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MUSIC BUSINESS ARTICLES
Radio and TV
Pluggers and Press Agents
by Billy Tweedie

Radio

Radio is a traditional outlet for bands and musicians to promote
themselves. Regional radio stations will often feature music by local 
bands and it is vital that you find out which ones follow this policy and 
who you should approach. A few will also be prepared to
interview local bands, particularly if there is a general 'buzz'
surrounding them.

These are generally prerecorded during weekday early afternoons or
early evenings. Some live sessions are also featured on this programme. 
Some Radio stations are also sympathetic to local bands particularly 
if there is a strong news angle.When you have located a suitable station 
and DJ, send a demo of 3-4 tracks, putting the strongest material first. 
Include full details of the band on the demo box & cassette i.e.
name of contact person, name of band & tel. no. This may sound obvious
but it's easy to forget. Also include track titles and running order. 
If possible a band biography and photograph should be included 
and your latest live gig list. Radio stations may require you to provide 
a DAT, CD or vinyl as many will not use cassettes. 
Check which format will be required and whether you can provide this.

Television

If your band are well known or involved in a high profile event, such
as a showcase or charity benefit, chances are you may be asked to appear 
on television. There are a few  basic rules to follow if this happens. 
You may find yourself doing a prerecorded feature for
a slot on a programme later in the week/month. This may necessitate the
band miming to  a recording, either in a studio or a 'live' venue (without an
audience), so if you've never mimed before, try to perfect 
the technique before the recording day. Bear in mind that
most television stations prefer to send camera crews out during the
day-time on weekdays and not at evenings or weekends, so 
be prepared to be flexible.

Interviews

If you are asked to take part in a studio interview for radio, the
sound engineer will want to take a reading of the sound level of your voice. 
To do this they will ask you to make  yourself comfortable in your chair and 
then say a few words. Some will almost certainly ask you what you had for 
breakfast. Some will probably ask you to chat a little. Once the levels 
have been taken don't move around as you may spoil the quality of 
the broadcast if it's live. Remember not to rustle any notes you may 
have, fidget or play with your jewellery, keys or money. Be prepared 
to wear earphones and talk at a relaxed conversational speed. 
Allow yourself to be interviewed, and don't forget to speak directly into 
the microphone or else the recording levels will get messed up. 
If a reporter comes to you to record on interview on a portable tape recorder 
(quite frequently done in local radio) don't be surprised if the reporter sits 
alongside you to do the interview - the balance of voice is easier 
to maintain in that position.

The same principles apply to television interviews, but in this
instance your appearance will be another factor for consideration. 
Ignore the studio equipment, staff and the audience,  unless participation is 
called for. Concentrate on the interviewer and, as with radio, speak
at a relaxed conversational speed, be sparing with facial expressions
and above all be  yourself. The interview may well be edited down 
to a 30 second clip, so you may not have  long to make your mark. 
An interview is unlikely to be given more than 2 or 3 minutes
airtime. So try and make 2 or 3 key points clearly and concisely.

National TV programmes are much harder to access unless you have a
manager, media agent or label behind you. However, look out for
programmes which feature 'up and coming' and unsigned artists.

Do's and Don'ts of Radio Television Interviews

•Do arrive at the studio or location in good time
•Do listen/watch the programme that you are likely to be appearing on
	before hand to get an idea of the style and pace.
•Do pay attention to the producer/studio manager who is your link with
	the production side. S/he will be telling you and the interviewer precisely
  what is taking place.
•Do ask for a glass of water - both a means of refreshing yourself and
	as a prop in emergencies.
•Do feel free to ask your interviewer in advance to cover specific point 
	that you would like to mention, such as dates / venues / times of
 	forthcoming gig... the availability of new singles/new CD's and release dates.
•Do think about three key points you wish to make and note them down
	on a card before you go in For the interview. Use them as memory aid
 	rather than reading them 'word for word'.
•Don't get into arguments with the interviewer.
•Do accept offers for make-up for TV interviews - the five minutes in
	the make-up room are a useful space for you to re-cap and revise precisely
 	what you are going to say.
•Don't give monosyllabic answers.
•Don't ramble on at great length.
•Don't nod your head for 'yes' or-'no' for radio. Similarly avoid
	'uh-huh', 'mmrn' and other grunting noises. Try to speak confidently and
	succinctly.
•Don't drink alcohol before the interview! You may be offered
	hospitality - wait until afterwards
•Don't use jargon.
•Don't swear on or off air. It could result in your contribution being
	abruptly curtailed or dropped altogether!
•Do record, listen/watch and discuss your appearance afterwards.

Pluggers and Press Agents
 
What is a Plugger?
 
A plugger's job is to persuade the people involved in playing records
on radio to play your single or CD. Many major record companies 
and music publishers employ their own  pluggers. 
There are also numerous independent pluggers who work directly with smaller
record labels and bands putting out their own material.
The role of the plugger is to spend a considerable amount of time
contacting the producers of radio and TV programmes and tapping 
opportunities for getting airplay. If  you're thinking of using an independent 
plugger, you can check out contacts in the music  industry's White Book 
(available in reference libraries). The plugger will either ask for a fixed 
fee for their work or their fee may be dependent on achieving successful 
airplay for your record.

Some pluggers ask for an amount of money per radio play e.g. $150 each
time a record is  broadcast plus chart bonuses. It is also common for 
some pluggers to ask for royalties in  addition to a small fee. 
Of course you could opt to do your own plugging which will involve
 lobbying producers, including making brief appointments to see them (if
your initial approach is successful).

What is a Press Agent?
 
A press agent's role is to get your band plenty of media coverage in
the print press.  He/she will be in regular contact with the music industry 
inkies and other music journalists. Once again, the press agent will charge 
you a fee or commission for the work. A cheaper option is to try to do this
work yourself. Bear in mind that an agent will already have built up a
wide range of media contacts and you will have to start from scratch. A
list of press agents can be found in the music industry's White Book.
Public relations companies also do press work for organisations and
individuals (see your local phone book).

Preparing for a Radio or Television Session

General Guidelines
Preparing for a radio session is essentially the some as preparing for
any recording studio session. The same general guidelines apply:-
   
	•The band should be well rehearsed so make sure you know the songs
	intimately - the solos, the harmonies, the intros and the endings.
	•Be well prepared. Don't put new strings on half and hour before
	you're due to play a	session.
	•If you're playing a live or prerecorded session on a local radio
	station, you may need to choose songs which are 'radio friendly'.
	If this is the case, pick songs which are instantly
	accessible. Complicated arrangements and 'twiddly diddly',self-indulgent 
	guitar solos get lost on radio. Keep the songs short and to the point -
	no longer than 5	minutes.
	•Work with the studio engineer. Build-up a respectful relationship.
	Don't get too precious - remember that the time for a recorded session is
	limited sokeep things tight.You won't have the luxury of spending hours 
	adjusting microphones	hoping to get, for example, a better kic
	k drum sound.
	•Be professional. Arrive on time. Never get abusive and don't be 
	over pedantic about details.
 
Other Points for Television

	•Once again choose song(s) which are relatively television friendly.
	Keep to songs which are under 5 minutes in length and avoid self-indulgent
	arrangements that go completely over the top. Think about the
	visual image of the band. Try to convey your image effectively.
	•Think about what will look good on television. This doesn't mean blowing 
	your budget on a new wardrobe, but think about what image you wont to
	project! In general, bold blocks of colors (reds/blues/greens/yellows) tend
	to work best on TV. Avoid checks or busy patterns which can look jarring
	and tend to cause a flickering effect on a TV screen.
	•Try find out what makes your live performance exciting
        - dynamism
        - movement
        - interplay between band members
        - etc.

written by Billy Tweedie ©2001 
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