Welcome to 2012.
These next few weeks are the part of the year where everything is great. Your resolutions are, hopefully, still intact, and you’re riding high on a surge of promise and self-dedication. Perhaps you want to lose weight, connect with old friends and distant loved ones, or learn to speak Aramaic. The truth of the matter is that this is the singular point in 2012 where those things might finally start to happen. Because in a month or so, it’ll be Valentine’s Day, which is like a multi-headed beast of broken promises (what with the chocolate and potential for romantic disappointment). After that, expect a string of landmine-esque holidays and increasingly weakening personal resolve, all working in tandem to keep you fat and unfulfilled far into 2013 and beyond.
Thankfully, 2012 doesn’t have to go down like that. If you’ve got dreams to live and plans to accomplish, you’re going to need something more concrete than good vibrations and hackneyed mantras. This will require all of your emotional and spiritual energy to conquer your own self doubt. You’re going to need to develop various plans and mechanisms and stick to them like a Zen master. Most of all, it means no longer being a lazy putz.
What follows are bits of wisdom not for the health enthusiasts, exercise nuts, New Age students searching for inner balance, or even the average Joe just trying to be a slightly better human being. Instead, these tips and hints are for the would-be rock gods of the world, the sensitive singer-songwriters looking to captivate beyond the coffeehouse, and the bombastic MCs struggling to turn adversity into pure platinum. These are pearls of insight for those musicians looking to make 2012 the year they finally emerge into the loving embrace of fame and make the years of struggle and hard work worth something. That, or they’ll spend 2012 like the rest of us, smoking like chimneys and avoiding the gym like the plague.
I should note that the following opinions do not reflect those of Consequence of Sound. As always, they are my own thoughts and notions and represent my own warped worldview. As well, adhering to any of these, though adorably admirable, will not guarantee success. Instead, try practice and humility over the span of a decade for any surefire results.
I Don’t Care About Your Remix: Unless you’re like Mike D or TiÃ«sto, any remix you have of any artist is completely uninteresting to me. That’s especially true if you’re brand-new with almost no name recognition. Remixes are only great if they’re from an established act with a well-documented track record. E-mails regarding your remix are tantamount to me coming up to you in the street out of the blue and talking about my uncle’s new golf clubs. Save the reworkings for after I actually know some of your own work.
Please Read Our Site: If you’re a country music yodeler or a family-friendly Christian artist, bless your heart. I hope you continue to do what you do and do it well. But why in H-E double hockey sticks would you think that we’d run anything from you unless faced with a lightning bolt of judgment from the Lord himself? We cover a lot of different artists, but you have to know what we concern ourselves with before you contact us. If you don’t see a lot of similar acts, chances are it’s not because we’re looking for the right one. In fact, it’s more likely that certain genres or niches are out of our coverage scope. Focus on a publication that caters to your message instead of shooting emails to every conceivable blog and magazine out there. It saves you a great deal of time and rejection; plus, I don’t have to delete as many emails.
Proper English Goes a Long Way: In addition to being a music fan, most critics are sticklers for grammar and punctuation. Undoubtedly, you’re probably far too busy channeling the creative muse to know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” but that kind of stuff matters. In fact, even if the music you send over is really good, I as a critic might think twice about going forward if the accompanying message is “hope ya like it, dudes.” These days, it’s all about the whole package; you may be able to rock our worlds, but if you can’t string a sentence together, there’s almost no value in exploring you as a viable act.
And Another Thing…: This sort of goes in line with the whole grammar/punctuation thing: Give me information when you send over a song or album download. If you send a link and say, “Enjoy,” I promise you that I will immediately delete it – no hesitation or lingering doubts. I’ll drop this into my trash folder quicker than you can slam on your whammy bar. At the very least, tell me which track(s) to listen to and a couple of lines about you and your band. More than that, give me something to relate to beyond a clichéd bio. Tell me about your journey, your struggles; tell me why I should actually care about what you’ve put your heart and soul and father’s credit cards into.
Stalk Your Critic: E-mail blasts are efficient and all, but if you want true results, why not go for the personal touch? Find a writer/critic whose writing you like or who adheres to your chosen genre. Then, stalk the bejeesus out of ‘em. Read everything they write, follow them on Twitter, and look around for random blog posts or other tidbits of information. This will help you to hone in on the writer and their tendencies in order to create a better dialogue and increase your odds of making a memorable impression. One quick note, though: Don’t ever refer to me as Christopher.
Make It Easy… For Me: The whole idea of music critics living and working in ivory towers, doling out hackneyed opinions on high, couldn’t be further from the truth. Even still, it’d be nice if you could make downloading and finding info on you and your band easy. Some might argue that music journalists are doing you a favor by helping your career. The reality is that we can get just as much personal enjoyment from a new band, but we won’t bother to exert much offer on an unknown. The less I have to click and search for info, the more time I can spend enjoying (or hating) your music.
The Right Attitude: Like a lot of things in life, how you approach a critic can make all the difference. I am well aware of how some people view us, either as failed musicians/unrepentant haters or as children to be fooled into being your new buddy. The fact of the matter is that you just need to be respectful and transparent. I–and all other critics–know how this whole thing works, and you as a musician know how this whole thing works. Let’s stop the games and get down to the business at hand like adults. In addition, when you do email us, try to not to be overly confident or overly desperate. The right frame of mind is confident and assured, with a nice mix of earnest modesty. Any aspirations that you’re the second coming of Mick Jagger will be shot down posthaste.
Don’t Feel Dejected: I don’t want to toot my own horn, but beep beep, am I (and so many other writers/critics) unbelievably busy. We have so much daily work to do that we often just listen to one to two tracks before deciding what to do. If we love it, you’ll hear from us immediately. If we didn’t, you’ll probably never hear from us. Don’t take the latter result too personally; it just means what you sent isn’t a good fit. And while lots of well-intentioned feedback sounds nice, the nature of this business is a little cutthroat. Take it as a silent little hint that it’s time to look elsewhere for options. Also, if I don’t respond to one email, chances are I won’t bother returning the next six reminders. In the end, though, whether I send over heaps of praise or ignore your music’s very existence, what I say only matters as much as you let it. I am a single voice and shouldn’t be the deciding factor between sojourning on and going back to grad school.
There you have it–almost everything you’ll need to approach and successfully work with a music critic. There’s surely more that I have missed, and other critics probably have other pet peeves. The point is, if you’re serious about making a go of music, of really working hard to get noticed, then you need to know how to work with the most anal retentive, grouchiest of human beings there are: music critics. You don’t have to be our friend, you don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to kill yourself to make your dreams come true. All the passion in the world can only take you so far before reality sets in, and it’s up to you to make it or break it. So, in 2012, I say good luck, Godspeed, and here’s hoping I spin your album sometime in the next 365 days or so. Unless it has anything to do with dubstep; then don’t even bother.
“Auld Lang Syne”