NPR Music is an editorial team dedicated to connecting the dots between the people who make music, the people who listen to it, and the context around them. We prioritize posting from a wide range of perspectives, not just one definitive “take”, and are open to all genres, especially those you think we could cover better. If you’ve never written for us before and want to suggest a feature, here’s what you need to know.
At a basic level, your pitch should follow the common sense guidelines you’ve seen elsewhere. Put “PITCH” in your subject line. In the body of your message, clearly explain your central point or issue. Explain why now is the time to tell this story and how you will go about it, including a target length (800-1200 words is a good range for a first assignment). If there’s a particular audience you’re hoping to reach, say so. Limit yourself to two or three short paragraphs.
More importantly, remember that a pitch won’t stand out if it just broadly endorses the music. While many musical stories depend on taste, history, community, identity and mechanisms of power are equally important to us – the things that filter how we listen. What excites you, worries you or surprises you about this music, how it was made or how it was used? What should your reader understand from this, whether they like it or not? Give us a precise, precise angle on your subject and you’ll be ahead of the pack.
So what types of stories are we looking for?
Just about any written format is acceptable, but most of our features fall into a few categories:
There’s room for the occasional wildcard – for example, a list of high concepts or a live review with a larger point – as long as the presentation makes sense. But whatever happens, say what shape your room will take and why. Stories come to life in the narrative; how you will say yours is as important as what it is about.
OK what are not are we looking for?
There are a few common pitfalls that virtually guarantee your pitch won’t receive a response:
That said, a good pitch doesn’t have to be 100% perfect to be worth sending out. If there is an idea that you to know would make a great NPR Music story, send it along with details on why it means something special to you, and we might be able to help you find the edges of the frame.
If you are ready to submit:
Email your pitch to [email protected].* Our editors will review it and, if we are interested or have any questions, will contact you in a week or two. We can’t answer everything, but if you’ve sent multiple submissions and not received a response, please ask how your submissions could be improved and we’ll do our best to guide you. As of early 2022, our base rates for common story types are $600 for reviews, $800 for shorts (including interviews and obituaries), and $1,200 for features and essays .
*Please use this address only to showcase your own web features – it is not the place to showcase a radio play or new podcast, or for artists or publicists to lobby for coverage. Also, NPR is a news agency: if a story involves a clear conflict of interest between writer and subject, it’s not for us.
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