Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Unasked For Advice – band aid

It began as a gag on Twitter. A few weeks ago, various tweets began to fly around the place tagged #bandtips. They ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, advice on how bands should look in photos to things any …

Thu, Jun 3, 2010, 09:48


It began as a gag on Twitter. A few weeks ago, various tweets began to fly around the place tagged #bandtips. They ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, advice on how bands should look in photos to things any aspiring pop combo should never do. Pretty soon afterwards, there were also #journotips and #PRtips, but neither quite ignited in the same way for some reason.

Every morning when I open the post, I think about band tips and how so many acts don’t have a clue what they’re doing when it comes to dealing with the press. Worse, many of them seem to have hired PR companies who obviously get paid handsomely to make the bands look so clueless. Not all PR companies offend in this way, I hasten to add, but there are some out there who give the profession an even worse name than it currently has.

The worst cases by far are those acts who happily send out lavish press packs with badly written band biographies (there’s a reason why you should spellcheck documents, you know) and outlandish, unproven claims about the band’s popularity in their local village. These packs may also contain actual printed photos (I think I last used a print pic back in 2000), a badge, a t-shirt, stickers and a bar of chocolate and/or lollipop. Well, I suppose that’s breakfast sorted.

It never fails to amaze me that there are still deluded bands and managers out there happy to spend their cash on this sort of tripe. Do they really think cynical hacks and busy radio DJs and producers are going to be impressed by brightly coloured envelopes, claims about being “Ireland’s Hottest New Band!” or assorted samples of Haribo confectionery? Are some people in the media really swayed by this? Do the bands not think that the money (and time) expanded on these elaborate packs and flim-flam would not be better spent writing decent songs, updating their studio equipment or paying for various costs on their next tour? Do the acts not realise that most of us will snaffle the sweets, groan at the pullout quotes from hacks and publications we have no time for, throw away the press pack, play the CD and then forget the band’s name?

Many moons ago in the paper, Maeve Binchy used to have a column called Unasked For Advice in which she dispensed advice to people who weren’t necessarily looking for it, but who were going to get it anyway. I don’t think Binchy ever advised Irish rock and pop groups – I could be wrong about this – but I’m borrowing the column idea for this post nonetheless.

Bands, please note that there is no need for press packs or any of that aul’ shite. If your PR adviser says there is, well, he or she is lying. They got told this at the music biz course they went to because the person giving the course didn’t have a clue and last actually worked at the coalface in the 1980s. Or wanted to get work for their mate who was a photographer, snapper or lollipop salesman.

You don’t need to send the media anything other than the CD and an one-page sheet giving some basic details about the band. These details should contain your band name, where you’re from and where you’re at. List upcoming gigs. List the release date for your single/album. You don’t really need anything more than that. You certainly don’t need to send a photo.

Make sure you include a contact number. Yes, include an email address and your MySpace or web address too (by the way, put your photos on these sites and make sure they can be downloaded), but make sure there’s a fecking contact number on the one-page sheet. And on the CD too, by the way. We might want to contact you. We might need to contact you in a hurry and email just doesn’t do it. Most importantly of all, never ever ever ever put a quote from Hot Press on your press release – we stopped laughing at those ones years ago.

No need to thank OTR for this. Just consider it our service to the nation. And our teeth.

You will note that I’ve not outed any acts above. All of those bands who have provoked this post should consider this a first warning. I may well start a Doofus of the Week post to highlight the band who send me the most ridiculous press pack every week. Then again, that might only encourage some of them.