No One Reads Press Releases Anymore

Arts journalists want a story

No one reads press releases any more.

Hardly anyone reads press releases any more.

It’s harder and harder to get a story in a major print publication.

Newspapers and magazines are dropping classical music coverage.

Some radio stations and national radio networks are resisting the predictable “Come in and tell me about your new recording” Interview.

They want more.

 Arts Journalists want a story. All Journalists want to tell a story.

 Your story, whether it’s the personal reason you’ve chosen to record the music on your disc or the compelling story of the music and its composer.

 The story that will bring us closer to you…or the music; the story that will directly connect you with your audience so they can know you better.

 The story that will make them more interested and fascinated by you.

 The story that might make them like you.

 All art is personal…people listening to your music one person at a time.

Storytelling…Your true story. That’s how to get on the radio, how to appear in print, sell CDs (and files) and fill seats in the hall.

Here are some additional thoughts on how to stand out and stand apart from the crowd.

Get the Interview.

Get the Interview

Pitching to Journalists 

By now you know…Almost nobody reads press releases anymore.

Pitching to journalist has become harder and harder to get your story n a major print publication.

Newspapers and magazines are dropping classical music coverage.

Journalists, radio stations, national radio networks and other national platforms are resisting the predictable “Come in and tell me about your new recording” Interview.

How do you get media attention?  Let’s put the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker aside for now.

Have you ever been in an elevator or in line at Starbucks and one of your heroes, or someone you always dreamed of working for, gets in the elevator and stands right next to you?

You have roughly 30 – 40 seconds to tell them your story, aka the “Elevator Pitch.”

Would you be ready to tell them or any journalist your story?

What would you say?

What would you say in those first 30 – 40 seconds to “earn” an additional 30 seconds?

Do you have a bio, or do you have a story?

Creating Awareness

These days, “media” can be anyone or anything. You have friends in high places.

How else do you pitch to the media?

Interesting and provocative email subject lines, pictures and short videos.
I'll Be Brief Part 1

Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone knows how to tell that story. Let’s find your story and craft it into a 30 – 40 second movie in technicolor.

Crush the Interview

Crush the Interview

Crush the Interview

Meet the Arts Reporter and the Interviewer

When you sit down to meet the press for your interview, you will meet one or more of the following interviewer types.

·       the “Highly Adept Interviewer” (Your dream come true)

 ·       the “Generalist Interviewer”

 ·       the “Unprepared Interviewer”

 ·       the “Clueless Interviewer”

 ·       the “Over Prepared” and “Long Question Interviewer”

·       the “Showoff Interviewer”

Regrettably, I have been each of those characters listed above and too many more. I will be happy to show you successful interview techniques to help you prepare for each interview character to ensure you can comfortably and confidently make a strong, memorable impression.

Here’s a preview: silence is golden, and thirty seconds of preparation will put your interview on the right track.  Ask me about it. 

When you gain insight into the interviewer: who they are, what type of interviewer they are, and the best way you can help them, you’ll be in a powerful position crush the interview.

Let’s talk about how to successful interview techniques you can use to prepare for interviews with the interviewer profiles above.  I’ll also share the big mistake you can avoid at the beginning of the interview and the four magic words to raise your profile when you pitch yourself as an interview subject.

The Latest Threats to the Future of Classical Music Concert Going


The Latest Threats to the Future of Orchestra Concerts

 In the Beginning

1) The preconcert talk…the Preconcert Lecture…that starts at the exact time the orchestra concert is scheduled to begin.

2) The 10 minute “Thank the donor, audience welcome and solicitation” speech that takes place at the exact time the concert is supposed to begin.

Sometimes concert going feels like going to the movies for a 7 pm screening, but the show actually begins at 7:20 after the previews and popcorn and soft drink ads

In the Beginning

I’m sure we all agree that preconcert talks and preconcert lectures can be informative, entertaining and enhance the concert experience that’s about to come.

It’s always important to thank the donor(s), especially if it’s in the contract-agreement.

And a quick hello from the stage is another important face-time moment.

Think about your audience, and the time, effort and planning that went in to getting to your concert on time.  

Maybe there was terrible traffic on the way, maybe the baby sitter was late to arrive, or maybe there was trouble finding a place to park.  But, they made it to their seats at 7:59, stressed, but ready to hear your music. Let’s get it started.

And from the orchestra and performer’s perspective, oboe, clarinet and bassoon reeds are getting dry, instruments are getting cold…and the mental preparation (and associated nerves) required to play the big trumpet solo in the beginning of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 has to be extended an additional ten minutes.

I know you’re a professional, and you know how to coolly and competently deal with the delayed beginning – that’s the gig. 

But why make your audience wait for the Main Event? Let’s get it started…on time, as promised.

(Composer Jennifer Higdon recently told me that several orchestras now project donor thank yous, current and future concert event information and other important information on a screen above the stage in a continuous loop before the concert. . In so doing, the VIP names andnews can be viewed mutiltiple times before the concert begins, an those concerts now begin on time. Win Win for everyone.)

Pain No Gain

Ballet 4.jpg

 Pain No Game

 I recently moderated a session at the Peabody Institute of Music: “Why Health for Performing Artists Matters,” addressing the impacts of performance related injury and illness on individual performance careers, arts organizations, and teaching and learning.

Participants included someone who knows the subject all too well, pianist Leon Fleisher. Soprano Elizabeth Futrell and dance instructor Danah Bella were also on the panel.

Here was the shocker for me: “upwards of 70 - 90% of professional musicians face playing-related health challenges, and the average length of time before seeking medical help is 5 years.

5 years?!?

My first question for the panel was, what is the first sign you might have an injury. What is the indicator that things might be amiss, and need to be addressed sooner, rather than a professional? Sooner, as in immediately.

“Pain,” replied Mr. Fleischer.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Are you experiencing practice related pain?

Leaving blood on the keyboard or other instrument keys might not be a sign that you are doing things “right,” and that this is “normal.”

Does that sound like anyone you know?

In our culture of “no pain, no gain,” anecdotal data finds that “there is considerable shame and stigma, as well as fear of career repercussions, associated with open, honest dialogue in this area.”

When I asked the Peabody students in attendance if they were afraid to tell their teachers they were experiencing performance and practice related pain, a shocking number of those present raised their hands.

One student revealed that he was afraid that if he made it known he was injured, he would be passed over for performing opportunities.

Does that sound like anyone you know?

Maybe the days of 6-hour practice sessions are over. Practicing a phrase over and over, as we are all taught to do, puts you at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive motion disorders (RMDs).

Maybe it’s time to look for ways to practice more productively in shorter time frames. It could benefit your creative and healthy well-being in dramatic ways.

I’ve interviewed a number of musicians who after giving birth told me about how they merged the reality of motherhood and their active performing career.

“When my baby was born, I found that I only had 20 minutes to do what was best for me: My choices were, should I take a nap, should I take a shower or should I practice?”

What these new parents ultimately discovered was that they now had to get 2, 4 or 6 hours of productive practicing done in 20 minutes.  They found out they could be remarkably productive in 20 minutes by becoming more mindful about how they practiced.

“I had no other choice.”

Even if you are not the parent of a new born, there might be a practice routine game change that will reduce the risk of a repetitive motion disorder (RMDs) like carpal tunnel syndrome, and generate a better performing life style that will benefit your performing life now and forever.

Are you in physical pain related to your desire to nail the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 or to crush the Sibelius Violin Concerto?

The Peabody Panel assured those in attendance that teachers and coaches have had their own day of reckoning and revelation.  Their world has changed, and they now take your pain seriously. They now understand the realities of pain no gain.

Each panelist repeatedly stressed it’s not how long you practice…t’s how you practice.

Here’s my pitch: In the uncertain and divisive world in which we live, your artistic gifts have never been more important and more necessary. You won’t make the world a better place and enjoy artistic and career fulfillment, as all great artists do, if you are experiencing physical practice and performance related pain.

Please don’t wait five years. Pain no gain.

The world will thank you for it.

How to not get your music heard; how to not pitch to the media and other protocol violations

When you send out a pitch to the media, I recommend you not…

1. Send a long pitch via Facebook messenger, email or text message to someone you do not know.

2. Ask the pitch receiver, who does not know you, to give you a call during your initial interactions.

3. Ask the pitch receiver, who does not know you, to view or listen to your attached files during your first encounter.

4. Is your project authentically classical? Just because the recording or performance includes a string quartet, or the artist was classically trained, does not automatically make it classical (see E below).

When you send out a pitch to the media, I recommend you…

A. Develop your relationships with Arts Reporters and Journalists slowly over time.

B. Briefly introduce yourself and ask if he or she would be willing to chat with you about a specific subject (see No. 2).

C. Easy does it on the follow up (see A). Remember, they don’t know you yet.

D. On the phone, always ask the receiver, especially print journalists, “Are you on deadline?”

E. Is your project classical?  Close to classical? (See 4 above.)  Be brief if you are asking the pitch receiver to recommend someone else to hear your non-classical music project. (We do love passing on new artist information to our colleagues.)

F. Have someone else make the introductions to the person(s) you want to reach.

Let’s talk about protocol and putting your best foot and notes forward. First impressions are lasting impressions.