music journalist

Raid my record collection, no, really: Rdio

If you’re considering working with someone in the music industry, don’t you want to know what they are listening to?  If you look at my past listening history you’ll see that I go on pop music kicks, 70s rock followed by some hardcore punk. You won’t see any new country or even much EDM on there. I don’t mind people checking it out and love seeing other industry folks posting the #nowplaying hashtag or #vinylig. We’re all here because we love music at the end of the day. I’ve made my Rdio public so that when people visit the YouRockRed site they can see what I’m listening to and see if we’re the right fit to work together.

I’ve been a big fan of Rdio since first being introduced 3 years ago. I tried to convert to Spotify but couldn’t do it because all of my past listen history on Rdio.  As a music journalist, Rdio was an invaluable tool for me to research new music; I wouldn’t have to wait for codes from the record company, albums to arrive in the mail or worse yet, buying an album I wasn’t interested in on Itunes and racking up random credit card charges.

Having a wide interest and unlimited exposure to all genres of music is so important to artist development (industry as well). I used to be a snob and not listen to Top 40 radio (30 now) but I think it’s crucial to know what music is popular for how to apply it to your career. Even if you’re into doom metal, singing along to a Katy Perry song doesn’t make you any less metal. If anything, I want to see a cover from your metal band of a Katy Perry song. BOOM. That translates into 30,000 Youtube likes and a festival intro. What I’m saying is that you should open your music tastes up to others as people’s influences may surprise you…. and that we should be friends on Rdio.

10 Ways a Working in Music is not what you may expect

So it’s been 9 hours now that I’ve been sitting at my desk.  Just like you I had to get up, make my breakfast, get dressed and down a few cups of caffeine to be pleasant for anyone around me.  Yeah there were some “Monster” speakers blasting in my office, but that’s all good day’s work.

Be your job as a promoter, journalist, tour manager, or musician here’s some myths I can quickly dispell:

1. Rock and Roll all night and party everyday. If you’re hung over every day you won’t be able to get anything done.  Your health will suffer.  You won’t be organized and quite frankly for any career longevity, you have to look after your body and mind first… by a healthy dose of music in your earbuds at your desk.

 

2.  You go out to shows all the time.  Yeah, it comes with part of the territory but you also skip out on them often because you have music deadlines or you’d rather relax at home with Netflix even though you’re on the guestlist.

 

3.  Musicians are super sexy.  Yes, they can be but going 3 days without showering and sweating up a storm on stage does not one hygienic-artist make.  They can be just as awkward as the rest of us; they just have a stage and guitar to hide behind.

 

4.  Interviewing rock stars for major publications is super cool.  What’s not cool is getting up for a 6:30 a.m. interview with them while they’re on tour in Australia before they board a flight leaving you only 2 hours to file your story with your editor.  It’s stressful and at that point feels can be a bit of a drag.

 

5.  You get to hang out with super cool artists.  Yes, but they are your co-workers.  You treat them with respect and encouragement the same way that you would if the divey bar you’re meeting in was a board room.  They can annoy you just as much as Bill in accounting. (Also, if you’re behind the scenes, you spend most of your time solo on your laptop emailing them.)

 

6.  You need to go to school for this.  While I never attended any artist management training program, so much of what I’ve learned has been from real-world experiences over the last 11 years.  Aside from the audio engineers, the people I know that are the most successful have unrelated degrees. Their training instead came through internships, volunteering, artist conferences and just generally making themselves available to any music industry avenue.  Resilience and DIY spirit are probably the best qualities someone pursuing a career in music can possess.

 

7.  You get paid.  There are dodgy people out there that will always try to take advantage of those in the arts. People don’t read the fine print.  The best way to make sure everything runs smoothly is to make sure you’re involved when it comes to finances and legal stuff. Unless you’re a CEO, you’re working in music because you love it, not because you think you’re going to get rich off it.

 

8.  You can plan for anything.  There really are few guarantees you can bank on as an emerging artist, promoter or even journalist.  Shows get cancelled last minute, a flash freeze causes pipes to explode at the venue you’ve booked meaning you need to refund all the ticket sales, or a scheduled interview with a band gets dropped because the band breaks up the night before.  Shit happens.

 

9.  People in music get laid all the time.  Puh-leeze.  Why do you think Morrissey and Rivers Cuomo have careers?

 

10.  It’s always glamorous. Being at award shows and amazing concerts is awesome but truthfully everything that leads to those experiences you and your friends road trip for can be super stressful.  Festivals, tours, and album launches take endless months of planning to pull off successfully.  The reality is that you don’t see the people close to tears in their cubicles because a tour contract hasn’t come in on time or a cheque for a music video got lost in the mail.

 

… but why do we do it all then?  Because above all we love music and couldn’t imagine a life any different!

How to Write a Band Biography

As a journalist I’ve received thousands of band biographies.  Some of my favourites have been done by fellow music journalists (the David Byrne St. Vincent one made me happy to sign their name signed at the end).  For the most part though, a band biography and subsequent press release are best left to the professionals or at least someone OUTSIDE the band to edit it.

Some basics that should be included:

-          When the band was founded

-          Full names of the members (or at least full stage names) and what they play

-          Hometown (I love seeing that a band is from Tweed, as it separates you from all the other Toronto bands)

-          Accomplishments (awards, who you’ve opened for)

-          Showcase highlights (SXSW, NXNE, Bluesfest)

-          Tour history- or where you’re headed

-          Short press quotes` (1-2 sentences)

-          list where you’ve been  featured (NPR, CBC, Le Voir)

-          Important people associated with you e.g. producer extraordinaire loves you – as a journalist we want to see what makes you different

-          What your songs and music are about in a very CONCISE manner

-          Influences or how you got into music e.g. “After stumbling Kurt Cobain was given a bootleg tape of The Doughboys he began to rethink melodies…” or “After singer X’s mother died of cancer, her songwriting took an introspective turn and she began to explore new themes of morality and fear in her lyric writing that is heard in the new urgency of singer X’s guitar playing.”

-          Links to all of your social media and websites with links to where we can hear your music

-          Link to a high resolution downloadable photo (do NOT mass email giant files like this as journalists and promoters won’t even open it)

-          Contact information!!

All of this should be contained in no more than 3 paragraphs unless you are The National, but even then, they definitely have a 1 paragraph go-to.

Your biography should be something that promoters can copy and paste to your event listing that tells your future audience exactly who you are, not who you’re trying to be.

What should NOT be included:

-          Cliches!

-          Lies (journalists are VERY good at Googling to find out that you haven’t won an award or played on Conan.)

-          Avoid grand statements, e.g. My band is breaking new ground, their sound is incomparable, well I need to know if you sound like the Stills or The Clash,

YouRockRed is happy to help you write YOUR band biography or edit your current one.  Pricing starts at just $50 for editing services and $150 for full band biographies.  YouRockRed bios have helped clients across North American and Europe- they’ve even been translated into Greek! 

Send us an email today and let’s talk about your kick-ass band bio that’ll break down doors for future gigs.

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