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How Blogging Can Help All Hip-Hop Artists

Is blogging really a Hip-Hop thing to do? Well, kinda. Though it’s still an area of online marketing that Hip-Hop as a community has still taken a little time adjusting too. From a journalistic XXL 2012 Freshman Coverstandpoint, the more high profile news resources and magazines such as Hip-Hop DX, XXL, GlobalGrind, Vibe and Source have all adapted well in launching their moves online and integrating both their website and social activity. It’s about taking that back yard mentality and applying it on a bigger court.

There is HUGE opportunity for Hip-Hop artist’s to make use of this medium as both an artistic and marketing tool. Better yet, it gives an artist a platform for exposure before anyone has even heard their music. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an unsigned artist looking for a way to start building your following online, or a more established artist with label support, looking to launch a new promotion channel. Blogging can be vital in retaining loyal fans, gaining potential new ones and most importantly, creatively attracting hype in areas where your peers aren’t. Kanye West was one of the early Hip-Hop blogging adopters, taking to his blog for everything from high profile rants to video releases. This eventually led to GOOD Fridays. We, like many others, were hyped every Friday to hear exactly what Yeezy was dropping. This was a whole new way of seeding out music and is a great example of just how a blog can be utilised to further extend influence, reach and more importantly, give people a reason to keep coming back to YOUR site. So, we’re going to break it down and list a few more reasons as to how blogs benefit Hip-Hop artists:

Give Fans A Greater Insight

Fans always have, and always will like getting as involved in an artist’s music as they can. As a fan it’s all about feeling like you can relate to an artist and that you’re a part of the movement. This is something that Hip-Hop as a community has always been a leader in. If an artist in Hip-Hop ever achieves success, that’s not only a success for that artist, it’s a success for his brothers, sisters, city and state.

Blogging allows fans a much greater insight into the daily lives of their favourite up and coming or established artists, in a more in depth way than say Twitter or Facebook. The best thing is, for an artist they can still control what they blog about, so a blog doesn’t have to be too intrusive. Blogging about wider issues and activities is also a great way of getting fans engaged with your opinions, so that when it comes to dropping that bar in one of your songs, the guys who have been following your blogs will get the references. They’ll then spread the news and maybe even refer back to your blog posts, giving you  even greater reach and exposure.

A Good Resource For Journalists

When it comes to music journalists, it’s all about giving them the FACTS. You want everything you read about you to be consistent, particularly if you’re a new artist. The best way to do this is to give journalists a huge resource of information to tap into via your blog. Not only will they have plenty to go away and write about, but you’ll ensure that whatever they write about will have come directly from YOU. Blogging also means that journalists have a huge amount of information from which to derive interesting and compelling article and interview features. Be sure to include your blog/site link in every single email you send!

Speaking Your Mind

This really follows on from the point above, a blog can be a great PR resource. We all know about Hip-Hop beef and rumour sites. In fact, it’s one of the most out there industries or genres when it comes to COMPLETE fabrications. You can use your blog to tackle any PR issues and make official statements, with everyone knowing that the statement came from you, because it’s on your site! Then all the other news sites and sources will be able to take this information and there’ll be greater accuracy in the way in which your response is recorded.

An example would be the confusing embroilment over the last week between Havoc and Prodigy of Mobb Deep. A somewhat vague statement was released to multiple online news sources, but fans were really seeking a central resource for confirmation:

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Benefits

Blogging also has huge SEO benefits and is a great indicator to Google that your site is frequently updated with content. If this content is regularly shared online (through social media) it can help to further extend your reach and in Google’s eyes, can help bring some authority and value to your site. Keep this going over a long period of time, increasing Google’s crawling of your website to ensure that all your blog posts and subsequent site information is getting indexed. If you have frequently published high quality content, you’re ensuring that you increase your visibility in search and can then attract news visitors to your site who might not even necessarily know about you.

If the above makes NO sense to you, we’ll put it this way. After Jay-Z released his third, and fourth number one albums, people automatically became hyped and expected that same level of quality on his fifth, sixth and seventh etc. Because of the standard he set himself on the first two albums, people kept coming back and those who might not have been with him for the early part of the journey, certainly ended up eventually joining the ride and maybe copped his latter albums. Back then, it was word of mouth, TV exposure and magazine exposure. Now, the Internet adds a whole other dimension, you just have to ensure you’re offering something of value so that users, and search engines consider it important.

Creating A Central Resource

This actually flips back to the benefits of a blog for PR purposes. Your blog can host everything from official competitions, music releases, videos, statements, launches… ANYTHING. It’s better to launch something that is branded and of value to you via your site and not a third party. Why? Because you want people to see what else you have going on! You can still seed all of the above via different Hip-Hop sites and news sources, but you want to ensure that the main hub of piece of content is hosted on your own blog. Aside from the obvious benefits of getting floods of new and returning visitors to your site, it can again have search engine optimisation benefits as people link to your site as the original source of information. Also it’s great for fans to know they can come to your blog and see the official release for a video. As much as fans we love all the various hip-hop news news sites, it can get damn annoying having to switch between these sites, or clicking through endless tribute videos on YouTube. Let fans know that if they want something 100, they come to your blog to find it!

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Music Distribution Email

What You Should Write In A Music Distribution Email

Did you read our last post about how to write a Hip Hop press release? If not, you might want to check it and then come back here so you get the full picture of where we’re going. Having a professional, well written press release is incredibly important. However, first impressions count and with most music sites, blogs and industry professionals receiving hundreds of submissions a day, you need to make sure that you STEAL the attention of the recipient and do enough to encourage a click through to open your press release. This is where your music distribution email comes into play. It’s equally as vital to produce a well considered opening email as it is to have a professional press release. They go hand in hand, so make sure you are considering the whole process before pressing SEND on anything.

Music Distribution – The Format

Music distribution can mean anything from sending one, personable email to a high profile industry professional, to a more generic email distribution to say, a few hundred industry bloggers. The content and principals of a high quality music distribution email does not change, but the tone of the email may vary dependant on who you are contacting. Email blasts are something entirely different, we’ll get to those shortly.

The generic format of a music distribution email should look something like the following:

[Subject Field]

You don’t have to try and be clever. You don’t have to be Hip Hop’s best salesman. All you need to do is to be CLEAR. Answer yourself a couple of questions. What is inside the email? What do you want as a result of the email? Summise these two questions in the subject field and not only will it set the tone for the email, it will instantly give the recipient an understanding of EXACTLY you want.

So with this in mind, your subject field might look something like the following:

[Artist name] releases [Name of Project] – [Statement of intent e.g ‘For Features and Interviews’].

Avoid excessive capitalisation or ridiculous statements such as ‘LISTEN TO THE BEST RAPPER IN THE WORLD’. It’s something that will get your email instantly trashed.

[Opening Statement]

This should essentially be an extension of your subject field. Use around two sentences to describe why your emailing, what’s in the email and what you want out of the email. Make sure you include key details such as the artist name, name of the project and release date of the project. Put a link in straight away to where your project can be found.

Avoid information overload, keep it short and sweet. Think about just how many emails some music sites or label owners get each day. It’s about making things as simple as possible for the person receiving the email. Give them the KEY DETAILS at this stage.

[Body]

This is where you really hit home with whatever is UNIQUE or FRESH about your project. Use 6 to 12 sentences and in this space describe a little more about the artist. Here you should feel comfortable in emphasising anything significant about your project. You might want put details about previous projects, where the artist is from, a little about how they reached this point, information about other artists or producers they’ve worked with. Use bold and italics and possibly experiment with colours to really highlight anything you want to put across. If the artist has won any competitions, has recently featured on a major TV or radio show or is affiliated with any other well known labels or professionals, this is all worthy of being noted in this section. Name-dropping in this instance is a good thing, providing it’s honest, as it gives a quick indication of the level you’re working at and the potential style of your music. They’ll WANT to hear more.

[Closing Statement]

This part is simple. BE HUMBLE. Just use a sentence to thank someone for their time and let them you value their feedback or opinions.

[Contact Details / File Attachments / Links]

Include links to where your project can be downloaded or streamed.

Here you should list full contact details for yourself (if self promoting) or for your PR/management or record label. Make it clear exactly who should be contacted and for which purpose (e.g bookings, interviews).

Include links to social media profiles which are in use. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube should all feature at this point.

Music Distribution – Other Considerationsemail blasting service

Ok, so back to email blasts. You would have seen loads of music ‘promotion’ companies offering the opportunity to email your music to ‘hundreds of thousands of music sites worldwide’. Quite simply, 99% of these are bullshit and a complete waste of your money. Not only are those figures always massively inflated (think more a few thousand), but should an email with your music actually reach someone of any influence (which is unlikely as the majority of emails hit dead emails or unrelated sites), it’s likely to hit their junk filter, or be deleted immediately by them because it LOOKS like spam. Mass email marketing and email blasting are completely different. Come speak to us if you want the more professional of the two.

A lot of bloggers or smaller music sites still have their email set to Hotmail accounts. A lot of these will also have Microsoft Silverlight installed. To take advantage of this, always include FULL Youtube links in your emails. This is then picked up by Silverlight and the receipient can open up your latest Youtube video without leaving the page. This is a GREAT opportunity and very simple to get right.

Going back to TONE, it’s important to tweak emails based on who you’re sending them too. You might be able to treat a local blogger a little differently than you’d treat HipHop DX. Consider the calibre and influence of the person you’re reaching out to. With those bigger influencers, you might only ever get one opportunity, so make you don’t go in all guns blazing without careful consideration.

Lastly, don’t CC everyone in on a mass email! This is a rookie mistake and having it out in the open is almost disrespectful to everyone in on the email. People like their business, to be their business. Make sure if you’re distributing to a small selection of people (say 50 – 100) that you set the ‘To’ box to YOUR email address and then BCC everyone else in.

Right, that’s about IT. There’s a lot to cover but when you break it down like we have above, you’ll soon find a winning forumla that suits you and that suits bloggers, site owners and industry professionals. Give yourself the BEST chance and you’ll have no regrets.

Hip Hop Music Press Release

How To Write A Hip Hop Music Press Release

We understand why artists, labels and managers have a kind of love/hate relationship with music press releases. When all the mixing and mastering is done and you’re ready to promote months of hard work, sitting down and producing a press release which accurately reflects the work, effort and thought behind the music and artist is pretty difficult. It’s the start of the business end of music, and sometimes this doesn’t sit well with those who idealistically feel that the music should organically promote itself.

We want change the way in which Hip Hop artists, labels and organisations feel about writing press releases for music. Press releases don’t have to be 500 word adjective-fuelled pleas of desperation in order to get your music heard. In fact, those are the kind of press releases that we STOP reading after the first few sentences. A&R professionals, journalists and label executives hate them too, because they don’t provide an accurate description of artist and they can’t a feel for an artist’s direction or what it is that’s fresh about them.

There’s the potential for it to be distributed all across the world, so it’s important to get it RIGHT. Write it to make an impression, not just because you feel it’s something you have to do.

Format Of A Hip Hop Music Press ReleasePress On

Firstly the format of a news related press release and a music press release are roughly the same, but the content is completely different. A music press release may not be considered ‘news worthy’ and thus can be written in a more informal, personable style and distributed on an individual basis or collectively to specific contacts. A news related press release takes a more formal approach and can be distributed across a multitude of press release networks.

The format of a press release should follow this structure:

  • Title or Headline (Approx 10 words);
  • Opening statement or summary (Two to three sentences, or approx 40 words);
  • Main content (300 words minimum);
  • About section (A description of the company or label);
  • Keywords or tags (Used for online distribution centres, minimum of three keywords);
  • Contact details (Name, telephone number, address, email, social media links).

The format above pretty much covers everything that should be included in a press release that’s distributed both on and offline.

Other Things To Remember

Okay, so if you’re a Hip Hop clothing site or music store and you’re distributing a standard press release to promote your business, it’s important to make it news worthy. If it’s not, it’ll be a complete waste of time and the success rate of it getting re-published will be pretty low.

When writing a news article press release, always keep content written in a third person style. Rather than using terms such as ‘we’ or ‘I’, you should use the full company name. A really simple way of producing content for a standard press release is to think of how it would sound if a news reader were reading it out aloud. You can be clever and to an extent loose in how you make the press release news worthy. Ask yourself these questions:

How has my business helped someone?

What is my business doing that’s unique to this industry?

What has my business discovered that nobody else knows about?

If you can answer any of the questions above, you can probably work it into a news worthy press release.