I am working on getting reviews for one of the bands I produce (Bat Wings for Lab Rats) and am looking into all possible outlets to send our CDs too for review. Since there are 000’s of those who review music online, I am reviewing those who review to ensure they meet MY requirements before I waste time, money, and energy submitting my music to them. I of course want my music to be reviewed, but with so many reviewers, how do I focus on the cream of the crop first? For my own use (and now for you to consider) I came up with questions I ask myself when investigating a review site. They are as follows:
1) When was their last review? Take a look at the date of their last review. Was it this month? Good. This week? Better. Yesterday or today? Best! I want to send my music to someone who will give it a listen and then write something about it in a timely manner. If they haven’t reviewed SOMETHING in the last 15 days, well than they may just be “hobby blogger” reviewers and will not be at the top of my list.
2) What is the format for submission? E-mail or snail-mail? I don’t mind sending a CD in the mail. I don’t mind emailing a link. However, if you’re going to call yourself a music reviewer, please tell me how to submit my music to you. If you want a CD, tell me where to send it. If you prefer links to SoundCloud, ReverbNation, LastFM, BandCamp, etc. then let me know. Please do not make me guess or waste my time trying to figure it out. Those that make this information easy to find are at the top of my list, because it tells me they’re serious about reviewing.
3) What information do they include in the review? Do they rate the artwork or at least include it? Do they rate the “commercial” ability of the band? For example, “This band would be successful at a reality TV show soundtrack”, or “I could hear this band on mainstream radio”. (I actually don’t mind this very very subjective perspective when reading reviews. It tells me the reviewer is confident enough in what they think ) Do they consider song complexity, lyrical content, arrangement, and composition in their review? The easiest way to see this is by reading other reviews of course. If the reviewer doesn’t write things like “This band will melt your face!” just to get me to send them a CD, than they’re at the top of my list. I am a musician, engineer, and music producer who work with musicians who are going to listen to every word you write. Please review our music as though you were talking to us.
4) Is there social networking integration on the site? How easy is it for a reader to tweet about a review they just read? Can a reader share a review with their friends Facebook? Is the review “linkable” on its own? (In other words, can a band link to the review without promoting 3 other bands on the same link?) The better the social networking integration on the website, the easier it is for me and others to promote the music and reviewer. Win/Win.
5) Can a reader leave comments? This isn’t THAT big of a deal, but it’s a nice touch. If the review site as a way for readers to make comments, than the me and the band can get even more info from the review. By allowing readers to agree, disagree, or add to the review, the review praise/criticism holds more weight and increases in value. Again, not that big of a deal, but a very nice touch.
6) Are there advertising banners on the site?I’m not talking about Google adsense stuff, I’m talking about banners and skyscrapers that advertisers pay to place on the site. I use this as a popularity gauge. Who’s advertising? This tells me a little bit about who the demographic is. This isn’t THAT important in the grand scheme of things, but I do prefer to see advertisement on the blog/site because that tells me that someone is investing in them because they attract a lot of eyeballs.
Now you know how I sift though the thousands of online music reviewers on the interwebs. I had to come up with some type of criteria for myself in order to tackle the task of sending my music out for review.