Tag Archives: suzanne raga

Music Think Tank: Go The Extra Mile

Music Think Tank Suzanne Raga

I wrote an article for Music Think Tank called Beyond The Basics: Go The Extra Mile To Get Featured On Music Blogs.

Read my advice for bands and artists on how to get tastemakers to write about your music — over at Music Think Tank.

Update: You now need an account to login to read the article, so you can read it below:

How do you get “tastemakers” (aka music bloggers) to write about your band?

Although I prefer to encounter bands organically (for example, opening for a band I already like), I’ve featured plenty of great music on After The Show by bands who have directly approached me. Not every tastemaker will like your songs, but music blogs need a lot of content, so you have a good shot at getting featured somewhere.

You should already know the basics. Do your research: don’t pitch to a hip-hop site if you’re an alt-country act, and read everything you can about each music site you’re submitting to (scroll through the archives and see what they tweet). Be professional: keep your email typo-free, succinct, and include a link to streams (Bandcamp, SoundCloud) instead of mp3 attachments.

2 Indie Band Case Studies: Pay Attention To the Big Picture 

Jim Ivins Band

Jim Ivins first emailed me around a year ago to say that his band would be opening for Robert Schwartzman in New York. Jim clearly did his research – he saw I had interviewed and written about Rooney before, so he knew I’d be interested in attending – and he allowed plenty of lead-time before the show (a month) before offering a list spot to cover the set.

A blog is not going to listen to your music & then decide to post it, a person is! Jim addressed his email to “Suzanne” not “After The Show.” I was planning on going to this show anyway, so I eagerly accepted.

Start relationships (online if different locations prevent face-to-face ones) with music bloggers and anyone who can help your music get exposure. A few months later Jim let me know on Twitter about another local show the band was playing. I couldn’t make it, but I appreciated the update and later dropped by a show that I could make. A couple months down the road, he sent me a video the band recorded that was relevant to what we were currently covering on After The Show.

Once you establish a connection, stay on the blog’s radar and give updates on your band every few months. Don’t inundate any blog that gives you some attention or coverage, but maintain smart, positive relationships.

Jeremy Sparrow

Browsing YouTube over a year ago, I came across an amazing cover of The Lemonheads’ “Paid To Smile” by a band named Jeremy Sparrow. This cover was better than the original and even Evan Dando commented on it. After leaving a quick comment, I posted the video on my site.

Lasse of Jeremy Sparrow messaged me on YouTube to thank me, introduce his band, and say he’d keep me updated on their EP that would be out in several months. Simply sending that message helped his band stand out – he was responsible and proactive. I didn’t expect to hear from him again, but I got an email several months later about the band’s completed EP. I remembered them and was happy to listen and write about the EP.

Don’t get discouraged when you send out hundreds of emails and only hear back from a few people. The hardest part is often getting some initial traction. Once your foot is in a door, use that leverage to get more press. Opportunities beget more (and even better) opportunities.

Suzanne Raga is the creator and author of the popular indie music blog After The Show and does consulting work for music licensing and publishing companies. She is a recent graduate of Princeton University.

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Bank Robber Music: Guest Blog

I wrote a post for this week’s Bank Robber Music blog on my five favorite tracks that Bank Robber licenses:

What initially attracted me to Bank Robber was its superb, unparalleled catalogue. I mean, a place whose roster counts (or has counted) Rilo Kiley, Land of Talk, Tilly and the Wall, AND Nada Surf alone seems like a dream.

Since I began interning in January, I’ve discovered some amazing songs, After careful deliberation, my 5 favorite BRM tracks are (guitar tremolo…):

1. “Runaway” by Imperial Teen: This song sounds like the indie “Call Me Maybe,” and I mean that in the best way possible. I heard this jillion of joy playing in Lyle’s office my first day, and I knew I was in the right place. Or at least that I discovered the best jogging song ever. I went on to delve into older Imperial Teen gems, like “Pig Latin” and “Do It Better.” If only I hadn’t been a 7 year old when Seasick came out…

2. “Betty Wang” by Hospitality: Another Merge track, “Betty Wang” has lyrics that instantly drew me in. Who is she? Why might she leave New York? Isn’t Wang a Chinese not Japanese surname? I’ve since learned that Betty Wang was the only other female investment banker on Amber Papini’s team at work. As a side note, I’m pretty sure I found the real Betty Wang’s LinkedIn profile.

3. “Chair” by Big Deal: I found this grunge-acoustic masterpiece on a BRM compilation CD. This is one of those songs that upon discovery, you listen to over and over again. It helps that it’s a short song, clocking in just under 3 minutes. I love how they slightly change the second chorus, and the absence of drums doesn’t bother me anymore. This song is perfect for the credits of HBO’s Girls.

4. “You’re The Runner” by Mitten: I stumbled upon “You’re The Runner” when I was asked to transcribe the lyrics. Luckily, I found the lyrics on Mitten’s Bandcamp, but I still took the opportunity to listen closely. I’m usually not into electro-synth and distorted bass, but they combine so well with the driving drums and vocals. Lyrically it epitomizes energetic angst.

5. “Not Earned” by Palomar: I’d never heard of this band before. Palomar reminds me of early Rilo Kiley (circa 2002) if RK were an all female band. “Not Earned” is a perfect cycle – it starts and ends the same. The line “You must feel pretty safe with all your records around you” is also a brilliant maxim for any music lover.

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Interview: Nasser AlQatami of Loft 965

Headquartered in Kuwait, Loft 965 is the #1 music blog in the Middle East.

I asked Nasser AlQatami, the founder of the site, about blogging, the relationship between music and fashion, and the perception of pop music in the Arab world.

After The Show: Loft 965 covers a wide range of artists, from Madonna to Vanessa Carlton to Karin Park. How do you choose which artists and songs to feature, given that there’s so much music out there?

Nasser AlQatami/Loft 965: I basically started the blog partially because I was frustrated with the state of pop music – a genre often unappreciated but it is somewhat the glue of our global commonplace. There are many artists that never chart but produce some great pop tunes and then there are the known artists who keep on doing what they are great at through the ups and downs of their careers, both of which need support. I had always loved music in many forms and thought it would be a fun idea to put all this research time I spend online on music to good use. The blog is the result and it took off quite nicely.

Congratulations on being chosen as a Middle East ambassador for Puma. How did that come about? What do you think about the intersection between fashion and music [I like that you’re not afraid to comment on fashion, like Madonna’s “ugly gloves”]?

Isn’t it great? My best friend recommended my blogs, PUMA’s representatives looked at it and they liked what they saw. They wanted people in the region who were doing something different. I guess I fit that category. I try to drop a snide comment here and there about artists who have let fame get to them. Sometimes I rile up the fan base of a certain artist to see the kind of reaction I get. Madonna’s fans are up there with the rest of them, but not as bad as Britney Spears’ and Beyonce’s. I love all the artists but I will be the first to say if something I think falls in the “not ok” category.

Yes, of course fashion and music are inseparable. Although I predominantly cover music on the blog and my interest in the fashion world has waned as of late, the visual is a very important aspect when it comes to pop music, in fact it’s only second to the music, just ask the Gaga.

How did you decide to start the website in 2008? What does the name mean, and what factors have made it so successful and widely-read?

I have always used the world wide web as a portal and before this one I did use sites like LiveJournal and others when blogging was in its infancy (it was called a weblog). When I did my Master’s I didn’t have time, but I  promised myself that when the time comes I would launch a blog for public consumption. The thought kept rummaging through my head and then when I had to do it, I basically knew exactly what I wanted.

There are many factors that made it visited by the thousands on a daily basis. First, you have to like what you do. Having passion about the subject is what draws people in, if you feel an obligation to post about something then it is probably not the thing for you. You have to keep it short, visually succinct and updated. The rule of thumb when it comes to writing is to address the blog reader as if you are having a chat with them when a certain song comes up. Nobody wants to spend their night reading an essay. They want the punchline with a pretty picture.

Other factors include the fact that I have artist loyalty. I don’t stop posting on an artist should they falter or take a turn in their career (unless they show a bigoted side to themselves). Also, its important to attach a face to the blog. It’s not a text book and people want to know who does it, more about their lives and why they do it. I think I have captured those dynamics on the blog.

The name is simple. I came up with the idea of a place, like a hangout, and I usually hangout at a loft during the weekends. I didn’t want to overburden the reader with music keywords. Also, my other passion is travel (which is why my other blog is titled Flight965.com). So, I decided to take my country’s telephone code and attach it to Loft. It gives it a regional feel with no pretense.

Have you faced any criticism for posting your content given that you’re based in Kuwait? Is there a backlash against American dance-pop or is there a desire to access that material, especially among young readers of Loft 965?

To tell you the truth, I have faced many forms of criticism. The whole array of possible criticisms have come my way throughout the 3 and half years of operation. It’s important to say that the backlash is from all over the world. But, because I have a journalism background, both in academia and previous professions, I know that feedback means that people are reading. I get a good balance of good and bad. Many accusations come my way but you have to learn to ignore them. Oh, and the IP Address registration is coming in handy.

What do you envision for the future of Loft 965? What about the role of music blogs in general?

It’s going places, but I always hope for more. I see its potential and I keep working on the material and the site. Many people think blogging is easy, but it definitely is not. In fact maintaining a blog is a full time job. So, imagine working full-time and then running two blogs. If the right circumstances should arise and I have time, I would like to take it to another level. You’ll have to keep clicking to see what that is.

When it comes to blogs in general, I think they are the future of journalism. Much to many people’s dismay, print journalism will most probably disappear into electronic form. People will start reading and trusting the opinions of bloggers and online journalists who have a history of credibility in their work. A degree won’t matter anymore, what matters is what you have to say, how many people enjoy it and what they do with it.

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