Proper Care and Feeding of a Music Editor
Sept 12, 2000
Until you can afford a publicist, the job of getting press will probably fall on your shoulders. Believe it or not, you do not have to be well connected to get a music editor to write about you. But you should be well prepared. The trick, if you want to call it that, is putting yourself in their shoes. They need to report on happening bands, and voila ! You are a happening band, coming to their rescue. Remembering that you are doing him or her a service may help take the sting out of those cold calls.
- Plan your work, and work your plan. Music writers are busy. Newspapers and local magazines need to have your promo kit at least three weeks before the issue hits the street. Magazines need your info two to three months ahead.
- Do your homework. Make sure that the publication buys what you're selling. Don't send a rock promo kit to a classical music editor. No matter how good it is, your wasting his time and yours. If you want to send your kit to a national or regional paper, find out beforehand if they review unsigned and independent bands. If they don't, wait 'til your clippings and CD sales are more substantial.
- Keep a Contact Log. Keep a chart or database with publications, editor names, date contacted, etc. When you're approaching more than one publication, it's difficult to keep your information straight by using memory alone (or scraps of paper).
- What's your Story? You're playing a show next month. So are 10,000 other bands. To get a writer to come to a show that's not a CD release party will take some planning. Can you tie in your show to an unofficial holiday (check Chase's Events) or a charity fundraiser? Are you doing something out of the ordinary in your performance that a writer should come to your show instead of another band's? Help them help you.
- Patience is a virtue. You may have to call a few times before an editor will be at his desk, or even take your call. Keep trying. Call at different times of the day. Don't leave too many messages on his/her voicemail.
- Ask about their deadline. After introducing yourself, ask if they are on deadline before proceeding. If they are, ask for a better time to call and hang up. If you attempt to push your pitch anyway, they will not give you their full attention or any press. This is a big pet peeve.
- Rehearse your pitch. Be friendly. Be brief. Be considerate of their time. Example: "Hi Greg, this is Joe from XYZ band. Are you on deadline? ("No") Great. My band is playing CBGB's next month on Beethoven's Birthday, and we're featuring a new song that's based on one of his symphonies. I sent a copy to your attention with a press release last week. Have you received it? (Slight rustling of packages stacked on desk. "Yeah, I have it right here.") "Good. We're also going to be wearing period costumes for the show. Can I put you on the guest list?" ("Sure, sounds like fun.") "Alright, we look forward to seeing you. Thanks." When you finally get them on the phone, don't blow it by winging it. Have an idea of what you're going to say beforehand or you're wasting their time.
- Help them to help you. Do not send handwritten press releases or bios. Make your materials easy to read. Type it clearly. Send CDs and cassettes without shrinkwrap. If they leave a message for you, return the call ASAP.
- Follow up, Follow up, Follow up. There is a Bermuda Triangle in the press industry. Confirm receipt of your press release and/or promo kit. If the first one was not received, send it again and keep your mouth shut.
- If he/she turns you down. There may another band playing that night in your same genre. The magazine may not cover your style of music at all. The writer may personally not like your music. Ask why and make note of the reason in your log. Thank them, hang up, and move on.
- Say Thank You. If you get press, send a note, letter, or small gift. Not many people do.
Carla Hall is a singer/songwriter, based in Brooklyn, New York. Her new CD, Front & Center will be released in August 2000. She is the president of Moxie Entertainment, anindependent record label and media relations company. She teaches Making Money Making Music at The Learning Annex. Her web site is located at http://www.carlahall.com
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