Indie Bible: indie music reviews

An essential promotional tool of an indie artist is a solid foundation of good music reviews. It gives you a wonderful leverage to support your marketing campaign. However, there are rules to follow when submitting your music to the various publications. Scroll down to read some helpful tips by music writer Suzanne Glass.

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by Suzanne Glass, CEO

Copyright, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

Review Check List:

1. Communicate professionally -
Use standard grammar and punctuation, proofread, and use a spell checker. You don't have to write a business letter like you learned in 8th Grade Grammar class, the letter could be creative, but make sure it is identifiable as a business communication and not junk mail. Make sure to directly state you are looking for a music review. Don't send mass mailings, it's obvious to the recipient. On the phone, leave useful messages designed to make it easy to call you back (spell your name, and repeat your phone number twice to make copying easy for the listener).

2. Follow submission guidelines - Guidelines exist for a reason, which is to help an organization handle a large flow of music submissions in an efficient manner. Each publication does it differently, but if you choose not to follow the guidelines, expect your submission to be late, lost, or worse.

3. Send a cohesive promo pack - Music reviewers have differing preferences on what they like to receive as part of a promo pack. Most writers, though, like to read a band biography and a few press clips (it helps in writing a review to know more about an artist), and many also like to see a band photo. If you are unsure what a writer requires, err on the side of sending too MUCH rather than not enough. If you choose not to include photos and graphics, make sure they are easily available on your website, in case the reviewer plans to publish your review with pictures.

4. Give contact information - When your review goes up, nothing would be dumber than to make your CD hard to find. Many artists, though, forget to include full contact information including mailing address, phone, email, and website URL.

5. Identify your genre - When people read music reviews, they want to know, upfront, whether it's their "style" or not. So even if you simply say "a cross of rock, folk, and punk", that is much better than saying "we cannot be categorized". Better to categorize yourself than let a writer do it for you. Many writers are not musicians, and do not know precisely how to describe your genre just by listening. Help them.

6. Write a meaningful bio - Drop the lines that say you are "incredible", "changing the face of music", or "talented beyond belief etc.

7. Make the music reviewer's job easy - Since music reviewers are, at the basic level, just people doing their job, it only makes sense that if you can make their job easier, they will like you and try to return the favor. That's just human nature. Include everything the writer needs, be sensitive to their schedule, and provide graphics or answers to any questions promptly.

8. Follow up courteously - Music reviewers vary greatly in how they respond to follow-ups. Some people will respond promptly, keeping you up to date at each step of the process. Other writers ignore follow- ups completely. Your best bet is learning each writer personally. As a general rule, follow up about 2-4 weeks after your submission should have arrived with a short note. If you hear nothing, try again in another two weeks. If you again hear nothing, try waiting a month. Don't threaten or chastise the writers, just ask if a decision has been made about your review yet.

9. Don't argue with the music reviewer - You can't win. If you don't like the review, you can pass on that reviewer with your next CD. Or you can submit again and see if their opinion has changed. Either way picking a fight about something the reviewer wrote is a waste of your time. If there is a factual error, fine, ask the writer to correct it. But don't argue, "Our choruses are NOT boring! They are complex and emotive". Since the characterization of your choruses as "boring" is only the reviewer's opinion, you are not going to change it. You might, however, piss off the writer for life.

10. Keep the connection - You need to cultivate your relationships with music reviewers. Check in with them periodically between CDs, read their other work, let them know if you have news, and send thank-you notes - even if you did not get reviewed. Your goal is to build a relationship. You never know when that relationship may help you out - but you can be sure it will work in your favor if you present yourself as nice, interested, and understanding.

Suzanne Glass is the founder of, an online magazine that reviews dozens of independent artists each month, includes music charts, audio & internet radio, and how-to-succeed articles for musicians, all at no cost. A paid members option gets your music in rotation with streaming audio, radio, multimedia advertising AND full access to our DIY music industry database with over 7000 venues.
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