I’m not gonna pretend I know the ins and outs of the music industry, just because I run a metal blog. I don’t, but considering how hard the industry has fallen, it appears I’m not the only one.
But even though I may not be ‘in the know’ completely, in two years writing for this site, I have interacted with many PR people, and a lot of them have been helpful and polite, but a few of them have been downright unprofessional, and they were representing bigger bands. And I can’t help but wonder if musicians themselves know about it.
I actually prefer talking to musicians directly, two of my best interviews came from direct contact between myself and the musicians in question. Mainly because some press agents are simply not doing their job.
Now, I know, we’re not MetalSucks, maybe when you do run a big blog like that, things change. But in my opinion, professionalism is not about the size of the companies you work with, it’s about treating everyone with the same kind of respect, regardless of what they can do for you. I’ve been contacted by a bunch of shady companies offering us money for non-metal links and ads, or other similar stuff, and I never felt above answering with a very polite and mannered ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ Which brings me to:
Advice #1: Reply to your email inquiries.
Even if you want to say no, say no. Don’t just leave the email hanging. Whenever I don’t get a reply, I start wondering if the person forgot, or never got the email, or got it in the spam folder. So I’m inclined to send it again after a while. Why not answer back and give a ‘no’? I’m a big boy.
Advice #2: Keep your promises
Without giving any agency or band name away, let me tell you a small story. In our months of running this site, we wanted to interview a band we liked. The band is big enough to matter, but not ‘Metallica big,’ so we figured we had a shot, regardless of our being pretty much at the beginning of our journalistic journey.
We got in contact with their press agent, who seemed enthusiastic about it, and even told us which band member we were gonna interview. We put together a pretty great email interview for him, and then the PR lady kept postponing.
“Next month, right now they’re on tour.”
“Wait, after the holidays, late January at the latest”
“In a month or two”
Then she stopped responding altogether. Now, was that really professional, considering the band she’s representing has been around since the 80s and is pretty respected? Do the musicians know which people represent their interest? Which leads me to my third and final advice:
Advice #3: Start doing some of the grunt work yourselves
Gone are the days when musicians were these delicate flowers, with teams of people working for them, and no way of communicating with the fans. It’s 2012, labels go bankrupt, bands earn way less, and fans expect direct interaction. There is no reason for a musician not to try and handle a few things himself/herself.
This is because I am convinced musicians don’t know how many missed opportunities for decent interviews and exposure might be missed by unanswered emails or promises that never come true. And they pay these people. Giving an interview requires little time, and little to no effort, they’re worth it. Doesn’t matter if it’s Rolling Stone or just some site out there. Why not get it out there?
I am not bitching or anything. I really do this for fun so I don’t care too much about about the business side of things. Plus I realize we make fun of a lot of bands, which might turn off some people. But I really do expect professionalism from the people representing signed bands that have been out for a while, and I’m not seeing it as often as I should. Does this affect the artist himself? I don’t know, but it definitely doesn’t help.