July 8, 2011

Week 39: What goes Around....

Treat Every Interview Like It's For Rolling Stone.
aka: What Goes Around Comes Around.

I’m an entertainment writer. My specialty is music. Friends who aren’t completely into music don’t get me. I don’t have the newest CD that is being promoted on radio. I couldn’t really name 3 of the top 10 songs on the charts right now. I don’t know when your favorite band is coming to town. I can’t tell you who won American Idol (and I stopped watching The Voice when Austin’s Nakia was no longer on). So… how can I be an entertainment writer?
Monte Montgomery - Look him up.

Here’s the deal. 15 years into me being a writer, 10 years as a managing editor of an entertainment magazine and 4 years as an owner of an entertainment magazine, I’m not interested in interviewing the “Rolling Stone Big” bands out there. When I talk music, I tend to talk about bands that are local Austin, Texas bands, many of whom still have day jobs to make ends meet. I actually KNOW the bands I write about. I’ve talked to many of them before interviewing them. I usually attend a show and see how a band is live after listening to their music to see if it is a project I’m interested in writing about.

Now, could I interview big names? Sure. I have all of the connections to do so. The only person I’ve failed to interview that I really wanted to is George Strait… and it’s easier to watch a movie while texting in Alamo Drafthouse than it is to interview that man.

So, why did I choose to take this path in my writing career? I’ll explain it to you by telling you this story.
College me w/ Robert Earl Keen

In 1996 I was a college student trying to learn how to be an entertainment writer. I’d been a writer for a few years, but when I moved up to attend college in San Marcos, Texas (Southwest Texas State University... GO BOBCATS) I joined the student newspaper. I ended up writing for the official entertainment magazine (Galaxy Magazine) of SWT.

The first time I secured a major interview with a big name (NOT anyone pictured BTW), I called them up and they treated me like I was some 3rd grade dropout they were too good to talk to. This happened a few more times in the next few years.. and it always seemed to be the big names that did it.

Now, I understand, when you’re a star, or a star on the rise, you’ve got to schedule interviews in blocks. You could do 30 a day, in 15 miute intervals. You get the same question every call. By the 4th call you’re sick and tired of talking about your influences, the meaning behind your one radio hit, and what it was like to hear your song on the radio for the first time. I get that. It’s not lost on me. BUT… every time you treat a media person like crap, you are setting yourself up for a negative write-up AND you’ve lost a champion for your band. Forever.

One-Eyed Doll and I in 2008.
I chose to write about the “undiscovered” bands because I felt that they got it. They were still hungry. They appreciated me taking the time out of MY day as much as I appreciated them taking the time out of their day. It was mutual. Nobody loses, everyone wins.

Now, have I encountered some indie bands that are still unknown that give me the cold shoulder and make conducting an interview sound like they are being inconvenienced? Sure. You’ve just never heard me talk about them because I’m not the guy you can walk on and then have me promote you. I’m a firm believer in the idea of “No publicity is bad publicity as long as you spell my name right.”

I booked Nellie McKay in 2009.
Very interesting in person AND music.

If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t one of the people I just referred to. And if you are, well, be aware that the newbie college reporter you just gave the cold shoulder to may just end up owning an entertainment magazine in a major music city someday. A magazine where you’ll never be mentioned.

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 - http://www.tinyurl.com/Claes52DIY. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here - http://www.seanclaes.com/

1 comment:

Cameron said...

You certainly get around. :) That Monte really is good, I'm not really a slow music person, but I'll definitely be listening to some of his songs in the next few weeks.