So you want Pitchfork to cover your band. First you have to know what they look for.
When a new band starts working with us at Green Light Go we ask them to submit a wish list of outlets where they would ideally love to see coverage. These usually include some reputable local publications, certain playlists, and a number of well-known tastemaker blogs. More often than not, one blog always tops the list: Pitchfork.
At this point, Pitchfork is definitely a household name for any music fan or driven musician. But does that really mean it’s a great fit for every single song or album? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. If you’re interested in pitching your music to Pitchfork, here are a few things to consider first.
1. Genre and Artist Level
One of the most visible features on the Pitchfork site is their “Reviews” column. It’s pretty straight-forward and self-explanatory. This is where the staff writers and contributors feature their album and EP reviews. Keep that in mind, because if you’re pitching a single, you’ll need to look at the “Tracks” section.
One of the most consistent things visible in this column is the artist level and genre. First, if your band is unsigned, this is not the right fit. They primarily cover signed bands and musicians and/or are established (meaning they have some notable credentials backing them up like touring or working with other well-known acts). While they cover a few bands that are relatively unknown (around 1,000 Facebook likes), they have another selling point in their music. Those selling points can include working with other established musicians, opening on a tour, or that they’ve been in a more notable band before. Pitchfork is primarily covering hip-hop, R&B, electronic, and experimental music. There’s some indie rock thrown in there, but the unknown artists really appeal to the musical sensibilities of “something we haven’t heard before”. If your music would be a good fit for Top40 Radio, then it’s not a good fit. The only straightforward folk and rock music are typically from well established artists.
2. Find the Right Writer
With the above information in mind, if your music is a good fit genre-wise, or you have the backing of a label, it’s time to find a writer. The first thing I’d recommend doing is looking through the recent posts to find a similar sound, then clicking on that writer’s name to see his or her writing archive. If it seems like a majority of the posts are right along the same lines as your sound, this person would definitely be the most likely to consider a review.
3. Twitter Time
The third step is the most important. Once you’ve done the research to decide whether your band is actually a fit and found a writer who would potentially be interested in your album, you’ll need to contact them. Don’t jump the gun here though, because while you’ll be reaching out to them, you’re not going to lead with “here is my album, please cover.” Try to find the writer on Twitter, and start looking for some engagement opportunities. The best thing that you can do with a writer you have never worked with before is building a relationship. Just like anything you do in life, it takes time to get to know somebody and establish a certain level of trust. Remember, Pitchfork writers get hundreds of requests a day, so they’re almost numb to the inflow of emails and messages. Set yours apart by getting to know them. Try commenting on a recent post and let them know why you liked it. Repost something and tag them. The most important thing is to just show your support and build that visibility through social media touches. Once they follow you as well or start a conversation in return, you can let the conversation naturally progress to your own music.
Green Light Go: Read the daily posts on Pitchfork for the next week to get familiar with the current review trends.
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