Comment from the coal face

(February 05, 2018)

We continue to receive albums from PR agencies as well as artists, either through the post or on-line, which is fine. Artists pay for PR support and should expect their PR people to spread the word. Why employ the services of a PR agent and then do the work yourself? (Please note, no reference to keeping domesticated canines and barking.) However, recently there’s been a return to PR agencies sending out blanket emails with increasing evidence that many of those PR agents spend only a few seconds (if at all) researching a web site or a magazine before they send their clients’ work for review. The only (and that’s often tenuous) criteria seem to be that they’re aiming for people with a pulse, that speak a known language and breathe oxygen, beyond that, targeting press releases would appear to be negligible.

Take a look at this site ... FolkWords ... by definition it’s clear what it covers. Although its definitions are broad, catholic (according to the Greek meaning) ductile and malleable. This is an eclectic site that listens thoughtfully to the widest range of music that falls however indirectly under the folk, roots and acoustic spheres of activity. Of course, there are times to push the boundaries as far as they will go, to experiment and examine, to explore dark by-ways and tangential avenues. And that’s exactly what FolkWords does. However, when something is so far out of remit it will not get a look in, what’s the point of pushing it out the door? Is it to reassure the client that you are working hard on their behalf? Is it in the vain hope that if you throw enough words some of them must stick? Or is it just being lazy?

Just so it’s abundantly clear ... indie pop, thrash metal, experimental jazz, garage, electro-pop, hip hop, etc. (the list goes on and on) are out of our sphere. So why at least once a week (sometimes more often) do we receive such delights in the post or over the ether? The letter or e-mail that accompanies the album or download usually tells us: How good the band or artist is. How our life is incomplete if we don’t listen. How they will become the greatest attraction since music began, etc, etc.

That may be true. That’s great. Thanks a lot. But no thanks.

Let’s take time to make something clear. First, we make our own decisions. Second, a set of clichés and hyperbole will not influence our views. And third, don’t send us music about which we are neither qualified nor interested to write. The only action is the missive or the music (physical or on-line) is binned or deleted. And that is a shame because doubtless the band worked hard on the music, someone worked hard writing the copy, and all for no return. All the process required was a five-minute piece of research to focus time and effort in the right direction.

So here it is.

Struggling, up-and-coming and break-through bands, musicians and artists please note. Ensure your PR agent knows about you, knows your music and knows where to send it. Ensure they understand that time spent researching what the journalist writes, magazine content or web site and radio station coverage will pay you back every time. Otherwise you are wasting your fee, your time, envelopes and postage.

By the way this is not a rant at any artists, bands or PR agencies.

It’s criticism of sloppy practices and simply not trying hard enough.

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