by Lenore LaNova
I should start by saying: Don’t get your skivvies in a bunch. If one of these questions strikes too close to home and you know you’ve sent us one of the following questions in one incarnation or another, don’t worry. You are not alone. These are the most common questions we get asked that we shouldn’t. You shouldn’t be asking any publication these questions. Ever.
There are always exceptions to the rule. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a benefit and I’ll occasionally cast aside my rules about replying to these questions for a good cause. But, as a general rule, these are questions to avoid when dealing with the people of the press.
Anyway, without further ado…
1. Who should we play with?
First of all, you should never end with a preposition, but all grammar jokes aside, don’t ever ask an editorial staff this question. Ever.
Let’s say you know a guy [in its gender-neutral form] who writes for a local rag. Maybe you’ve shared a few beers or been to their house for dinner. You want to ask this person about new bands that might share a bill with their band. Sure, fine, whatever. Let’s not linger on specifics. There is always an exception to the rule. But, aside from sharing a personal relationship with an individual writer, this is not an appropriate question for a publication.
I might bend this for a friend. Maybe. But it would have to be a close friend, like on that has seen me in pajama pants which I would never wear outside of my home unless it’s our annual Pajama Day at Radio Phoenix; a day, I should mention, that we usually designate without informing anyone else, even at the station.
You want to know why we hate this question? Because our answer is our blog. We provide information about bands on a daily basis. You just haven’t done your homework. Bookmark us (or your favorite local music blog if it’s not us… <sniffle>) and keep up-to-date about what’s going on in your town. Do that for a month and you’ll have a pretty good idea about what’s happening in the local music scene. Or, at least, some idea of other acts in the area.
If you’re hard-pressed for time, you can always delve into our search bar (located up there somewhere) and enter in genres. Try it. I’ll guarantee you come up with a handful of bands to look into further. And, hey, we also include links. See? We try to be helpful. We just don’t have time to take all the legwork out of it. Give us a break.
Even if we’re not covering the bands your into (sorry, metalheads, we’re trying), we keep a running list of current flyers on our Upcoming Shows page (tab up there somewhere). See what bands are playing around town and then Google them. If you’re serious about promoting your music, you’re going to have to clock some hours. Ask any musician succeeding in the current economic climate.
Admittedly, you can be serious about your music (or artwork) without being serious about promotion. I’m sure we all know plenty of that type. Alas, talent does not always beget attention, especially in the Age of Social Media. It takes a lot of commitment and I’m not talking pursuit-of-the-soul kind, I’m talking the hit-the-pavement (or -computer, more realistically) kind.
In the same vein, asking “Where should we play?” is also not okay. If you are looking for a venue in the area, consider either (a) checking out our Venues page or (b) cruising through our Upcoming Shows page to see where other bands are playing.
2. Can you help promote my show on your Facebook page?
Nope. That’s not what we do here and, I’ll bet you anything, other publications are thinking the same thing. If you have an important show coming up and you’re looking to get the word out about there are ways to go about it.
First of all, find out if the website offers show promotion throughout the week. For example, we have our Upcoming Shows page that is updated regularly. From that list, we select our “Top 5 Shows of the Week” which runs every Friday [see more here]. On that very same Upcoming Shows page, we tell you how you can get your flyer over to us. It’s a very inclusive process. We’re not the only site that offers some sort of weekly show guide. Mitchell Hillman over at Sounds Around Town offers up “What’s Going Ahhhn” and even the Phoenix New Times and AZ Republic will throw out show suggestions to their readers. It is totally appropriate to send over information about an event for consideration. It is not cool to request that the website bypass their normal means of show promotion for your event.
You can also extend an invitation to your event. When the editors receive emails about events that extend an invitation for a writer/photographer to attend on behalf of YabYum, we pass that invitation along to others on our staff to see if anyone has interest in covering that event. And, if someone on staff has interest in providing coverage, that show is more likely to end up on our “Top 5 Shows for the Week” because there will be a follow-up article in the week to come. See how that works?
The press love the words “Press List”. It is one of the few boons of this thankless endeavor. Usually, if you offer to put a writer on the “Press List” for an event, it also suggests to them that you are looking for coverage of said event. This is by no means a guarantee of coverage, but it is a polite way of asking them to throw some ink your way.
3. Did you get a chance to listen to my album? Did you get a chance to listen to my album? Did you get a chance to listen to my album? Did you get a chance to listen to my album?
Following-up is great. Repeatedly following-up at regular intervals more than a few times is annoying (let’s say three or four). So many albums come our way, it’s impossible to get to all of them. We (the editors) try to listen to everything that gets sent to us, but we can’t make the same promise for each and every staff member. Albums can get overlooked. Sometimes a really good album comes out a really hectic time and doesn’t get the attention it would yield in different month of the year. If you think you got lost in the shuffle, a gentle reminder can be welcome, but persistent reminders that you’re “album hasn’t been covered” or, dear gods, that it “hasn’t received the attention it deserves” should be avoided.
Basically, making art is, at times, an unfair shitshow. You might have the greatest, most original, post-rock glitchwave that is going to totally change the face of music as we know it, now and forever, but, for some reason, no one seems to be covering it. Maybe it was a big month for glitchwave and the critics rolled right by it a little too dismissively. Maybe it’s too ahead of its time. Or maybe, just maybe, it didn’t rise above the other albums on our list that month. That doesn’t mean it’s awful. I mean, it might, but it more likely just didn’t stand out. Whatever the reason. Don’t give up. Keep pushing your sound. Make art for art’s sake and no other reason.
Better luck next time, kiddo.
4. When are you going to publish the article on me/my band?
As an editor, I always discourage my writers from answering this question when subjects present it. Our publication schedule can change down to the last minute. We might need to rearrange our content to accommodate a more timely piece or, if we encounter an issue, we might be forced to bump the piece until the matter can be rectified. It’s just the name of the game.
That being said, if you’re looking to get some coverage in prelude to a big event, it’s totally appropriate to include that information when reaching out to the press. Let people know what you have going on so they can consider impending events when arranging their publication schedule. If you have an album release or a super fancy show and you’re looking to drum up some press, contact media outlets and let them know. Do not, however, make demands when it comes to scheduling. It just makes you look like a dick.
5. Can I see the article before you publish it?
Definitely not. This is never going to happen. End of story.
Hope this helps you in your future dealings with the press in all its forms. Kisses!