The importance of humanizing drums in music producing

Image Credit: Jason Jarrach

Why should you humanize your drumbeats when you produce?

Just because music has been created digitally, it doesn’t need to sound like a robot playing a drumkit. The challenge for producers is making sure the beats they’ve created sound natural. Give it a little personality and life by humanizing your drumbeats.

Like all things in music production, there’s no hard and fast rule – if you’re creating industrial techno, for example, making your pumping beat sound like a real drummer is less vital. If the kick drum, bass, synth and so on are all playing exactly on the beat at the same velocity, it’s going to sound like a machine, and that might be just what you’re after.

You can however make your samples sound more human-made by using the quantize tool to create slight changes in the default note velocities of the sounds and make them less uniform-sounding.

Using the quantize tool on the piano roll you can select from different presets to create different feels and grooves. It’s not ‘swing’ that’s aimed at here but creating the illusion of a real drummer playing by changing the velocity of each MIDI note. Imagine the drummer hitting the snare drum at a different volume each beat, as happens naturally.

Equally, you can create a human feel by playing in the beats yourself using a MIDI controller – recording a drum pattern on your keyboard for example. If you do this and notice that, say, your kick drum has missed the downbeat and is noticeably out, quantizing can fix this.

MIDI notes can be moved to their proper place in the beat, and you don’t have to do it manually, as there’s a sequencer tool on some DAWs that will change the quantization values and pace your MIDI notes and beats in time. You can select the amount of quantizing you want, on a sliding scale from one to 100%. A good setting is at 90%, pulling the notes in time, but not completely, creating just the slightest natural feel.

Generally music sounds more pleasing to the ear if there’s a natural feel, and humanizing your drumbeats is a good start. Have a play around with quantizing and see if you notice the difference in your producing.

Which DAW is the best for electronic music producers?

Image Credit: Tom Pottiger

Check out our guide to help you find the best DAW for electronic music producing in 2021.

Everyone’s got a favourite Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), and discovering one that you find effortless to use and that fits with your producing vision is the holy grail. Electronic music is one of the most popular genres among the producers we work with at RouteNote. Want to join in?

There’s no one universal solution for which DAW matches best with making specific genres of music. Some are however designed to be geared more towards making electronic beats than, say, classical music compositions. You might be a complete beginner itching to try your hand at EDM producing, or a techno-loving guitarist thinking of laying down some beats for the first time. Either way, we’ve explored some of the software on offer give you a better idea of the best DAWs for electronic music available in 2021.

A RouteNote family favourite, and for good reason. FL Studio is accessible and it’s easy to get to grips with the interface. Popular with hip-hop producers, you can get creative with looping fast, have some fun and produce quality results from this powerful DAW.

  • Great for sketching out ideas
  • Accessible piano roll notation 
  • Easy to program beats with a sequencer – popular for dubstep and trap music producers
  • Comes with great synths and tools, and great vocal editing options
  • FL Studio is used by producers such as Martin Garrix
  • Fantastic value for money

One of the most popular DAWs for dance music, and geared towards electronic producers with its loop-based workflow, Ableton Live is a powerful and flexible DAW. It’s popularity also means there’s hundreds of tutorials online, perfect for if you’re starting out.

  • Great for live performances – it’s a performance instrument in itself
  • Fast audio warping capability and workflow
  • Comes with over 11GB of samples, free instruments and over 30 effects
  • Multi-track audio recording is great for dance music production
  • Slightly less versatile
  • Artists like Deadmau5 and Skrillex have used Ableton
  • Compact layout
  • Full suite of plugins

Apple’s Logic Pro X is a sophisticated DAW that’s long been a mainstay of producers. Easy to get started and reliable, its combination of classic audio recording capabilities with digital sound design abilities make it a good hybrid choice if you don’t want to be pigeonholed in electronic music.

  • Big library of factory instruments and effects
  • Advanced grouping and bussing features
  • Great for quickly writing and arranging, and recording vocals and instruments
  • Not as fast as Ableton or FL for beat-making
  • Marshmello and Calvin Harris use Logic
  • Affordable but limited to Mac

If you’re looking to drift into experimental electronica, Reaper might be for you. It’s customisation capabilities mean that the possibilities for creation are endless.

  • Hyper-affordable at $60
  • Fully customisable
  • Good built-in plugins
  • Refined MIDI/audio routing capabilities
  • Takes a bit of time to set up the way you like, but worth it if you’re technically minded and persevere

If you want to understand how the analogue gear built into DAWs works, which cable goes where and how plugins are arranged, Reason is for you.

  • Intricate interface looks intimidating, but not too tricky to learn.
  • High quality instruments included
  • Effects and instruments can be mixed and matched with minimal processing required
  • Third party plugins aren’t supported
  • Used by the Prodigy

The classic, mix-heavy DAW, popular in recording studios. Whilst not geared towards electronic music, Avid Pro Tools is a good route to learning the layout of a traditional large format console whilst still keeping all the modern options.

  • Not as innovative as newer DAWs for modern beatmaking
  • Great for recording, mixing and mastering
  • Pricey.
  • Not specifically designed for electronic music

Generally speaking, Ableton Live and FL Studio are the most popular and the best fit for electronic music producers. But try before you buy! Many DAWs offer free trials, so you can have an explore and find one that you find most user-friendly to your workflow. If you’re able to, spend some time within the program producing a track from recording, editing, arranging, mixing through to mastering to get the best feel for every aspect of the DAW before committing. If you find it a struggle, trial another DAW. Simple as.

Once you’ve got to grips with your DAW and your finished track is mastered ready for the world to hear, send your music over to RouteNote to upload to Spotify, Apple Music and beyond, completely free.

5 mistakes new music producers make

Image Credit: Rezli

Try and avoid these common music production mistakes, and improve your producing at home.

All music producers make mistakes, no matter if they’re an up-and-coming DIY producer or they’ve been making beats professionally for eons. Often, it’s hard to notice errors have been made until they’re pointed out.

Check out our list to see if you think you’ve been guilty of making any of these common music production mistakes.

Over producing

Staying simple is the best way to success. What your track needs more than anything is a strong core idea, something catchy or exciting that’s going to anchor the whole thing. Avoid cluttering with too much melody, or cramming it too full of drums. You’re making it harder for anyone you’re collabing with, too.

Equally, try not to obsess over the tiny details – don’t tweak away perfecting the mix until that original exciting creative spark is lost.

Your home studio setup sucks

Contrary to popular opinion you don’t need fancy equipment for your home studio, but one common music production mistake is not having everything set up correctly. Take speaker placement, for example. If speakers aren’t placed at ear-height, you’re not going to be able to hear those all important highs and lows in your beats accurately enough, and you’ll be fighting a losing battle from the start.

Being out of key

Something in your mix sounding off? Check everything’s in key. Samples and loops come in various scales; check your low end beats are in tune too. It’s hard to figure out the key of unlabelled samples. Your 808 isn’t just to keep rhythm, it’s got to be in tune too, otherwise everything will be off. A base understanding of music theory will serve you well when it comes to understanding why something sounds wrong in your mix. At a basic level, as long as you know what key you’re in, stick to those notes in the scale. Unless dissonance is what you’re aiming for, of course!

Forgetting about the BPM

Sometimes it may seem preferable to just stick with the default BPM. It’s easy to get sucked into the creating process and become too married to the idea of one BPM for the track. But don’t forget to check if a faster or slower tempo would actually suit your track better.

You haven’t checked your mix in mono

Make sure to check that your individual presets from synths and samplers sound as good in mono as they do in stereo so you don’t find that the whole mix has lost clarity when listened to on a phone, for example. Frequently listen to the mix in mono to check it doesn’t sound muddy.

Now go for a walk, have a snack, return to your track with fresh ears and a clear mind, and see if you can spot any music production mistakes you might have inadvertently made. Then once your track is mastered and ready to go, hit RouteNote up to get it out into the world. We can’t wait to hear it.

5 tips for vocal health

Image Credit: Maelle Ramsay

Follow these 5 top health tips for singers to keep your voice in great shape.

For a singer your voice is your instrument, so treat it like you would a priceless Stradivarius violin. Shouting, smoking, and overuse are just some of the ways the vocal cords can be damaged, limiting the range of notes you can hit and make your voice hoarse.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a music producer, your band’s backing singer or a solo singer-songwriter, if you sing often pay attention to these five pieces of advice for vocalists.

Do your singing warm up exercises

…and cool down afterwards! When you sing you exercise your vocal muscles just as you would your body when jogging. Therefore, to avoid strains and injuries, you’ve got to warm-up to get your voice ready for the pitch and dynamic ranges it’s about to be subjected to.

Sing a pitch up and down gradually increasing your range – start with five notes. Humming and buzzing also help.

Equally, after using your voice at a high intensity, whether that be at band practise or in solo performance, it’s important to cool down your voice to lessen the shock of going from extreme use to silence.

Practise constantly

Keep your voice in use, don’t let yourself get rusty and run the risk of straining, particularly before a performance. Sing in short bursts throughout the day… Serenade the cat!

Does diet affect vocals?

A healthy body means healthy vocal cords. So drink a lot of water – little sips of room temperature water help to avoid friction on your vocal cords. If there’s any foods you’re sensitive to, such as spicy or acidic foods, try and avoid them in your diet.

Each singer is different but some vocalists always avoid dairy, which leave deposits on the vocal cords. Some people swear by herbal tea and honey, or gargling to soothe the voice.

If in doubt – don’t sing

Feeling under the weather? Got a sore throat? Don’t sing! You run the risk of damaging your voice by singing with a dry throat. That goes for talking at a harsh volume too – and whispering is actually one of the worst things you can do. If you’re whispering to someone you’re putting more strain on the voice as you tend to whisper louder trying to be heard.

If you absolutely have to sing, do it quietly making sure you’re using a good technique of posture and breath support, stick to your comfortable mid-range of voice, and try and avoid coughing.

Get into good singing health habits

Be mindful of how you’re treating your voice when you’re not singing. Try to avoid clearing your throat – gargle water instead.

Getting lots of sleep, not smoking, and taking aerobic exercise to help to expand lung capacity are all things to bear in mind. Inhaling steam is also a good tip for a hoarse voice, keeping the vocal cords lubricated.

Singing should never hurt. For Mongolian throat singers and beyond, there’s plenty of advice for singers out there on the world wide web. As a starting point try and keep these five tips for vocal health in mind to keep your singing voice as healthy as possible.

Teach yourself the guitar – 10 top tips

Can you teach yourself the guitar? Yes! Follow our advice to learn to play guitar yourself.

2020 was a good year to be Fender. More people learnt guitar than ever.

If you were one of them, whether you’ve got an electric guitar or acoustic, it’s easy to get over-excited and have an ambitious vision of yourself becoming a solo-shredding axe genius overnight. Unfortunately, that’s going to take practise, and if you’re teaching yourself there’s no one to convince you to keep going but, well, you.

Thankfully there’s a treasure trove of great free hints and tips online, on sites like MusicRadar, with technique tips and resources. Before you get started check out these top 10 tips to teach yourself the basics on guitar.

Start with easy chords to learn on guitar

First get familiar with how guitar strings are ordered. Then start with the shapes of open chords and the technique needed to get a good sound when you strum. Don’t worry too much about the technique of strumming, just focus on moving smoothly from chord to chord.

Learning easy chords helps you to work on a good technique, which in turn stops you learning any bad habits that easily become engrained if you’re not disciplined at first.

Explore tabs and chord diagrams

When I was teaching myself, I started with open chords, learning from chord diagrams. You can also learn from guitar tablature. Both methods lay out the fretboard looking down from directly above with numbers for each finger, so you can match the diagrams to the shape of your hand on the guitar neck.

Once you’ve mastered the basic open chords you’ll find it easier to move onto more advanced chords.

Push on through the pain

Like any workout, the only way to build up strength is to keep going when things get tough. At first your fingertips are going to hurt and your hand might cramp from the new strange position you’re putting it in.

The only thing to do is keep practising, and your wrist and hand will strengthen as you go, I promise.

Get to grips with rhythm

Once you’re comfortable with a chord sequence, focus on the technique of your strumming hand. Pick a chord and stick to it whilst you get familiar with strumming techniques.

Keep your wrist straight so your hand is in line with it too, not at an angle over the strings. Push through the strings from your elbow. There are plenty of tips on using picks (plectrums) and rhythm techniques online.

Go S-L-O-W

Don’t rush when you’re practising. If you think you’re already playing deathly slowly – you’re probably not. Sorry. Slow down even more. That’s the best way to make sure you’ve got the riff or chord sequence nailed, and then you can start to speed up until you’ve got a smooth result.

Memorise some scales

Learning scales is vital for teaching yourself how to play solos or if you’d like to write melodies. You’ll be playing individual notes rather than fretting strings at the same time as you were with chords. The tip of your finger should be firmly in the middle of the fret.

If you master both chords and scales you can think about what kind of guitarist you want to be – rhythm or lead!

Learn your favourite songs

There’s nothing more satisfying than the first time you play a song from beginning to end. Pick a track from an artist you love and find a tab online or a YouTube tutorial, or even try and work out the song by ear. You can also learn from a thing from the olden times called a ‘songbook’, with chord diagrams over the lyrics.

Learning riffs from rock songs is a fun way to learn too – “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Iron Man” and other rock songs use power chords, which are simplified chords.

Don’t be afraid to sing along while you play. Be confident from the off and that will push you through any embarrassment. It’s another level of multitasking that will help your dexterity.

Practise. Lots.

Playing every day, with a focus on technique, is the best way to learn quickly. Sometimes it works out that if you’re stuck on a tricky chord sequence or riff, by putting the guitar down and picking it back up again the next day suddenly you’re able to crack it. So much of learning an instrument comes down to muscle memory, and practising regularly will get it naturally nailed.

Find a guitar pal

If you’re getting frustrated, try and find someone who’s taken up guitar as well and learn together. Jamming with other people is a great way to encourage and inspire everyone involved to push themselves to greater heights.

Take lessons

Everyone learns differently, and you might know that you need a bit of structure to progress. Online lessons from apps like Fender and Yousician are great, or check out our advice at learning from a real live human music teacher.

Whether you’ve already got a guitar lying around or you’re considering getting one, you’ll never get the chance to be the annoying person at a house party who whips out a guitar if you don’t know the basics and practise. Those lovely finger calluses and achy wrists will be worth it, though.

When you’ve written your first great song, let RouteNote know and we’ll get it out into the world for free.

Music Production Terms – A Glossary

Don’t be put off by music production jargon – use this cheat sheet of music technology terms.

Do you want to get started as a music producer but always end up thinking: “What the hell do all these words mean?”

Check out RouteNote’s glossary of a few technical music production terms that might otherwise trip you up before you’ve even got started.

ADSR: Attack – the beginning of the sound; Decay – a fading sound; Sustain – how long it can hold; Release – the fade to silence. The elements form the ‘envelope’ that describes the shape of a sound.

Audio interface: Hardware for recording with a computer that means high-quality recordings.

Bit rate: The number of bits per second, measuring the accuracy of a recording, the higher the bit the more detailed.

Bouncing: Exporting a track to a format like an mp3 or wav file.


Another word for ‘distorting’ or ‘peaking’.

Compression: Reducing the dynamic range of a signal, the difference between the loudest and quietest parts. This means more consistent dynamics, by turning down the sound if it goes above a certain level.

DAW: Digital Audio Workstation – software like Ableton Live, GarageBand, Logic Pro. Used to record audio, mix, make sound effects, and master. Musicians can also compose within DAWs through MIDI devices (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). Check out our pick of the best 10.

Demo: Recording a song or piece of music as a first example of the project, in preparation for a proper full recording.

EQ: Equalisation (EQ) is a method of cutting or boosting the levels of specific frequencies within a sound without changing the rest of it, by adjusting the gain (volume) of a sound at selected points.

Feedback: A high-pitched screech caused when a loop of sound is caused by a signal passing through an amplifier to a microphone and back again. For example, amplifier sound ‘feeding back’ to guitar strings that are still vibrating.

FX: Short for ‘effects’. Common effects include reverb, chorus, distortion, and flange – processes or devices applied to a signal to alter its sound.

Gain: How loud a signal is before it goes through an amplifier. Can be another word for volume, and another word for guitar distortion.

Gating: Stopping unwanted noise coming through in a recording by cutting signals below a specified threshold.

Input: The initial part of the recording chain, through a cable such as a Jack, MIDI or USB.

Jack: A connector. Usually comes in 6mm, 3.5mm mini jack and 2.5mm sizes.

Latency: A delay between input and output of a signal, often in a performer’s headphones.

Loop: A repeated section of a song, often using imported samples.

Lossless and Lossy files:

Mastering: Mastering means making sure the music sounds consistent over all music formats and platforms.

MIDI: Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Data and notes recorded with software and electronic instruments. The notes recorded by a MIDI keyboard are recorded in a DAW as MIDI notes.

Mixing: Combing multiple recorded sounds together, blending to change the levels for a balanced and interesting track. A master mix is the final result.

Panning: Placing a sound in the left or right speaker.

Plugin: Software to extend your DAW with extra effects, processing or instrumentation.

Reverb: Reflection of sounds from surfaces; the sound of a room. More reverb can be added electronically with a plug-in.

Sample: A short pre-recorded sound, taken from one recording and used in another. The smallest unit of measurement in digital sound.

Sequencer: A MIDI sequencer can be used to record and edit a performance without using an audio-based input source. It doesn’t record the actual audio but the data – what note was played at what time, etc. 

Tempo: The speed of music. In BPM (beats per minute), 60BPM for example is one beat a second.

Tracking: Recording songs, on computer, recorder or tape. In a DAW, tracks contain audio and MIDI layers. Each instrument gets its own track.

Velocity: The force at which a note is played.

VST: VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology – plug-ins to bring extra instruments and effects into DAWs. 

Waveform: A soundwave’s shape, displayed on an oscilloscope.

Wet/Dry: A dry signal is a pure unprocessed sound, like a vocal recorded as is. A wet signal is a sound with effects on it.

XLR: A microphone cable, with three prongs.

That’s just the tiniest tip of the iceberg, but don’t be intimidated by music producer jargon. There’s plenty of online resources to help if you get stuck on your producing journey, like the handy videos on our YouTube channel:

Finished producing your first track? Let the world hear it. Use RouteNote to put it on Spotify and all the major streaming platforms – for free.

It’s quick, easy, and you keep all the rights to your songs. Send your music around the globe and start making money from your tracks. Find out more here.

What’s the easiest musical instrument to learn?

Want to learn a musical instrument? Ease yourself in with one that’s easy to play.

Which instrument is the easiest to learn how to play a basic melody? If you’ve absolutely no prior knowledge then it’s a level playing field, right?

Maybe you’ve only made beats digitally with loops and samples and fancy recording a physical musical instrument. Perhaps you’re a total newcomer to making music.

There are some instruments however that are considered harder to master than others. Everyone learns differently. It’s easy to be put off by trying to master a trickier instrument. We’re talking melodic instruments, rather than percussive instruments such as drums, here.

Let’s strip it down to the basics. Two starter instruments are the recorder and the piano – which is easier?

Learning how to play the recorder

Image Credit: Simple Stripes

The recorder wind instrument is simply designed, so that the hands fit naturally over the keyholes. There’s a reason that, in the UK at least, the recorder is the first instrument taught in school. It’s unfortunate then that a class of children taking their first recorder lesson sounds like the gates of hell opening up.

At a very basic level, the more fingers you press down at once the lower the sound. Just make sure the thumb of your left hand covers the single hole at the back. You can hear the descending scale as you put down fingers over the holes at the front.

There’s little technique involved to make a noise initially, unlike with a saxophone or flute where you must first master the embouchure (mouth position) before anything else – you pretty much just blow into it.

The recorder could even be considered a gateway to other wind instruments once the basics have been learnt.

Learning piano by yourself

Man playing keyboard with electric guitar on his lap.

On the other side of the ring we have the piano. Easier than the recorder?

Well, for one you don’t have to assemble it, or master any breathing or embouchure techniques to produce a pleasant sound. You don’t have to worry about sounding out of tune, unlike an instrument like the violin where hand positioning is important. The keys are laid out in front of you: low to high, left to right.

All you need to do is press down and you can hear the tone getting higher or lower as you move your hands.

Start with just one hand – your right. Learn where ‘middle C’ is – put the thumb of your right hand on it and the four other fingers lie naturally over the four white keys to the right. Press down each in turn going up the piano and you’re playing the first notes of the C major scale, C-D-E-F-G.

Once you understand that going up the piano the keyboard is in fact the same set of 12 notes repeated, the amount of keys becomes much less intimidating.

Feeling inspired makes learning an instrument easy

If you’re not excited about an instrument, it can be tough to motivate yourself to master it. It seems very few people are inspired by the recorder. But sometimes you feel a kinship with the instrument and learning comes naturally.

Don’t give up on learning music if the instrument you start out on doesn’t click – there’s hundreds of other options. If guitar is frustrating, try the ukulele instead. If you just can’t master two hands on the piano, play around on the harmonica for a while.

There’s so many resources online to help learn, or you could invest in some online lessons with a music teacher. Once you’ve learned the basics of one instrument, it’s easier to transfer that knowledge to learn another one.

There’s no easy answer to which instrument is the easiest to learn how to play to a competent level. It depends completely on the player and personal preference. All instruments require co-ordination of some kind, and an understanding of rhythm.

What musical instrument did you find the easiest to learn? Let us know in the comments.

Use RouteNote to get your music online for free! Release your songs to Spotify, Apple Music and more. Find out more here and sign up today.

Should you choose RouteNote’s Free or Premium distribution?

A guide to choosing the best music distribution option for you. Free music distribution or Premium?

At RouteNote, we have two music distribution options that aim to suit small artists, large artists and everything in between. Artists and labels are free to choose whichever one works best for them.

Once you’ve picked the model for you, you aren’t locked into that decision! Changing between tiers as your music grows is as easy as flicking a switch.

RouteNote Free music distribution

Our free options has zero upfront of annual costs. The artist keeps 85% of all revenue generated from the release. RouteNote’s free distribution is great for smaller artists building an audience.

RouteNote Premium music distribution

For a small fee and recurring cost, artists or labels can keep 100% of the revenue generated. This option is great for established artists with thousands of streams and sales. RouteNote Premium is priced below:

  • Singles (1 track): $10
  • EPs (2-6 tracks): $20
  • Albums (7-18 tracks): $30
  • Extended Album (19+ tracks): $45
  • $9.99 annually

Outside of percentage revenue cuts, everything else between the two models is exactly the same.

  • Lossless audio uploads.
  • Free ISRC and UPCs generated with each release.
  • The same stores and streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Deezer, TIDAL and many more.
  • The same monetization tools on social media platforms such as YouTube Content ID, Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud and TikTok.
  • The same marketing tools from such as Smart Links, Pre-saves and Content Unlocks.
  • The same fast moderation and support times.
  • The same detailed statistics, showing you exactly how many streams, downloads and revenue you earned on each release, from each platform.
  • You are never locked in with RouteNote. You retain 100% of the rights to your music and are free to leave when ever you want.

Whichever you choose, click here to get started.

How to play the greatest guitar solo of all time

Not only has the best guitar solo ever been revealed but you can easily play along with it too…

It’s official. The experts at Total Guitar magazine polled their readers in a quest to find the greatest guitar solo of all time, and the results are in.

Of course, what makes a solo the greatest depends on your criteria. Is it technical prowess? Emotion? A memorable melodic line? Arguably, the champion has it all…

So what was the winner – the blistering finger-tapping marathon of ‘Eruption’, ‘Free Bird’ with its pulse-quickening tempo switch, the cheesiness of ‘Hotel California’, or did a different legendary solo make the top spot?

That’s right. Brian May’s solo from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen was voted the best guitar solo ever. It manages to be epic without being spotlight-hogging in length, and fits in seamlessly with the operatic song.

The reaction by May to winning the title was suitably modest: ‘I am not worthy, but it’s much appreciated.’

Last year over Instagram the Queen guitarist gifted fans and budding shredders a step-by-step guide of how to play the iconic solo, and also gave everyone a nice view of his knee.

(The tutorial is 2:00 to 5:00 if you’re in a hurry.) May offered insight into his playing, saying that he uses the guitar as a voice: ‘I’m not the world’s expert greatest technical guitar player,’ he insisted in typically humble fashion.

Inevitably many, many people will disagree with the results of the poll – but all that means is hours of listening to guitar solos and watching videos on concerts on YouTube until a balanced argument is reached.

You’ll have to buy Total Guitar magazine to discover what was ranked where in the top 50. Please do argue away in the comments over what you think deserves to be crowned the greatest guitar solo of all time. My vote’s for ‘All Along the Watchtower’.

How to write a great music press release

10 tips for writing a press release as an artist, with examples of music press releases to get you started.

Have you got exciting news about your music that you can’t wait to share with the world? Then you need to get the information out there, and that means sending a music press release to journalists, music bloggers and broadcasters to persuade them to write about you.

If you’re a DIY artist promoting your music for free, making a career in the music industry without a PR team, you’re going to have to work the system.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s a quick guide to writing a music press release.

Get to the point

First, make sure your press release actually contains brand new information. Think to yourself: “Is it newsworthy?”

The whole point of a press release is to make it unbelievably easy for the journalist to immediately understand the key point of what you’re announcing. They’re going to use it as a jumping off point to write around, so you need to make it easy for them to write lovely things about your music.

Say it in three or four short paragraphs, including a very brief bio about the artist. Aim for 800 words maximum, and never more than two sides of A4.

Make it clear what the story is about

The journalist is not going to get back in touch to ask what you actually want them to write about, so you need to make it blindingly obvious. Format it properly, look online for press release examples, and use headlines that describe the story of the release.

Don’t try to be too clever– if you’ve thought of a witty line, use the standfirst (the second line that summarises the story). If you’re announcing new music, don’t bury it at the bottom of the text, put the link at the top. If the track isn’t out yet, maybe send a private SoundCloud or unlisted YouTube link.

Put the important stuff first

Use the Inverted Pyramid writing template. The idea is that the press release could be cut from the bottom without losing the main story. Put the most important information at the top – your hook.

Press release template:

  • First paragraph: “W” questions about the news in your music press release – who, what, when, where, why?
  • Subsequent paragraphs: Information in descending order of importance.
    Why the news deserves to be promoted – specifics about your new tour, for example.
    The third or fourth paragraphs are often quotes or artist biography.
  • Include extra information at the bottom – contact info, social profiles link, press pack.

Be professional

Press releases are a place to clearly broadcast your news, not your love for Comic Sans. Make the press release the best it can be from the beginning, bearing in mind some music bloggers just copy and paste from press releases if they can’t be bothered to rewrite them. (Tip for music bloggers – please don’t do this.)

Don’t exaggerate – journalists can’t be seen to be “selling” what they’re reporting so try to avoid sales-speak and fluff. What you can do, though, is whack that kind of thing into quotes…

“Does it need quotes then?”

Quotations look professional and can give the story a personal feel. If you’re announcing a record deal, for example, you could include one from a senior person from organisation, with full name and position.

Or you can quote yourself, as in: “Lead singer Geoffrey said, ‘I am awfully excited about finally playing Ally Pally’.”

Where and when should the press release appear?

Think about which audience you’re aiming for – is it music bloggers you’re after, or are you targeting print journalism? Look up who covers what news and if they accept press releases in the first place.

Then work backwards from the month you want it to appear. There’s no point telling people about an album that’s a year away or a Christmas single in June. Think about lead times of publications or broadcasts – that’s how long between the journalist receiving the band press release to when the information will be published.

Write in the email subject line if the information is for immediate release, if it’s an exclusive just for that journalist, or if it’s embargoed and not to be published until a specific date.

Is it best to send it by email?

Yes. Write a brief cover letter-style email first, introducing yourself, and then copy and paste the text of the music press release underneath it straight into the body of the email, as people are rightly wary of opening attachments from unknown email addresses.

Don’t just hit Send All, which is always very obvious, and you’ll end up sending a R&B track to a bunch of classical music journalists. Do some research – find out the best person to contact, and then…

Tailor to your target

In your cover email, flatter your recipient – make it personal, clear that you’ve selected them to send the release to. Why should they be interested enough to write about it? Speak to their ego. If you’re aiming at bloggers, keep it shorter, more chatty.

Also, the journalist is going to have been bombarded with emails all day. So… make the cover email snappy, and write an attention-grabbing email subject line that lets the journalist know exactly what you’re pitching.

Respond quickly to replies

If the journalist wants more information – give it to them, quickly. Have all the information ready to go for any potential requests, a press pack of gig info, interview slots, new releases. Don’t be intimidated and wait until they’ve lost interest.

Equally, don’t despair if there IS no reply! Journalists and bloggers often just don’t have the physical capacity to reply to every single request. They might just not have had time. They probably don’t hate you. You can follow it up after a week or so… just be careful not to be too pushy.

If all else fails… pay someone to do it for you

Sometimes there’s just nothing for it. Music promotion is often about who you know in the media, and the contacts are invaluable. Paying for PR isn’t cheap, but if you can afford it it’s worth considering. We’ve also already researched some PR tools available online on an affordable budget:

Whether you’ve released a new song, got the band back together, nabbed a record contract, or kicked out the old guitarist, people need to know about it. Just be sure to make your music press release clear and concise and, as long as the news is interesting enough, the time and effort will be worth it.

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