6 Reasons Why You Need Several Band Photos For Publicity
Grabbing the attention of blogs and magazines is one of the best ways to get your music heard and to promote your work, but it’s also a tricky business. Every outlet is looking for something different, and it can be exhausting reaching out to so many people. When a promotional campaign begins, you’ll start with a press release, a pitch, and some artwork, be it of you and your band or of an album cover. Some Publicists would suggest you only approve and share one or two images with the media, which is supposedly a good way to hone a message and do your best to make sure you control your image. It’s a good idea in theory, but it doesn’t always work the way it should.
Only sending out a single picture can actually be detrimental when it comes to upping your chances of acquiring the media mentions and press clippings you’re looking for. People who have been promoting artists for a long time (if you decide to work with them in any capacity) are sure to give you and your bandmates plenty of reasons why it’s a plan you should stick to, and while there are surely some upsides, I believe it’s not in any musician’s best interest to just offer one promotional image. Here’s why:
1. Different Stories Require Different Images
You may think your one carefully-chosen image is a great one, and while it likely is, it might not be a good fit for every kind of story. If a writer is interested in you, your band, and your music, you want to make sure they have everything they need to facilitate their vision. Working with Bloggers, Music Journalists, and Editors is a delicate balance of trying to shape the story to be what you want, while at the same time making sure those who are willing to go out of their way to promote you are well supplied and ready to go at any time.
Maybe they weren’t completely inspired to write about you until they saw you live, which would probably make your live shows the focus of their story. If that’s the case and the writer wants to focus almost solely on how excellent you are in concert, a structured portrait in a studio probably isn’t going to do them a lot of good. Keep this possibility in mind when planning what type of images to make available to the media. You certainly don’t need to have every scenario be a possible option, but a healthy mix of photos of the band live, staged, and while working (perhaps mixing or mastering the new record) is a good place to start.
2. People Like Options
When you supply a writer with just one or two photos, you’re essentially telling that person they have no other choice but to use what they are given. This certainly doesn’t give off a feeling of collaboration or of fostering someone’s creativity by giving them what they need to do the best work they can. In fact, it comes across as you dictating what they can and cannot do, and nobody enjoys that. Remember this is a person you are not only working with, but someone who is doing you something of a favor. Be careful not to act as though you’re in charge, because nobody is (or should be) in this scenario.
Giving someone options empowers them and it makes them feel trusted. Too many choices can be a bad thing—if you don’t believe me think back to the last time you tried to decide what you wanted while eating at a restaurant with a million items on the menu—but a few is always a good thing. You can always suggest a favorite or one you believe would best fit the article but leave the final decision to the person who is actually crafting the piece.
When you supply a writer with just one or two photos, you’re essentially telling that person they have no other choice but to use what they are given. This certainly doesn’t give off a feeling of collaboration or of fostering someone’s creativity by giving them what they need to do the best work they can.
3. Writers Don’t Like To Share
Typically, when musicians are trying to get the media’s attention, it’s because they have something to promote, which shouldn’t be all the time. There are cycles involving periods of heavy promotion, and then some time off, as you need to give the public and the media a break from you, even if you’re just starting out and you’re not terribly well-known just yet. When there’s a new single, album, tour, or anything else new and newsworthy, that’s when you should go into full-on promo mode, pitching away often and somewhat aggressively.
It’s important to remember that while collecting as many press mentions and articles about the same new single or record is great for an artist, your upswing in efforts can be a difficult time for blogs. Every outlet is trying to differentiate itself from the hordes of other publications, and they take any opportunity available to stand out. That includes the images connected with every article, as they help bring in traffic and they are often the first things the readers, or potential readers, see.
Having just one image available means most outlets will be forced to use the same pictures as everyone else, which isn’t likely to sit well with Editors, especially those at more prominent and popular publications. As someone trying to court the media and convince writers to take some of their valuable time and devote it to you and your work, you don’t want to do anything that could strain your relationship, and forcing every blog to look the same is a terrible idea. Those who do accept it will do so begrudgingly, while others may not enjoy the treatment, and they may opt out of covering you entirely.
4. Some Stories Are Visual
You may think the world wants nothing more than to read what some writer thinks about your latest release but believe it or not, it’s probably not the case. What attracts eyeballs is changing in the digital media landscape, and a lot of blogs have had to shift right along with the tastes of the public. This means plenty of outlets have opted to go for a more visual approach, including more and more photos and fewer words.
Some articles are just a few sentences mixed with plenty of photos, while other outlets have become fierce advocates of galleries, which contribute to high click rates and up advertising revenues. These types of posts can work in your favor if you can play along with what the media needs. Supplying several different pictures allows the blogs to go different ways with the story, and it shows you understand the position many of these outlets are in.
While you may be interested in seeing a 750-word piece dissecting your latest performance, a gallery of excellent pictures from a recent show coupled with some top-notch blurbs can honestly be just as effective. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be hoping for and going after both kinds of press, but rather there are some outlets that report and create one way, and if you want to reach their audience, you’ll have to adapt to their structure. Also, if a blog sees some high traffic associated with your band’s name, it will only want to make them work with you and cover your work again and again.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received an approved photo from a Publicist, only to have to reach out because what was provided didn’t work for one reason or another.
5. There Could Be Several Pieces!
Getting even just one feature in the media is a win, but who says you need to stop there? Every good Publicist knows there are different angles and typically several stories to be told during any promotional cycle, and if you’re going to ask people to write about you a few times in a short period of time, you really need to give them some different visuals.
For example, if you’re coming out with a new album, you and your PR team (which might actually just be you) are probably planning on reaching out to bloggers many times, as there are singles, music videos, release dates, titles, covers, and tour dates all coming down the pipeline. It’s unlikely you’ll receive coverage for every single item you place in front of a writer, but it’s a good idea to be prepared for this, just in case the stars align and you nab yourself a very important fan.
You should go into your media outreach assuming you’ll only be written up once (if you’re lucky), but ready for more, which means having a portfolio of different images at all times. Giving writers access to everything they may require to post about your music more than once might be extra effort that doesn’t lead anywhere, or it could end up being the keys to success for them and you, but you’ll never know unless you’re prepared.
6. Maybe It Doesn’t Work
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received an approved photo from a Publicist, only to have to reach out because what was provided didn’t work for one reason or another. It might not occur to you or your Publicist at the time, but different blogs and magazines have very different technical requirements, and what works perfectly for one setup might be the opposite of what’s needed for another.
Some outlets want horizontal pictures, while others stick solely to vertical photos. Some content management systems only accept pictures above a certain pixel count, while others limit the size of the file. It can also come down to the mood, feeling, or tone of the image itself. Is this a serious outlet that publishes longform, well thought out critiques, or a blog that makes its money from BuzzFeed-style listicles? Different images are needed for all of these reasons and more, and you don’t want to be left running around at the last minute trying to figure out what to do with a request from an Editor you can’t fulfill.
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