If the question "How do I get an album review?" led you here, then you're in the right place.
Before we start with the "10 tips to get your album (or song) reviewed", you should mentally walk in the recipient's shoes. With all incoming submissions, we and other magazines and blogs always only have a few seconds to decide whether the request has potential or not. If we don't find the right keywords in the mail that make us take the next step (listening), the mail ends up in the trash almost unread.
To prevent this from happening to you and to increase your chances of being heard and getting more visibility through the press, we have created the guide "10 tips to get your album (or song) reviewed". Follow this guide and you will have a big advantage over many other DIY musicians and even promo agencies and music labels.
1. Why should I care about getting an album review?
Maybe the first question that comes to your mind is: "Why should I care about getting an album review?". There are more and more DIY musicians who don't use the traditional marketing of labels or promotion agencies. That's something everyone has to decide for themselves. But if you have decided to take everything into your own hands, then you should also act as professionally as possible. To do this, it is important to understand the importance of a good advertising campaign with press and reviews.
The benefits of getting a good review at a glance
Visibility for new audiences (who are not yet your fans).
Event organisers want to see reviews as a reference before booking.
Get valuable review to promote your release on your social channels.
Use of testimonial quotes from the verdict for own press kit or website.
Chance for improvement. If several reviews point to the same flaw, it is probably worth to improve it next time.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Don't be afraid to get a bad review. Almost no one will publicly tear your album apart and give you a bad rating. First, the effort to write a review is too high to make bad air.
Second, giving a bad review doesn't help the band/artist or the readers. We, for example, don't publish reviews if the result is below 3 out of 5 stars.
And last, but not least, the magazine or blog is not doing itself any favors, because who wants to be rated by an author who has previously badmouthed countless others? With such behaviour, the magazine or blog only digs its own grave. That's why researching the right channel is all the more important. More about this in the next point.
2. Research and find the right channel
In the extraordinary case that you haven't been around for ages in the scene where you also make music, you should at least know the major national and international magazines and blogs. If you came here, because you are interested in synth pop and other darker electronic music then check out our article "The best Synthpop websites (to discover amazing Synthpop music)". Here you will find some interesting sites and contacts.
Google Trends tells you in which countries the search volume for your music genre is high. Find out the right magazines and blogs in these countries as well. Ideally, you should also search in the respective national language in order to find the websites. Take the time to browse through each website you find. If you find similar music, this could be the right channel for you.
Take this opportunity to create a spreadsheet or mailing list with important information about the websites you have found: URL, name of the website, email address, contact person, info on the genres, info on the sections of the website, etc.…
So after the first step, you now have a solid list of potential and reputable (online) magazines and blogs. The first contact should be straight to the point and make it as convenient as possible for the recipient.
So don't make the mistake of asking in a long (or short) email if you can send music to the music magazine or blog. This is a completely unnecessary step that only creates more work and thus more displeasure on the recipient's side. What is also a no-go is to follow up and force an answer, as is usually the case with salespeople. If it fits, they will get back to you.
I'm not saying you can't ask again after a few days or a week. Maybe the email really did get lost. If you don't hear back, don't be disappointed and try again with the next release.
4. The first impression is decisive: Get listened or be deleted
Structure your request in a simple and practical way for the recipient. If the magazine is running well, hundreds of emails come in every day. Besides the other activities, mails are checked within a few seconds to see if they are relevant at all.
So if you send an endless text where the most important information is hidden in the body text, your mail will certainly end up in the trash without any action. It also happens often enough that links are generally missing. Don't imagine that the recipient has time to search for your band or track online. In this case, the contact attempt also fails.
How should your email request be structured for an album review?
Keep the subject short and clear. In the case of a review request, for example: "Review request for the album XXX by the synth pop band YYY". Bam, that's it! That's like 5 snappy pieces of information in one short subject line!
Write a short introductory sentence about you and your band and what your concern is. Two short sentences are probably also okay (wink smiley). Then structure the most important information like a list and use bold so that the reader can easily recognise and perceive the information.
A. Most important information about your album/song
Band: Band name Song/album name: Super song or album name
Release Date: January 1st, 2525 (Consider the lead time) Music Genre: XXX, YYY, ZZZ
Sounds like: AAA, BBB, CCC
Streaming link: https://bandcamp.com/
Download Link: https://www.google.com/intl/en/drive/ Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/
Then you can list the track list, which other artists were involved, on which label it will be released, and so on. Follow the principle of the inverted pyramid in the structure of the information. This is sorted by most important information first (top) and then descending to details and side notes. If you follow this maxim from marketing, your chance of being listened to increases enormously.
C. General and background infos
Regarding the side notes: Be sparing with your explanations here. Nobody is interested in how many streams you had with your biggest hit so far, what you were nominated or awarded for and in which fancy studio the song was recorded or by which person the track was mastered. It might sound brutal at first, but it's all about your song or album that needs to be heard now. So don't create expectations that you can neither fulfill nor deliver. Believe in yourself!
An analogy to illustrate. Just think of all those trashy movie trailers that present themselves like an expensive Hollywood production: "With the camera assistant from Star Wars, the actor from Star Trek (one with a red shirt) and the turtle that used to belong to Tom Hanks!". We all know that this is a really crappy movie without having seen it, right?
5. Do physical copies offer more success for an album review?
Physical copies are definitely to be considered more valuable than a digital stream or download. However, there is no point in sending a physical copy in advance to the magazine or blog without being asked if you don't know for sure whether your album will be accepted. Save yourself the money and time of sending it if you don't even know if the receiver will listen to it.
Make a selfless offer instead. Use a note in the first email just before the closing formula, such as: "If you like the album, we'll be happy to send you a physical copy. Just let us know.".
Pro tip: If your album has received a good review, send a signed physical copy to the author as a thank you. Maybe with a few goodies. This is guaranteed not to be forgotten so quickly and your next request will definitely have an easier time.
6. The right file format for success
Stick to this list for the download link you offer:
At best, offer the two common formats MP3 and WAV. The recipient decides for himself whether he prefers the quality or download time.
Do not use exotic file formats such as OGG, FLAC or APE.
Do not use any special codecs that the recipient may not have installed.
Make sure that your files are named cleanly and uniquely so that they can be found again later. You never know what the recipient's download folder looks like.
Make sure that the download is publicly accessible directly via the link, without having to register first.
Here, too, it is quite clear: Take away every possible hurdle.
7. When is the right time to request a review?
Request a song review or shout out
There's a saying: "The early bird catches the worm!". And this can be applied to the timing of the promo. Shortly after the completion of the song or the album, you should already plan the promo here. With one song, this can be done quite quickly. This can be sent out a few days before the release. For regular music podcasts, it is advisable to plan a little more time. However, more than 2–3 weeks beforehand does not make sense for a song.
Pro tip: We, as well as some music friends from other magazines and blogs, mostly only accept song submissions on SubmitHub. If you want to get 100% feedback, it makes sense to make a premium submission here. But there is also an option to sent without any costs. Then the curator isn't forced to sent a feedback. It up to you.
Request an album review
For an album, even more lead time is advisable. The magazines and blogs should have 6–8 weeks to listen the album with all the important information (cover artwork, song lyrics, theme/concept, guest artists, release date, etc…) in advance. If the curator or editor has the opportunity to listen to an album over a few weeks, he/she get into the music much better and this in turn has a positive effect on the rating.
To write a good review we need about 8–12 hours. I think that others with the same amount of quality also take about the same amount of time. The time has to be planned with a correction loop.
According to statistics, a review is best published about 1 week before the official release date. The fans are already excited about the new work and get the necessary foretaste through the reviews.
Also consider that if the album is already released, very few people will read a review, as the listener will be more attracted to listening to a stream. Further you can use the pre-release review to promote your upcoming album. This is just one important promotional point among other benefits I have mentioned in the first step "Why should I care about getting a review of my album?".
Pro tip: If you don't want your song or album review to be released uncontrollably before release, simply specify an embargo date (also known as 'news embargo') for the press to adhere to. This way you can control the marketing activities and get concentrated attention for your release on a predefined day.
8. How much do an album review cost?
Well, there's no general answer here. Big magazines that make a good turnover from a print magazine, events and advertising contracts and can pay several editors with it, won't ask for money for a review.
Smaller (online) magazines and blogs that put a lot of work into it and have no turnover from advertising or salary from an employment contract can ask for smaller amounts for a review. On the contrary, apart from the high expenditure of time, it is usually even a loss-making business due to hosting and software costs. That's pretty unfair for the same work, isn't it?
But we are not talking about huge sums here. Usually the amount is between 20 to 50 € (in European countries). This should rather be seen as a small supporting donation to the magazine or blog. Because 95% of all music websites, especially for music niches, do this in their spare time and have regular jobs during the week. But the work is not less valuable because of that. So it can't be wrong to ask about the costs right away when making the enquiry. And I can guarantee you that a good review is worth more than burning the money for a Google Ads campaign, for example.
9. Spread the album review
You did it and your album got quite a positive review. Congratulations. But please don't keep the success just for yourself. That would be very selfish and not smart. Show good behaviour and do the following things:
Thank the author in a short email for the nice and good review. Everyone is happy to receive a few kind words of thanks.
Share the review on all your social channels. This is a win/win situation. You promote your album through the good review and drive traffic to the review page.
Create good backlinks to the review! Create a backlink to the review on your website or if you have a Wikipedia article, do it there too.
Send good signals and rate the magazine or blog with 5 stars on Google, Facebook and others.
With these points you invest in the future. This will be seen by the author and remembered as a very positive action. The chances for further reviews, music video postings, single releases or even an interview are now more favourable for you.
10. Marketing like a pro: offering copies to give away
A simple and sure way to get more attention for the album is certainly a small raffle where all sides win. A classic is the concept of "share and win". Arrange a campaign with the magazine or blog where you encourage your fans and readers to share the review with a unique hashtag (for tracking). After a time limit, the winners are picked out via the chosen hashtag and decided at random. You as a band or artist can send the CDs (possibly signed) directly to your fans.
The advantages of "Share and win" at a glance:
Spreading of the review and thus more visibility for the release.
Interaction creates more engagement (visit duration, clicks, filling out forms). Google also notices this and the ranking for the review increases. This in turn ensures more organic traffic.
Low investment of time and money for a good campaign.
Direct contact with the fans, who may also post the prize again on their social channels and thus provide positive signals.
Summary: The checklist how to get your album reviewed
Here again all 10 points how to get your album reviewed summarized in a short checklist. Use these points as a guideline.
The right mindset! Be aware that a good review is helpful for you in many ways. For example: visibility, reference, your own promotion and development.
Scattered fire is never a good idea. Research on an international basis, the channels the music genre is technically your main target audience and make yourself a list of relevant contacts.
Don't ask permission to send your promo. This is a useless step and may only annoy the recipient.
Make sure your request is well formatted so the recipient has an easy time skimming the most important information. This is where the principle of the inverted pyramid comes in.
Do not send physical copies to the magazine or blog without asking. If there is generally no interest, for whatever reason, it is a waste of time, money and resources.
Actually, it is obvious to send a standard format (MP3 or WAV), so that the recipient can hear this without extra effort. So don't be the unique snowflake!
Start the promo for the press as early as possible. For a single 2–3 weeks before, for an album 6–8 weeks before. Specifies an embargo date if necessary.
It may happen that a small amount of money is due for a review from an ad-free magazine or blog. Please consider this as a donation to cover at least the running costs.
Use the "snowball effect"! Share the review on your social channels and encourage your fans to do the same.
Increase interaction and engagement through campaigns such as "Share and win".
Get your well deserved album review now!
With these "10 tips to get your album (or song) reviewed" you'll be well prepared and increase your chances of being listened to. If you found this guide helpful, share it with your musician friends now and bookmark the page to access it anytime.
Thanks for reading. If you think I've missed something or you've had success with another strategy, contact me now and I'll expand the article so everyone can benefit.