If you’re an indie musician, there’ll always be some aspects of promoting your music you need to do by yourself, whether that’s because you’re a DIY band, an artist without a manager or label, or because your budget is tight.
A press release is a great way to promote yourself and your music for free; however, to get some results out of it, you’ll need to write a great one.
Most artists know what a press release is, but a small percentage of us know how to actually write one. As a musician and record label owner, I have the opportunity to both write and receive press releases regularly, which has allowed me to identify the best practices to make a press release noticeable.
There are a couple of things you need to know before writing a press release. I’ll start with the basics and move on forward to the more complicated topics while keeping things concise for those who have never written one before.
In the end, you’ll find a template that you can use as a guide to writing your music press releases.
Let’s dive in!
What is a press release?
The first thing you’ve got to understand is what a press release is.
Here’s a quick definition:
A press release is a media format for sharing something newsworthy. It can be printed or digital, and can be sent to journalists, bloggers, or magazines so they can include it in their news. You can also post it on your website, so anyone can have access to it. Or you could do all of the above.
It’s really up to you.
These are just some of the most common uses for press releases in general:
- General news
- New product launch
- Quarterly reports
- Crisis communications
- New hires
Pretty broad – so how can this be helpful for musical artists, specifically?
Remember that as an artist, your music is your “product”, and you are “the company”. So letting people know about your music coming out is a great way to promote your work.
Let’s leave the business jargon aside; in fact, keeping things simple is something you should bear in mind when writing your press release.
Here’s the non-jargony definition:
It’s a document with all details about your big news, for others to use as a source of information and inspiration when they write about it.
It’s important not to share press releases too often, as then your emails could start getting ignored; your press release should be about something so big that writers will want to write about it.
If you send every week updates on your record, then when you send your press release for your tour, journalists may overlook your message, thinking it’s just another “update”.
In addition, a music press release should not be written with the final reader in mind, i.e., the audience of those magazines or blogs. The purpose of the press release is first and foremost to get the media’s attention.
If you don’t get their attention, then no one will write about your music, and your news won’t make it out there.
Benefits of writing a press release
Before getting into the details of how to write a music press release, I want to delve into the benefits of writing a press release.
You may be wondering – why the heck is it so important to focus on your press release?
Great question. Here’s my answer:
To get your music out there.
As an artist, the best way to grow your audience is to make sure your music is heard. Growing your number of listeners can be frustrating, especially now when everyone is desperately fighting for attention.
Press releases published online tend to stay more relevant over time thanks to search engines. People can find you when they search for music on your location, your music genre, tour city, record label, etc. So make sure you include this information when writing it.
I’ve talked about how this resource is excellent for low-budget artists who want to get the attention of agencies, writers, or music bloggers.
It doesn’t matter if you’re already a top artist who is starting a worldwide tour or if your band is having their first out-of-the-garage gig at the local bar. Writing an engaging press release can have an incredible impact on your career.
Imagine your name on a popular music blog or local magazine with thousands of readers. Even if it’s just your local newspaper writing your story, it’ll still get you a lot of engagement, not only from music lovers, but also from other media members who might want to learn more about your project.
Build business relationships
Contacting people working in music will help you build new relationships. For example, if a magazine or blog has previously written about you, they might be more willing to do it again. This will help you greatly, since they’ll be familiar with your work and you’ll know the kind of content they promote.
Besides, as press releases are typically public, anyone in the industry can find you: venues, managers, and promoters, not just journalists and bloggers, which makes it easy for labels to discover you, too.
All right – so writing a press release matters.
Now, let’s talk about how to actually do it.
Examples of press releases
I want to start by showing you a few examples of press releases for music. Click through and check these out.
- This post has a few different examples (including releases from Dua Lipa and the Jonas Brothers).
- Here’s a press release for a single that a PR firm sent me.
- Here’s a press release that our firm, Two Story Media, wrote for an artist.
Write your music press release
If you clicked through those examples, you know generally what a press release looks like – now it’s time for the practical tips.
Although there are many ways to write a press release, there’s a standard structure you should know and follow.
Remember that you can make it longer or shorter depending on the news you’re sharing and your audience. A press release differs greatly from album reviews, which tend to go through all the details behind the songwriting or recording process. It’s also quite different from a standard newsletter, where you can write, for instance, about your new merchandise that’s going to be available exclusively on your website store.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is: What’s the story?
Is it worth telling it? And is it any different from any other artist’s story?
I’ve read too many press releases that have basically said some version of, “X artist writes emotional, honest songs from the heart, with incredible instrumentation and great production.”
⬆️ Unfortunately, that’s not a story. It may be true. It may not be. But it’s definitely not unique.
A story should include some element of human interest – and, usually, that’s the specifics of your situation. What’s the best thing about your song or album or tour or whatever? How did that thing come to be? What does that thing mean to you?
“X artist was trying to make it as a standup comedian in New York City when they realized that their parody songs were getting more applause than their jokes.”
⬆️ That’s specific. That’s the beginning of a story.
What goes into a press release?
In addition to a story, a press release generally has these elements:
- Summary of news story
- Contact info
Use these to give the media all the info they will need to write about your work. Some editors are too busy to do the research, so providing all this info will encourage them to write a story.
This is probably the most essential element of your press release. Marketers mention we only have about 3 seconds to capture the reader’s attention. So your headline needs to be catchy and attractive. Think of it as the subject line of an email.
If it catches your eyes, you’re more likely to open that email. And if the few first lines are good, too, then maybe you’ll read through it. But the thing is, you are investing your time in this text.
Think of the person who’s going to read it. What are they looking for? What would be something newsworthy for them?
Remember, you’re pitching yourself for others to write about your project.
Summary of news story
Resume your relevant information like a subheading. It can be done in many ways, so try a few different options until you find what works best for you.
The most common practice is to condense the most crucial details in a line or two.
If you have quotes from relevant media, you can include them in a summary to establish authority. For example, check out this Press Release for singer Em Beihold.
Maybe you can use bullet points to summarize some important points in your newsletter. Bullet points are ideal to keep the message short and engaging, so make sure you use them if you see your newsletter is getting too long.
Here, you can also share a link to the video or the album.
Start with city and state, followed by month, day, and year.
Use the formats “For immediate release” or “To be released on xx” at the top of your press release to let writers know when they can publish the story.
For example, you want to share all the details for the upcoming summer benefit concert where you’ll be participating. You’ll start the first line with:
For immediate release
Miami, FL. July 10, 2022.
The body is where you explain what’s going on. The most important news goes first. Apply the 5Ws in the first paragraph to explain everything in detail.
- Who (that’s you or your band)
- What (the news: tour, single, album, new signing, change in lineup, a collaboration…)
- Where (where is this happening? locally, world tour, playing at festivals…)
- When (date of release)
- Why (details of why is this newsworthy)
After the first paragraph, you can add more details: talk about yourself as an artist, or a story relevant to your big announcement. Write it in the third person, be clear and make it easy to read.
Some things you can add to the next paragraph, depending on your news, are: your music genre, details on your album/tour, song titles, and previous reviews, if available.
End this section with a final paragraph where you tell them what to do next. To watch your video, listen to the record, contact you, buy your ticket, and so on.
It’s common practice to end this section with the word “END” or “###” to clarify that is the end of the message.
Include the quote from the most relevant people involved: that can be you, manager, producers, quotes from a previous tour, or what other journalists said about you.
A word from your record label or manager. Or even something you’ve said.
However, keep them real using natural language. Don’t try to make it sound prettier by adding big words. The more natural and genuine, the better.
Let’s say it’s your first time playing at a local venue in your city. You can quote members of the band expressing how excited they are to leave the rehearsal room finally. Or one from the venue’s manager on how they got your band’s attention.
Include name, phone number, email address, and any other way media can find you and reach out to you. Very often happens that writers contact artists to ask more questions or details about the press release.
You can add some extra sections like an artist Bio and expand on specifics that can be useful for editors.
Also, don’t forget to add links to your website, social networks, a press photo album, and most importantly, links to your music (in case of a record release).
There’s no specific rule about word count. But a 2-page document is commonly used.
How to send your music press release
Now you have your press release ready, so it’s time to share it with the world.
First, you’ll need to decide if you’ll publish it on press release distribution websites or if you’ll send it yourself.
Second, if you’re sending a printed press release, you can also send a physical album, if that’s what the press release is about.
If you’re sending emails or posting the press release on your website, you want to add a link to your music files.
Avoid attaching big files to emails, especially if you’re sending the record. Make it easy for the journalist. Adding a link into the document to a SoundCloud private link or unlisted YouTube video will do the work just great.
If you’re on tour, you can contact bloggers in the area that can be interested in covering your story.
Final thoughts on press releases for music
Whether you’re writing a press release by yourself or just want to know what to expect from one, now you should have all the information to get it done in no time.
Remember, you can adjust all the elements included in the press release and try different ways to do it, creating different headings and versions of it. You can also try and send out two final versions, to see which one gets better responses.
To help, with all of this, we’ve put together an EPK checklist that you can download below 👇
(This checklist includes a press release template.)
As you work on creating this, you shouldn’t forget the primary intent of a press release: telling the story of your work while being clear, concise, and engaging.
Here’s wishing you good luck.