Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Music writing -helpful hints 2

A few more suggestions...

1- Blindly calling the newspaper or radio station to pimp your band is a bad idea. It sucks to call in the first place, but it's not the worst thing to do. If you're going to call, do a little homework. Pick up a couple copies of the local entertainment section. Odds are the writer who generally covers local music will have an e-mail address and phone number listed. Call that guy.

2-Do not call if you have only done a handful of shows. It's just a waste of time, putting the cart before the horse and all that. It's a bitch, but some bar owners want to have heard of you before they book you. You can't get a gig because nobody knows who you are. Keep hassling the bar owner. They might take a chance. The newspaper isn't going to bother with a complete amateur.

3-So, how do you get some experience? Play benefits. Play for free. Play anywhere for any reason given. That's right. Lose money or time or both. Do that and the bar guys will see your names on a poster somewhere, which will lead to paying gigs (where you may be ripped off --welcome to live music) and eventually local media support.

4-Get a gimmick that nobody else is doing. I love the Misfits, but nobody cares about Ghost paint anymore. Not unless you're faithfully singing Patsy Cline songs. A good way to get attention is to be different. You might be a great guitarist, but if you're playing the same old covers everybody is playing, it's going to be hard for anyone to tell how good you are unless they're all really bad. Be yourself, if that's interesting and unique. Be someone else if that doesn't work.

5-Press packages... You need a couple of good pictures (see previous post about photographs) that can be sent digitally. A picture with a little headroom is helpful for covers by the way. You want some sort of loose bio for the group. A one sheet of upcoming bar or club dates is also helpful... oh, and a CD. Original material gets you in the paper. Covers usually don't. Sorry.

6-If you do a cold call about your band, have all the information handy for any random question that might come up. If you're trying to get a push for your show, know where the show is, what time it starts and what it costs. You'd be surprised at how many times a band has had someone call who doesn't know what time the show actually starts, what the cover charge is or if there's an opening act. You don't get credit for trying. An incomplete means it's not going to be covered.

7-Be persistent. If you're not trying to get the local media to do something with your band, odds are you're not that serious about it. That's cool. It'll make some good memories, but don't bitch about how the paper, the radio or whatever doesn't support local music. What are you doing to support your band --other than showing up on a bar stage one a week?

8-Settle your fights and issues before you meet with a reporter. If the band has a big problem, it's better to work that out before you do publicity. If the reason why the drummer isn't at practice when you meet with the media is because he just got kicked out, maybe it's not a good time to talk to the press. Maybe you should go get a new drummer. All bands are magnets for drama. Drama is continuous, but you have to reign it in and present a united face or your fucked.
9-Don't get drunk or stoned during the interview. Don't do an interview while you're drunk, stoned, pissed off at your girlfriend or seriously considering joining the army immediately. Drunk musicians can be a lot of fun for writers. It makes good copy, but not good for you.

10-Be nice. Most of the time, the guy writing your story is going to miss something you wanted him to write about. It's not an advertisement. You can pay for those and they'll print pretty much anything you want. He's trying to form the best story, the most interesting story, from the parts he has to work with. Sometimes, he's not that good either. My music articles have gotten better with time, but I still throw the occasional gutter ball. The article is just plain boring or I've missed something crucial. If that happens, go ahead call, find something (anything) nice to say about the article, then drop the bad news. You got the wrong time. You misquoted me. You spelled my band's name wrong. etc... Be nice about it. Give them the chance to fix it, if they can, and by not blowing up, you ensure there will be another article down the road. Getting pissed off and venting just discourages the writer from writing anything about you... ever... again.


moneytastesbad said...


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I really think you will like his Friday Music post.

If you stop by tell em money sent ya.

Anonymous said...

Amen. This is why I emailed you in the first place.
John E Sizemore