It's Good To Know
So a friend of mine asked me what to write in their press release. As a music journalist and editor of The Electro Review as well as Alternative Fruit, I am sent a large number of them. Having seen seen good ones, bad ones, and excellent ones, this has enabled me to figure out what it is that makes the difference. Here I will explain what it is that makes a press release excellent in my professional opinion. After-all it's these excellent ones that make the best articles and therefore have the highest chance of being picked up. If your music is written about then you have something to show for your work other than the work itself. It legitimises your project, even if the review is terrible. Most importantly, it enables more people to find out about your work and become fans.
Something that may not be possible to change once it's time to write the press release is the title of the music. The thing is, music writers want to write about something that will be interesting for their readers. Their job is to get as many people reading their journal as possible. So if your record is called mashed potatoes then people who like mashed potatoes will be the most likely to read about it. Think about this when naming your work, avoid things that don't resonate with many people.
The first and truly most important part is you have to provide the music. I have been sent requests for review and a link to where I can buy the songs. Seriously, this will not get anywhere with most writers. We are sent so much music, and we are doing this to earn money, so buying your album won't be on our priority list. Send a free copy, you have to be able to trust us to not share it. You can upload tracks for private listening on Soundcloud. Just share the link with the people you need to. If we writers want to make a career from this then it really is important to build trust. Ripping off our artists isn't part of that.
So we need a few bits a pieces to build an article we are happy to share. Us writers really care about our audience, after-all they put our food on the table with their on site shopping and donations. In this modern age of next-to-free internet media, there are a number of ways we can improve an article. Of course we need a picture, some kind of image that is related. If not the album cover then a picture of the musicians is absolutely necessary. But, there are other things we can now include that make our writing more valuable to the readers.
Links to social profiles are really handy for people who want to get closer to their musicians. A fan nowadays isn't just the proud owner of a t-shirt and a few records, they are connected and they interact. Most active musicians have a social account or two and most of these also have an official website also. As well, a lot of people use their social accounts as their official website and the platforms tend to offer just the right options to make this possible. These need to be available in your press release. Us writers can go hunting for them on Google however they're not always up there in the top results. If we can't see them on page 1 of Google then we probably won't include them. So make sure they are in the press release!
Musicians often have accounts on music sharing websites and platforms. Soundcloud and Mixcloud are great because they allow embeds. This means writers can put a bit of code on their article which allows the music player to appear preloaded with the relevant tracks. Bandcamp too offer this option and these go on and let listeners pay for the music. If the music is on Amazon or Apple then these links are wonderful as those companies reward media creators when readers make a purchase.
Most importantly is the story. Why should we listen to your album or your single? What gives you the right to put music in my head? It sounds harsh but this is what people are thinking when offered something new. We need to know that we are safe and in the hands of someone who is on our side. Someone who wants to create art will have a lot of feelings and thoughts behind their project. We need to know what these are. We don't want to know that your formulaic track with lyrics that you took from the yellow pages is worth hearing. There needs to be a humanitarian element to it, even if its a fictional story-line. No-one said it has to be a true story.
Writers want to link to things online and offer real value to their readers. This means that any information about the artist and their music making process can be used to really improve an article. If you tell us what obscure instruments were used or what technique was used when writing the over-dubs, or any other useful snippet of high-brow trivia, it can throw a good read into orbit. We love to get knee deep in the world of our musicians and by offering easy avenues into the thick of it, those who will walk can.
Speaking as a reader, you need to get our attention. The thing is, when creators see that something works at grabbing attention, everyone else starts using the same technique. It's no longer novel and original so us readers stop paying attention to it. This means originality is really important. Writers have to read first, so once we have our attention grabbed, put us in our element with everything we need to create something of real value to our readers. It's not going to guarantee a write-up but it gets you over the half-way line. Then, just fire out as many copies of your press release as possible to as many writers and media outlets as you know about. It is the numbers game, however the odds are increased because of your method.
One final thing, when you write to people asking them to write about you, you are asking for a favour. Remember to be as polite as possible and consider the fact that this is work for them as it should be for you. Popping up on someone's Facebook page with a sudden request when their website clearly has an email address to use isn't going to win favour. If you're already connected on there and have been talking already, then fine. However remember to be formal and not presume that the writer will do what you ask. You are asking them for a favour, remember that. If they do write about you, the least you can do in return is share what they produce for you with everyone you know. It's important to remember that writers are in the business of writing, and if their journal isn't a business then it's making them happy anyway. These things matter to the writer and so matter when writing the press release.
You can always shoot an email to Homunculus Media and we can write your press release for you. We have excellent rates.
So you have a hobby or a skill that just feels like you were born to do it. Maybe you have a natural gift in some kind of activity and you feel that it would be a waste to not to use it to benefit yourself and everyone around you. Or perhaps you've been taking part in an activity because you enjoy it since you were a child and now you're incredibly good at it. It's for reasons like these any many others that some of us really want to take the next step.
Let's be honest, life has certain predetermined responsibilities.
Whether we like it or not, not many people are going to do anything for us for free. And why should they? They have to pay for things too. Cash is like the blood of society and without it an individual cell or person would not survive for long. You might be one of those people who can do something to a professional standard and as yet are still making money by doing other things. Maybe you are doing something that nearly everyone could do right now and you know that you have a skill or talent that only one in fifty or more can do. So what is stopping you? There are plenty of things we have to consider. Here's a list of things that will help you make that final step.
Get A Teacher:
No matter how good you are at something there will be another person who is better at it than you. They are possibly older or have had more professional experience. Maybe they're just super-talented. It doesn't matter, what matters is that you can learn from them. If they are willing to educate others, and many people are, then you can directly learn. Once you have a guiding light in your desired profession you can be ushered in the right direction.
Find A Community:
You're not alone. There are people like you who love doing what you do. They may even be interested in going professional as well. These people often group together in little communities that have established meetings. And if you honestly can't find one, maybe broaden your reach to similar things or perhaps just start your own. It will be a difficult adventure but you can do it.
Google's Good, But What Else?
The natural bias from the algorithm will always give us a particular set of instructions and answers. This can't be helped really, so the best thing to do is Google then go to the library. Even if you just snap up some bargain books from the Amazon second hand listings or something, finding many avenues of thought about your subject can and will help you build a much greater picture of the world you're trying to break into.
Communicate Your Path With Your Peers:
These people in the same game as you who maybe have been doing it longer are still just people. The chances are that if you get friendly with them then they'll be able to help you out with certain things. It might be that you've a really bad habit that you didn't realise was impairing your work. You may not realise that although your pictures of crows are near perfect, there are enough crow paintings to wall-paper St Paul's. You can still decide you don't agree!
Figure Out Where You Have Work To Do
You've not been doing this at a professional standard before and no-ones been worried how excellent you are before. In social circles it's okay to be mediocre or have an off-day. Not any more. You have to be able to maintain a degree of professionalism even when it's not in your immediate impetus. This needs lots of polishing on several aspects of your main skill and a whole list of other skills you will need in order to truly thrive in a commercial environment.
Make A Plan
So you have clear guidance and a list of things to work on, you have a community behind you and friends in the job who are willing to point you out to things when necessary. You need to manage your own time and direction. None of these people can do this for you. No book or instruction video can make you get up and do your work. Learning new skills and putting them into action takes a lot of energy. The brain has to create new pathways that maybe it hadn't even heard of before. There's a lot to it and you'll find it can't be done over-night. Take your steps and know which way they are taking you.
Feel Good About It
No this is not a drag, it's a beautiful way of life that you have earned through your own hard work. You still have to put the hours in but they're hours doing what you enjoy. You don't get to have fun all the time, but we're adults now aren't we? We play games when the children visit. This is a good move for you and as long as you remain on the path of self-improvement there will be nothing that can stop you from advancing. Maybe we focus on the results we desire and forget about enjoying the journey. Because we don't have everything we want yet doesn't go to say we have nothing we want. We've already earned so much. Enjoy that.
What ever makes you happy! Seriously, if it makes you happy then believe in it. It doesn't matter if you light a candle in a church or if you light a candle on an altar made for Anubis, the process of enacting a ceremony as part of something much bigger than you can be really therapeutic. The senses of wonder and enchantment we receive from magical thinking are worth the thoughts that create them. As we put ourselves in the process of mystical forces and play a role within them, the psychological benefits can be huge.
Sharing common beliefs or traditions help us to bond as communities. The mindset of the magic-believer can be seen as a token of unity for those who share it. A sense of common wisdom and ideals can help not only bring people together but they serve to inspire acts which can truly change people's lives.
People who believe in magic are less bound to conventional ways of thinking. There is an element of excitement about everything as magical process and communication can appear in any situation. This invites a loose set of criteria for what reality can be and opens up new and sometimes ingenious ways of perceiving what really is in the world.
The rich culture that is part of the story which accompanies magical thinking is a continual source of inspirational characters and metaphorical events. Each culture has its own strain of magical thought and some of this has escaped the shadows to become truly religious. Other beliefs and systems still remain on the outside and serve to test the boundaries of what others will believe and practice. This ultimately creates a vast network of interlinked thoughts and structures of world view which can be used to enrich us all and help us to better understand each other.
When we are open to magical process as something that is possible it breaks down many of the boundaries that others naturally have. This gives the imagination much more room to flourish and behave in ways that other people won't have been able to explain. When we are open to the natural course of magical processes we are less likely to dismiss certain cues and psychological agendas which point to the reality of a situation.
Perhaps most importantly of all is it gives us a sense of power and control. We feel that we are able to adjust the world around us to suit our immediate needs. We sense that we as people can truly affect the world around us. So many times when we take the proper route we find ourselves up against serious walls. So we decide to use methods that others are not conscious of to get the little bit of control we desperately desire. It helps us to cope with being a part of an often complex and chaotic world.
How about Thoth Atlantean Magic training?
Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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