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.