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So you wanna be in a rock band?: Getting the right kind of press

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Lifestyles | January 29th, 2007

When it comes to making or breaking an act in the music biz, a philosophy that I have come to fully embrace explains that in order to obtain success, the first step begins with not being afraid to ask others for what you want. Afterall, the worst they can say is “no,” but if you never ask, you'll never know what possibilities are at your disposal.

When I say “others”, I'm referring to bookers, labels, potential sponsors, and the media. You will learn quickly that essentially those within each of these career disciplines operate similarly, and thus, one's approach to garnishing media exposure parallels that to one's request for a show at a particular venue.

Just like Canada's high profile clubs, notable media outlets such as Chartattack Magazine, Edge 102.1, or MuchMusic's “The Wedge” are bombarded with press kits, cds, emails and telephone calls from bands from all over the world at varying career junctures looking to get their 15 minutes of fame. Like venues, media outlets need to first and foremost consider their audience and it's needs. Coverage of stories and/or events is largely determined by what will merit the highest ratings and/or readership (i.e. once again, not surprisingly what will bring in the most profits). Therefore, the likelihood of a noteworthy media outlet providing coverage of your indie act with its humble origins instead of promoting a national touring band's appearance in a nearby city is slim to none. However, this is not meant to discourage you.

Eventually, after your act has proven themselves through a lot of hard work and persistence, these forerunners of the media will come to you. But, in the meantime, don't disregard the multitude of local and internet based media outlets that are more than willing to provide “up and comers” with exposure. Getting your name out there in the papers, on TV and radio, irrespective of whether the media outlet is a major publication, or just some guy with a website who thinks he knows how to review cds, is essential to the success of any band. Just as the old adage states, “there's no such thing as bad press.”

Not only is it advantageous to have several quotes from various press outlets on your resume, but you never know who is reading or looking at what. The greatest thing about attaining media coverage (especially through the internet) is that it allows you access to a worldwide audience. Consequently, a band is able to establish fan bases in areas to which they have yet to tour.

For example, my band's debut album, “Unpretty” is currently receiving rotation from countless radio stations and podcasts anywhere from North America to England to Japan to Brazil. As a result, we receive fan mail and merchandise orders from all over the world, none of which would be possible without the support of the media.

When subject matter is given consistent coverage by the press, it becomes legitimized. People in general, have a tendency to take a liking to aspects of popular culture just because of the fact that they are popular. If your act is continually able to keep its name in circulation, people will perceive it as being popular, and thus will have a natural inclination to “jump on the bandwagon.” In other words, if you act like a rockstar, people will think you are a rockstar and treat you accordingly.

Though, as I've mentioned there are many positive outcomes to attaining media coverage, bands with little experience in this area need to be on their guard at all times. Despite how nice reporters may seem, at the end of the day, they are looking for a story and scandals always sells the most. Therefore, I suggest that you are careful about what you say and to whom it's said.

Though becoming a media charade has worked in the favour of artists such as Marilyn Manson (without bad press, he'd receive no press at all), having your words twisted, misquoted or skewed to fit a reporter's agenda is not a fun experience and could potentially be damaging to your band's career. You can rest easy in knowing that it is illegal for reporters to fabricate stories or make slanderous remarks against you. However, this does not mean that they won't dig deep to find the perfect angle.

I think it's important to be honest if the media attempts to reveal the skeletons in your closet. But, remember there's a difference between speaking with your best friend and speaking with the media. In terms of blatancy, never say more than is absolutely necessary and always attempt to maintain the focus on your act, not your personal life.
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