It’d be nice if all you had to do was send CDs out to the big magazines and they would eventually be reviewed, but this hardly happens anymore. In fact, not much gets done by blindly sending CDs to people—we get tons of them each month, and yes although we do listen, we have no context or connection for any of the bands.
Take an approach like one of the artists we signed to our record label: Marc B. He heard our company name and did some research to find out how to get in touch with us. He found an address and a phone number. Advice: pick the phone number. Make a connection with whoever you meet on the phone, and ask them if you could send them your CD. When Marc’s CDs arrived, it wasn’t addressed to “Oniric Records” like all of the others, it was addressed to a single person, who was expecting his CDs. The package was immediately delivered to him, and the listener had a context and connection for who sent him the package. At the very least, it had his name on it, so he was going to pay more attention.
Take the extra step to make a relationship with the company you are going to send your CD to. Don’t address anything to “Demos” or “(Company Name)” if you want your music to be taken seriously. You worked too hard on your CD for it to be stacked in a pile with the rest of the demos.
Also, before you start sending out your CDs to Rolling Stone and SPIN, gather some press in your local market. For a smaller city like ours in Santa Barbara, our biggest publication, The Santa Barbara Independent, comes out with an annual comprehensive list of bands in Santa Barbara. You can check it out here. See if your local publication has one of these, and make sure you are included. If they don’t have one, suggest it, but at the very least, make a connection and address your CD to a person, not a company.