Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls’ Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her — confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
Is it weird to hit up music writers, bands or venues on Twitter with links to your music? I see other bands do this a lot and I’m wondering if this works.
It’s no weirder than anything else that happens on Twitter most of the time. I get these same tweets you describe, and the vast majority of the time it’s spammy self-promotion for mix tapes or middle aged blues artists; I get the sense that they are just hitting people who came up in their “music editor” searches on Twitter bios. I ignore them. Anyone working in music gets at least a few of these emails or tweets every day, asking them to “just give a listen” and that the band just wants your “opinion.” No one’s opinion will actually help your band. And you probably do not want my opinion unless you are looking for someone to tell you that what you are doing is godawful, or that it sounds like weaksauce Lil Durk, that you should give that toy piano back to the baby that owns it or that there are better ways to express your fandom of Jason Mraz than making entire albums derivative of his work. What would that help? No one really wants just an opinion, they have vague dreams that the right person can pluck them from obscurity; alas life is not A Star Is Born.
If you are hitting up someone on Twitter with hopes they will listen to it: Do not tell them they would love it. Do not tell them you are blowing up. Do not hit them up every day. Do not beg. Do not tell them it’s a free download (what isn’t a free download in 2014?). Give them a reason in those 140 characters, or give them a little info, or a little humanity. Tell them you are a basement band from Kansas. Or a basement band that sounds like Kansas. Tell them you were inspired by their work on the Annie soundtrack. Tell them this song is inspired by The Sea Wolf. Anything to help distinguish yourself from the desperate hordes of other folks who are hounding them with pleas of “Please listen to my demo!”
Keep the hard sell spam vibes (and hashtags) to a minimum and you might actually get the courtesy of a listen. But don’t put too much effort into this pursuit.