Saturday, April 23, 2011

How not to get coverage: the best of your tips

Amazing response to our little workshop over the past two days...thanks, everyone! Hope it's been useful. As promised, here are some of the best extra tips that have winged their way into my various inboxes/comments boxes/Facebook...

"Do not think that leaving 20 badly-photcopied fliers in a public library one week before your concert will guarantee you a full house?" And the one idea that all musicians need to know is absolutely misguided - that any programme/artist will "sell itself"." (Richard Bratby, Birmingham)

"Don't provide a boring headshot. Interesting, action-orientated photos usually get prominence in listings, brochures, etc." (Erin McGann, London)

"Do not tease editors with unclear information about who will perform what, or promise unnamed “special guests,” or drop vague hints about “surprises” at concerts. And discard the belief that there is anything remotely enticing about the initials “TBA.” Editors do not like to be teased, and will conclude that you don’t know what you’re doing." (Colin Eatock, Toronto)

"Musicians: when you send attachments, do not send JPGs entitled headshot.jpg, E01.jpg, John.jpg, outdoors1.jpg. Etc. Because most of us take in an email and then use the attachment hours or days later. We then find ourselves peering at a very long of anonymous file names. We then have to do Extra Work to establish which particular JPGs belong to which particular email. Not so good. Especially if there's a gap of many weeks. You could have received dozens of anon attachments on any one day. Names are good. Never send a biography or an image file, ever, without the file name including your own name or the name of the ensemble." (Clare Fischer, The Red Hedgehog, Highgate)

"I seriously considered getting rid of concert reviews in The Strad, with a major factor being the amount of time taken up by calls from artists/agents giving us grief for either not covering their concert or not saying the right things about them (I'm not talking about polite enquiries/invitations). Needless to say, such calls rarely influenced us to change our mind and left an mental black mark against the caller's reputation with us." (Joanna Pieters, former editor of The Strad)

"Don't send the same emails to BBC Music Magazine as you sent to Gramophone, simply changing the names of the editor/reviews editor/publication. You're bound to miss one or two, and you frequently do." (Oliver Condy, editor, BBC Music Magazine)

(Re dubious responses to reviews) "Terms like 'unprofessional', 'uninformed', 'ignorant', 'incompetent', 'lazy', etc, are serious acusations to level at any professional - and the fact that someone who's paid to form a professional judgment on your work reached a conclusion that you find disappointing is not sufficient grounds for bandying them about. You're making yourself look small - and you're not making any friends either. Before you fly off the handle about the single negative line in the review, remember to read the other 20 lines that actually say good things about you - and try and get things in proportion." (Richard Bratby, Birmingham, again)

"DO NOT open this attachment if you DO NOT care about the future of classical music..." (Suzi Digby, enclosing an invitation to a debate at the Cambridge Union starring herself and Stephen Fry that will launch her charity Vocal Futures. The debate is on 12 May and the topic is: 'This House Believes that Classical Music is No Longer Relevant to Today's Youth'. It will be streamed live on the internet...more details in due course. Point taken, Suzi.)

Coffee time!