Attracting Media Attention

Conference Panel

Attracting Media Attention

Austin Convention Center, Wednesday 13 If a band gigs in the forest and no journalist is around to hear them, do they make a sound? Moderator Jim Fouratt offered this panel as a "nuts and bolts" information session for entry-level bands gigging in the trenches and hoping to catch the eye of overworked and jaded music critics far and wide. The aim, said Fouratt, was to make young bands understand the different stages of their careers and the publicity and promotion do's and don'ts that can make or break you when you're just starting out. Journalists represented on the panel included freelancers Billy Altman (who worked for Creem in the Dave Marsh/Lester Bangs era) and Austin-based John Morthland, in addition to Thor Christensen of The Dallas Morning News, Lorraine Ali of Newsweek, and Joe Taylor, former editor of London's Tip Sheet, a weekly trade publication. The discussion had one overarching theme: Do your homework. Christensen recommended that bands hoping to get written up by their local daily rag should cover two important bases: have a CD that doesn't suck, and find out who all the music writers are at the local paper (rather than aiming at one staff writer with a huge beat, like Christensen). Ali commented that handwritten packages get tossed into the anthrax bin at Newsweek. Furthermore, when aiming for national magazines, a good approach is to pitch a "scene" story similar to one Ali wrote about South Park Mexican and the Hispanic rap scene in Texas. Morthland suggested that bands save their promo time and money by being selective: Don't send your death-metal demo to a writer who specializes in Celtic fiddle music. Altman confessed to never being able to listen to every CD in its entirety; bands should put their strongest song at the beginning of the album, or they may end up in the dustbin of history. Bands who are low on money, said Fouratt, should take advantage of free publicity, like music calendars in the weeklies and college radio stations, as well as contacting any DJs with local music shows. With a little research, efficiency, and a solid DIY work ethic, bands with a bit of individuality and creativity can build relationships with journos and DJs in order to create a buzz that will eventually attract even more journos and DJs, and maybe even that half-nekkid cover of Rolling Stone.

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