Industry Insights: Terrance Pryor on Submitting Pitches to Music Blogs
Ever wonder if anyone is actually reading your band’s press releases and music submissions…or if they’re just falling into an endless dark unread email pit?
We asked music journalist Terrance Pryor for his advice on writing pitches that stand out and getting your music into editors’ ears.
Terrance Pryor started his music industry career in 2007 as a booking agent, working with bands touring in New Jersey. Two years later, he responded to an ad seeking writers for an East Coast music blog called Fake Walls, known at the time as The NJ Underground. Though he was new to blogging, it wasn’t long before it became his primary passion and he turned to writing full-time as the blog began taking off.
As editor of Fake Walls, Pryor helped guide the site to its peak at 400,000 unique visitors per month before deciding to expand his experience by working for other publications. He began writing music news pieces for The Examiner and AXS in 2014. In his time, Pryor has seen a lot of incoming pitches from publicists and bands. For artists who are just starting out and hoping that anyone will give their email and music a chance, Pryor has some tried and tested advice.
“Personally, I’ve dealt with musicians that demanded that I write about them, and that didn’t work out in their favor,” Pryor said. “Understand that you’ll probably be ignored several times. Also, don’t ignore publications that reach out to you. Several acts have the tendency to ignore any email that isn’t from some major music publication.”
When he’s not finding new music on Spotify, Pryor is reading through a mountain of press releases sitting in his inbox. It can be hard to write a press release that will catch an editor’s attention, especially if it’s a cold email, but there’s a fine line between doing too little and going too far to elicit a response.
“I’m not that fond of one-line press releases. Some publicists are doing a terrible service to their clients when the only thing they can muster in an email is, ‘Yo. New song from [insert band here]. Check it out.’ I expect that from a social media post, not an actual pitch. Also, some people should double check their emails before hitting send. I had one press release that stated, ‘Listen to ‘Dumb Bitch,’ and don’t be one.’ This was in regards to their client’s new song titled ‘Dumb Bitch,’ but that didn’t sit well with a lot of people.”
In short, politeness, respect and spending a decent amount of time and energy on your pitch or press release will go far with music journalists. On the other spectrum, there are quite a few things that can ruin your reputation with the media community quickly and irreparably.
“I can seriously write books and open up a school to teach musicians about how to not mess things up for themselves,” Pryor said (to which we say, DO IT!). “Over the last decade, I’ve had to watch local musicians get themselves blacklisted, kicked out of bands, and dropped from labels because of their behavior. I could write a massive list, but I’ll give out a few pointers.”
Terrance Pryor’s top tips for artists:
Don’t forget anyone: “There is nothing worse than a band that automatically forgets those that were probably the only ones in the room when they started out. This has happened to me on a couple occasions, and it always leads to awkwardness on their end when we have to eventually run into each other.”
Be thankful for any sort of press: “Please don’t be that band who only wants Entertainment Weekly or Rolling Stone to speak about them. There’s a major chance that neither publication will ever give your music a side-glance, so be thankful for those that write about your act. Whether it’s a local lady down the street or some dude from Europe that heard your stuff online, it’s all beneficial to you.”
Don’t be that person: “It takes one individual to ruin it for everyone due to their actions, and I’ve personally had to watch several people get removed from bands. Some have been kicked out of several acts because of their consistent attitudes. Myself and various others in local music scene have been harassed by a certain musician who has gotten themselves and all of their bands blacklisted by numerous promoters and venues in the area. Don’t do anything that will get you in hot water with the local scene. The same people that do always wind up having to run into those they’ve ticked off on a constant basis.”
Catch up with Pryor’s latest stories on Twitter.