International Music Promotion: Launching Your Next D.I.Y. Global Campaign
What does “worldwide” really mean when it comes to reaching listeners? While major streaming services have international reach, there are other companies outside that US that are often much more popular, and not promoting your music on these services could mean you’re missing out.
Guest post by Kevin Cornell of TuneCore
If you’ve been distributing your music using TuneCore, you already know that we send your songs to over 150 digital music stores and streaming platforms worldwide. But how often have you thought about what ‘worldwide’ really means when it comes to reaching fans?
One scroll through our list of digital stores should be all you need to see, specifically, where in the world your music has the possibility of being discovered. While some stores like Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music are used by fans all over, there are platforms and stores that service listeners in specific countries, and they’re all growing increasingly popular as the world continues to adopt streaming.
But if your promotional efforts are limited to the borders of your country, you could be holding yourself back.
Think about it: the average DIY press pitching campaign usually entails finding the most influential blogs/media outlets, and maybe some less popular but super-specific sites that cover the genre played by the artist reaching out for coverage. Given that the artist speaks English and is aware of these blogs in their home country, it makes perfect sense to be trying to reach readers of those sites.
As they do more campaigns for each new release, maybe the artist is adding new smaller blogs or sites here and there to their spreadsheet.
Not often enough, however, are these new additions based outside of their country (or a handful of certain countries with large music markets). If a site on the other side of the world you’ve never necessarily read yourself is covering the kind of music you play and release, why wouldn’t they be worth sending an email to? International promotion is just another step in building a more robust album or single campaign.
Google Is Your Friend
OK, so you’ve got this far and realized how many French, Korean, German, Indian, Nigerian and Brazilian blogs you could have sent your last release to during your press pitching. But where do you start?
As simple as it might seem, Googling these new outlets is really your best first step. Just like you likely had to do for some of your local blog picks, it’s just about finding the right phrases to search for.
Using phrasing like “best German music blogs”, as generic as it sounds, might yield some helpful lists or Reddit threads – but you’ll still want to make sure these blogs are covering the kind of music you’re pitching. After all, there’s no point in wasting both your time and the editor’s time pitching your heavy metal single to an EDM-focused site.
Another trick you can apply is updating your search settings to search from a different region. On your Google search results, you can select “Settings” (to the bottom right of the search bar), and scroll down to “Region Settings”:
Play around with this as much as you like – different phrases will yield different results, and you might just find some gold if you keep digging around.
TuneCore Sales Reports Are Also Your Friend
Chances are if you’ve been using TuneCore to sell your music online, you’ve also taken a peek at your Music Sales reports. In your dashboard, you can explore how your songs have been performing by country. This is the perfect launchpad off which to begin allocating your international promotion efforts!
If you’re a U.S.-based artist, it’s likely you’ll see that country up top of the list in terms of streams and downloads. But as you scroll down, what territories jump out at you?
This section of the sales report has been helping TuneCore Artists decide where to tour and where to pitch for years, but it goes overlooked by many. Even if you’re only seeing 40 or 50 streams in a country you’ve never traveled to, it’s a start.
Just like Spotify’s list of cities where your music is most popular, these figures can be mentioned in your pitch to an editor. Highlight your growing popularity in a new area and show off how personalized that pitch email really is.
Don’t Be Afraid of Rabbit Holes
The worst part about building a media list is the amount of time and effort required before you even pitch. The best part about it, however, is you really only need to do the majority of grunt work once.
If you’ve built a media list, you know that it’s pretty easy to lose hours going down rabbit holes of lesser-known blogs and websites. It’s amazing how many folks are dedicating their time to the mission of spreading great independent music, isn’t it?
Well, now that you’re going on your international press research journey, why not let yourself go down similar rabbit holes?
A helpful tip for finding potential writers/outlets to cover your tunes is simply changing up your territory settings and searching for articles covering releases by similar sounding/comparable artists. I recommend going for more niche/lower profile artists – for instance, a lot of people write about major releases by artists like Kendrick Lamar and Tame Impala. Just because you consider major artists to be influences or ‘sound alikes’, try to narrow it down to more independent artists to reference so writers have a more specific idea of your sound when they receive your email. If a writer is covering a more niche artist you’d compare yourself to, it might be easier to make the connection.
Don’t Let Language Barriers Be Pitching Barriers
Ok, so at this point you might be wondering how in the world you’re going to pitch to be featured in a foreign-language site/blog if you don’t speak the language it’s written in. Fair!
Normally I wouldn’t personally recommend using something simple and free like Google Translate when it comes to something major like re-branding a website, communicating en masse, or anything fan-facing where you want to convince people that you speak the language you’ve translated your copy to.
However, using Google Translate for pitch emails to a select group of outlets and editors isn’t a bad idea.
My reasoning here: Google Translate’s results may convey the main point of what you’re trying to express, but chances are it will read as unnatural/sloppy, robotic, or overly formal. But making the effort to write to some international editors in their native tongue might be enough for them to consider you – maybe you can even add a note like: “P.S. – I used Google Translate for this email, so apologies if my grammar seems a bit messy – just hoping to reach new fans in [insert country]. Thanks for understanding!”
As for research, once again, don’t be intimidated by the challenge of finding new international outlets. Thankfully, if you’re searching for blogs in a country that are typically in a language you don’t speak, a lot of times you can let the browser translate it for you – even if the translations are a little choppy, they should be good enough to get you to the submissions/contact information needed to make the pitch.
Those are some general tips for getting started on your next single, album, video or tour press campaign on the international level. Depending on your genre and where you’re at in your career, you’ll likely find yourself tweaking some of this stuff as you go – and that’s encouraged!
The only thing worse than worrying if you ‘said the right thing’ in your pitches is worrying if you said it to enough writers and editors to make an impact. Plus, you never know which country your next burgeoning fan base resides in!