Music Press Release: Do You Need One? Yes! Here's How To Write It Yourself
October 29, 2020
A music press release is definitely something every professional musician should have for every important music drop. But what is a press release? What does a press release do? How does a press release help? And most importantly, how can you get one?
This article will explain all of those things, then tell you how you can make one yourself. (Hint: it’s not easy, though, and not everyone can do it). Let’s get started.
Do You Need a Music Press Release?
What is a press release for? What does a press release do? And most importantly, do you need one?
If you look these questions up online, most of what you find will tell you that a press release is for journalists looking for news, or that it’s a form of advertisement. These answers are true, but they’re also outdated.
Press releases used to be intended for journalists looking for stories. That was a long time ago. These days, those people get so many emails that they don’t have to go looking for a story.
However, press releases do still get published, and they still get circulated, and they’re still crucial. But where, to whom, and why so important? We’ll spend time with each of those answers, but the short answers are:
Press releases are made available to the entire world so anyone searching for them will find them. They go to music sites and public news sites which host that info basically forever. And press releases are important because they tell the globe you dropped music in a way that people can take your news seriously.
But there’s much more to it than that, so let’s spend a bit more time before talking about how you can write one yourself.
Why Do You Need a Press Release?
You need a press release for several reasons.
- Press releases announce your music drop to the world
- They announce it publicly, not privately
- Press releases stay online
- Music professionals take press releases seriously
- Professionals announce them, not amateurs
Let’s go over each of these in as little time as possible, shall we? Yes, let’s.
1. You need a press release to announce your music to the world
You need a press release to announce your drops because if you don’t announce your drops, you can’t blame anyone for not buying them. After all, how are they supposed to listen to music they don’t even know exists? “But I DO announce them,” you say. “I announce them all over my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.” Well, yeah, and you should do that, but …
2. You need a music press release because they go public, not private
Do I need a press release? you ask, but you’re only asking because you haven’t thought about the difference it makes to go public versus private. If you announce to your social media that you have a new drop, that’s fantastic, but you’re only telling your friends and fans that way. You’re not telling all the people who might want to learn about your drops a week from now. Or a year. Or ten years. Which brings us to …
3. You need a music press release because they stay online
You need a music press release because your social media streams don’t stop flowing. They constantly move, and your announcement, “New single Friday, STR8 FYA!!!” isn’t going to last much beyond Friday. If someone looks up your stage name and the title of your single a couple months from now, they’re not gonna find much. Press releases always pop in a search. And that’s a good thing because …
4. Music pros take press releases seriously
You need a press release because every industry music pro takes them seriously. From a venue booker to a show promoter to a band manager to a magazine editor to a music journalist, all these people can tell a serious artist from a joker — and they don’t spend any of their precious time on jokers. It’s easy for them to tell them apart, too, because while any joker can post about his release on social media …
5. Music pros make press releases, not amateurs
You need a press release for your new drop because pros make them, not some goof. This is fantastically important. While you might’ve gotten straight A’s in English, unless you were on the school newspaper, you probably don’t have what it takes to write a professional public announcement for journalists and businesspersons. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know, though, so if you really don’t want to pay, you can try your best to work it out.
Full disclosure, though: even then, the people who write press releases have been doing it for years, and they know how to say things in a way other experts can tell that they’re paid pros, not musicians acting as reporters. So ultimately, while you’re about to learn how to do it right — and how not to do it — you’re still not going to do as well as someone with all the right credentials, and there’s really nothing anyone can do about that unless you’re going to start a new career.
What If You Don’t Have a Press Release?
If you don’t have a press release, you’re making yourself look bad in the 21st century. Just imagine going to all the trouble of writing music, recording music, publishing music, playing live, making tee-shirts and stickers and flyers etc., posting to Instagram and Twitter twice daily, but when one of your fans does a web search for “your name” and “your new album title,” nothing comes up but a Tweet you posted yourself.
Does that look bad? Yes. That looks really bad.
An Internet search is the first thing people do when they’re interested in something! You don’t want it to look like the only people talking about your music is you.
What should come up is a handful of news websites with real articles (press releases, really, but people think of them as articles because that’s what they look like) about your new release. The news should be written by someone other than yourself, for goodness’ sake, too, or else it looks like you’re wearing your own band shirt: really silly.
How to Write a Press Release for Music (or really anything)
How to write a press release depends on a whole lot of rules. Some of them are very particular and easily picked out, like the dateline, while others are more general. We’re going to get the general ones out of the way first.
A Press Release Is Not an Advertisement
“Wait, what? I thought a press release was good marketing!” Yes, that’s true. But advertisements can say all sorts of crazy things with exclamation points everywhere and whatever.
Press releases are full of objective facts. They do not have any subjective opinions.
So, Rule No. 1 is, press releases must be factual and objective, not opinionated and subjective.
Without going into a whole composition and rhetoric lesson on it, you can see the difference below:
Subjective, opinionated — Dipl0 just dropped the hottest single of the summer!
Objective, factual — Popular DJ Dipl0 drops new single
People online will argue this, saying that they write press releases all the time and they blow them way out of proportion and talk up their products and services like mad. That’s true, people do. But that’s doing it wrong, and their PR doesn’t go anywhere beyond that because like we said above, pros can tell when it’s done by an amateur, and they stop reading immediately.
A Press Release Has Perfect Grammar Written in the AP Style
Perfect grammar means every word is spelled with upper-division college perfection. And no, your spell check is not good enough. That’s because even if you can spell there, their, and they’re correctly, you need to know your rules to know which word to use (and yeah, those are three different words).
Now assuming you’re fine with grammar and have a flawless grasp of dependent versus independent clauses, you still want to have a grip on the AP Style Guide. The AP Style Guide outlines a whole family of rules for publishing English as a journalist for use in newspapers and magazines, and you need to follow all of them to pass as a decent press release writer.
The good news is, you can look up all the rules online. The bad news is, you’re probably not going to know when you should be looking stuff up. What are these rules like?
For example, even though we use quotation marks to show that the title of Dipl0’s new single is “Snake Oil,” we only use single quotation marks in the headline of the press release, so it would be like: Popular DJ Dipl0 drops new single ‘Snake Oil.’
Another seemingly silly rule is the spelling of numbers. In AP style, you spell out all the numbers from one to nine, but then you switch to numerals for 10 onward. So Dipl0’s new album has nine tracks for a total of 42 minutes’ listening.
We can’t list all the wacky AP Style Guide rules here because, like, it’s a whole book ‘n’ stuff, but you get the point. You need to follow it as closely as possible.
A Press Release Starts with a Dateline
This one is easiest to explain, but there’s a lot that goes into it. Ready? Here goes:
MO. DAY, YEAR (CITY, STATE/NATION if not obvious) — And then you start your press release here. Second sentence. Third sentence. First paragraph end.
You don’t use a comma if you’re not using the day, though, so the first line of your press release would look like either of these examples:
Sept. 2020 (LOS ANGELES) — The popular EDM DJ Dipl0 has released his latest single, “Snake Oil.”
Sept. 13, 2020 (SMALLTOWN, CONN.) — The popular EDM DJ Dipl0 has released his latest single, “Snake Oil.”
See? You don’t need the comma between Sept. and 2020 in the first example because there’s no day given. You don’t need the state after Los Angeles, either, because pretty much everyone knows it’s in California.
Note, too, that you don’t spell out Connecticut in the second example, nor do you use the postal CT abbreviation. You need to use the AP Style abbreviation of Conn. You’ll want to look them up for your state when you need to say it, but eight states don’t get abbreviated. These are:
And that’s basically all there is to the dateline. Now let’s look at your first paragraph.
How to Write a Music Press Release: the First Paragraph
How to write a press release depends on a strong, professionally styled opening. Once you’ve got your dateline, launch into the facts in order of most-important to least-important. When you’ve done a good job, the first paragraph will look something like this:
Oct. 31, 2020 (SMALLTOWN, CONN.) — The popular EDM DJ Dipl0 has released his latest single, “Snake Oil.” The track dropped on the eve of Halloween on the Whatever Records Music Group label. It comes bundled with a B-side track, “L0serSauce,” for a total of eight minutes’ listening time. Faster than his usual dance fare and bearing both subdued and comparatively loud segments, “Snake Oil” and “L0serSauce” comprise a single release in which Dipl0 fans are likely to take interest.
Note that nothing in the first three sentences can be argued. They’re stone, hard facts. They can all be looked up (or could be, if the songs were real, which they’re not). The last sentence is the closest thing to an opinion, that the songs are faster than usual and have both quiet and loud parts, and that fans will be interested. But these are basically facts, too, so you can get away with a little colorful description, here.
But What about the Headline?
The first sentence will basically be your headline or title, but remember to use single quotation marks: Popular EDM DJ Dipl0 releases new single ‘Snake Oil.’
It’s in sentence case, too, so don’t capitalize everything as if it were a book title, and use a period. Oh, and it’s always in present tense because in the news everything is happening right now.
How to Write a Press Release: the Other Paragraphs
How to write a press release gets fuzzier after the first paragraph, and there’s a reason for that. If you’ve done a good enough job in your first paragraph, everything anybody really needs to know has already been said.
Still, interested people will want details, so this is where you give them those. You still need to stay factual, so lots of quotes from the music artist can go here. Make sure you punctuate them properly and introduce the quotes, like:
Dipl0 wasn’t too excited to eat snail spit burgers during the session.
“Honestly, I think they tasted pretty foul,” he said. “But studio eatin’s pretty rough, and that’s all they had.”
Every quote gets its own paragraph, too.
When you get to the end of the piece — which should be within 300 words — tell people where they can hear and buy the music. Also drop useful links to official websites for the artist and label and such.
And that’s about all we can do for you without giving an actual lesson on the craft. Oh, but wait! You still need to publish it.
Do I Need a Press Release: How to Publish
Do you need a press release? As a music artist? Yes, of course you do. So you’ve paid a professional to write an expertly crafted music press release, or you did it yourself (congratulations on some hard work!), and now you need to deliver it to the world.
This is much more time consuming than learning how to write the damned thing was, and the sad truth is that most PR sites are going to hound you for your money if it’s going to get online at all.
What you need to do is Google “free press release sites” and other such terms until you get yourself a list of all these places which might accept your PR.
We say ‘might’ because no site just blindly puts English online by just anybody. Nope. You submit your PR to as many places for whom you have time and hope. Since you’ve never done it before, lots of places will reject you for one reason or another. Maybe you got a comma wrong in the dateline. Maybe you misspelled a word. Maybe you used a word you never in your life thought counted as profanity, but which will get you instantly banned from a PR site. In any case, the sites don’t have to accept your piece, and it’s going to get rejected a lot. That’s just how it goes.
Also, you can’t just show up and submit your new press release. Every site requires you to register with them. Some of the best ones won’t let you use a private email address, either (gmail, hotmail, webmail, yahoo, etc.). They demand a professional email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Many will expect you to fill in your job title, writer’s biography, a link to your official website, links to your previously published materials, and potentially even a business avatar portrait.
How to Write Your Own Music Press Release: How Much Time (Conclusion)?
Long story short: if you already have credentials at 10 public press release sites so you can just log in and submit your new press, you’ll still need to format it for each website per their specific instructions. Some of them have separate little windows for the headline, body paragraphs, and a photo. (Oh yeah, you’ll want a 400x400 image for the press, too; you can resize one in GIMP for free … we just don’t have time for all that in this article). Others will let you submit the whole thing in an email. Some use a SUBMIT window on their website. Others want you to send it from your work email address via an email client.
The upshot of all this is that you can expect to do about fifteen minutes of applying to each website for the first time to get your login credentials. Assuming they all let you in right away — and they won’t, not all of them — it will take about two and a half hours to get access to those 10 sites, not counting the time it took you to find the sites to begin with. We’ll estimate about two hours of non-stop looking for those before you hit a total of 10.
That’s being nice, too, because lots of sites try to get you to submit your “free” press release before telling you after all this work it’s going to be 20 bucks if you actually want anyone to see it. Or, like, they’ll let you publish it free, but not with an image, and you don’t get to include any links. They lie, and lie, and connive, and lie some more.
So let’s do the math. If:
- You’re a real hotshot at English and make zero grammatical/spelling errors
- Are good at looking up things on the Internet for Associated Press Style
- Type at over 30 GWAM (words per minute)
- Follow all the above instructions, and
- Submit to 10 public press release sites
Then you can expect to spend about two hours crafting your press release, two finding websites you like, and about two and a half registering at those sites and submitting your first press release to them. That’s about six-and-a-half hours of professional-grade labor, and you’re still probably going to get rejected a lot.
If we were to say you don’t get to quit until your press is actually live at 10 sites? Phew! That sad writer is probably going to spend a whole Saturday hard at work. A “C” student will spend maybe the entire weekend. Writers who aren’t generally confident in their grammar shouldn’t do it on their own, or it’s going to take a ton of time and frustration just because they were too proud to ask for a hand.
But you can get help! And you can technically do it all free.
Either way, best wishes and good luck! But if you do decide to have an expert work it out for you, Octiive Independent Music Distribution staffs professional music journalists who will craft and publish your piece for about a hundred bucks at time of writing.
Oh! but yeah, one way or another, you should definitely have a press release online for every major release you drop, so make sure to take care of that.
Cheers to you for learning up on it, regardless! And congratulations on your new music release!