I found this article to be very interesting. I found it on the Unsigned Underground site http://www.bluecavestudios.com/wordpress/. Check it out!
Would love to hear your feedback on paying for reviews and press?? I personally don't agree with it but it happens.
Press Clips: How to get a good one?
Should a review be free or should you pay?
In the scramble to get your press kit completed you want to have several essential things included: a good head-shot or picture of the band, a snappy description of your album, a short bio and some press clips. Ah the press clips. Where do they come from and how do you go about enticing some unknown author to write something nice and constructive about your tracks? Can just anybody write something about your work? Does it matter if the byline of the author is Rolling Stone or Podunk Weekly? And, should a review be free or should you pay?
So how do you get a decent review of the music that you have just released? After spending a year in the studio and thousands of dollars you don't want to have some bozo just say something like - Nice effort-. You want substance and you want a review that you can pull a nice blurb from to put on the front of your press releases and you website. So where to turn? Chances are, unless you have a really good PR person with connections, you're not going to get a review from a major publication for your first or second album. So here are some simple, easy places to look for a review.
You may be living with, went to college with, or work with a reviewer and you didn't even know it. Those same people are probably your fans as well, so why not ask them for a quick review? The best reviews I have read come from fans because if I really want to know whether a CD is going to be good, I'll ask someone who really knows the artist. There is usually space on the pages of digital distribution sites (like CDBaby, iLike, etc.) for your fans to write a quick review, so why not get yours to write a few? It's free and your fans will be flattered when you ask them.
Another free source for a music review are bloggers and podcasters. There are a lot of people out there trying their hands at both and they need material. Often bloggers and podcasters are one in the same so they can play your music and write a review. If you ask one of these new media people to review your work, look at theirs first. Read a few of their reviews to see if they 1, can write well and 2, are generally positive. You don't want to send your CD to a curmudgeon who just wants to cut things up. Also send your CD to a reviewer that understands your genre of music so they can say something insightful.
Seeing my name in print, ink print that is, is still exciting to me. Don't totally focus on web-based media as they are still a thin slice of the pie. Try to get your CD reviewed or at least mentioned in a print periodical that can be passed around and accidentally picked up at the doctor's office.
Your local newspaper is a great resource for reviews. You can often just call up and speak directly to the writer and ask them for a quick review. Local papers love doing articles on local talent. I live in a small town in Connecticut and I have been in the local paper several times with out really trying.
Magazines are still in circulation last I checked and there a few that do reviews of indie musicians. Again, check to see which ones review your genre of music and then usually you can check their website to find out where to send a copy of your CD for review. The ones that immediately come to mind are Performing Songwriter, Alternative Press, Paste Magazine, and Blender. To find more, do a search at www.world-newspapers.com.
Now here comes a question that I can't seem to resolve in my mind because I am part of the conundrum. Should you pay someone to write a review for your CD? How much is a review worth to you in dollars and cents? And does a review that you pay for carry any more cred than a review written by a friend?
I recently came across a new site ReviewYou.com where, for $34.95, you can have an experienced music writer pen a 500 word review. A few of the writers on this site had had articles in Creem and Rolling Stone so you would expect their writing standards to be quite high. So in essence you are hiring a professional writer and not your brother-in-law Sid who never finished a term paper.
Here is where I get into the fray: I write reviews for indie-music.com and yes, I get paid to do so, not a lot, but I get paid. Because indie-music.com is an eZine and a resource for indie musicians and a place to post mp3's you get more for your membership fee than just a review. Yet, it is still a paid review and the rule of thumb at this eZine is that no one gets trashed. I try to find constructive criticisms that point out a CD's weaknesses and yet don't make it sound like the artist is incompetent. The whole idea is to help the indie musician, not to stick daggers into them with nasty phrases. But I ask myself sometimes when I do get a clunker to review: Would I be more ruthless if the person wasn't paying for this review?
I feel that, like anything else in this business, you really have to do your homework and spend some time researching avenues for your music to get reviewed. There are services like submitmusic.com that will, as their name suggests, submit your music to many more outlets than you can. You can also hire a publicist that can use their connections to get a review for you. Then again, here you are paying for it and who has cash these days? I just did a Google search on the words: indie, music, review. The search came back with over 900,000 related sites, so I'm sure that there is someone in there that would be willing to give a free review that you can use.
Unsigned Underground is all about the indie artist and the music waiting to be heard. Please subscribe to the podcast and support the artists by purchasing their music, going to their live shows and telling your friends you heard 'em here on Unsigned Underground!
Happy Listening & Peace,
Darryl Gregory, Blue Cave Studios