Noob Advice: Tips On Handling Reviews

Written by Carcassbomb

Another kinda guide aimed at the underground from someone who might be right?

For max context, I’m writing this as someone who is both a metal promoter and a metal PR person. I do crazy amounts of free promo every week for Noob Heavy, and on the side, I work getting peoples albums out into the world and industry. So, I receive these promos and write about them, I also write promos and promote them. I’m seeing it all. This article is intended for bands promoting themselves, but it will also help you get the most out of any PR you hired who is bringing in reviews.

I’ve seen a lot of promoter’s express frustration about bands and labels not sharing their coverage. It is a bit of an issue in the current online metal scene. Here is a bit of an insight into the inner workings of it all from the promoter side, as it’s not obvious to every role in the music industry. What bands know is different from what labels know and PR firms are another thing again. The primary issue is that I think the concept of a review and metal promotion website is a bit misunderstood as narcissism or opportunism. I can understand that, when you look at the worst of us but if you find a good publication that provides resources and opportunities for bands, it would be good to build a relationship with them. Even smaller ones, because like you, they will grow.

Many sites have google ads and are after clicks. Noob Heavy and many others in the metal scene don’t operate like that – it’s not the norm and doing so is gauche. We make band features for both promoting good music, and to grow our platform to further spread the metal, providing us with more opportunities to effectively promote music (Yours!). We make websites because we love music and want to explore it with our crafts and then share it. Yes, we want the band to share it. I put so much time into the job daily, I don’t want glory or fame from it, I simply want my time and effort to have been worth it, to maximize its promotional output, for the band and my own labors. Often it’s also a matter of simply enjoying the fact that someone we respect has acknowledged that work and appreciated it. Any glory I do want is literally for competition with fellow promoters in a healthy, collaborative way or my own life goals (Like when I interviewed Tommy from BTBAM)

So, you are a band and a publication has reviewed your album and it’s an ok to decent review. Perhaps they did a premiere, an interview or something else. You’ve been tagged in it. I can’t speak for why you did not share it. I suspect some people do not like to post stuff to their profiles that are external content as they would rather post their own music content. If you are in a band and have insight as to why you don’t share reviews, then definitely hit me up. In my experience it’s because a band doesn’t like a line or two, or a comparison to another band. Keep in mind promoters are from all around the world and have different music exposure, so reviewers will go on their own experience. It won’t always be accurate, but it’s their take from it. Here’s two concepts that might ease more bands into meshing their platforms with that of publications for mutual benefit.

The core: A website writing, publishing and promoting a review is only HALF the job complete.  

In this state, the review (containing the band links/video/etc) stay within that publications readership which will net you a few new fans for a quick boost and that’s it. Depending on the publication it may only be a small boost. This job is unfinished. If you’re a band and you see that review and hit like and leave it, then you’re leaving a job half done.

The perspective: Someone tagging you in a review they wrote is them extending an offer to you, to build a relationship. You can ignore it or hit like and move on – severing that outreaching hand. Some will even be nice enough to leave a comment – but sharing is key, particularly on Facebook.

By sharing a review from a well-meaning publication, you then do two things; firstly, it makes you look good and anyone on the fence in your own following might jump onboard. Secondly, it sends some of your fanbase to the publications readership which is something you WANT, please do not fear this. The more of your fans that make it into my readership, the more demand there is for coverage of your band. Your fans will vouch for you to publications and create presence for you. Ideally you want troops in all the camps.

This process of sharing also has the benefit of creating a good professional relationship with these publications who will then be likely to keep tabs on you, review your next albums or offer additional promotion for you. By establishing a good PR connection with publications from the get-go, you will find promoting your next release even easier, you’ll already have a few sites in the bag that you can send the next promo to or even ask for favors.

Doing PR or running a site is super busy work with a lot of little analytics, insights and fiddly social constructs. The same goes for bands. You can’t just get a review and be content about it then leave it be as if the critics are somehow less than the bands (a lot of us are musicians too!). If you don’t share reviews or don’t even care to read them/seek them out, then that’s fair enough. That’s your choice and your brand and reputation (Promoters remember dead ends), but just know, there is an aspect of the PR and review world where you can take steps to maximize your own growth and promotion with the aid of various promoters from around the world. The engagement and openness to collaboration are what will accelerate your growth. Release week reviews can even be held onto and reposted later on when you’re looking for social media content and the hypes wearing thin.

At an underground level, your music doesn’t speak for itself, your work ethic does.

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