Today we are excited to be debuting a new recurring feature on the Haulix company blog that will highlight the faces behind the industry's most popular news outlets. If you are a writer who would like to be featured in an upcoming column, please email email@example.com at your earliest convenience.
On November 7, 2009 Zack Zarrillo was a high schooler with a passion for music and an interest in all things internet. The next day he took the first step toward what has quickly become a full time industry career by launching his own music news source, PropetyOfZack.com. Covering the punk and alternative community, POZ quickly gained notoriety for its original columns and high quality video content. In 2012 PropertyOfZack joined the SpinMedia family as part of AbsoluteVoices and the rest, as they say, is history in the making.We recently spoke with Zack about the early days of POZ, discovering new music, and what he thinks the future holds for himself and the rest of the music industry. You can read our conversation below. If you would like to learn more about zack, visit POZ or follow him on Twitter.
H: For those unaware, please state your name, the site you work for, and your role at said site:
Z: I run PropertyOfZack, a website I founded and created in 2009. My every day duties are to make the site run in the ways a viewer sees it and to lead our team into getting and creating great content. It keeps me pretty busy.
H: What inspired you to start your own music blog? Did you go to school for writing or journalism?
Z: PropertyOfZack was started by accident. It slowly morphed into what it is now, and I'd say it really took a solid six or more months before I even truly realized what I hand in my hands with my team. I'm currently finishing my sophomore year in college and I'm in a music industry program. I don't and probably won't take any journalist or writing classes. I don't consider myself a journalist.
H: Many sites out there cover the punk/alternative community featured on POZ. What would you say sets your site apart from the rest?
Z: I'd say there are four other sites that are similar in size and reach as PropertyOfZack. We seem to be a little more niche. We're more strict about bands we cover, and we have a wide, but specific range of features too. We love giving bands a voice on our site, and our viewers love it too.
H: You feature a lot of indie/unsigned artists on your website. What your sources for music discovery?
Z: I just pay attention. If there's buzz or enough people recommend something to me, I'll listen most the time. We also take submissions for Showcases, and that's a great way to find new bands. We covered many more small bands in our beginnings, but slowly transitioned away from that due to demand. About two years ago we brought out Showcase to help smaller bands as best we could. It's been a success.
H: Let's say a band wants to contact you about featuring their music on your site. What advice would you offer bands to help themselves stand out for from the others vying for your attention?
Z: Sending large paragraphs worth of information to me is rarely going to work. Spelling my name wrong is bad. Spelling my website name wrong is equally puzzling and not so good. Be straight forward, get to the point, and sell me on something. We like posting about bands - it's better for the site in general. Just make it easy.
H: When it comes to receiving music for review and feature consideration, which services do you prefer and why?
Z: Haulix is my favorite advance listening website. Major labels use horribly outdated and painful services that are so frustrating I tend to give up on bothering listening to the music. Haulix is trustworthy and reliable. Props to Haulix.
H: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Z: I wish it was a little easier for those who work as hard as they do to be more financially successful. I hope one day that changes.
H: You tweet a lot about having big plans for the future. Before we let you go, can you tell us a bit about what PropertyOfZack has planned for the remainder of 2013?
Z: We just launched a new studio feature called Love Sessions. We're releasing pilot episodes this summer and will be diving into season one in the fall. It's going to be a great feature for us and our future. What else? Much more graphic design avenues will be seen on the site. We're also going to have an overhauled design up.
Tags: advice, music blog, blogger, spotlight, interview, testimonial
It's no great secret that the competition for the attention of bloggers and label reps is tougher than ever these days. The digital age has made contacting with these individuals easier for everyone, and in doing so made it more difficult than ever to get noticed. We asked a panel of journalists from a variety of musical backgrounds what tips they would offer artists/bands hoping to email them pitch letters, and below you will find the top 5 responses we received. Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for additional tips on getting noticed and be sure to follow us on Twitter to ensure you never miss an update.
1. Grammar. Grammar. Grammar. This may seem like an obvious response, but it's probably the most important tip we can offer. Every single journalist we approached for this article admitted to deleting and, in some cases, never reading pitch letters with grammatical errors. The pitch is an introduction of yourself and your art, but it's also the first example of your business acumen and attention to detail that others will encounter. You only get once chance, so be sure it's delivered void of any avoidable errors.
2. Keep it simple. Journalists know you're excited about your music and want to share every detail about your efforts up front, but they're also aware of the thousands of similarly anxious and excited musicians hoping for their break that have or will contact them as well. Avoid being lumped in with those that over-embellish by refining your letter to be simple and to the point. Phrases like "here's a much needed breath of fresh air" and "I'm sure you get this all the time…" should be cut immediately, along with any band history stretching more than 3 sentences. This letter is a handshake and a hello, not an in-depth discussion about your history as an artist. You want to intrigue writers, not bore them.
3. CDs are dead. Long live high quality digital servicing. Though some may argue their place in retail, most music journalists prefer music be submitted for consideration through digital means rather than physical. Packaging is nice, but digital is faster, easier, and requires less postage. That said, journalists are also not fans of music sharing services that come coupled with walls of advertisements. You don't want journalists thinking about whatever pop up ads appear while trying to hear your music, you want them thinking about you and the brand you are trying to market. Haulix allows artists to create personalized pages for their music that offer high quality streaming and watermarked downloads, as well as in depth analytics to help track overall engagement.
4. Avoid impossible/unknown comparisons. One trick many artists you to quicken the introduction process with journalists is to compare their work to musicians that may be more recognizable. While many of the writers we spoke with agreed that this is a helpful tactic, it can lead to disinterest if the artists name are too famous, vague, or (on the opposite end) unknown to the journalist. If you're going to use comparisons, we suggest researching the artists each writer covers and reworking your name drops to coincide more closely with their tastes.
5. Be specific. When writing a pitch letter, make sure you have something to promote and that your letter only promotes that thing. Journalists want new music that is actually new, not just unknown to the masses. If more than a few months have passed since your last EP or album, don't send a pitch letter unless you have a tour, video, or additional major media item to promote. Bloggers are not interested in six month old albums unless it's attached to whatever new thing it is you're trying to promote. Sell them on what is new first. If response is strong, then you can approach about cover more/older material.
Tags: music blog, digital promos, tips, advice, bands, publicity, writing press releases
Here is a great primer on getting your music on blogs, written by Alan Khalfin:http://evolvingmusic.mixmatchmusic.com/2010/05/26/how-to-get-your-music-on-music-blogs/
Tags: music blog
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