March 31, 2011

Week 28: Interviewing 101 - Tips on Talking to the Press

Interviewing 101
Tips On Talking to the Press

Butcherwhite talks with DaveTV at The Parish Room in 2007.

By: Sean Claes
I’ve interviewed people in the music industry for over 15 years. In that time I’m pretty sure I’ve asked the same question about 200 times, each to different bands, each with a unique answer. When your band gets the chance to be interviewed, you should be ready.

Below, I’m going to script a basic list of interview questions that every band should be able to answer easily. I’m going to choose the fictitious band, Dog Faced Cow, as my subject. I usually lead off the interview by explaining who I am and what magazine I’m writing this for… and what city’s show I’m previewing for if it’s a phone call. This way, the band knows that I’m doing a piece that will be promoting a particular show in a particular area. Not just some kid off the street that blogged and bluffed an interview out of the publicity folks.

Full Service interviewed at Backwoods Bash 2008

A good interviewer will do a little research and history searching before interviewing. This way they can know basic information about the band. It also lets the person being interviewed know the interviewer actually knows more than their name. If I was conducting the interview questions may look like this list I scripted.

1. Dog Face Cow was formed in 2008 while all of you were in school at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. How did you guys meet?
2. Originally the band’s name was The Mud Flapper Band. Why did you change it to Dog Face Cow?
3. You’re about to embark on your first national tour opening up for Daughtry. How’d that come about?
4. You ready to ditch the van and hit the bus?
5. (Ask about the band(s) they are playing with) So, Daughtry. Are you a big American Idol fan?
6. In April you released your second full-length CD, “The Udder Cuts.” What is your favorite song on the new album?
7. Tell me about “Cringe,” the first single off the new album.
8. How was it recording in the Los Angeles studio?
9. Was the recording process very different now that your signed to ________ Records?
10. You’ve got a catalogue 2 LPs and 3 EPs deep. What is your favorite Dog Face Cow song ever?
11. You’ve been known to throw a few cover songs in your set. How do you choose them?
12. What is the most memorable Dog Face Cow show memory you have?
13. You’re coming through Austin on ______, playing ______. Last time you played Austin it was at Red Eyed Fly. What are your thoughts on this town?
14. What is one thing your fans would be shocked to know about you?
15. When you’re not on the road, what do you do?

Josh Homme is interviewed by 101x's Toby Ryan at the 2007 Austin City Limits Music Festival.

So, these are the basic questions I’d ask. You see, I pepper in information I learned myself so the person on the other end of the phone will be more comfortable. Good interviewers will do this. 

Of course, I’ve been witness to some really bad interviewers. Sometimes when you’re at an all-day festival or a big music or movie star comes through they will set you up in “group” interview or a press conference. That brings out some beauty questions.

The following are some questions you’ve got to be prepared to answer… over and over… as the basic interviewer will ask you 5 or more of these every time.
1. Who are your influences?
2. Why are you in a band?
3. Do you get a lot of chicks?
4. What kind of guitar do you play?
5. What’s your favorite food/movie/band/song/alcoholic beverage?
6. What goes on... on the bus?
7. What genre are you in?
8. How would you describe your sound?
9. What inspires you to make music?
10. Your favorite place you’ve played?
11. What are your band’s goals?
No matter how silly or monotonous the questions, be sure and answer them honestly while acting like it’s the first time you’ve ever heard such a question. The person conducting the interview is in charge of the flow of the story. In order to have the best chance to get a good story out of it, be a good interviewee.

Don’t be Galder.
Dimmu Borgir. Galder is the bald one.
An interview I ended up not writing was with Galder from the black metal band Dimmu Borgir. He gave me one word answers to my questions, didn’t seem to know much about what I was asking and was generally disinterested. Sure, he could answer the boilerplate questions (the ones everyone would ask) but if I got off the beaten path, he was stumped. He gave me the ultimate answer to one of my questions though.

Q: Dimmu Borgir is classified as “Black Metal.” What is the difference between death metal and black metal?
A: *pause* It’s more evil. Black metal is more evil
That just about made me fall out of my chair. I had to end the interview after that for fear I’d anger the man. And a pissed off Norwegian guitarist was not on my list of things to be hit by that day.

Anyhow, happy interviewing! Hope this helped.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. For an introduction to his "52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice" visit this link - If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -

March 24, 2011

Week 27: Keep It Real

Keep it real

By Sean Claes
You don’t need a guest spot by Kanye or a producer like Timbaland in order to write a hit record. What you DO need is finesse for words and a unique view on a subject that almost everyone can relate.

Take for instance, Susan Gibson’s greatest hit. She talks about heading out into the world. That final moment when you have everything you own in your little car and back out of the driveway while your parents are giving you that last second advice.

Do you know who Susan Gibson is? Perhaps not, but I bet you’ve heard The Dixie Chicks rendition of her song, “Wide Open Spaces.”

Here’s the deal. Today, people can spot fake a mile away. Why do you think the Vanilla Ice’s of the world have gone away but the Marshall Mathers’ are still around? Why do you think Johnny Cougar transformed into his real identity, John Mellencamp? Why do you think Howard Stern is on the cover of Rolling Stone

Actually, I think that last one is to make up for putting Justin Beiber on there the previous issue… but I digress.

Fake no longer sells in music. Justin Beiber will fade away soon. I read his interview in Rolling “Swagger” Stone last month. I hope his parents are investing wisely. I want to root for him, but all I saw in that article was a kid trying to be the teen pop star his handlers have made him out to be in order to satisfy the image they think the fans need to see. Now, he was “discovered” via YouTube.. so that was real… but I think he was thrown into too much too fast and made to “be” something he isn’t. When the public figures that out, he’s going to be thrown to the wolves. Then we’ll see what kind of support system of “real” friends he actually has.

Hopefully it’s a strong one and he makes it out the other side. We’re still watching and waiting to see if Britney Spears can pull off the “new vs. old” her.

There are plenty of people out there who make it by being real. In the 1980s the Grunge movement was all about being real. My favorite quote from that era comes from Loverboy lead vocalist Mike Reno. “Nirvana basically ruined my career.”

When your career is based on fun, poppy, not-a-care-in-the-world songs of overindulgence, I’ve got to tell you Mr. Reno… it wasn’t grunge that stole the brass ring from you, it was reality.

Let’s compare, shall we?
“You want a piece of my heart. You better start from the start. You wanna be in the show. Come on baby, let’s go.” – Loverboy
“With the lights out, it’s less dangerous. Here we are now, entertain us.” – Nirvana

Nirvana didn’t just talk about putting you in the show… they MADE you the show. Yes, Kurt Cobain was a sick and twisted individual who was not made for fame and couldn’t handle what came with it and killed himself while Mike Reno is still touring with Loverboy for anyone with $20 and a need to recapture the “glory days” of red leather pants so I guess Reno gets the last laugh on this one… but musically, Nirvana produced Toulouse-Lautrec’s while Loverboy gave us cartoons.


Your music should connect with the inner core of your audience. If you write about love, make that person in the audience feel that love. If you write about hate, make the listener angry with you by the end of the song. Don’t write about things that are so deeply personal that you can’t relate, in words, the meaning.

Ever in the situation where you know you’re the bad person in the relationship and the person you’re with has endured so much that you need to let them go for their own good? Then you’ve lived the scene that’s expertly described in Blue October’s “Hate Me.” The song makes you root for the underdog while hoping the girl moves on.

Barenaked Ladies scored a HUGE hit with a song about an argument. Sure, it’s got some funny lyrics, but “One Week” is a song that anyone who’s been in a relationship can relate to. Especially the final lyrics where he admits “It’ll still be two days ‘till we say we’re sorry.”

Austin band One-Eyed Doll has a story about a boy who died in her arms on the street. The otherwise crazy – hair flinging – spitting – slapping lead vocalist Kimberley Freeman transforms a club with about 100-200 people in it into a street corner in New Orleans. Throughout the a capella “New Orleans” Kimberly softly describes the scene so vividly that you feel like pulling out your cell phone to call an ambulance for the poor soul.

How many people choked up when they saw Eric Clapton struggle to get through “Tears in Heaven?” The pain and hurt in his voice was amazingly heartbreaking. He was able to bring us all together to mourn the loss of any loved one just as he wrote the song in mourning for the loss of his 4-year-old. “Would you know my name, if I saw you in Heaven?”

One of my favorite all-time songwriters struck country gold with Travis Tritt with a song he wrote about the simple act of being in a good mood. Darrell Scott somehow captures the oddity of a good day when it’s surrounded by crummy ones in “Great Day To Be Alive.” It’s the mundane made spectacular. Growing a fu man chu. Looking long in the tooth, but harmless. “I got rice cooking in the microwave / Got a three day beard I don't plan to shave / And it's a goofy thing but I just gotta say / Hey I'm doing alright.”

Other songs off the top of my head are The Fray’s “How to Save A Life,” Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours,” and let’s not forget “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston which was actually written by Dolly Parton.

And say what you want about Marshal “Eminem” Mathers… but the dude is honest. And he can write. He makes simple lyrics seem complex and can break complex things down to the bare essentials. And when he yells “I’m not afraid / to take a stand / Everybody / come take my hand / We’ll walk this road together” in his single “Not Afraid” there’s a nation of people reaching out and ready to walk alongside him.

That right there is just it. The songwriters I respect aren’t interested in being leaders but they definitely aren’t followers. They are lost in this mish-mash world just like you and me. The difference is, they have the ability to put on paper what is weighing on our hearts. They have a way of making something that is so deeply personal into something that weighs on all of our hearts.

And for that, I thank them.

So, if you’re writing lyrics, do me a favor and don’t just write a song. Have a meaning. Have a plan. What have you gone through in your life that could be shared in a way that everyman can relate? Kind of like blues music, You can’t sing songs without living the songs. The current world smells out fakes and leaves them on the side of the road like the apple core you threw out your window on the highway last week (at least it’s biodegradable).

And, when you do write and record that song, make sure I get a copy.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. For an introduction to his "52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice" visit this link - If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -

March 22, 2011

Rest in Peace Pinetop Perkins.

We lost a legend yesterday.

Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins passed away in his Austin home.

"He was one of the last great Mississippi Bluesmen. He had such a distinctive voice, and he sure could play the piano. He will be missed not only by me, but by lovers of music all over the world"  - BB King

Selected Stories:
LA Times
Austin 360

Here's a special that was done a few years ago when Mr. Perkins was 95.

March 18, 2011

Five Music Lunches in Austin (Day 5 - 3/18/11) Mike Primeau @ Trophy's (Whoopsy!)

All week I'm going to catch a live band every day at lunchtime. My mission.... get to a show, take a video.. take photos... and get back to work.

I'm trying to hit a different venue each day.

ANYONE living in Austin can take advantage of live, free music this week. Pack a lunch.. eat it on the way (or attend a show where they serve food).

Friday 3/18/11 
(Punk knows no schedule) I decided to make yesterday good... and I jammed down to Trophy's (2008 S. Congress) to catch the beginnings of Day 2 of the 6th Annual Whoopsy! Magazine Anniversary Birthday Bash.

Best line was while waiting for one of the bands to start.. one of the patrons (pretty sure it was this guy) said to someone "I wish I could go back in time and punch your mother for deciding against abortion." I know.. it's wrong.. but quite possibly the funniest thing I've heard all week.... maybe you had to be there.

Anyhow, walked in about 12:20p as American Pinup was setting up. They were supposed to go on at noon. So, I wandered back to the backyard area (Stage 2) and Mike Primeau was setting up. Slated to start at 12:30p. I thought, he'd be a good bonus to catch after American Pinup, which was the band that brought me to Trophy's during lunch.

I wish I could tell you how American Pinup was. All I can say was, they were there. I saw the lead singer finishing up her set list at 12:15... I heard a few notes coming from inside at about 12:30... but by that time I was taking photos and video of Mike Primeau. After Mike did 2 songs, I headed inside to catch 'em... but they were gone. Under the muffled voices I think I figured out that the bar gave them a set time... and it didn't matter when they started, they were going to end at the same time (a policy that makes sure the following band doesn't get gipped for time).

So... let me tell you about Mike Primeau. From what I saw, this Austin-based singer-songwriter is doing his best to achieve the Tom Waits sound. He even pulls off the hat and soul patch. I couldn't find a Website or Facebook Band page for him... pretty much I only found him on a youtube channel... where he has a video up there doing a Tom Waits cover.

There are very few people who can pull off the Tom Waits sound.. There's Tom Waits... and then... well... that about covers it. OK, that's not fair. A similar sound comes from folks like Scott H. Biram and Possessed By Paul James, but they put a spin on it to own the sound. I'm interested to see what spin Mike ends up putting on his sound.

What do you think? Here's a video and some photos.

March 17, 2011

Five Music Lunches in Austin (Day 4 - 3/17/11) Don Chani @ Ruta Maya (ATX Wildfire)

All week I'm going to catch a live band every day at lunchtime. My mission.... get to a show, take a video.. take photos... and get back to work.

I'm trying to hit a different venue each day.

ANYONE living in Austin can take advantage of live, free music this week. Pack a lunch.. eat it on the way (or attend a show where they serve food).

Thursday 3/17/11 
(Love Thy Reggae [w/shamrocks] )

Finally, the "official" unofficial day of March Music Madness has begun. There was a lot to choose from today and I have to apologize to Whoopsy Magazine's showcase at Trophy's on South Congress. I was all set and ready to head there when I realized it was the kick-off of ATX Wildfire at Ruta Maya.

ATX Wildfire is the brainchild of Greg "Phive" Cooper, who is a good friend of mine... and a heck of a good person to boot. He is trying to give the Austin Reggae scene a boost with his "Episode Phive" productions. If you like reggae at all and are in Austin.. anytime of the year... look Episode Phive up on Facebook. He'll tell you where you can catch some great tunes.
Anyhow... I walked in to the wonderful sounds of Don Chani. I've enjoyed this local band's sound ever since I'd heard their stuff, and am a big fan of guitarist and backup singer Erick Bohorquez's kids album, Lennon's Song. I've never caught them live though.

It was a treat. And if the band playing at noon on a Thursday (second band up for the 3-day festival) is this caliber of musician... I can't imagine how amazing the rest of the bands will be.

I caught 2 videos. To my surprise, they pulled out a spanish reggae jam (Second song below). VERY nice.


Week 26: The Banter

Hey, Hey, What Do You Say?

By Sean Claes
So, you've written a bunch of songs that are ready for the public. Maybe, you've cut a CD or two. You've played a few shows here and there. You've got a website or blog or Facebook or MySpace and are promoting the shows you are playing. The band has their stuff down musically. Well... enough to be happy with the live product. You think you've thought of everything.

OK. What are you going to say?
No, not talking about the lyrics of the songs.
Have you thought about banter?
Yeah. In between songs.
You need to talk.

The Biscuit Brothers address a Front Porch Days crowd in 2010.
What do you talk about? It's really up to you, but it’s got to be something. And you should have something in your pocket you can pull out to talk about. There are several types of banter. Some are harder than others, but it all depends on your comfort being a talker between songs. The best banter draws from a number of these "types" but I thought I'd throw out seven different types for you to get a better understanding.

The Conversationalist
Are you the person who can go on about anything? Do you monopolize conversations? Are you a big talker? Well, in case nobody told you before… that trait is somewhat annoying in life. Up on stage it works, though. Why? You are limited by a minute or two between songs. You can't talk too much in between songs.

The Soap-Box Guy
So you are politically aware and aren't afraid to share with everyone your opinion from the stage. If that's going to be your thing, you have to back it up. Talking politics is probably the most dangerous thing to do from stage... because you can alienate people quickly (I disagree with his views so I hate his band). You can also draw people closer to your band that way too (he's one of us... we like that... so we like the band). Hey, everybody needs a cause.

The Jokester
You think you're funny? Well... have a few jokes in your hip pocket to slide in, in between songs. I'd recommend no more than 2 jokes per show. The jokester should not be the primary banter person. It's something that can be planned, but has to look natural.

The Crowd Participation Guy
This is the most important kind of banter you can have. If you get the crowd into it, you've won. If you can engage them in conversation between songs, you REALLY won. I'm not talking about just talking to your buddy Mark about the time you got drunk and puked on a cop’s shoe. I'm talking about having a real conversation where someone (or a few people) in the crowd join in.

The Carnival Barker Guy
This could be a monologue about how awesome Dimebag Darrell was (still is). It could be a statement on the status of your style of music. This type of banter requires you can judge your crowd, treat your gig like a circus where you're job is to get as many people as possible excited enough to pump their fists and follow you through your next song.

The Thanks and Find Us Guy
This is VERY important. This is one that bands get wrong A LOT. Make sure to thank the crowd for being there. Name the other bands in the line-up... "Let's hear is for Dog Face Cow! Up next is Bhe Teatles." Mention the merch table, if you have one. Mention where to find the band online. And TELL THEM WHERE YOU'RE PLAYING NEXT.

The Storyteller Guy
People go to live shows to discover new bands and to hear something more than they can get on an album. I always find it interesting to get the Story Behind The Song. My favorite one that I caught on video was Matt The Electrician explaining the story behind his song "Milo" during a show in 2008.

Here's the catch... have a story... practice the story... people don't just wake up one day and have a fantastic story about their song ready to deliver live.

Things to remember
  1. When you speak into a microphone at a show, you are now the spokesperson for your band. It's no longer your opinion; it's the band's opinion. Be careful to respect the other members enough to know that.
  2. When you make your set list, include the "title" of something you want to make sure to say. Kind of like a banter set-list.
  3. Practice your banter. It doesn't come naturally to most.
  4. If you suck at talking... make sure your songs run into each other... or there's just a few seconds of silence between. If there's any long silence, you have lost listeners.
  5. You ARE the show. The songs are what brought them in. The band is what makes them enjoy it. The banter is just something to keep people occupied in between songs. It doesn't have to be heavy (although it can be), doesn't need to be important... it just needs to be SOMETHING that people will stay cued into what's happening on stage in between songs.
  6. Go to other shows. Learn from people who do it well. It's a learned trait. You didn't pick up that guitar and instantly know how to play a song. You will not grab a microphone and instantly be great at banter. It's a process. Stay engaged and soon you'll become more comfortable. The more comfortable you get, the better you will be. Break down the 4th wall.

Now, I admit. I don't practice what I preach. I've never been good at banter on stage. I tend to erect a 4th Wall while I'm on stage. I would not be the guy in a band who should carry the banter. I'm the guy who can introduce a band and get off stage before I do anything dumb. I'm not the performer here. I'm the writer. YOU are the performer. Good luck with that.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. For an introduction to his "52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice" visit this link - If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -

March 16, 2011

Five Music Lunches in Austin (Day 3 - 3/16/11) Admiral Fallow @ Takoba

All week I'm going to catch a live band every day at lunchtime. My mission.... get to a show, take a video.. take photos... and get back to work.

ANYONE living in Austin can take advantage of live, free music this week. Pack a lunch.. eat it on the way (or attend a show where they serve food).

Wednesday 3/16/11
(Late lunch = congested E. 6th)

Today I took a late lunch (2p) because I took the afternoon off to spend with family. I was meeting the family in Southpark Meadows about 45 minutes after I left work, so I thought... "Perfect, I'll jump up to E. 6th, catch the beginnings of the Brooklyn BBQ Show at Hotel Vegas.. and be down to Southpark Meadows... facil!
Well..  I got to the block where Hotel Vegas was, parked 1/2 in and 1/2 out of a No Parking zone, placed a little "I'm just unloading something, be right back" note on my dashboard (don't think that would prevent me from getting a ticket, but you never know) and walked towards Hotel Vegas. 

Didn't hear any music... I walked towards the back, saw people milling about a stage, but no music. Then I heard it... music coming from... across the street. So, I wandered over there, and ended up at Takoba where a band from Scottland by the name of Admiral Fallow was playing.

"Holy Moses... and Holy Cow" these guys were really good. Enjoyed it... and next time I'm going to eat at Takoba... because it looked GOOD.

Anyhow... here's a video and photos.

March 15, 2011

Five Music Lunches in Austin (Day 2 - 3/15/11)

All week I'm going to catch a live band every day at lunchtime. My mission.... get to a show, take a video.. take photos... and get back to work.

I'm trying to hit a different venue each day.
ANYONE living in Austin can take advantage of live, free music this week. Pack a lunch.. eat it on the way (or attend a show where they serve food).

Tuesday 3/15/11
(Whataburger's Honey BBQ Chicken Finger Sandwich
is NOT driving food... FYI )

I made my way down to The Phoenix today and caught Lost In The Trees at the "Baeblemusic Takes On Texas" Event. Judging by the previous day's event, I decided not to leave the office until after 12:30p (the time Lost In The Trees were slated to start) and I got lucky parking on 4th Street (50¢ fed to the meter a block from the club). I walked into what was quite possibly the darkest room I've ever entered at lunchtime (bravo on the instant and unlit stairs!) and the band was in full swing. So, I caught my video first. It was a song they were playing in front of people for the first time ever. Didn't catch the name.

The next song, they announced would be their last of the set. Apparently they started on time. So I got my video and photos. Score.

Lost In The Trees has a sound that is... well... imagine Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins if he went the Grateful Dead route with a little Brian Jonestown Massacre thrown in for good measure.

Listen to this and tell me if I'm accurate.

Here are some photos:

On my way back to my truck... I saw a solar powered Carousel in a parking lot on 4th Street... if I rode it I decided I would likely be a few minutes late getting back to work.... so.. it was a tough decision.

I'm Ridin' Solar...

So... I headed to Whataburger... grabbed lunch and headed back to the office.

March 14, 2011

Five Music Lunches in Austin - 3/14 - 3/18 2011

All week I'm going to catch a live band every day at lunchtime. My mission.... get to a show, take a video.. take photos... and get back to work.

I'm trying to hit a different venue each day.
ANYONE living in Austin can take advantage of live, free music this week. Pack a lunch.. eat it on the way (or attend a show where they serve food).

Monday 3/14/11 
(It's Pi Day y'all)

Today I caught Jackie Bristow at the Dart Music International House located at 219 West.
She played from 1:00 - 2:00p. I got there at about 1:15p and she was still tuning up. The concert was underway at about 1:25p. I took some photos during the first song, took a video on the second... then headed back to work.



This was day 1 of a 6 day event (3/14 - 3/19). See the entire line-up here -

March 10, 2011

Week 25: Reviewing the Role of a Reviewer

Reviewing the Role of a Reviewer

Why did you get into music?
Was it for the love of playing?
Are you proud of what you’ve done thus far in your music career?
Does it make you happy?

If you answered “yes” to most of thee things, hold on to that thought.

Good reasons!

Here’s the deal. You are a musician. You’ve chosen to be in a position of scrutiny. There are people whose job it is to listen to your music and let people know if it’s worth hearing or not. Yes, I’m talking about the music critic.

I am one. But, unlike the stereotypical critic, I only review the music I enjoy. I do this for two reasons.
  1. I don't think it does anyone any good to pan a record.
  2. If I spend time telling you who NOT to listen to, I’m stealing time and space away from bands you SHOULD listen to.

But some people who call themselves music critics think their job it to cut people down. Some of these folks have made a lot of money doing this. Why? My guess is people like to read negative things about others… negativity sells, sadly. I just can’t subscribe to that thought. Call me a hippie, but there’s too many GOOD things happening in the world of entertainment to focus on the negative.

But I digress, we’re talking about music critics. Some will try and extract deep personal meaning to your music. Many times it’s not the same meaning you intended when you wrote it.

Also, critics will take something that may be near and dear to your heart, and call it a worthless piece of trash (Think Tommy Lee’s “Brandon”).

Another thing critics do is compare your recent release to EVERYTHING else you’ve released in the past. Music is the one of the only professions I know where the thing you did 20+ years ago is still brought up and scrutinized. Don’t believe me? Wait until KISS, U2, Metallica, or Pearl Jam release another album and read the reviews.
Can Pearl Jam top Ten twenty years later? 
Where’s the Destroyer vibe in KISS’ newest release? 
The Kill 'Em All Metallica is dead.
Here’s something you may NOT have thought about. Just like the fact that just about ANYONE can cut an album, a lot of times, the qualifications of the people who are scrutinizing your music are non-existent. That’s right. There is no prerequisite to becoming a music reviewer. All you need to do is set up a blog and you’re there.

Don’t believe me? I made an OFFICIAL MUSIC REVIEWER blog in about 10 minutes -

 Go ahead and look. I’ll wait… and watch this funny video.

Ah... it's funny because it's an interpretation of.... oh... hey! You back? Let's move on.

I’m not saying that all music reviewers are worthless. There are a good amount of folks out there that are wonderful and have a real ear for finding some great music. All I’m saying here is when you get a negative review written about your music, check the source. See if this writer is an “actual” journalist or simply a dude with a chip on his shoulder and access to a computer.

Now, here comes the advice.
  1. 1. When you decided to record your music for public consumption, you released all rights to define the meaning. Meaning, everyone hears something different and as an artist you HAVE to let the music speak for itself. Unless you’re putting together a “Story behind the song” show or are pointedly asked by an interviewer, just let people interpret what they want.

  2. So, the song that you wrote about your kid is called crap. Is it? Does the deep meaning you feel for it lessen when someone doesn’t like it? You must have liked it enough to record it and put it on an album. Let it go.

  3. Do not write an e-mail or letter or make a phone call or visit the reviewer. There is no reason to do this. If they don’t like the music… will yelling at them change their mind? Nope. What it WILL do is make sure you don’t EVER get publicity through them or their affiliate magazine/newspaper/Website.

    Example: I won’t drop her name, but as owner of INsite Magazine, I have had plenty of contributors write for me over the years. At one point I had a DVD/Video reviewer. He once wrote a video review of a female guitar goddess that still performs today. It was about 75% positive but it did have some little snarky comments that I thought were fine. Well, her manager BLASTED me in an e-mail. This was about 6 years ago. Guess who’s knocking on my E-mail inbox for some press right now? Guess who’s not going to answer?

  4. Negative press happens. Let it go. Instruct anyone and everyone who is involved in representing your band to let it go. Seriously.

  5. If you feel you MUST respond. Do it a different way. THANK them for the review. Any press is good press. What is the saying? “As long as they spell your name right.”

I think that about covers it for this one.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. For an introduction to his "52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice" visit this link - If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -

March 4, 2011

Week 24: The Hustle

The Hustle

Crowd surfing at the Red Eyed Fly

The music industry is dying. You can hold the #1 spot in Album sales and be considered a failure (just ask Amos Lee). Major artists are leaving their labels and self-publishing.

All of those things lead up to a bitter pill for Record Executives. The king is losing his crown. The few no longer hold the power. The power lies in the hands of the artist. It’s the modern day version of John Henry.

Independent music. That’s where it’s at.

The key to being a successful independent artist is the think outside the norm. Try new things in the name of promotion. The key is to get people to hear your music. If people hear your music and like it, they may seek you out, buy a single from iTunes, download your album, tell their friends about you, come to a show, and buy a shirt. And as an independent artist, the profit you make from sales goes right back into the band.

The same thing that revolutionized the music industry is going to be the death of it, unless it can react, retool, and reformat.

Now think for a minute. The music industry is dying… not music. People love music just as much as they used to. It’s just now we don’t have to leave our house to get it. We can search YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, our favorite blogs, and Websites for music now. And if you’re an indie artist, you should have something there for us to find.

Here’s the deal, though. 90% of the musicians out there don't make their money on their own music. Much like authors, money is made on the fringe. Authors make their money on speaking engagements and book tours. Musicians make their money on live shows, licensing and merchandise. The songs get you noticed, but it takes a whole package to make a living.

The independent music scene is like a hustle, and the music industry has always been in charge, but now, with the Internet, there is no need to go through the same channels musicians had to go through 20 years ago. You’re now in charge.

Consider yourself a drug dealer and the product you’re selling is your music. The first taste is free. Is your music like pot where someone can enjoy it but walk away or is it like crack where they get one taste and they’re hooked?

People can get their music fix on any street corner with an Internet connection. Are you there to supply them? Check your supply and get yourself out there. Demand to be heard.

You are independent. If you succeed, it’s directly because of your hard work and dedication. There is no spin-doctor working behind the curtain picking and choosing who gets to be the next star. The only place THAT still happens is on American Idol… and think about it. When is the last time a real star came from that show?

Make good music.
Get it heard.

That’s pretty much the life of a successful indie artist.
The playing field is pretty much level.
With the right planning, marketing, execution, and hustle you can make an honest living at this.
You in?

March 1, 2011

PRAY BALL Spring 2011

I don't know if you know this about me or not, but I'm the coach of my church's kickball team. 

The Kyle United Methodist Church Co-Ed Kickball team, PRAY BALL, has been playing in the Kyle Parks and Recreation Department's Adult Kickball League for the last 6 seasons. We've had some amazing times being able to hang out with some great people and praise God while playing a kids game.

This is our logo:

The Spring 2011 season is starting this Friday. PRAY BALL has a new team (we change out about 1/2 of our members each season) and a game at 9:30p. Hope you can join us... if not this Friday then maybe one of the other season games.

The games are played at Gregg-Clarke Park's baseball (or kickball) field next to the Post Office on the corner of Gregg Dr. and FM150. For a map -

Here's our schedule

Spring 2011 Schedule

Fri 3/4 at 9:30pm  vs. Got Balls?  (Home)             
Fri 3/11 at 9:30pm vs. Intimidators  (Home)           
Fri 3/18 at 7:30pm vs. Homecourt Ballers  (Home)           
Fri 4/1 at 8:30pm vs. The Kick Starters (Away)
Fri 4/15 at 6:30pm vs. The "B" Team (Away)
Wed 4/20 at 6:30pm vs. Texas Swag (Away)
Wed 4/20 at 8:30pm vs. Alcoballics (Home)           
Wed 4/27 at 9:30pm vs. My Bad (Away)
Wed 5/4 at 9:30pm vs. Shut Em' Up (Home)           
Fri 5/6 at 8:30pm vs. Silver Bullets (Away)


The Winter 2011 PRAY BALL players

Find the KyleUMC online here:
On Facebook here: