Interviews! How NOT to fail when talking to the press

Today’s music industry is a fascinating thing: everything is highly in demand, easily accessible, and available instantly, and this is all thanks to this generation’s huge dependence on the Internet and the media. Social media has taken over the world, as we all know, and is a wonderful tool for up and coming artists to promote themselves, their music and their live shows all from the comfort of their own bed via their laptop.

 

“what about when you find yourself

in a situation as an artist where

you can’t hide behind your

keyboard anymore”

But what about when you find yourself in a situation as an artist where you can’t hide behind your keyboard anymore, and you have to go and do the promoting live, unedited and completely on the spot? That’s right, in today’s topic, we are delving into how to handle a more traditional media platform: the press.

Whether it be newspapers, radio, or television, all of these media platforms are still very much in high demand in 2017, and they are something that musicians, artists or performers may have to face at some point in their careers as a form of promotion for their latest project. These types of media platforms are almost always (in my experience) presented to you in the form of an interview *gulp*, and it can be a seriously daunting feeling when you have someone asking you (sometimes very tricky) questions live on air for thousands of listeners, viewers and consumers, especially if you’re working on a project that isn’t your own, or your promoting on behalf on an entire production company.

TIP 1

In my personal experience, the trick to getting through these interviews is to kind of become a little bit of an actor for the day. The number one absolute key trick to getting an interview right is to be confident, as the media unfortunately do love to prey on the weak in order to get the juiciest article or broadcast for themselves. If you go into a studio and you’re fidgeting, biting your nails, and “ummming” and “errrrring” the whole time, the interviewer will probably try and make a fool of you by trying to catch you off guard, because they know you’re likely to crumble. Always stand tall, sit still, breathe deep and compose yourself as best you can, even if you have to fake it. This will instantly make you appear like you know what you’re doing and the interviewer is far more likely to be kind to you.

TIP 2

The second “acting” tip for press interviews is to prepare your “lines” (i.e. your answers) before your go in. From my personal experience, you are almost always likely to be asked at least one of the following questions in some format:

• Tell us the inspiration behind this project.

• What does this project mean to you?

• Give us some background on what it is you’re doing and how you got started- what help/training have you had and how far have you come?

• Where can the public access what you’re working on? (- make sure you have any links, dates or details memorised to a tee, you do not want to be getting this wrong live on air as you’ll do yourself no favours, and probably look a bit of a numpty)

• Why is what you’re doing relevant and why should people bother going to search for you once this interview is over?

If you can go in with a pretty thorough idea of how you would answer these questions, I think it’s safe to say you will be pretty much covered for all of the important stuff.

Interviewers may occasionally throw in a cheeky question that will try and get you to spill some gossip, or a detail that they shouldn’t be fishing for. In these instances, it’s best to laugh it off, and trying and redirect the question back to something more positive, even if you think it would be funny or honest to dish the dirt: these kinds of things can often send out the wrong message about you as a person which is never good promotion in the long run.

Example:

Interviewer: “So, your band having an upcoming tour, which band member gets on everyone’s nerves on the road?”

​​​​You: *laughs* Oh, well I’m sure the band members are dying to know this one! No seriously, the band are like one huge happy family and we are each others biggest supports on the road, and I think this stems from how much we bonded over writing the new album, in fact the opening track was inspired by…. and then you revert back to talking about your amazing new album and why everyone should buy it.

All of your answers should always try to paint your project in the best possible light, even if not everything has gone to plan… always focus on the good features, a little bit like you’re trying to sell a product.

“answers should always try to paint your project in the best possible light”

“always focus on the good features”

Another thing to bear in mind: only give the interviewer what they have asked for. If you are booked for a radio interview to promote your new EP, and they ask you to perform 2 tracks live on the air, and then you get there, and they exclaim how fantastic you are and say “Oh you must play us a third song!”- My advice would be, if you don’t have a third song completely 100% prepared, then try and get out of it. This can be difficult, especially if the interviewer is someone of a fairly high profile, but it can be crippling to perform a song that isn’t prepared and flops live on the air- it can ruin your entire interview (this has happened to me! And believe me…. Not fun at all). If you agreed two songs, then stick to two. There’s nothing wrong with the old “Ah, well if the listeners at home want a third one, they can buy tickets for my show here!”, even if it is a bit tongue-in-cheek.

I hope this article has helped you understand a little bit more of what to expect from a press interview… they can be high pressure situations, but if it all goes right for you on the day, they can be a highly rewarding experience filled with adrenaline and excitement… and also a super cool way to experience other aspects of the media beside Facebook and Instagram!

Happy promoting!

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