Why is My Obscure, Vinyl-Only Band So Obscure?

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Dear Fan,

I'm having trouble getting press for my band and other bands on the micro label we're on. It's an all analog label, that has actually been tracking/mixing to tape and pressing exclusively on vinyl for the past 5 years. So, there are no digital copies of our music in existence. We do have YouTube videos with quality clips of the music to provide samples of our sound. We've been trying to get an LP reviewed for some time now, and have upcoming releases we're very excited for and would like to have press about them. We've had a small amount of success getting smaller blogs to review it. But despite positive reviews, none of that really translated to any sort of buzz or records sales. I keep hoping reviews from higher profile media outlets might translate to 'buzz' or at least a couple record sales. No one from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Spin, etc. is getting back to me. I'm also not hearing form lower tier magazines. Not sure if it's the emails I'm sending, if there's some secret password that gets you in the club, if it's the fact that we're not a major label, if they're all just afraid to admit no one on their staff actually owns a turntable, or if they just want money to review a record. Any advice on getting records reviewed?

Cheers,
Not Merge



Dear Not Merge,

I am impressed by your commitment to the analog-nerd roll, it's also a nice thing to do for listeners and bands--especially given how exhausting it is to listen to blown-out digitally-mastered albums. Nevertheless, you know that this is The Digital Age™ we live in, the label you formed is an active reaction to that idea and the disposability, speed and accessibility that has come with it. Music consumers--fans, writers, the extant DIY industry--are used to consuming that way. Our busy days and our needs tend towards portability. I tend to buy vinyl of albums I already know and feel nostalgic for; buying vinyl is my allusion to a wish for a slowness that does not exist in my life, a fantasy of time I do not have.

Some other critics I know default to the medium, but most of us are earbuds and laptops out of necessity--but also because that's how most music is delivered/accessible to us. I think it's a little bit naive (sorry) to think that people at major publications might have record players, the time and interest to put on vinyl releases of unknown bands. Let's take your example of Rolling Stone and look at what they cover in their reviews section--a cursory glance: Robin Thicke, classic rock reissues, Backstreet. Looking at your roster, you have six local/regional bands and I have maybe heard of one of them but I think I am mostly just confusing them with a band with a similar name, and one of the genres you claim to release is "dirtbag spy jazz." While it is safe to say that writers and editors there might enjoy such a thing, going by what they cover and how--your Dirtbag Spy Jazz Band would have to be blowing the fuck up, joining the Black Keys, getting a 9.8 on Pitchfork--i.e. visible on mainstream indie radar for them to warrant coverage.


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