing the pitching on these print, these reviewers, two months beforehand.

And about 6 weeks beforehand, and you’re still in the pre-launch, you still haven’t launched at this point. You’re working on the short leads. So these are the bloggers, the podcasters, these are the radio shows. These are the ones you should be doing about 6 weeks beforehand, as well.

And then, when you get to the launch itself, the launch period which can be anywhere between a couple of weeks to a couple of months, at that point you’re getting into it, you’re doing interviews, you’re doing in-stores, you’re doing radio interviews, you’re doing personal appearances. You kinda move out of the stage of into purely pitching to get that reviews, to actually doing it, getting on the ground, doing all those interviews, whether it’s online or over the phone.

And then the final stage is the post-launch, where you start to bring in additional territories you’re gonna be targeting.

So, one of the questions you asked David, was about territories. My general rule of thumb is you should focus on two, maybe three, territories. Obviously the Uk and Mexico is your two, I would start with the Uk as being your core territory, and having Mexico as your second one. Maybe reach out to a third. Many of these additional territories you would have to deal with on the post-launch and you will almost kind of time the way you’re pitching these territories around the way you’re going to be touring those places. So, if you’re going to be releasing an album, say, October in the UK for example. You’ll be pitching around June/July initially, but maybe you’re going to do a German tour for it maybe in January, so you’ll be working on that one maybe on October, kind of the pre-launch stages for that. So that will give you some kind of insight on the traditional way of doing it.

Having said that, there’s a new way. And it kinda flips things on its head a little bit and if you wanna learn more about this way, check out Ryan Holiday, I interviewed him before, and he has a great book called “Trust me, I’m Lying.” It’ll teach you exactly how to do this.

And in this stage, we start the pre-pre-launch stage where we start teasing some content, whether social media or trusted journalists, media that we have a relationship with, but then the pre-launch, three months down, you actually go to bloggers, podcasts, and vloggers, at that point. So, way in advace of the album coming out, you’re actually trying to build relationships with those bloggers and start putting things out and for that you would really focus on what we call lead gen. So you’re a guest on a blog, or a podcast, you’re saying, “hey, the new album’s coming out in two months time, but you can get an exclusive track from the album by going here, and we’ll let you know when the album comes out.”

So, the good thing about that is that if you think about it, where the print journalists and the more traditional media find their news, they’re going on blogs and they’re on podcasts, and on social. Especially, if you think about, say if you want to go for a particular journalist, a particular newspaper, what do they listen to? What sites do they follow? What blogs are they on, which podcasts do listen, which Facebook pages do they follow, so those are the ones you want to be getting on right early. So that when you go, say a month later, to these medium leads, the features writers for print, and reviewers, they;ll have already started hearing the buzz about you as an artist.

And then the final part of the pre-launch, that month beforehand where you’re obviously kind of going for radio, by this point you hopefully go to radio with a story about “look at all these bloggers, these podcasts we’ve been interviewed in, these features in the magazines, we’ve got this review coming out in, this is a good story to bring in to the radio, or to TV with on that matter.

And then your launch is once again, just going out there, being visible, being interviewed, in-stores, radio, personal appearances, maybe coming back around, doing some podcasts again now that you’ve got the album out, you talk about it. And the, you can move into the post-launch where you actually target additional territories, and also additional niches. Maybe there’s some podcast niches you didn’t get out to, maybe you’re a singer-songwriter and you want to get into the mom blogs, or the mom podcasts, and that gives you a chance to get onto those.

So, this has been kind of a longer answer to this, it’s actually a really fascinating area. I’m really glad you asked this question, David. So hopefully that kinda gives you an idea what to think about. You can go do the traditional way, tried and tested. Or you can check out Ryan Holiday, and you can maybe do some experiments or maybe do it a different way, you can flip  it on it’s head.

So, my name is James Taylor from Music Business Institute.