Promoting your new album without a jazz publicist?

Whether you can’t afford a jazz publicist for your next release, or you just want to fill in the gaps in countries they’re not covering, this article looks at how you can do some DIY PR for your new music.

If you’ve ever looked into hiring a jazz publicist, you’ll probably notice one big thing:

Most of them only work in their own country or territory.

(Except Jazzfuel, that is. We’ve worked more than 250 international releases, and you can find out more about that, or hire us, here.)

Anyway, back to the norm: if you are aiming at touring internationally, you’d need to hire a whole bunch of different people to reach those markets. And that would be EXPENSIVE.

If, like most musicians, you don’t have the budget to engage in worldwide PR, it doesn’t mean that you should miss out on this.

You might never develop the address book of a great jazz publicist, but there are a bunch of actionable things you can do yourself, with just a little time and effort, to help people discover your new album and get journalists writing about it.

A quote from an American publicist

Whilst preparing this piece, I came across an article by American music publicist Judy Miller Silverman for Watt entitled “You Don’t Need a Publicist (for real).” Here’s an excerpt which is very relevant:

“I cannot sell an unsigned, unknown, un-managed, unbooked band that nobody has ever seen or heard any better than the band can itself. Nobody loves you more than you do, so look inward to make things happen”  

So, do you love yourself enough to do some DIY Jazz PR?

Here at Jazzfuel we run what we call ‘digital PR’ campaigns – reaching out internationally to bloggers, magazine websites & influencers with the goal of getting the artist talked about on websites, blogs & social media.

We didn’t originally call ourselves traditional jazz publicists and, although we might have had a head start from working inside the industry for 10+ years, we didn’t have an enormous address-book of journalist contacts.

If we can manage it, you can too…

With a few years of successes under our belts, I wanted to share some of the areas that worked for us and can work for you too. 

DIY Jazz Publicist: Direct outreach to bloggers

A lot of jazz musicians believe that only booking agents can get good gigs. There’s a similar belief that only jazz publicists can connect with journalists and bloggers.

I disagree with both.

It’s true that great music publicists have pre-existing and strong relationships with the press, which makes it easier. But every music blogger and journalist out there is doing what they do because they are also FANS, so reaching them directly is not impossible.

The key is pitching to exactly the right people.

Don’t buy lists of journalists or mass mailout any music writer you can find. Figure out which ones are most likely to support your project, by looking at coverage for similar artists to you.

Step 1: Reaching the right jazz press

Ideally, pick two or three bands who play a similar style and make a complete list of everywhere they’ve been featured. Not just the name of the publication, but the specific journalist.

As I’m sure you know, within every jazz magazine and newspaper there are different writers with different tastes. My agency roster is quite broad and I know that for each project there are journalists working at the same magazine who will disagree on what is good. Your goal is to focus in on the ones who are going to ‘get it’!

Step 2: killer pitching emails

Once you’ve got this targeted list with direct email addresses (hint: find them on their blog, on LinkedIn or just by some Sherlock-Holmes-style Googling) put together a killer pitching email.

The initial email to a blogger or journalist needs to be concise, clear and engaging. British music journalist Matthew Wright put together a whole guide to getting your project reviewed, specifically for this Jazzfuel site; you can download the key points here.

Important: Lead times

My key tip: make sure you start long enough ahead of the release so that you don’t get turned down just because of time. Whist print publications can be anything from 1-3 months in advance, blogs can be much more efficient and put something together in just a few days or weeks. I’d still aim to be making your plan and your initial contact 6-8 weeks in advance of the release though.

Step 3: Follow up

This is crucial: Follow up regularly and in a timely manner. Just like with booking gigs, the 1st pitch is not always successful. Keep track of who you’ve contacted when and follow up with them.

BONUS: Various blogs around the world give very clear guidelines on how you should be approaching the for reviews (and what will lead to a quick NO). Here’s a great one from Next Bop:

“We get a lot of emails, I mean A LOT of emails, from people looking to be featured on Nextbop. Honestly, it’s flattering and we thank you for your interest, but we’ve found along the years a lot of musicians don’t understand how to properly pitch their work to a publication. Anthony already wrote a post on the matter three years ago (that still has some play), but I feel some of you may need a more concise and to the point refresher course. So here’s our best practices to being featured on our website.”

Posting in groups on Facebook

If, like a lot of bands, you think your Facebook artist page is just somewhere to keep people up-to-date with your project, this tip could be a revelation.

It was to me when I tried it a few months back!

As you probably know, Facebook is full of ‘groups’ covering everything from hobbies and sports to music and business.

If you can find and join the groups that are most relevant to your project, you have the opportunity to reach hundreds or thousands of engaged fans with just one post.

Everytime there is a new post in the group, the members get a notification. It makes a massive difference, compared to the measly percentage of ‘fans’ or ‘friends’ who will see the things you post on the general Facebook timeline.

There’s an important ‘rule’ to learn first though…

Don’t join a group and them immediately ask people to buy/like your project.

These groups are communities. You need to be part of it before people will welcome your input.

So take an interest in what everyone else is doing, get a feel for the way its members interact with different types of posts and then share something with them.

DIY Jazz Promo in action

A little while back I did a survey with almost 50 international jazz promoters to find out how they discovered new bands for their festivals and venues. The response from members of the Jazzfuel community was really positive and I felt that it was one of the most useful articles I’d done.

So, I decided to try to share it with even more people.

I’d been reading various articles about Facebook groups, and was already a member of several, so I decided to give it a try. The result? More people visited my website that week than EVER before!

*Even if you hire a jazz publicist, it’s unlikely they will be posting into groups on Facebook for you. So take care of this yourself!*

Following likely fans on Twitter

Whilst Facebook is ever-present wherever you are in the world, Twitter has a slightly more niche set of fans which seems to change drastically from country to country.

It’s true, the platform is not as all-encompassing as Facebook and, in my opinion, it’s advertising options are much worse-value.

But Twitter still provides you with a great opportunity to make people aware of your new music.

Think of twitter as a way of nudging someone.

If someone follows me on Twitter, I’ll usually have a quick look at their bio and last couple of posts. If it seems interesting to me, I’ll follow them back. (Don’t believe me? Try it here!)

If we can agree that a lot of people use Twitter this way, we can start building a plan for how to use it to grow your fans around the world.

jazz on Twitter - example bio

Example Twitter Bio

Before you follow the steps below, make sure your bio gives a short but effective description of your project and includes a link to your best (new) video. Your cover image should look great and match your album branding and you should ‘pin’ your #1 video to the top. Once you’ve got that sorted so that first-time viewers are intrigued to learn more about you…

ONE: Identify possible fans. An easy way to do this is to think of a similar (but better known) artist to you and see who their followers are.

TWO: ‘Follow’ these people so that they receive a notification about your profile (and, if they’re like me, head over for a quick look and listen!). You can do this manually or by using an online platform which will help you speed it up. Personally, I use Manageflitter which you can check out here via my affiliate link.

THREE: Engage with these people. We’re not robots and you’re not going to be successful on social media if everything is done simply to get ‘likes’. Once you’re following lots of people who like similar music to your project, check in on Twitter a couple of times a week and like/comment on what they’re posting. Again, this will give those people another nudge to check out your project.

FOUR: This sort of goes without saying, but whenever someone shares or comments on your project, send them a personal note to say thanks.

You can see 3 different types of Twitter-based jazz publicity we achieved on a recent campaign for guitarist Elon Turgeman here:

Engaging with jazz influencers on social media

Following potential fans on social media is a good way to win people over, one by one. When you’ve got something important to push, it’s worthwhile and will cost you only your time.

However, alongside this, you can turbo-charge things by identifying and engaging with ‘influencers’ – anyone within the music industry who has a wide reach and is looked to as a source of authority.

Of course, this includes journalists and jazz promoters, but it could also be agents, managers or even other musicians. Not only does it increase the chance of them discovering your music, it also increases the chances of them remembering you when you reach out by email.

[Hint: I’ve received new music from musicians on the Jazzfuel mailing list many times and, whilst I haven’t been able to represent them, I’ve been happy to do my small part by sharing a track on the Jazzfuel New Releases playlist.

Of course, on it’s own this isn’t changing a career, but these small things only cost you only a little time and forethought to get and really add up!] 

Who are your influencers???

Firstly, you need to figure out who these people are for your project. You want to be aiming for a solid list of their name, email and publication plus their Twitter and/or Facebook @handles.

I’d suggest brainstorming publications, festivals and similar bands to yours and then finding individual names of the people involved with these. Then, you can search them on social media. 

DIY jazz publicity: how do you reach these industry influencers?

Once you’ve done this, you have at least three options:

1) Tweet them with a link to your latest video or track and try to get them checking it. If you choose them wisely and message them in the right way, the ‘win’ is either having the check the project or, even better, re-sharing it with their followers.

2) Reach out to them directly – via email or private message – and ask them to check out your project and share it. We’ve seen good results from this, especially when they are not able to do a full review but are happy to support the music in some smaller way like this.

3) Ask for an introduction from someone (within the industry) that you are already connected with. Personal recommendations are SO powerful. Use them whenever you can!

It’s worth remembering that these people have lots of requests like this and need to be selective at what they share, or risk losing the trust of their followers. So choose them wisely and write to them individually, not as a mass mailout.

But picking those people with a track record of supporting exactly the sort of project that you’re working on and reaching out to them in a friendly and non-demanding way, gives you the best possible chance for success.


BONUS: If an influencer posts something about your project, be sure to re-share it yourself. Not just on that specific social media platform, but on all of them. Not only do these influencers introduce you to a bigger audience, they also give extra credibility. For this reason, it’s important you squeeze as much out of it as possible.

Here’s an example of one of my agency artists being featured in the German jazz magazine JazzThing. We (and he) shared it across our social media platforms too, for maximum reach.

Have a Landing Page 

If you are launching a new album, it’s important to have one place where people can find everything they need to know about it.

Journalists and promoters don’t want to be sifting through masses of content to try to figure out what the ‘latest’ thing is. Make it as easy as possible for them.

If it’s your only project, maybe your website already does this?

But if you’re doing multiple things, make sure to have one page, somewhere on your site, that includes only the key video/audio/text/press/links to the new album and then direct journalists and promoters directly there.

This digital one-sheet (download a free template here) will save you loads of time too, because you can simply redirect everyone to one place rather than dealing with attachments and tweaking bios each time someone asks for info.

Sidemen outreach

As a Brit, I fully empathise with the many musicians who feel that they can’t push to hard on the self-promoting!

But I’ve come to realise that there are times when you need to ignore this and tell the world about what you’re doing.

If you don’t, there will be a whole bunch of musicians making similarly great music to you who ARE prepared to do that and grab the ears and eyes of jazz fans instead.

If you’re proud of the music you are making, there are people out there who want to hear it. Don’t deprive them of that by being shy and self-deprecating!

With a little help from your friends…

This self-promotion doesn’t have to be one-way though: ask anyone else involved in the project (sidemen, producer, engineer, etc) to do you a big favour by sharing it too.

As counter-intuitive as it might feel, asking people to spread the word on your behalf can have far-reaching positive consequences because promoters and industry outside of your personal circle get to hear about the new music.

So, in advance of releasing new music, make sure you put together a plan for getting this done:

  • Post your best video to Facebook with an announcement about the new music and @tag the musicians involved. Then, send each of them a private message and ask them to share it with their friends/fans.
  • Text/email/call your closest friends & family and ask each of them to do you a big favour by sharing the news with as many people as they can. 
  • Look at what other bands your sidemen play in (which is probably a lot, if they’re like most 21st century jazz musicians!). If these bands have received support from any specific publications or promoters that would be perfect for you, don’t be afraid to ask for an intro or contact. Personal recommendations are SO much more powerful than cold outreach.

Get Your Story Straight

We’re lucky in the jazz world that the vast majority of people working inside the industry are passionate and knowledgeable about the music.

Why else are they going to be doing this job?!

But whilst you can trust them to appreciate the intricacies of what you’re doing, they still need additional reasons to write about you or book you. Of course, they need to be convinced about the music themselves, but they often have to be convinced that their audience (whether that’s readers or ticket-buyers) will also be excited.

Because unless they are able to present consistently interesting content to their audience, they won’t be able to continue their work.

So once you’ve finished making your new album as brilliant as possible, give yourself that extra 10% chance of making it a success by coming up with the words and stories that will draw people in and get them listening in the first place.

“We recently worked on a project with a musician who was releasing an album featuring a special guest. When we were pitching for press, that was one of the headlines that drew people in.

Once they were there, they liked the music.

But it was really beneficial to be able to tell them the story: how the collaboration came about, why it happened at this time, how it happened. Storytelling has been around for thousands of years and, whatever you’re trying to get done, it gives people and added motivation when done well.”

If you’re stuck for what to write, try talking to fellow musicians or friends about what makes you and your project interesting. They might have a better viewpoint, from not being too tied up with it.

Alternatively, set aside a small budget and ask a journalist to interview you and write your story for you. I’ve done this before with artists and it’s always paid back the cost many times in extra gigs and audience engagement.

Premiering videos 

These days, having a great music video to release around the time of your album is not just a bonus, it’s essential!

With so much stuff out there, visual content gives you the best chance of grabbing the ears and eyes of fans, promoters and jazz journalists.

But putting this video together is just part one.

Once you’ve got it, turn it into a powerful PR tool.

Squeezing extra attention from your music videos

Of course, you can show it to your fans on Facebook and via your mailing list anytime, so first look for ways to reach a new audience by asking someone else to premiere it.

The key targets?

  • Jazz magazines (and, specifically, their website or social media)
  • Jazz blogs
  • Jazz education/export organisations
  • Well-connected jazz promoters

As long as you do your research and choose them well, it’s a simple 2-way transaction: they get new content to keep their online audience engaged and you get to put your project in front of a whole new bunch of possible fans.

I’m no jazz publicist, but I’ve managed to get videos premiered on numerous occasions. Often with publications or people who I had no previous relationship with.

The key?

Make sure that both the target and the specific person you’re writing to are interested in the specific niche of jazz that you’re working in. And then pitch them well!

Hi {journalist/editor first name},

We didn’t meet before but we have some mutual connections via [musician/agent/band] who I work with. My band, [name], is about to release a new music video to announce our [2nd] album and I wanted to share a secret link with you to see if you’d be interested in premiering it on the [magazine/blog] website [or] Facebook page?


I saw you featured [similar band name] recently so thought this might interest you and your audience musically! 

Thanks in advance,

{your name}

PS: We’ll be doing a big push on social media once it’s out, so hopefully it will drive some new jazz fans to your page too.

Here are a couple of real-life examples from my roster:

Round up: Ready to get started as a self-publicising jazz musician?!

Whether you’re releasing your first album or your 15th….

Whether you’re completely DIY or already working with a jazz publicist, record label, manager and/or agent…

There’s probably no one out there more invested in making your music a success than you!

So making yourself aware of the many potential opportunities out there is essential.

And with so much jazz coverage existing online these days, getting press and reaching a broader audience around the world is something you really can take control of yourself.

As with getting jazz gigs, if you don’t pitch your project, it’s unlikely you’ll get coverage.

So if you can, find a great (recommended) publicist to help guide you. But be aware of any territories or opportunities that are not being worked on and take care of them yourself.

Whether you’re doing everything yourself or just adding to the work of a team around you, make sure that as many people as possible get to discover your music!

If you want to read more about promoting a new release, here are two popular articles on the topic:

1 thought on “Promoting your new album without a jazz publicist?”

  1. Found this article purely by chance. As a fairly new convert to jazz, especially guitar. Over the last three or so years, I’ve been listening to and learning to play jazz.
    Which has rekindled my desire to make music. After years of playing in rock and blues based formats. things got a bit stale. Although I was aware of the likes of Joe Pass, Wes Montomery and George Benson. I’d never bothered to get into it.
    Now I’m definitely getting it. Found the renewed desire to start writing a few tunes and learning how to promote the work. Definitely going to become a regular visitor.

    All the best


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.