Press & Publicity

The only thing more humiliating than promoting your own band is…not promoting your own band.

While larger, more established artists can be inundated with interview requests within minutes of announcing an album on social media, emerging Canadian artists don’t have that luxury. In order for your release to have the best chance of being noticed for consideration for news articles, reviews or interviews, you have to be proactive: prepare an album announcement/one sheet, create a list of local, national and international media that seems within the realm of possibility of covering your band, create a template e-mail pitching your band, and then start e-mailing.

Just 13% of media and radio outlets I contacted and followed-up with for Self-Cut Bangs’ sophomore release replied. The vast majority of which were realistic in scope and reach for our level of band. If you want your album to get decent coverage, that means a whole lot of e-mails. It also means not taking it personally when you don’t hear back – Canadian music media is inundated with requests daily.

One Sheet Example

A good starting point for your album announcement is creating a one sheet for it. The one sheet contains key info: your band’s name, the album title, a short bio, some of your band’s accomplishments, reference points, related bands, and contact info. This can become an evolving document, replacing press quotes with better ones, adding prestigious showcasing gigs, etc. But, ultimately, what you are trying to do, is convince someone who has never heard your music, that it’s worth their time and coverage. Below are a couple of real world examples from my two bands. Are they perfect? Definitely not. But they did the job and will likely be helpful as a starting point.

A downloadable pdf of Self-Cut Bangs’ latest one sheet.

A downloadable pdf of Napalmpom’s first one sheet.

Regarding the bio: one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen bands make is to treat their biography as a chance to recount every step of their band’s formation in excruciating detail. Instead, I like to focus on the “story” of the band. For Self-Cut Bangs, it was all about hammering home how the album was made: during the pandemic, one song written and recorded every Saturday to stave off the boredom. For Napalmpom? The hook of the story was that we found our singer at a karaoke night (yeah, we knew him before, but that’s when we knew he was our guy). These are the kinds of lines that got written up in Exclaim! album announcements and were brought up in CBC interviews. Turns out they’re more interesting than when our bass player first picked up his instrument or how many B chords we played!

Anything that makes it into your one sheet should be able to pass the “would a stranger, who has never heard my music before, care about this?” test.

Tip: one of the best things a band can do in 2023 is talk about themselves the way they wish a magazine would write about them, for a few reasons. Come out and lay claim to what you sound like – make it a statement, and reference important influences or touchstones. First, it gives a music critic or journalist an entry point to understanding your music and where you are coming from; a shortcut to “getting” you. Second, and equally importantly, there’s a very, very good chance you’ll see those same reference points pop up in reviews and articles. The state of music coverage in 2023 involves a whole lot of copy/pasting of press releases. Bonus to seeing slight tweaks to what you sent? You can then include them in your one sheet/press kit as a quote.

Keep that one sheet handy! It’ll come in use for grant proposals, media and radio pitches, and booking tours.

Media Contacts

I’d recommend building a spreadsheet of outlets that may be interested in your own project. This can be a huge, time consuming project, or an afternoon brainstorming session, but keep in mind, the more people you tell about your band, the more chance they’ll talk about it. Columns should include info such as outlet name (ex: Exclaim!), territory (Canada/US/International), contact (e-mail), and tracking info for if they responded, if they covered you, and archived links to said coverage. I prefer to separate out outlets based on the type of media: one sheet for music press, one for Canadian community & campus radio, one for US radio, etc. Some of these contacts are pretty static, like the e-mail contacts for community radio station managers and/or music directors. However, others will change year-to-year. It’s just part of the job to be constantly updating your contact lists when hit with a bounce back.

Real World Example: Just 13% of media and radio outlets I contacted and followed-up with for Self-Cut Bangs’ sophomore release replied. The vast majority of which were realistic in scope and reach for our level of band. If you want your album to get decent coverage, that means a whole lot of e-mails. It also means not taking it personally when you don’t hear back – Canadian music media is inundated with requests daily.

An example spreadsheet can be found here – it’s the skeleton of the sheet used for Self-Cut Bangs’ sophomore release. Not all outlets on it were contacted (particularly US campus radio that at the time did not accept digital releases), so don’t be overwhelmed thinking its the norm to reach out to this many people. Use it as a reference point to build up your own database of outlets that are particularly responsive to your genre of music.

I do have a more complete tracking spreadsheet, slanted towards rock & roll and power pop coverage, but nevertheless covering many diverse outlets, updated in 2022. It includes e-mail contacts that I am willing to share, but not publicly as a download. All contacts were found via internet searches or publicly accessible data, but I do not want to put unneeded stresses on the already inundated inboxes of the Canadian music press.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of that contact list, please e-mail me at with a few sentences on your project, your album plans (release date, etc.), and a copy of your one sheet. As long as all looks good, I will send over a version that will let you hit the ground running with your press.

Crafting Your E-mail

So, what are you pitching? Different outlets will have different preferences, from news, like album announcements, to music video or single premieres, to reviews or interviews. Knowing your audience before you send out your e-mail will set you up for success.

The actual e-mail sent out to media will take a lot from your one sheet, but serve it up in the form of a pitch. I’d recommend pitching it to media starting about one month out from the album release (though much longer than that if a tour/album announcement combo). That gives radio and local papers plenty of time to schedule it in for the week of release, but also lets monthlies choose between a preview or a feature during the release month. Here’s an example e-mail of a media pitch.

That’s a whole lot of info…but I try and keep the pitch to a few sentences right off the top. The adapted one sheet + key info (links to download or stream, bio, etc.) appears below that, so that it reads as supplemental material if there’s interest after the elevator pitch.

There’s a fine balance here of wanting to personally pitch outlets, while also understanding your own capacities to be sending hundreds of personalized e-mails. A local CBC station is more likely to want to talk about what it’s like being a band in a pandemic, whereas a garage rock blog will want to know your specific sonic reference points. Know your audience, pitch accordingly, but don’t burn yourself out trying to craft the perfect intro to each.

And on that note, one final bit of etiquette to pass on: once you send your request to a media outlet, wait a week or more for an answer. At that point, it’s worth following up once in case you’ve slipped through the cracks. I’d strongly suggest not following up a third time, however.

Tip: every e-mail service has the ability to create a template e-mail. No need to write these pitches out hundreds of times, or copy/paste from one window to another. Instead, take the time to craft a perfect e-mail, with blanks to fill in where info would change, and save it. Sure, you’ll still end up sending hundreds of these out, and have to make edits to personalize them, but any amount of time saved when you’re dealing with that many individual e-mails adds up quick.

Up To Date Contact Info On Your Socials

…and, although this entire section started by painting the picture that you’re going to have to proactively reach out to other folks to get interviews, reviews or press requests of any kind, it’s still very important to make sure you’re easily reachable for unsolicited requests. Putting an e-mail address that you check regularly directly in all of your Social media profiles is imperative. If someone wants to reach out to you, does the work of finding your various platforms, but can’t find a contact within a minute or two, there’s a better than good chance that their efforts simply stop there. Make it easy for people to get in touch!