We're gonna start 2011 by being servicey. We have seen too many talented bands (and the PR people they pay) squander opportunities and/or generally make our lives in the music press difficult. We thought we'd give you our (100% unsolicited) advice on how your band can go about making everything even more difficult for yourselves, your fans, and, well, us, in 2011.
Here's the Top Ten Ways to Make Your Band an Epic Fail in 2011:
10. Regarding a website as optional
Look, people: if you are a band or musician and you don't have a website, you are making it impossible for fans, blogs and journalists to figure out who you are, what you sound like, and, especially, where the hell you're playing. This should be so obvious as to go without saying but there are a ridiculous number of bands out there that either a) don't have a website or b) simply link to their label's website without knowing (or caring?) that the label hasn't bothered to post anything about upcoming shows recently. Or even ever. And by website, by the way, we don't just mean a Myspace account. At one time, a band could just get away with MySpace, provided it updated its upcoming shows regularly and provided reliable contact information; this is no longer the case, given that it is bleeding money and the music interface redesign has not gone over as well as hoped.
9. Having a website but failing to include any relevant information.
We cannot tell you how many times we have thought about including a band in our Picks section, and been unable to do so because the band has neglected to post relevant or timely information. If you're playing, tell your fans when and where, and how much it is, for God's sake. If you have an album out, include easily accessible info about when it came out or will come out, the tracklist, and the label. If you have PR, tell us who it is and how to contact them. If you don't have PR, tell us how to get ahold of you if we have questions. A surprisingly large number of sites contain no information about PR, upcoming shows, or upcoming albums, and it's sort of unfathomable.
8. Making it impossible to find high-res PR photos.
Commercial music-oriented blogs and sites, like any other commercial blogs or sites, are content-driven. Bloggers are required to post frequently, and write quickly. A blogger or web editor who wishes to run a post on a band almost always needs to accompany a given post with a photo, but bands often make it impossible to figure out which are their PR photos. This puts the blogger in the unsatisfactory position of either a) not running the post on the band or b) having to simply guess at which photos are PR and which aren't, thus running the risk of using a photo without permission. [Ed.'s note: Memo to a local band that rhymes with Bo Page--you might think it's cute do do promo photos covering your face, but guess what? Nobody else does! Save those for the scrapbook and get some actual face-showing promo pics done, mmmkay?]
7. Sending us a CD with no identifiable characteristics, accompanied by a biography on a completely separate piece of paper.
No, seriously. People do this. Lots of people. Look, we get tons of CDs from bands hoping to be included for review or picks or whatever. As we get the mail, we open it and put it in a big bin to go over at editorial meetings, once every few days. By the time we sit down to go over everything, the bin is filled with maybe fifty CDs, and fifty pieces of paper containing contact information and a biography of the band. If the CD is clearly marked, it's not a big deal to find the accompanying piece of paper, should we have an interest. However, an unfathomable number of CDs are unmarked and in plain sleeves or clear jewel boxes, making it impossible to figure out whose music it is or why we should care.
6. Never bringing anything to your shows that might lead fans to remember who you are or where to find you.
Unless you are Lady Gaga or Madonna, you probably play shows with more than one band on the bill and fans are probably not necessarily familiar with all the bands that are playing [Ed.'s note: slightly unhygienic white dudes in T-shirts? They do look alike!]. The people in the audience therefore might be there specifically to see you; they might be there to see someone else but accidentally see you and happen to like you. But if you have no buttons, pins, CDs, teeshirts, business cards, or flyers, fans will have no way of remembering who you are or where to find you ever again.