Friday, April 22, 2011

How NOT to get coverage for your concert, part 2

Part The Second... More top tips straight from the horse's mouth, a.k.a. desk of JDCMB. Best tip of all is provided by Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers at the end... Tomorrow we'll have the best of your tips - there've been a few. HAPPY EASTER & ENJOY THE SUNSHINE!

13. Do not... choose anodyne titles. Some extremely good organisations perhaps fail to attract media interest because their names/titles are so bland, general and lacking in statement-creation that they sound unbelievably boring, even if the content ought to prove otherwise.

14. Do not...try to cultivate a 'friendship' with a critic imagining that they'll give you good reviews. A true friend will tell you exactly what he/she thinks. And you mightn't like it and you might be upset. So might they. Chances are they'll have seen straight through you long before then in any case.

15. Do not... have a conversation that goes like this: "Darling, how are you? I was so worried! I saw your note saying you were off sick and didn't want calls, I hope you're feeling better?...Oh, I'm sorry - you need more time? Well, at least it's sunny, and oh, by the way, we've got a concert on Thursday, if you fancied coming along - not to review it, of course, purely for a nice evening out...our soprano is really amazing, she has a fantastic story to tell about how she sang Isolde the night her dog died...but I only called to see how you were...." (Yeah, right...). If a journalist ever claims to be off sick, they mean it. Most of us are freelance and can't afford to take 'sickies'. And if we say "please don't call for three weeks," we won't like it if you do.

16. Do to address someone by name, or fail to say 'please'. Old-fashioned? Yes, but there's a reason people used to do these things. "People give concert: consider feature or review" goes straight to SPAM because it's no way to accost a hack in her own home.

17. Do not...take anyone or anything for granted, and do not regard yourself as entitled to anything at any time. (Actually, this applies to all of us, no matter our profession. A principle for living.)

18. Do indiscreet. If you slept with anyone in order to get that concert, make sure nobody ever finds out (eg, check that he doesn't buy all his girlfriends the same hat; and make sure you hide his Christmas cards). If you are indiscreet you might indeed end up with coverage. The wrong kind of coverage. Possibly in the wrong kind of newspaper.

19. Do not... offer press tickets to someone who lives in another country unless you're also willing to pay their travel and accommodation. Otherwise, see point #10. in yesterday's post.

20. Do not... send impersonal notes saying "I'd be grateful for any publicity for the attached...". Of course you would be. So would everyone else who's trying to publicise their stuff. You're asking for free help, remember. If you're that grateful, buy an advert. And don't be surprised if someone rings you up wanting to sell you one.

21. Do not...misuse social networking. Facebook, Twitter, etc are great for spreading the word about what you're doing, making new friends, staying in touch etc - but they're not appropriate for direct personal approaches re coverage. Don't be surprised if jaunty tweets saying "hey! revu mi konzert 2nite" get short shrift.

22. Do not...betray the fact that you know sod-all about the music you're trying to sell. Did I ever tell you about the 1980s record company exec - newly employed, from a background in an unrelated industry - who'd suddenly learned Tchaikovsky was gay and started talking to a roomful of hard-bitten, traditionally-minded music critics about how he was 'developing some Tchaikovsky concepts'?

23. Do not...write furious letters if you get coverage and it's bad. Shit happens. And it happens to everyone at some point. Once a review is out, it's out and unless it contains actual libel (contentious point, that) there's not a lot you can do about it. Thing is, probably nobody will remember it in any case, assuming they even saw it. Get your revenge by doing something utterly marvellous next time. Remember, once your brilliant career is well established worldwide, that reviewer will look really stupid.

24. Do not...underestimate the role played in all this by plain - old - good - luck.

Now, here's what Fred, Ginger & Jerome Kern say...

...and look how they end up: