Catering to tastemakers/influences can be a risky endeavor. No matter if you’re contacting blog editors, playlist curators or larger channel owners – things can definitely go downhill, and fast, if you push the wrong buttons.
It’s easy to forget that all of these tastemakers started somewhere. Most of them just began as music loving individuals, trying to support and grow within a scene. 100% pure enthusiasm. No reason to treat them like cultural semi-gods. No need to be needy.
On the contrary – they have good and bad days, and sometimes mood comes into play, and they certainly aren’t perfect. But they sure as hell aren’t machines, and if you treat them like machines, they’ll definitely act accordingly. Meaning, you’re music will land on a fast track heading straight for the spam.
But – luckily- avoiding this isn’t even that hard. And that’s the point this article is trying to make. There are good and less good ways to approach these individuals, and more often than not the least- salesy way is the way to go. Eventually, your music should speak more clearly and with more intensity than any one-pager. Or any loud-mouthed, opening paragraph.
So let’s start with your artistic history:
Nobody digs accomplishment porn
That’s right, it sucks. Laying down career highlights in the very first paragraph of an outreach, as a sort of name-dropping slide into a tastemakers heart, just doesn’t work. Everybody supported somebody at some point. Tastemakers are interested in your music, and career highlights are an added bonus. They are an abstract affirmation of something that is just absolutely necessary – a valuable body of musical work.
So, try to present your accomplishments in a dignified manner. Be neutral in the portrayal of what you did, or who you know, and honest in the way you sound, or want to be heard. Which leads us to the next point…
Underwhelming or misleading references
Please don’t bullshit in terms of stylistic references. Chances are high, that you DON’T actually capture Diplo’s effervescent vibe, or Bon Iver’s entangled depth. You may reference those artists as inspiration, but try to avoid directly comparing your output to artists like that. And if you do, be VERY careful with your wording.
Things like “sounds like” or “clearly reminds one of” will definitely heighten a certain expectation. And that’s very hard to satisfy. Try putting it like this – “if you dig artist XYZ, then this might also work for you”.
That’s a whole different ballgame. If you don’t agree, then be my guest and try comparing yourself to someone like Post Malone. See what happens. Just don’t be upset if nothing happens at all.
Also a classic. Being overly needy, praising the medium to high heaven, emotionally bribing a tastemaker into liking something. That also, rarely, and with rarely I mean never, works. You created something. You chose a medium or a playlist, because you respect the work that has been done. The audience and listening culture that has been fostered. But you, meaning a musical creator in a broader sense, are the lifeblood of these media. Never forget that. Always keep your self- respect and maintain a clear awareness of your own value.
There’s really no reason to be needy about landing a placement. It either works out, or it just doesn’t. Sugarcoating your way through an outreach definitely won’t shed a beneficiary light on your music. On the contrary. So – stay cool, keep things lighthearted.
If neediness is the north-pole, then entitlement is the dirty south. Nobody owes you anything. Even though you might feel like a special snowflake from time to time, you’re actually just part of a wild, buzzy and oftentimes overwhelming storm. There is so much good music out there, so much fantastic stuff. That’s why curators have to curate. They act as filters. So, going at it with a feeling or a vibe of entitlement just won’t do the trick. You will be disappointing, probably even frustrated, and tastemakers will think you’re a joke. Walk it like you talk it. Deliver first, and earn your right to brag.2 join the family and show some love for this!