How to pitch your tracks to the music industry

From Prescription PR:

Here’s a bit of bad news: musicians need to view themselves not just as tortured souls who put heart on sleeve and plectrum to guitar, but sales people. Yep, sadly (and you probably already knew this deep down anyway), as a muso, you are as much in the business of doing a cold sell as you are making that beautiful brand of neo-shoegaze-goth-dubstep-grimey-indie-post-rock.

Once you face the inevitable and embrace your role as a sales rep, invariably you will find yourself approaching managers, publishers, producers, record labels, journalists, bloggers, film directors and tea boys trying to convince them of the merits of your music; you may even end up trying to convince selective radio pluggers and PR companies, who you actually want to pay, that it is worth taking money off you. And, as any sales rep (or hapless Apprentice contestant) will tell you, how successful you are at selling will all boil down to the quality of the pitch.

Fortunately, there is some good news: we at Prescription PR are here to give you some key tips on how to sell your music to the music industry.

1. Know your audience
Research who you are approaching in depth. It doesn’t matter if you are talking to an MD of a record company, a journalist at The Guardian or a teenager who’s doing work experience at a local studio, you need to

be sure that they actually deal with the kind of music you make and
be able to demonstrate to that person that you are familiar with the kind of things they do, or artists they work with.
That way, you can avoid wasting people’s time (including your own) and personalise your approach. An industry contact is far more likely to deal with you if it is obvious that you know about, and more importantly, are interested in, the kinds of things they do. So mention that A&R’s roster / latest project / new haircut and how much you admire it when you are talking to them. We all have egos that need to be stroked.

2. Make it easy for people you are approaching to hear your music
As we now live in a digitised global village, yada yada, most initial pitches these days will take place over email. And people get tons of emails. And when they open an email, they don’t really read it in any depth whatsoever. As such, it’s vital that you make it really quick and easy for the people you are hassling to actually hear your music. So, ensure prominent links to both a stream AND a download are present in all emails (so that people can listen to something immediately and also whack it on their iPod and jog to your dulcet tones later). Soundcloud and Dropbox respectively – two excellent free services – are good for letting you do this. (It’s even worth offering to send people a CD upon if they want one, as some people have an odd attachment to and reliance upon this antiquated format.)

3. Don’t crash anybody’s Outlook
Don’t attach a 40MB surround sound version of your song to an email to anyone. (You may think the above advice is so obvious that it is not worth imparting, but you’d be surprised at the number of alarmingly huge files that get sent to Prescription PR, and how they bugger up our email. And yes, we’re talking music here, not saucy pics.) Even in this day and age of uber-fast broadband, big files crash email programs and there are very few things in life more irritating than the spinning wheel / blue screen of death that invariably pops up when a musician thinks it appropriate to send ridiculously big files to a genial and sexy but unsuspecting, tired and overworked music publicist. Even if you eschew the well-known ‘attachment method’ of annoying industry contacts, providing links to very big WAV files that take ages to download will also probably ensure that your music never gets played by the people you’re sending it to. A link to a stream and a download of a well-produced but relatively petite MP3 file is generally the way to go.

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