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Words of Fang – How to Get on Blog X

September 28, 2016

Lords of the Trident 2016

Hails metalheads! My name is Fang VonWrathenstein, vocalist for the band Lords of the Trident (http://www.LordsOfTheTrident.com). Every month or so, I’ll be handing out my sage advice to other bands on how to take their band from the garage to the next level. I’m no industry insider, but I’ve been around the block a few times. Have an idea for a topic, or fervently disagree with something I write? Email me at LordsOfTheTrident@gmail.com.


You know your band is great, and you’ve got a decent following, but you want more. Let’s say you’ve got a new album coming out, or perhaps a new music video, and you want the world to know about it. You contact a few bigger metal blogs that everybody knows about and tell them you’d love to debut the stream of the album/video exclusively on their site.


And then you wait.

…and wait..and wait. Nothing. No response at all. No matter how many times you try, your success rate is going to be incredibly low. What’s the next step? Hire a PR person at $X per month, and have them contact blogs for you? Sure, let’s give that a shot.

Your success rate increases quite a bit with this approach, but you still can’t seem to get any mention of the band on BLOG X, the metal blog that everyone reads. Your PR person approaches the blog offering exclusive streaming rights for your new release, and the blog emails him back: “Sure, we’ll host the new album and do a writeup for $6,000.”

…wait, what? Six-freaking-THOUSAND dollars? You barely have six HUNDRED in your bank account right now. And what the heck…is money all you need to make it in this industry? You’re already paying your PR guy to secure reviews, now you have to pay thousands more? How is this not straight-up bribery?

In my mind, it is. And this month, we’re going to talk about:

Bribery for blogging – A Tale in Two Perspectives

Whenever dissecting a practice that seems unfair, it’s always best to try to approach from both perspectives and see what you can learn from each. To that end, let’s start with the perspective we’re most familiar with: a band looking for publicity.

The Band Perspective

Let’s set the scene: you’re a regionally decently popular metal band who’s been on a few tours, and has been around for a while. You write and record good music with decent hooks, you’ve got a great web presence, music videos, and a number of albums. Other than simply playing more shows, you’ve started to hit the edge of what you can do publicity-wise to increase your fame.


Perhaps you’ve tried doing your own press releases in the past, but they weren’t really having the effect that you wanted. As stated above, you’ve hired a decent PR agent who has helped you secure some great reviews in smaller sites, but you still haven’t gotten anything on the bigger sites – BLOG X and BLOG Y. Every time you approach them, they come back with a dollar amount.

How is this fair? First off, not every band has the financial ability to even hire a PR agent. Unless your parents are rich oil magnates, your band likely doesn’t have $6,000 to throw at BLOG X every time a new music video comes out. Sure, these bloggers write stories about the signed, already famous bands out there, but what ever happened to discovering new, unknown acts? Where are the write-ups about these unsigned bands? The bands slugging it out in the muck, desperately vying for a moment of attention?

When every response comes with a dollar amount attached to it, it’s hard not to view this as a rigged game. Besides doing something so insane that it can’t be ignored (like setting a venue on fire), all attempts to have a quarter-second of the general population’s time requires climbing a mountain made of hundred dollar bills.



Adding insult to injury, this also means that terrible bands who happen to come from wealthy backgrounds will appear in BLOG X and BLOG Y all the freaking time! Hopefully the readers will see them for the terrible band that they are, but years in customer service have taught me to never trust the average intelligence of mankind. At the end of the day, they’re likely going to have a lot more eyes on them (and perhaps bodies in the club). F*%k.

This also destroys the legitimacy of BLOG X instantaneously for you. If they’re taking money for write-ups on bands, how can they be critical? How do you know that the music reviews you’ve been reading haven’t been tainted? If these blogs rely on this money to pay their writers, they’re probably not going to bite the hand that feeds them. Heck, if you gave them enough money, I’d bet they’d also give a glowing review to my cousin’s soft jazz album.


“Incredible licks…consistent tone…valid credit cards! 10/10”

It’s not only blogs and magazines that do this, either! Larger venues and festivals (I’m looking at YOU, Summerfest) will require a fee to even submit your music to a booking agent for the small possibility that you’ll be chosen to play. Spoiler alert: you probably won’t be picked, and that $40 isn’t refundable. Bigger bands will require a “buy on” of thousands of dollars to join them on tour. What ever happened to scouting for talent? It seems like every place you turn, money trumps talent. Money trumps the search for something new, something better, something good.

As a band barely making ends meet, it’s hard not to look at this and get pissed. Is this whole system simply built on bribery? It’s hard to look at this and say anything other than: yes.

The Blog’s Perspective

Before I wrote this article, I asked the owners of a few bigger blogs to give me their perspective on this subject, so I’ll try to represent their mindsets as best as I can.


Blogs may or may not be run by business cats

The first thing that you have to understand is that blogs and magazines get a lot of solicitation. On average most blogs I talked to get 200 – 400 emails per day from bands wanting attention. You’d need a team of people just to sort the email, listen to the material, and decide whether or not this fits the tone of the site – and those people cost money. 400 emails a day is absolutely a full-time job, if not two!

Depending on the size of the blog, you also have to account for bandwidth. Hundreds of thousands of people visiting your blog every day, downloading pictures, listening to streams – that’s not cheap either. Increasing your bandwidth, buying bigger servers, designing a secure and easy-to-use site, and negotiating user interaction are all jobs that need to be paid for.

Do you still do fantastic journalism about bands you legitimately love? Of course, and hopefully this makes up the majority of what you output. But sometimes when the bills come due, you have to feature a crappy metalcore band with more dollar bills than breakdowns just to make ends meet.



PR agents? Yeah, they definitely help, as you’re more willing to open an email from an agency that you’ve heard of than from some random band, but it’s not a guarantee. You’re paying your PR agency either for their personal connections (for instance, maybe they have a friend who blogs at Metal Sucks and can bend his ear), or to give them a budget to work with. If a PR agency represents a number of artists who all pay in a certain amount to a centralized fund, maybe you can work out something to feature all their artists using said accumulated budget. You also build a relationship with certain PR agents, and are more willing to talk with them directly and offer them exclusives.

It’s a question of supply and demand. There’s just waaaay too much supply! You could fill up fifty blogs every day with the releases from bands who want attention. The ads that run on the site don’t create enough revenue to keep the lights on, so you’ll eventually need a way to turn the supply problem into a cash flow, or your blog will tank.

Making it work as a band

Is money the only answer? I asked blog owners what the best way to escape the cycle of paying for publicity on their site, and they had these suggestions:

  1. When in doubt, ask! Bloggers get hit with press releases all day long, but simply starting a conversation asking for advice can break up the monotony and give the owners something to do other than listen to another SoundCloud account. Just like PR managers, start to build a relationship and go from there.
  2. Everything must be easy and professional. Writers don’t have a lot of time to mess around looking for music and photos. Make your music one click away, and give them access to full-sized, professional Only send a few tracks, and make them your best.
  3. Your demeanor must be professional as well. From a blog owner – “I tend to work with those that are most professional as they prove they will be around. It’s hard to proclaim the next big thing and then have them break up and be done. It happens far too much.”
  4. Offer them something to get in on the ground floor – Find an up-and-coming blog and offer them something exclusive to get in on the ground floor. Maybe it’s guest articles (*cough cough*), exclusive leaks, behind-the-scenes videos, or the like. If you’re consistent and professional, you can build a relationship with them, and as they grow, so will you.

Is the game rigged? Probably. But there’s always more than one way to play.


Are you a band that owes your success to my pearls of wisdom? Do you wish there was some way you could pay me back? Well there is! Buy the Lords of the Trident’s albums off AmazonMP3, iTunes, or BandCamp, watch our music videos on YouTube, and visit us online – http://www.LordsOfTheTrident.com. Want to email me directly? Tell me how good/horrible my advice has been thus far? Email me at LordsOfTheTrident@gmail.com. If you give me an idea for an article, I’ll send you a FREE album as a reward!

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