Stories Sell

Man, it’s been a tough road. Back in July 2007 my band put out an album. We made some mistakes but in the end it’s something I don’t feel ashamed to stand firmly behind. It was our first, specifically, my first attempt at aggressively putting myself out there. We mailed hundreds of plastic coasters to college radio and on/off line publications. As expected, many ignored the thing entirely. Others took up the challenge to put words to something that had no fore mentioning (and we thank you all for that). Hell, locals didn’t even touch it. But some kid in the UK gave it an astounding review. I digress. We got reviews, we got college radio play. We even got some great shows from it. However, what we didn’t get were oodles of sugar-coated positive raves. Many critics did what their name implies. Many critics didn’t like it and stamped it as “generic.”

No biggie. It’s not surprising. There’s thousands nay, hundreds of thousands of us. Anyone that has recently been on MySpace can attest that our numbers are astonishing (“our” being, independent bands). Keeping that in mind, the “generic” review is almost expected. Our press package didn’t include a hook, gimmick, characters, or “story.” It was just, “Hey, we’re this band from Detroit, we just put out a record…” You know, the crap writers, editors, and music directors read all day long. Sure, we have a “story” buried somewhere for a publicist to dig up if we stick around long enough for one to get involved. But we certainly haven’t realized it yet, let alone thrust it forward.

You’re probably thinking, “Maybe your record was generic? It probably wasn’t as good as what you thought.” Perhaps, but that’s non-essential to my point. If an unknown band released Wilco’s last album, Sky Blue Sky prior to Tweedy and Co. and sent out some kits for press, what sort of reviews would you expect? It’s impossible to guess but chances are without the entire history of Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Farrar, Jay Bennett, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, etc… at the critics disposal all the current reviews would be completely unlike what they actually are. Whether that be good or bad matters little. What matters is that they would be different. Critics use the formula, music dipped in story. I’d argue more often than not the equation is tweaked to, story dipped in music. Which is exactly the problem with bands like my own. We’re 100% dependent on what critics give their least attention to, our music. Whether generic or not, that is a difficult road to walk.

Know any good publicists?

Read: The Perils of DIY