I am always studying how the wise and successful bands carry out their PR campaigns, particularly who they hire and what their angles and strategies are. I hope to write more extensively about this and other music business topics right here on The Motion Sick blog. I got a lot of really good feedback about the list of essential services that I posted a while back, so I’ll keep serving my snarky music tips right here. I thought about creating yet another blog for this topic, but I think it’s fair to tell you all that this is a big part of the music business and a big part of shaping a successful band.
For those of you who are unaware, I also am one of the founders/editors/writers for Boston Band Crush. Working on BBC has been a great experience because it affords me an opportunity to promote great and deserving Boston music that I love. It is also wonderful for getting insight into good and bad approaches to PR.
I thought I’d tell you a couple of recent PR funnies. Stay tuned here for more in the future…
1. You have no idea who you are pitching to
The first and perhaps most common scenario: you’ve never actually looked at BBC, but you are constructing an e-mail to us asserting that you read it regularly and love our coverage. I am having trouble finding my favorite particular e-mail, but let me paraphrase for you with my notes in parentheses:
“Hello Amy (Amy writes a particular column on BBC, but is not one of the editors and does not receive these e-mails),
I love Boston Band Crush and read it all the time. You are doing a great job. I noticed that you cover a lot of great bands (vague statements like this are red flags indicating that you have no idea who we cover) and that you write about a lot of smaller bands. I am writing to you about this awesome band, The Toodly Doodlies from Amsterdam. They rock. You will love them.”
So, I write back every time because I am a swell fellow, thanking them for telling us about The Toodly Doodlies. I gently point out that we only cover Boston music. The blog is called Boston Band Crush. Every single post is about Boston music. So, if you “love” our blog and “read” it…or you just read the name of the blog, you might realize that we are not interested in Amsterdam’s finest act, The Toodly Doodlies.
2. You have an absurdly incorrect sense of the kind of music we might like
We got an e-mail today touting a band, “Think of them as if The Red Hot Chili Peppers ate Phish!”
I don’t want to think about any band that is mentioned in the same sentence as Phish or The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I actually probably don’t want to think about a band mentioned during the same week. You’re writing to music bloggers. Music bloggers are a snobby, indie-leaning bunch. They are serious about finding and sharing obscure music and take pride in being the ones to break new sounds. Any blogger that bites on the offer of a band that has anything to do with Phish or The Red Hot Chili Peppers deserves to have their keyboard confiscated. I am not saying you can’t/shouldn’t listen to those bands (though that is how I feel), I am simply saying that pitching a new band to blogs that way is far off the mark. You probably just hit the neighbor’s house with your arrow. The band in this particular case also has nothing to do with Boston, but you can see item 1 for that complaint.
My friendly reply: “I’d be thrilled if the Red Hot Chili Peppers would eat Phish…but only if they got a debilitating stomach ache from it. ”
3. You don’t use technology properly
I get 10 e-mails a week from a particular firm that look like this: http://twitpic.com/f4dr3 – those are the good ones! Some are just “text” and don’t even look that good.
4. You send a million e-mails about a terrible band (e.g., you want me to write about Owl City)
I realize that I am actually doing this band a great service by saying how terrible I think they are because you are more likely to listen to them than if I said they were great. I’ve only heard that one song, but it pretty much rings the death knell for indie rock. What an amazingly stinky pile of poo. They aren’t the worst band I have ever heard, but they are the worst band that I receive daily updates about. Oooh, I can’t wait to find out what Owl City is having for breakfast tomorrow!!! The actual worst band in the history of music is so bad that they have earned inclusion in this post (again, I know I am “helping” them except that I am certain that no human being with ears could like this music). Here’s their music video: