A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘music critic’

Music Critics and getting the media to your gig

The media has power, they are mavens and have huge control over what people listen to and what they think they should like. Many artists, like politician, don’t like critics at all, they don’t like what they write, but in the end I think the addage that any media is good media, applies much of the time.

They say I see it is that if the media writes about you, they are giving you attention and hopefuly someone will dig deeper, look for you on MySpace, or go to one of your gigs. If they make the effort, then reward them with recognition themselves. Show an interest in them.

When I first started chasing the media, it was to get attention for my sport at the time which was landyachting. We had a team going to Nevada for the America’s Cup of Landyachting and our sport was not great for spectators because our courses were often very long, as in 30 or more km. We needed sponsorship and both to attract sponsors and to get them coverage, we had to get the media to write stories and show us on TV etc. The main way I achieved that (and we won the cup) was by ringing the media and asking for their help and advice. I got it, they got stories and we got coverage.

So how do you get the media to your gig? First try and find media that might be interested in your genre, the best place to start is to listen to them on radio or read their stories. When you find people that you think would like your offerings, send them a CD. It could be demo’s or a commercial production. Send them your bio and invite them to your gig. It’s worth ringing them first to tell them what you are sending them, including the invitation and ask them for the best way to get it to them. That sets up a personal relationship so it isn’t just an impersonal envelope that looks like something you have sent to everyone.

Ask them to come and introduce themselves to you if they do turn up at the gig and make some time to talk to them. It wouldn’t hurt to make a fuss of them and build them up and the gig either, maybe in the middle of a set, shout out a welcome to them and get the audience to give them a friendly clap. The media is a networking environment and I have no doubt that they will appreciate the recognition.

Having recognised them, spoken with them at the gig, understood what they like, dislike or didn’t understand, you will be developing a realtionship with them and it is much more likely that they will give you a good review. After all, you are friends now, right?

Remember that people write about a particular topic because they like and are interested in it. If they are a music critic (and I use that term loosely, but if they are writing about a gig, they are offering their personal critique) they are doing it because they like music. If they come to your gig, it is because they want to be entertained and to like your offering, it’s outside of their work hours, i.e. they are gving up their personal space. They probably also want to be seen in the right places and are looking for other artists or interesting people. If you rewadr them for their effort, they will probably do the same for you and you may end up with a long term ally that can help you up those little steps to local stardom.

What is the best way to send your demo to someone?

I’m not convinced there is ‘the right way’ it depends a lot on the circumstances. For example, do you know them? Will they listen anyway?

So the first thing is whether it is an artist, a record company, a publisher, a critic, an A&R person, try to talk to them. If you can get their phone number, try to ring them and talk to them. If you do, be polite and friendly, introduce yourself but get to the point quickly.

So there are 4 main ways you can send your demo.

  • You can send it as an attachment to your email. The risk is that their mail server will not allow your email to get through at all, or that it doesn’t accept large files. Don’t do this without their permission. It is an easy solution because they don’t have to do anything to get it.
  • You can use a product like You Send It which allows you to set an FTP site. FTP or File Transfer Protocol is designed is a secure way to send files from one computer to another via a 3rd party and there are several free services. Another one you can use is SendThisFile. Basically the way they work is that you upload your file to their site and they send an email to the person you want to have it, telling them how and where to access it. It means that they can get it when it suits them.
  • Another solution is to direct them to your web site, whether it is your own .com (Don’t have one yet? Check out GoDaddy) or your MySpace or other music site. If you want them to be able to able to download the song, not just stream it, make sure you have enabled the download.
  • The other option is in the mail. If you do that, make sure your presentation is very good, as in artwork, or at least make sure the name of the track is printed on the CD as well as your name and contact details. Often the CD will get separated from the case, so if you don’t have everything on it, they may love it, but not remember where it came from which would be a disaster. You can buy CD pens, or better still get a Lightscribe Drive so that you can etch the details straight onto the CD. It isn’t beautiful but it is much more professional than scribbling with a CD pen.

Of course you also need to send a lyric sheet. I always include chords above the lyric lines. I do this in Word, but there are lots of software packages that do this very nicely. I have a copy of Finale Notepad, but I’ve never actually used it.

So what is the best way? I still don’t know. I think the best way is to ask the person who has approved you sending it to them, what their preference is. Make life easy for them and the act of asking and doing what they asked, will help with recognition when they get it and your demo will then be more likely to be the one they listen to.

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