Music News

Fan Landers: Should My Band Hire a Publicist?

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Dear E.M., It's good you're facing your fear now because your hunch is correct: Your record is probably going to languish among your friends and existing fans. Even if you are totally awesome, which maybe you are, that is just kind of how it goes. You are a small local band still.

Also, your music is not that weird. Some of your reference points are bands that have had hits now and again. "Weird" is Keiji Haino doing a side of thumb piano and washing machine; weird is relative and makes you sound hyperbolic. Purge this idea that you are too out there to be fully understood; it's tripping you up needlessly. It's the sort of idea that lodges in your artist brain and will make you bitter over time. You'll end up sounding like Jim O'Rourke in that interview he did with The Wire about how he was expatriating because no one in Chicago knew about super-obscure British folk music; how no one gets you is a sad trope.

The other thing that's tripping you up? This idea that if you do x, then you will automatically get a particular fixed result. That's one of the myths of being in a band. And also of just being alive in general. You could hire a really fancy publicist that knows all the right people and get you some really good reviews in secondary market weeklies and a two-line review in Men's Health and a Brooklyn Vegan post. And then you are out $6,000 -- give or take a grand -- and nothing has changed or gotten easier. The main difference is now you have a press kit.

Another problem is that it's an EP. A lot of writers don't often care about or cover EPs; I myself am one of those people. For a recent example of a famous musician issuing an EP and people barely giving a shit, see Lana Del Rey. How many EPs are in your iPod at this very moment? Be honest. How many times this years did someone say to you "Oh, my god, I loved their EP!" and they weren't talking about Angel Haze? I understand that sometimes doing an EP instead of an album is a matter of money, but its 2012, you can find a way to do it for free or very cheap. I think the nature of how we consume music means you need to either make it a single or make it an LP. An EP can read as a lack of commitment or that you are a band with only three good songs. Exception to that rule being that it's all covers, or it's a tribute or themed around a holiday like Arbor Day or Lincoln's Birthday.

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Jessica Hopper
Contact: Jessica Hopper