An Artist’s Guide to Getting Press
We get a lot of strange, psycho, ignorant, cantankerous and [insert adjective here] phone calls and emails here at “Tha Office,” from people who want to get press–everyone from Up Your Ass Entertainment to Ya Momma N’em Productions (I’m joking but not really). The problem is, most of the time, people don’t even know who they should speak to or don’t really have anything worthwhile to push. So, here are some tips for artists, managers and publicists looking for coverage.
1. Don’t be abrasive, pushy and in a lot of cases, psycho.
For magazines: Don’t call the main number incessantly insisting on talking to an editor but not knowing whom. It would help if you’ve done your research and knew a specific magazine section, and the editor presiding over it–by the way, the Editor-in-Chief is never the right person to go for because he or she is almost always too busy to talk to you (go for assistants instead). Read the masthead (the page in the front of the book that tells you who’s who on staff), that’s what it’s there for. Timing is also important. Unlike the web, magazines are on a schedule so before you bombard anyone with music, find out what issue they’re working on first and plan accordingly. When it comes to the web, don’t e-stalk writers/editors via Facebook, MySpace (especially if their page is private), Twitter, and email. It’s a surefire way to get blocked and therefore, nothing accomplished.
2. Try, try again.
Your pitch may not work the first time but as you progress as an artist and get a bigger resume, you acrue a bigger interest-factor. Don’t be discouraged.
3. Be productive.
No one cares that your boys and Mom Dukes think you’re hot. You have to have some solid accomplishments in order to be taken seriously. You don’t necessarily have to be signed but at least work toward opening a show for a known artist, set up your own college tour, or sell an astronomical amount of music on your own (500,000 in the hood or along those lines). Just show that you’re serious about your craft and have a good following.
4. Be patient. Journalists are busy. Understand that when you contact us, you’re probably one in a long line of hundreds. You may not get a response for days, and sometimes weeks (and months in extreme cases), but just chill out. We need time to review your product. And in the case that you never get a response, there could be a number of reasons why. Maybe we never got it, maybe we intend to get back to you but got sidetracked, maybe we don’t like what you have to offer, or maybe it’s not appropriate for our audience (which goes back to doing your research). But no matter what…
5. Get thick skin.
Don’t take everything personal. Yes, certain people are assholes and certain situations suck, but it’s not always an intentional snub. And even if it is, keep in mind that you may come in contact with someone who did you wrong at some point, and have to work with them, but keep a business mind. You don’t have to totally sell out, but play your chess pieces right and move forward.
6. Check your ego.
No diss, but there’s really about a 2% margin for artists who say they’re hot and actually are. There’s nothing wrong with believing in yourself, but be realistic about your product. Is it really that original? Did you find a new way to flip something old? You gotta come hard (pause) if you want to get noticed, but don’t act like hip-hop’s next messiah, especially if your product doesn’t back it up. Hell, even if your product isn’t all that, sometimes a great personality (I refuse to say “swag”) is a saving grace.
7. Be professional.
It helps to have a manager or publicist. However, if you don’t, fake it ’til you make it. If you have to get a friend to pose, or create an alter ego, then go for it (just don’t be sloppy).
8. No friends.
Unless the friendship is a natural progression, don’t go out of your way to be super buddy buddy with a writer because chances are, we don’t trust you. We know what you want. And again, in the case that you become friends naturally, keep in mind that it might be harder to get put on for that reason.
9. Be professional (yup, again).
Have at least five songs for reference, and a solid, well-written informative bio with NO TYPOS. A bio with typos gets clowned and trashed along with the music. Sucks, but it’s true.
10. Connect. Politick. Diddo.
Network as much as you can. Go to events. Book shows. Use the internet.-Gang Starr Girl