Well, it’s officially summertime in Charleston and it seems like a new crop of bands (newly-formed, reunited, recently re-assembled), acoustic duos, and singer/songwriters are finding their way into the inner-workings of the tangled music community. Good luck to all.
As far as booking, promoting, and following through with a decent impression, there are a few tricks to doing it well: be politely assertive about everything and pushy about nothing.
As both a music editor and live music listings writer at the City Paper and as a local musician, I’ve dealt with the local scene from several angles. I’ve gone to bat for one band or another at the local clubs, perspired and shivered in the harsh conditions of a shabby rehearsal space, weathered awkward confrontations with club owners, sound engineers, and high-strung wannabe rock stars, and raised a fist and cracked a smile upon hearing local music on local radio.
In the last year or so, I’ve listened to dozens of local demos, recorded a stack of interviews, fielded hundreds of phone calls and e-mails, written piles of listing entries for the weekly Music Board column, and penned a few lengthy features. I’ve also come to learn and accept the fact that handling press coverage on local bands can prove to be a prickly issue.
The band promotion “game” can be weird for those not yet initiated (when I was an eager 19-year-old rookie drummer in Athens, Ga., I learned the hard way through embarrassment and trial-and-error).
The City Paper music department seriously enjoys the weekly interaction with most of the people working within the band scene — from the clubs and promoters to the musicians themselves.
Unfortunately, the music department also has to deal with the disgruntled characters on a regular basis. These people are usually rude, stubborn, and pushy. Often, they’ve never actually contacted us about an event or band. Sometimes, they call or e-mail to complain about some vague description we placed beside their band name in the weekly listing. While we can usually find out the name of a live musical act, the place where they’re performing, and the date of the show, we can’t review or react to recordings or press kits we don’t have. We’re not magicians here.
Fortunately, many acts catch on to the idea that if they actually provide a paper’s music department (here or elsewhere) with a recording, an electronic press kit, a picture (a color snapshot, a glossy 8×10, a high-resolution digital file … even a crinkled Polaroid photo), or even a scrap of paper with the band’s lineup scribbled on it — anything of substance, really — there’s a far greater chance of getting accurate coverage in the pages.
Note: it’s the City Paper‘s self-proclaimed duty to try to cover the local musical events, not necessarily promote them.
The music department deals with the sincere, caring musicians and bands who meet us at least halfway and provide us with every and anything we may need to cover their gigs and activities. These people are a joy to work with and often reap the benefits of their actions. It doesn’t matter the nature of the event or style of music — if the information and band materials are presented in a polite and organized manner, things will start to happen.
By our last tally there are over 200 functioning bands in town. Make yours count.
Of course, if the band supplies a thorough press kit but the music absolutely sucks, that’s another whole ball of wax.