1. Offer up your album, DVD, book as a physical copy if you have it. Don’t just send a stream/link only – or at least check in with the reviewer, make the offer to send the physical copy. And if it costs money to download your album remember to send a free code with your initial query. Don’t expect a reviewer to pay money to hear your album. They won’t.
2. Follow-up with one polite message confirming that material/s have been received. From there, just let it go. The more you remind a reviewer that you think your album is the most important thing in the world the more likely it is to go to the bottom of the pile.
3. Offer to put the reviewer’s name on the door at your upcoming gig. And offer a +1 too. They might not show up. They might be busy doing anything else. But if the offer is genuine and they have the time they’ll probably front. But don’t expect them to pay to see you when you’re desperate to be heard. And don’t expect them to go out alone without the offer of a chance to take a friend with them for the night. They might turn up alone, or not turn up at all. These are, as Kurtis Blow would say, the breaks. Finally, an invite to a gig is never a contract to review it. But it might help a reviewer better understand your work. And it might just be the best thing they’ve ever seen. If that’s the case you might end up very pleasantly surprised.
4. Take it on the chin. If your gig or album or book or film or concert DVD is slammed…deal with it. Best tip here: get better. Be better. Be so good you couldn’t possibly be slammed. And then be even better next time. But listen to your critics more than you’d listen to your friends.
5. Don’t defend your work in online forums or through multiple messages/postings. Let your fan-base, if you have one, do that for you. Don’t get petty. That’s what fans are for. They’ll do that for you. They’ll do anything for you…
6. Your press release is bullshit. Don’t spend time or money on it. Don’t employ someone to do it. Publicists and PR hacks are random-adjective-generators. They are wasting their time and your money. Don’t send chocolates or gifts or cutesy gimmick-y things with your CD. Spent more time (and money, if you have it) on your music. Make your music better than the story behind it.
7. If you have vinyl offer to send it. Even if it’s at huge cost to you. This is more interesting, more noteworthy, than anything else you can come up with. Likewise, if there’s a version with fancy packaging offer to send it. If it doesn’t matter to you then it won’t matter to the reviewer. If it is just about the music – as it should be – and that’s all you want covered then a burn, a code, a link, a memory stick…that’s fine. But if you want your designer-friend’s work on the cover to go noticed then send the fucking cover don’t just sent a picture of it, or the story behind it. Send the real, physical thing (as per rule # 1).
8. The reviewer isn’t your friend. That’s not the aim. And if they become your friend – or become friendly if they’re doing their job right they will still tell you, in person and/or in print, that your new album is terrible. If it’s terrible. You are only as good as your last piece of work. Sadly, that’s true for everyone, including the reviewer. Don’t make assumptions the reviewer is in a position to pick and choose what he/she reviews, or that he/she is even being paid for their time. Whatever they are being paid it won’t be enough to deal with the multiple queries, admin, taunts and niggling, nagging requests. But your work might win them over if you follow these rules. It’s also your right to not be interested in reviews, or being reviewed. That can work out pretty well for all concerned too.