Bands, Don’t Pay People For Coverage

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Pay-to-play with a twist.

Being in a band is difficult. Writing, practicing, recording, playing shows. They all take an incredible amount of time and effort that, more often than not, do not lead success and money. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how talented you are or how hard you work. Many times, it’s just luck of the draw. If you’re not the right band at the right time in the right place, there’s not much you can do. It doesn’t matter how much you hustle or post on social media. I would surmise that most people reading this know at least one local or regional band that could/should have been huge.

I say all this not to be discouraging, but to lay out just how hard it is to get noticed. While the prevalence of social media and streaming sites like Bandcamp have made it easier than ever to get your music heard, it’s also created a bloated market. It’s difficult to be noticed, especially if you’re new or don’t have the backing of a label. I’m in a few bands, so I get it. You work so hard for so long and are proud of what you’ve done. You want people to hear your music and to acknowledge you, and when they don’t, it can be incredibly discouraging.

A while back, the Toilet Ov Hell Facebook page received a message from a band looking for coverage. This in itself is nothing new. We receive those all the time. What stood out was this band offering to give us $50 for coverage. Needless to say, we do not accept any money for coverage and encouraged the band to not pay for coverage elsewhere. Unfortunately, there are places out there that are more than happy to take the money of desperate and naïve bands.

Several months ago, a label one of my bands is on, sent out a press release announcing that a new album was on the way. We received a direct, unsolicited email from German metal website Legacy.de laying out how we could pay for coverage. Here is what they offered:

All prices are without taxes!

PACK 1:

half page ad full-coloured €495

including two full-page-interviews

including webbanner on www.legacy.de (4 weeks)

including newsfeature on www.legacy.de & social media

OR

PACK 2:

quarter page ad full-coloured €395

including full-page-interview.

including webbanner on www.legacy.de (2 weeks)

including newsfeature on www.legacy.de & social media

OR / AND

A track on covermount-CD is €375 – no mechanicals!

including half-page-interview

including 1/8 page ad

including webbanner on www.legacy.de (4 weeks)

including newsfeature on www.legacy.de & social media

€495! That’s about $577 USD for some interviews, news features and ads. For over $400 you can get a song on their cd. You know those cds, the ones that you can get for free when leaving a show or when you purchase other metal magazines. Those cds that migrate to the bottom of your collection, never to be seen again. Don’t let the web banner and ads fool you. You’re not paying for ads and the coverage is free out of the goodness of their hearts. Legacy.de is not the only site to do something like this.

Fellow TovH writer Dr. K passed along this email he received from Overdrive Magazine:

EDITORIAL SUPPORT

Review of your EP/Album

We will compose a ~500 word review complete with rating system of your  new EP or full-length album.

Price = Free (Review not guaranteed) OR $25 (Guaranteed Review)


Interview

We will interview you about your upcoming tour, release or whatever else you wish!

Overdrive Snapshot – We send you our pre-written set of questions and compose a short feature article on you! Price = $25

Email Q&A – We compose a unique set of questions tailored towards you and send them to you via email to compose a unique feature article centred around the topic of your choice. Price = $50

Phone/Skype Interview – One of our senior writers will call you and conduct the interview over the phone to turn into a story-format feature article. Price = $75

Face-to-Face Interview – Do you live close by to one of our contributors? You can meet us at a location of your choice or we can make the journey to you and record/publish a 10-minute video interview with you!
Price = $100 + Travel Costs (If the interviewer travels to you)

Feature Article – Our high-quality, senior team-written feature articles are feature articles designed around the topic of your choice to generate the most buzz around your band! Price = $100


SOCIAL MEDIA

Single Social Post – A single social media post sent out via our Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages. The post can be whatever you wish.
Price = $20

Repeating Social Posts – Month-long weekly social media posts sent out via our Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages. The post can be whatever you wish.

Price = $50 per month


SHOW COVERAGE

Interested in getting the Overdrive crew down to your show to cover it? Depending on your location, we able to send a reviewer, photographer, videographer or even an interviewer to your show!

Price = Price On Request (Subject To Contributor Availability)


PACKAGES

Interested in more than one of our services? We combine some of them as packages that all-round cheaper than purchasing them individually.

Basic Package = $100 (Save $25)

Duration: 1 Month

– Review of your album/EP

– 728×90 home page banner ad

– Overdrive Snapshot interview

– Show coverage (where available)

Deluxe Package = $150 (Save $50-75)

Duration: 1 Month

– Review of your album/EP

– 970×90 Top of homepage banner ad OR 320×50 sidebar ad

– Email Q&A or Phone/Skype Interview

– Show coverage (where available)

– Single Social Post

Premium Package = $200 (Save $200)

Duration: 1 Month

– Review of your album/EP

– 728×90 home page banner ad

– 970×90 end of every article banner ad

– Phone/Skype interview

– Feature Article

– Single Social Post

– Show coverage (where available)

Ultimate Package = $300 (Save $225)

Duration: 1 Month

– Review of your album/EP

– 2x 728×90 home page banner ad

– 970×90 top of every article banner ad

– Phone/Skype interview

– Feature Article

– Repeating Social Posts

– Show coverage (where available)

It’s actually quite surprising to see this laid out in such a specific and straightforward model. If you give us this amount, you get this coverage. This comes off like a restaurant menu. It’s not just relegated to blogs and magazines, either. Youtube channels like Pure Deathcore received money in exchange for “sponsorship”. It makes you wonder and second guess what other sites and publications do this. Hell, now we have to wonder if bands are blowing up based on merit or money. It’s a gross feeling because you want to take people at their word and believe the reviews are genuine. Is this practice that far-off from payola?

To be clear, I am not saying that bands should not work with and pay public relations companies. We work with many on a daily basis. The difference is that you are not paying directly for coverage. It’s not a one-to-one transaction where journalistic integrity is compromised. There is no guarantee of coverage when a PR company is employed. They just package and present you to hundreds of websites, blogs, magazines, and radio stations across the globe. We receive literally hundreds of albums in any given month. There’s just simply not enough people or time to cover everything.

So what is a band to do? Write, practice, record, play shows. Network with local bands and quality promoters. Contact websites like this one with your music. Hire PR. There’s no guarantee any of this will work, but then again, there’s no guarantee that paying for coverage will help you anyway. Better off saving that money for better production, better merch, and maybe a vehicle if you want to hit the road.

For those of you not in a band, how do you feel about this? Is a review or interview no longer valid because money has exchanged hands? Should there be a disclaimer on each article and interview achieved through payment noting that it is paid content? Does your views on a band change if you find out they’ve been paying for coverage?

At the end of the day, is this any different from promoters enforcing pay-to-play scams? Money in direct exchange for “exposure”. Who is it really helping? The bands or these people taking money? I think that’s a pretty easy question to answer. Bands, don’t pay to get on to shows and don’t pay for coverage.

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