Heavy Editorial Is Heavy – The DOs And DON’Ts Of Self-Promotion

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Gather around, one and all, we’re about to lay down some truths. Many of our staff have been part of this scene called “metal” for many years now, as artists, listeners and many other roles. Over the past few years we’ve gathered all sorts of perspectives about how things tick behind the scenes. The purpose of these editorials is bring to light phenomena, worrying trends or awesome aspects of our community and to perhaps give a little bit of insight into how we see things unfolding or going from here. Are we on the same page? Good. This isn’t really something peculiar or novel, but we thought a short introduction to the first of these editorials would be in order.

Without further ado, let us present the first subject, one which hits home for us specifically: band promotion. It’s obvious that the age of digital distribution holds many opportunities for up-and-coming bands to spread their music and message, but it also holds a subtle catch: there’s just too much information. As of the hour of writing of this article, the Heavy Blog email account has roughly 25,000 unread emails (we cry every time). That’s not counting Facebook messages, posts to our wall, and so on. At the end of the day, we’re all here for the music but it’s just impossible to keep up or even provide a cursory listen to even a small percentage of the sheer amount of bands that reach out to us on a daily basis.

And that’s great. We love all of you and deeply appreciate your passion for your music. However, there are a few things that you can do (and plenty of things you can avoid) to make sure that the chances of us hearing your band are as high as possible. What follows is a short list of Good Ideas and Bad Ideas when promoting your band over email, Facebook or any other online outlet. Keep in mind a lot of these are not only relevant to Heavy Blog but also to every single outlet you choose to reach out to. Let’s get to it!

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Genres are tools; use them wisely

Blog staff, and indeed all staff, are made up of different people sharing common interests. We try and make sure our staff is made of people with eclectic tastes and that we have at least one staff member for each genre. That means that while Eden might leap at any doom album that might come his way (I totally will, send me the things -EK), Noyan would probably pass on them. When a blog member comes across a new band entry, the first thing he looks for is genre. Make those genres visible! More than band name, label name, guest spots, influences or anything else, genres define who you are and tell a writer “you’re going to want to listen to this at least once.” Be smart; put your genre names at the beginning of your message, top of your email or at the start of whatever other medium you use. That being said, Don’t go overboard! Nobody actually knows what “progressive blackened crust shoegaze with hints of post-rock actually means. Keep it short, simple, and clear.

Strong leg forward; no one has time for full albums

While we understand the added value of complete albums, we simply don’t have the time to listen to all of them. We’ll let you in on a secret: a writer listens to a single track. If he likes that, he listens to a second. If he likes that, he’ll place the album somewhere on his schedule and will get to it when he has time for a proper listen. That means that if you send out a complete album with no tracks singled out, you’re relying on the author’s random selection being the best one. We don’t always start at the beginning and that’s a risk you don’t want to take. So, Send out tracks, not albums! Specific pointers towards certain parts of an album and anything else that can direct the writer to where you feel you’ve done your best job is the way to go. That increases the chances it will catch our ear and that we’ll delve into the full thing when we can.

Keep it simple, keep it human

End of the day, we’re people. We have jobs, other duties, and a limited time frame on our hands. We do what we do out of love and a desire for new music and its exposure. That being said, there is a host of considerations which you might not be aware of: blog schedules, life events or anything else. When you send out your message, Keep it short and simple so we can get to the issue at hand. If we decide to look deeper into the band, we might reach out for more info on biographies, context, and background. But an initial message that opens with the Chronicles of The Band will likely get overlooked. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we don’t have the time! On the other hand, We’re people, treat us like people. Be cordial, don’t use generic spam messages, and make the messages human. Simple touches like “hello”, “thanks” or specific names can make all the difference between something that reads as entitled and something that reads as professional.

Be gracious

This is the last one and with good reason. It’s sort of a meta-point which should be your guiding light when it comes to this: just be gracious. If you don’t get a reply, it’s not because we hate your music. Don’t spam our in-boxes with repeated messages, especially not insulted or angry ones. You never know when we plan to get to something and getting an email which reads “What’s up guys, why haven’t you replied it?” is the biggest turnoff we can imagine. Sadly, some bands just don’t make the cut. Either we’re not into your genre, your band, or specifically the track you sent us but regardless, we often choose not to cover things. It’s important you understand that’s our prerogative and doesn’t reflect anything except for our opinions. Be gracious and the way will open.

That’s about it gang! To be clear: we really do appreciate all your submissions. Take these notes to mind and together we can continue seeing this scene grow into the beautiful, diverse place we know it can and should be. We’ll be lining up more of these editorials in the future so keep your eyes peeled!

-HB