Music Is Dead: Feeding The Wolves
It’s time to feed. Feed the critics and the naysayers. They’ll pick everything they can from your corpse and then the vultures will fly in and pick off what’s left on your bones.
It’s a hard reality. If you’re putting anything into the world there is going to be a subset of humans that will hate it because it’s fun and they’re ‘edgy’ angsty teens with stretched ears and undercuts. But for every person that hates what you do there’ll be someone that’s excited about it, that’ll tattoo your logo onto their forehead and that’ll go to every show.
Because whether you’ve been playing shows for a few years now or you’re a solo bedroom project, it’s about time you got noticed (if you’re not shit, that is.).
Feeding The Wolves (going public and getting in magazines)
The media can be a disdainful bunch. Editors in particular. They’re busy people. They get out of bed at midday and drink ‘till 2p.m and then watch Dr Phil. (Jokes aside, they’re busy people. In between making content decisions, liaising with writers and publicists, editing everything from headlines to feature articles and fielding dozens, if not hundreds of emails a day, they don’t have a lot of time).
But you need them and they need you ( though not nearly as much). And while it can seem like they don’t care, some of them do and some of them don’t (one in particular refused a five minute interview for this column after I wouldn’t travel an hour to do it) most of them want to help. They’re here for the same reason you are, they love music.
If you don’t have a publicist then you’ll be dealing with editors on and off until you get one (or until you piss them off to the point where they won’t talk to you). There are a few things you can do that’ll make your time with them, and their time with you, less painful and more beneficial:
– This one seems obvious but it isn’t to everyone: Target magazines that like what you do. If you’re a One Direction cover band then don’t submit to a heavy metal magazine. If you’re not sure where you sit on the spectrum then go with the publication that is closest. Places like Music Nation and Rip It Up cover a lot of different artists for a lot of different reasons.
– Don’t be a dick: Seriously. No one cares about how good you think you are. You’re not Axel Rose. Be polite, be affable. Don’t begin any conversation with the words ‘we’re the best band ever’. Be confident but don’t be pushy. Two very different things. Also: address your emails to the editor. If you’re sending out a bulk email enter each email address individually and personalise your email (none of that BCC or ‘to the editor’ crap). It goes a long way if you can show you’ve made an effort.
– Learn the cycle: Magazines have a cycle. Monthly magazines come out two weeks before the month on the cover (or thereabouts- some magazines are different but that’s a good guideline). That means that anything you submit may not be worked into the content scheme for a couple of weeks, add time to be written, you could be waiting for a couple of months (on average monthly magazines are written every two weeks but again, they’re looking for content a head of that time).
– Learn the best days to pitch to a magazine: Give them a call. Get them on a phone. If you email an editor on deadline day chances are you’ll get lost in the deluge and you’ll never hear from them. It always pays to send them a professional email or press release with ALL of the information in the first go.
– Know when to hassle: After you’ve sent your pitch to a magazine you may need to follow up with them. Give it at least three days. Don’t be a dick. A follow up note (on the same email thread as your pitch) will be enough. Be polite.
Oh and one more thing: NZ is a small pond full of big fish. If you’re rejected and send back an abusive or quasi abusive email you’ll be burning more than one bridge. Editors know each other, they talk to each other, sometimes different publications are owned by the same companies.
Publicists and writing press releases (aka preparing the sheep for slaughter).
John Howarth does all things press related for Nuclear Blast in Australia and New Zealand (when I say “all things” I mean it. The amount he does is nuts). He works with everyone from Seether to Avastera and so knows press releases better than most.
“Clear and concise information.” Are John’s two absolutes in pressers. “Photos, links and [being] visually stimulating that is KEY to me.” (Emphasis his). Invest in high resolution photos that are professional (I can’t stress that enough).
While there is no one way to layout a press release there is a big line between getting published and total shit.
John’s tips: “I like to use a band logo as a header, then I use an intro and will drop in a band photo.” The body of the press release should have info and video links/links to Soundcloud. “If it’s a tour then I put in the tour art or if [it’s] an album then the album cover.” John says, “then either tour dates or album tracklisting and release dates. End with the media contact.”
“To me,” he says, “I like to make it interesting like a little picture essay. BUT [emphasis his] as long as you cover the essential details and format it right you are doing okay.”
Now you know what to do, here are somethings you have to avoid:
“Too much information, incorrect information overly praising or pushing an artist.” John cites these are the highest form of your press release sucking. “The band or artist you are working with HAS to back up the words or claims in the press release. Don’t over play your hand or look desperate in getting someone over.”
If it all sounds like a complete an utter nightmare, you can take on a publicist. Of course, you’ll have to pay said publicist and your pitch will have to be the best thing you’ve ever written. There are two press releases at the bottom of this here tangent, one from John himself and another from Lucy Macrae (who does wonderful things over at Rhythmethod, Mystery Girl and Chicks That Scream).
Two very different styles, do what suits you.
Once the sheep are slaughtered and the feast begins (submitting to editors)
First up, if you’re thinking about submitting to this website then you already have the info you need from Getting Your Noise Into Ears With NZ On Air otherwise have a look under the Submit tab. But there are other publications (I know! Can you believe it?) and Ben Doy is the editor of one them. He edits and runs Libel which is online only and covers a lot of different music.
If you want to have any success with Ben the first thing you need is: “A well typed out press release which has basic information about the band…their names, accomplishments, style of music etc.” As well as that, every submission needs: “links to their website, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Youtube – all of that stuff.”
Be careful not to send dead links and whether it’s an EP or a show that you’ve got coming up, make sure all the info is there – everything from dates, to links to buy tickets to where the venue is.
“Well typed out” also means that it’s free of mistakes, clear about what it is that you actually want from the editor and that it’s grammatically correct. People will take you much less seriously if it looks like you were too lazy to proofread.
Editors are just like everybody else: they love free stuff. If you want a review or interview you will have to offer a stream at least, though downloads are always awesome. Always, always, have a high resolution band photo for publication. Always. Ben’s sentiment’s echo John’s. If anything, that should be a testament to the importance of getting the basics right, the first time.
Print = covered.
The next point of attacks is podcasts. (Side note: when writing your press releases it’s always good to add praise from magazines that you’ve been published or from critiques. As you build your publicity base these will become increasingly important). Wal Reid runs Global Voice Media. They do New Zealand music podcasts including playing your noise and interviews on air. Which is awesome. They’re also very different from print.
For Wal, story is key. “Having a great product is all about selling. If you have a great story about yourself or your music this can be more compelling than your music itself – if you have both then we want to hear from you.”
Much like Ben, Wal wants your press release to be clean and interesting. He’s also looking for “X Factor” so sell from any angle that’ll make you stand out. That’s anything from connections to established artists to interesting stories about the music. Technically speaking, podcasts are broadcasts -just like the radio – what’s cool about Wal is that he’s just as excited about emerging artists as established one. If you don’t have a broadcast single, that’s no reason to not submit.
“For me emerging artists or up and coming break through bands are equally important as the established – identifying talent is just as rewarding as talking to mainstream celebrities.” But! And this is important. “Never be cocky or showy – remember everyone has started somewhere so best to keep that in mind.”
If you’re keen to submit to Libel Ben’s best days and times are: “during weekday working hours, but avoid Fridays!” Email Ben here.
For Wal: “Spam me whenever, strike while the iron is hot!” Email Wal here.
What’s Left On Your Bones (Press Releases That Don’t Suck)
What does a press release look like? Heres one from Rhythmethod’s Lucy Macrae;
LOW DESERT PUNKS
Desert rock veteran BRANT BJORK, returns to New Zealand with a cast of seminal players for his LOW DESERT PUNKS (downunder) TOUR.
Rising like a mushroom cloud out of the Palm Desert scene in the early ’90s as a member of the seminal stoner rock outfit KYUSS, Brant Bjork went on to distinguish himself as a talented singer and songwriter in his own right, in addition to playing with Orange County rock stalwarts FU MANCHU.
For his Low Desert Punks tour, Bjork, has put together a considerable roster of players – his most “ideal” unit yet featuring Dave Dinsmore on bass (Che, Bl’ast), Bubba Dupree on guitar (Void, Hater) and Tony Tornay on drums (Fatso Jetson, Chuck Dukowski) This is a new band with old school, heavy, classic punk and rock roots but also a band with a fresh attitude of ﬁre and urgency.
LOW DESERT PUNK live in New Zealand
June 4th 2014 – Bodega, Wellington
June 5th 2014 – Kings Arms, Auckland
(both shows R18) Tickets available from Undertheradar.co.nz / Real Groovy Records / RPM & Slowboat
KYUSS are one of the most influential and pioneering bands at the front of the desert rock movement. From the late 80’s until 1995 they amassed several legendary recordings & a legion of cult like fans. After several line-up changes, Kyuss eventually split up in 1995, and since then, members of Kyuss – including Brant Bjork – have gone on to form or play in several notable musical groups including; Queens of the Stone Age, Fu Manchu, Dwarves, Brant Bjork, Eagles of Death Metal, Mondo Generator, Hermano, Unida, Slo Burn, The Desert Sessions and Them Crooked Vultures.
In 2010, John Garcia (the original singer of Kyuss) asked Brant if he was interested in putting the legendary Kyussback together for a European tour, he jumped at the chance to bring the music to the new generation of Kyuss fans. The appropriately re-titled, Kyuss Lives! did indeed tour Europe and was such a sold out success that the demand snowballed to earth size, including 2 shows at The Powerstation here in Auckland New Zealand. However shortly after returning from a magical South American tour and landing a undeniable record deal, the Kyuss Lives! party was interrupted by a lawsuit resulting in the name Kyuss unable to be used… and so was born Vista Chino (a street name in the desert from where Kyuss originate.) Vista Chino built and assembled an all analogue sound studio out in the middle of the desert of Joshua Tree and produced the Vista Chino 2013 debut, tastefully titled, “Peace”.
It was a huge worldwide success.
But it’s his solo career that keeps the flames burning for Brant and Mystery Girl couldn’t be prouder to bring Low Desert Punk to New Zealand this June. Don’t miss out.”