Getting Interviewed and Featured in Magazines
By Michael Allison - 11/30/2001 - 05:50 AM EST
As most artists are finding it more helpful to submit their music to online and print magazines than simply playing the MP3 game, the requests for interviews and featured spots is rising. The problem that most artists have is not that they are not interesting or good enough to feature or interview. I've found that many artists and bands are far more interesting than many popular artists. The problem is usually that they just do not provide enough information, or more important, the right information. You see, we music editors do not really know who you are. Since you're an independent artist or band, we really don't know that much about you. If we don't really know you, it's fairly difficult to know what questions to ask you and what to write about you. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't be interviewed or featured. Here are a few steps to take that will help you get these spots when they become available.====================================
I call this an interview/feature press kit. This is something that I have created, and you should see the benefit from it as I explain more about it. It's not really an actual press kit, but it does provide much of the necessary information that your interviewers will need. Basically it's the same as your regular press kit, but it is designed in a different way. This kit is to be sent off to publications that actually interview and feature indie artists. Basically, we are going to redesign your press kit to help you with interviews and featured spots or write ups.
Everything first starts with your BIO. In fact, the main difference with this type of press kit is your bio. The artist/band bio is a standard page in all press kits. The difference with this bio is that we are going to include information that you normally would not include. We are also going to write it differently. This bio will look more like an outline than a standard bio does. The reason for this is that you will be providing a template of the questions and facts that you want written about you. Basically, you are saving a lot of time and research for the writer. Writers appreciate nothing more than saving time doing research. The problem is, you need to make everything you write interesting. Since everyone is different and has for the most part had different experiences, I will just give a simple idea of how to do this. You need to take it from there and add more interesting information. Below are examples of a few things that you might want to add, along with the way they should be written. These are not the only thing that should be included, but just a few examples.
John Doe has been making music for over thirteen years. John was born and raised in Chicago Illinois along with his brother Steve, who also contributes to much of John's work. John started out in several local bands from several different genres before finally getting the urge to go it alone in 1999. John has since recorded two albums and has worked with big named musicians and producers such as Some Guy and Some Otherguy. The loss of John's wife in March of 2000 has made up much of the inspiration and motivation for his latest release, "Why Me." John has since built a reputation for high energy stage shows, and in turn has generated an ever-growing and loyal fan base in Chicago.
The music of John Doe pulls from both modern and classic influences in the hard rock and blues genres. The music is a mixture of straight forward, high energy heavy rock, with a strong blues base. John also utilizes other modern influences such as electronica sounds, as well as world music influences such as native chants and tribal drums. John claims the music to be a reflection of his sad childhood, and a tribute to the little things that brought joy to his recently passed wife. The lyrics are from the perspective of a man who feels like he's lost everything that's important to him, but doesn't take away from the joy that life still brings.
John Doe has recorded and released two albums, "My Name Is... " (1999) and "Why Me" (2001). Both albums are still doing quite well in Eastern Europe as well and the US and Canada. John's latest release, "Why Me" has received tremendous airplay for an independent release on both college and commercial radio, as well as reaching the top five on the most requested countdown on WKXX radio in his home town of Chicago. Currently both albums have sold several thousand copies world wide, and has encouraged offers from many independent recording labels. John continues to tour the US, and also plans to do a small tour in Europe this coming winter.
Now notice how each of these sections where written. I almost wrote an article here. You know more about this made up artist than you know about most well known artists. Just three simple paragraphs have given more information than most bios and entire press kits give. They are also clearly defined with topics for each paragraph. This outline format makes it easy for the writer to find what they are looking for. Plus it adds a nice look to your bio page. A professional look and well organized appearance never hurts anything. With this simple little reconstruction, you have provided knowledge about you, and also given the writer questions to ask you in your interview. The trick is to stir up interest, but never give all of the information. You notice that I did not state how John's wife died. I didn't give any details of John's sad childhood. Nor did I state how many copies his albums have sold, or which labels have been calling on him. I've also set up questions with the facts that I presented. The idea is to encourage the writer to ask these questions. Giving away all of the details will not do that.
You'll also need more topics because three just won't cover everything. This is were you come in. No one can talk about you better than yourself. You might even want to make up a mock interview of question to ask yourself, and then use that to decide what information to include in this bio.
Pushing For the Interview/Feature
Next thing you need to do is let the editor/writer know that you would like to be featured. Include this information in your cover letter, as well as in your follow up. Make sure that you follow up within a week or two. If you're having your music reviewed first, make sure that you let them know you want to be interviewed before your press kit gets thrown away. My policy is that I do not interview or feature anyone that I have not reviewed first. Many editors are like this. If I do not know what your music sounds like, I really have no reason to write about it.
Always send your CD along with this, even if it's just for an interview and not a review. This may sound like a no-brainer, but you wouldn't believe how many times I've seen this. Never ask a music editor to check out your music on an MP3 site. Most do not have the time for that, and I don't know anyone who will do it. Just send them the CD.
You want to push this a little, but not to the point of pissing anyone off. I hate to be bugged about anything. So do most people. Two or three request over a two month period is more than enough.
< During The Interview
Whether you're being interviewed in person, over the phone, or through email, one thing separates your interview with all of the others. How you answer the questions! You wouldn't believe how many one or two word answers I've received. I'm sorry, but if you're not going to explain your answers, and go into a little bit of detail, then there is no point in interviewing you. Nothing looks worse on paper or online than an interview where the writer speaks more than the artist. Don't be afraid to open up a little. One word of advice though. Be careful what you say. There is no such thing as "Off the Record."
That pretty much sums up how to design your press kits to get more out of them than a simple review. The main thing you want to do is make yourself and your music look interesting. Hopefully that shouldn't be too difficult. You're more than welcome to try them out on me first. Just stop by The Global Muse and submit your music for review. Make sure you ask to be interviewed/featured. TGM and many of the publications that I write for are always looking for interesting artists/bands to feature. Just make sure that you provide enough interesting information, and you should be getting the most out of your press kits in no time.
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