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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Attn Artists – It’s In The Approach
Friday, September 29, 2006

Every couple of months or so I like to dish out the free advice. I’ve been told this is something I could, and should, be charging for, but I’d rather give it out for free and hopefully help as many artists as possible. This time around I’m giving my five golden rules on approaching writers and radio DJs. OK, so maybe I’m also doing this a little for me, because when an artist is doing everything the right way in terms of the approach he or she makes life a lot easier on the writers and radio personalities of the world. Regardless, it’s free information from a seasoned veteran, so take a minute and see if you’ve been following these five major rules of networking.

Rule One: When making initial contact with a writer or radio personality don’t ask for anything from them other than a business card. Nothing is more aggravating than having an artist come up to you and immediately ask what you can do for them. Hello? I don’t know you, we just met, and you expect me to hook you up why? Keep it simple with your first conversation. Introduce yourself, talk about your work, be cordial, ask for a business card so you can get in contact with them and send them a CD, hand them a business card of your own, and if you have an interesting life story don’t be afraid to tell the sixty second version of it. This leads to the next two commandments.

Rule Two: Sometimes it’s better to wait and mail out a CD than to hand one out. If you’ve made initial contact with a writer or radio DJ you may not want to hand them your CD that night. A lot of artists hand writers and DJs CD’s on a daily basis, especially at events. Do you want your album thrown in a pile that may never get listened to? Didn’t think so. Email the writer or DJ you met the next day saying it was great to meet them and that you’ll be mailing your album / single / 12 inch out to them. Make sure you include a short note with whatever you send in the mail reiterating where you two met and thanking them for taking the time to listen to your work.

Rule Three: Always have sixty seconds version of your best stories. Everyone is guilty of going on and on with a story once in a while, but when you first meet with a writer or DJ this is not the right time for embellishment. Keep it simple. As a writer I love an interesting story, so if the conversation lends itself to story time hit me with something spectacular and quick. It’s more than likely there are other artists wherever we are so make your impression and then continue to network. You have the business card of the person you’re talking with, you can always continue a story, or expand on one, at another time. Of course if your life has been fairly regular you might want to skip the sixty second life story altogether in lieu of something more interesting, maybe a story about how the music scene is in your area, or something political going on where you’re from, basically anything to show that you’re not just another rapper.

Rule Four: Once you’ve made initial contact learn something about the writer or DJ you just met. Nothing is more infuriating than an artist asking for a write up or a radio guest appearance that doesn’t know what magazines I write for or when my radio show is on. These are really simple things to find out. If all else fails, ask in your email to them where you can find their work. If you want them to do research on you and listen to your music you should be putting in a little bit of time finding out about them. It makes a writer feel great when you can tell them you read an article they wrote, or picked up an issue they had something in. It’s also nice to find out an artist has actually listened to the radio show they’re trying to get on and can mention something he or she heard on air. Five minutes of listening, that’s all it takes to say “yeah, you played that hot new joint from Plastic Little. I love that song!”

Rule Five: Find the fine line between being ambitious and being annoying and don’t ever cross it. Occasionally an artist will become a bugaboo. They will call every day, they will email constantly, they will make you not want to deal with them at all based not on their persistence but on the way they persist. Take it easy, we’re all busy here, you included. If you spend all your waking moments chasing one person all it makes that person think is that you have no other leads and nobody else you’re working with. After you mail out your CD to the person you were networking with send him a quick email letting him know it’s in the mail. Most mailings, unless their cross-country, make it to their destination within a few days. If you haven’t heard from back regarding your package in four or five days, send another friendly note inquiring whether or not your CD has arrived yet.

That’s all the info I’m dishing out this time around. Will you occasionally meet an asshole writer or DJ? Hell yeah, but don’t become and asshole because of that. Remember, most everyone would rather deal with a professional MC who may not be the greatest on the mic than a top notch lyricist who’s an asshole. Keep cool, follow the rules, and you’ll hook more writers and DJs than you can ever imagine.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:11 AM  
  • At 10:25 AM, Anonymous masterofself said…

    Man these are some good tips. A lot of artist, myself included, need all the help they can get to stand out from the next artist. Thanks fam.

  • At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    These tips speak to arrogance and the lack of connectedness among original men and women. They are catered to the sniveling, obsequious, flat world of entertainment-selling instead of appealing to the true needs of an artist. I hate those music 'summits' charging $400 for advice on how to 'get in the door' or even the airs that those 'in the door' have put on. When did we start ranking procedures and efficiency over the human spirit? These tips give me the same feeling I get when I hear someone use the term 'the industry.' Carefully dismount from the high horse, Adam. I don't think that's you. I think you have true love for any and all people who create music and this is not a reflection of those sentiments.

  • At 3:25 PM, Blogger Adam said…

    Hey Anonymous, thanks for reading (next time please post your name). I wholeheartedly agree that those music summits are nothing more than scam, but I have to contend with your points, however. You note "appealing to the true needs of an artist," but make no mention of those artists needing to appeal to the needs of the people THEY'RE dealing with. My main point with all of this is that it's a two way street. If an artist wants to connect with a writer or DJ they have to come correct. You'd be shocked with the kind of stuff I've dealt with over the years. From artists I've never met straight up demanding I get them in magazines, to artists asking to be on one of my radio shows then in the next breath asking what station I'm on. I think the "human spirit" only applies if folks are truly acting like human beings. Plus when you're receving 20 or more albums a week and your cell phone is blowing up with some MC he's never heard of but "got yo number from my mans" you'd lvoe to see some business etiquette in lieu of the "human spirit."

  • At 3:26 PM, Blogger Adam said…

    And I should spell check my comments. Blah!

  • At 5:00 PM, Blogger Conscious said…

    you're joking right?

    Anyway, great post Adam coming a writer and an artist.

    Looks like you have a fan.

  • At 5:28 PM, Blogger audio1 said…

    Great post. Im no big DJ at all but Im constantly hounded and even threatened at times by artists for not pushing their material. I aint clear channel, assholes... My rule is simple... If its dope, Ill play. I ask no more or less. Artists also need to learn to handle constructive critism, instead of taking the "fuck you, you aint feeling my shit, my shit is john blaze" route. Too much ego in the game can mess with an artists' perception. Sometimes the music is good but it lacks something. Dont take it personal. I would add that as another rule. You know its 2006 when writers and DJ's get beatdown for turning down music.

  • At 4:20 PM, Blogger Adam said…

    Audio1, thanks for the comment. That's another hugely important rule you pointed out. Way too many artists are gassed up by their friends and family to the point where they really feel everything they do is great and can't take any sort of criticism, constructive or otherwise.

    I also think when an artist beefs with a writer or a DJ over criticism it once again shows how few contacts they really have. If an artist works hard and has a ton of people he or she is shopping their music to they take "no" much better than the dude from around the way who only knows three people and isn't out there networking to find more. It all goes back to working hard.

  • At 10:30 AM, Blogger Ketchums said…

    You're the man for posting this. I may make an entire entry just linking to this shit (lol). All of the rules are on point, so good job.

  • At 4:33 PM, Blogger Freed said…

    Very real. The calm yet ambitous way I go about business has opened a lot of doors. Good read.

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