Posted tagged ‘city paper’

How Do I Get A Journalist to Come to My Show?

October 27, 2010


THE ARTIST: MC Till (Cincinnati, OH)
THE QUESTION: So, I read your blogs about getting reviews.  Great stuff.  Instead of going for album reviews what I really want to do is get show reviews.  Have you heard of such a thing?  I want a journalist/blogger to come to a show and then write about it.  That might be a lofty goal, but I’m a lofty guy.

THE ANSWER: Yea, I’ve heard of this idea before and I think it’s a great one! I have to be honest though, I don’t think I’ve ever attempted to score one of these so I’m not sure of the “proper” procedure. But here are some thoughts on the matter.

1. Give Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse
Think about it: not only are you asking them to like your music, you’re asking them to like your music enough to donate an evening to you.  If you want them to commit, it needs to be the show. What are some ways your show can stick out?

  • Incentive: Give them 2-3 complimentary tickets to the show. Pick up their bar tab for the night.  Is this bribery? hehe…
  • Lineup: Perhaps you’re opening for a really huge name and you think its worth a write-up. Maybe it’ll turn out that 60% of the write-up is about the other guy, but you’ll be 40%.
  • A Good Cause: These are the best…especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas (hint hint).  Papers love writing about food drives, fundraisers, and charity events. Think about partnering with a local organization and build some press opps around that.

2. Your Pitch is Twice as Important
Again, you’re not just selling one idea, you’re selling two. One: like my music. Two: come to my show. So take that pitch email seriously. Be respectful, be thorough, and be brief. Yes, its possible to be thorough and brief  – giving just enough information but not too much. Check out How to Score Reviews of Your CD for examples on how to write a pitch. Note that, in this particular case, your pitch will look something like:

  • paragraph 1: introduce yourself and say why you’re writing
  • paragraph 2: give some more details about you and your music
  • paragraph 3: give facts about the who/what/when/where/why of your event

3. Build a Relationship
Get to know your local music editors. Think of it like a relationship. You’re more willing to do something for someone you care about versus someone you’ve just met.  Maybe having a reporter come out to your show could be a long-term goal.

  • initial contact: shoot an email to see what their submission process is like
  • later down the line: contact them about your new album chock full of an appropriate pitch, press info, and a hard copy of the project
  • and even further down the line: hopefully you’ve been corresponding with him/her to the point where asking for a show review isn’t far-fetched. Note that this process could be a year-long situation where you’re simply on his or her radar. The key is to build rapport

4. Just ask
It doesn’t hurt to just ask if they do reviews. Being blunt is often the best type of communication. This might work best with bloggers who, by default, have a reputation for being more informal.

p.s. I like your T-shirt. I think you’re beautiful too.
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Tips for Touring: Just Some Recent Observations

August 3, 2009


Findlay Market, Cincinnati, OH (oh...and that's me)

Findlay Market: Cincinnati, OH (oh...and that's me)

Coming out of a short Ohio tour, I thought I’d write this post based on a few things I experienced.  These  tips also apply to your local shows.  If you have additional reccomendations, please post them in the comments.

Grab a City Paper in Each City You Visit
There’s likely to be a major alternative paper in every city you visit. If it’s Cleveland, pick up The Cleve SceneIf  it’s Baltimore, pick up The City Paper. If it’s Columbus, pick up Columbus Alive.  City Papers are one of the best ways to find out what’s going on in a city and learn about the most popular venues.  Reading and keeping a copy of the paper (to take home) will help you next time you’re booking gigs in that city.

Ask the Locals
Asking locals is probably a more reliable source than the city paper.  Ask people what venues they visit the most. Ask them what the most talked about coffee shops, clubs, and lounges are in the area.  Locals will tell you things you might not find online…i.e. summer concert series, underground events, local radio stations, independent record shops…etc.  On this particular tour, we met a couple people first hand that were direct links to radios stations and/or publications. Locals also gave us information on upcoming festivals that we definitely might not have stumbled upon online. (p.s. always carry a notebook around)

Don’t Expect Much from the Venue
Never expect a venue to promote an event for you. Just don’t.  You do the legwork.  We ran into several issues where one venue didn’t hang the posters we sent, another venue put the wrong start time on their website (even after repeated attempts of  asking them to change it), and another venue wasn’t so friendly because we were females. “You just never know what you’re gonna get”…is what it comes down to.

Play in Unconventional Places
Check out avialable markets before you visit a town (ex: Reading Terminal Market in Philly).  I’ve mentioned this in a past blog so just refer to  Jumping the Gun – Booking for the Spring and Summer. Outdoor produce/artist markets are an excellent place to promote while on tour.  And if you contact them ahead of time, they will often save you a prime spot at their market to perform. You’ll often have to provide you own sound equipment, but its worth it.  People tip well b/c they’re already in shopping mode…and they dobuy music. Its similar to busking but a little more formal.  Also don’t forget to bring your own merch table.  It will increase sales. I promise.

p.s. Findlay Market in Cincinnati is a hot spot!

If you have any additional tips, please feel free to recommend them to Grassrootsy readers.

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Beating The Summer Slump – Getting People In the Door

May 27, 2009


The Metropolitans at The Gallery Crawl
The Metropolitans at The Gallery Crawl

One of the biggest challenges I’ve ran into is trying to get people out to shows in the summer…especially when the weather’s nice. It might seem like a trivial thing…but there really are ways to work around this.

Stay Outdoors as Much as Possible

If you can help it, be on the lookout for weekend art festivals…and do as many of those as possible!  It’s a no-brainer that art festivals and outdoor concerts are “the thing” to do in the summer.  Chances are you can book an afternoon gig at an art festival and still lineup an indoor gig that evening if you want.

Your City Paper’s “Summer Guide” should be out soon if not already.  The Summer Guide lists local community events, art festivals, and other major events.  Check the Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Listen, Go post for even more on this.

And if your show is outside, make sure people know it!

Start Later
Don’t start the show at 7pm if you don’t have to.  Consider pushing the show back to 8 or 8:30…after the sun sets.  It’ll give people a chance to get out of their daytime mentality and slip into an evening mentality.  It really does make a difference. 

Be Pickier
Choose your venues more carefully.  If you’re playing at a restaurant, bar, coffeeshop, check to see if they have an an outside stage or courtyard you can use.  Pick venues that are great summer hang out spots.   Like most cities, some spaces do better in the summer than they do in the winter. Vice versa.

Be Part of Something Bigger
Its hard enough to get people out to your gigs at other times of the year.  During the summer, try to be a part of events that are already going on.  Have your band perform at Benefits, charities, cocktails, that are already in place.  The host organization will already be putting marketing muscle into promoting the event and you’ll have to worry less about promoting. Pittsburgh hosts an event called “First Fridays on Penn” where all the Penn Avenue art galleries, restaurants, and business open their doors with live music (all genres), food, and art.  Its a great way for artists to get exposure b/c there are always hundreds of attendees.  Similarly, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust hosts a quartly Gallery Crawl with the same feel but an even larger turnout.  Many cities hold similar events.


 You might also want to read Jumping the Gun – Booking for the Spring and Summer for other ideas.

FAQ’s and Recapping the Last Two Months of Blogs

January 14, 2009


Kenna "Make Sure They See My Face"

Kenna "Make Sure They See My Face"


I thought I would write this blog b/c I’ve gotten a handful of the same emails from different people in the last few weeks.  People asking the same questions.  Thank goodness for copy/past and hyperlinks.

Here are some popular questions, short responses, and links to more details answers.  The questions are all relatively similar.

1.)  “Question… i’m really trying to find places to play here in town. but it’s quite difficult. Could you please name some places where you feel that me and my boys could get some action??” 
Basically if you are looking for places to play…my best reccommendation is reading the City Paper every week and becoming more and more aware of the venues that have live music. Visit their websites and email them or call them to get more details on how to book a show.  More: Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Go, Listen 

2.)  How can I figure out what some of the popular venues are in my city?
Refer to comment #1. Also visit local artist websites and myspaces.  See where they are playing…then copy them and try to book at those same places.  More: Mimick  the Artists You

3.) I am really interested in getting out and playing in public and getting some exposure but I am just not really sure how to go about getting shows booked and everything. Was there something you did when you started out that might help me? I’d love to open for people or do whatever it takes.
In any stardard-sized city there are tons of coffeespots/bars/venues that welcome music and don’t ask you to sell tickets (blah).  Call these venues to learn about their booking process, book yourself, and played out as often as possible.  Hit up the Open Mics in in your area regularly to network with musicians and split shows. More: Helping Yourself #3

4.) Where did you go to get your CD Packaged?
The two most popular duplication and packaging companies for independent artists are Discmakers and Oasis. And they are awesome.  They offer great rates (in my opinion) for independent artist.  They also handle digital distribution of your music…i.e. iTunes, Napster, Amazon, PayPlay…etc. I have a very strong feeling that trying to get your music on iTunes without the help of a larger entity is a next-to-impossible undertaking.  More: Take Advantage of the Holiday…

5.) So I need to do something musical. I don’t know what but something. Thing is I suck. Want to make some noise? Let me know what you want to do, I can pretty much suck at guitar, bass, drums or even vocals.
Ummm?  No comment.


 The most important post so far…I think…is Perception is Reality
And the first thing that comes to mind is Kenna’s latest CD
“Make Sure They See My Face”


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