Getting and Giving Reviews to Market in the Music Business

By Loren Weisman

Reviews are a wonderful thing in the music business. A particularly well-trusted reviewer or source can immeasurably help get new fans to connect with you. At the same time, when you review other bands, venues, restaurants you’ve visited while on the road, products you use, and places where you’ve stopped (hotels to local attractions), you open up as a voice that people want to follow and then learn more about you and your music.

Negative reviews can be a good thing. Music is art. Art is opinion. Allow peoples’ opinions to shine, even if those opinions aren’t the most favorable. Not everyone is going to love you, so share some of those negative reviews and show a sense of humility.

Going after the reviewers and review sites

Whether you reach out to an editor, a blogger, or a celebrity for an endorsement-type review, be concise, sweet, and to the point. Email is always best in most cases and the solicitation with personalization helps get you considered for a review over the sea of bands and artists sending the same type of email.

Review and solicitation etiquette

Keep in mind that the email you send is being sent by thousands of others. Get right to the point, stay humble but confident, and personalize the note specifically to the reviewer or the publication. Check out the reviewer’s, blogger’s, magazine’s, radio station’s, or newspaper’s website and add something to your email that shows you’re aware of them on a personal level. Include a comment about how you liked one of their specific reviews to show your respect for the reviewer.

Summarize the album with a simple tagline, and always send links. Never send attachments unless they are requested. Tell the reviewer if you’re going to be in the area in the near future; even if you aren’t, give a compliment to that reviewer and state how you’d love to include their view positive or negative on your music.

Reaching out to celebrities

Getting that celebrity endorsement can be very cool to add to your website or promo package. Take the same respectful approach as you would to others, but add the reason why you want that review. If they were a major influence, inspiration, or had an effect on you, add it into that brief pitch email.

Search for their contact information through their website or through their agent. Don’t send a public message on Facebook or a tweet that you want them to check you out and give you a review. It’s unprofessional, overdone, and isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Stay clear, simple, concise, and understand that just like the smaller reviewers, they may not respond. Don’t hound them. If you don’t hear back, let it go.

Going after radio and print

With radio and print, spread your search a little wider. As you research different reviewers and blogs on the Internet from people who aren’t located near you, search for a music magazine site in Seattle on one day and then look for one in Miami the next. The day after that, try San Diego and then Bangor. Then go overseas.

The goal is to spread your reviews around the world and not just have them in a small radius of your backyard. Reach out and search for online reviewers. Today with the ability to easily send files, you can build up an impressive initial review package that includes reviews from all over the world.

Posting reviews

No more than once a week, post reviews as blogs. Note that it’s okay to put a couple together. Make sure you’re profiling the blogger, site, paper, but posting every single review as they come in will end up being too much and come off as arrogant.

Giving those reviews to others

Review other artists you have played with, musical equipment you use, hotels where you stayed, places where you ate, services you used and so on. Just as you search for those to review you, build the karma points and review others.

Reviewing bands

Whether it’s other bands you played with or saw live, give them a review. Visit their website, their Facebook page, or their most popular social media network, and leave a review for them, their show, or their album. This is great marketing, and opens you up to the reviewed band’s audience.

Reviewing brands

From the gear you use to the car you drive to gigs to the things you can’t go without, go review them on Amazon or whatever sites they have online. This again can open you up to a larger audience and also helps down the line for endorsement discussions.

Reviewing restaurants, landmarks, and hotels

On sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Google, review the places where you ate, the hotels where you stayed, and he landmarks you visited while on the road and in between gigs. This can up your exposure and connect your audience with you outside of your music to keep them that much more engaged.

Some of the smallest steps can help push and expand your marketing reach by miles each day. Give yourself a daily reminder and task list to reach out for reviews, provide reviews, and work to get those posters up both physically and virtually (online). All of this helps your presence grow.