Over the weekend I saw a post on Craiglist by a guy offering to sell databases of music press contacts for between $50-$75 a pop. Not a bad way to make some cash I suppose, but with a little bit of work, indie musicians can probably create their own contact list in a weekend or so.
Take an afternoon and visit your local newstand. Grab copies of all the regional papers, both the mainstream dailies and the alt-weeklies. A trip to a local non-chain record store can also unearth all kinds of ‘zines and tabloid-style indie press. Spend some time leafing through each and make note of what writers specialize in your genre of music. Jot down this info along with submission details.
Colleges? A Google Local search for “student newspaper” should return a fairly comprehensive list of both college and high school publications (a search in the Seattle area returns over 3000 results!).
Don’t forget event calendars. Almost every paper has one, as do most radio stations. Sure, it’s not as rock-star-sexy as a feature story, but people do read them, and it’s an easy way to get potential writers to notice you. Plus, it’s one of the few areas where repetitive submissions are not seen as annoying bids for attention.
Playing out of town? Good venues will have a “press list” of local media to contact to publicize upcoming shows. Ask for a copy and follow through. (Heck, you can do this in your hometown and skip some of the work outlined above.) Don’t forget to contact other bands in the area for press leads, especially if they seem to have a good relationship with the media in their town.
One thing I’ve learned is that the local media landscape is always changing. Media pros leave positions for any number of reasons and more often than you’d think. Try to keep on top of the music media scene in your town — addressing a press kit to a long-gone music editor won’t necessarily endear you to her successor.