7 Tips for Musicians Preparing for Media Interviews
Media interviews are one of the best ways to educate the public about who you are as a visionary and to do so in your own words. But interviews can be undoubtedly scary, especially if you’re just starting out in your career.
Artists spend most of their time writing songs, curating EPs, and building the perfect set to share in concert. Even if you’re introverted in social settings, when it comes to performing, you kill it — fearlessly.
Interviews on the other hand usually don’t feel so innate. It may be the feeling of being recorded or filmed, or knowing any ill-phrased sentences could seriously damage your career. In reality, media interviews are really just another type of performance.
If you put in the same amount of practice and preparation as you do when gearing up for a show, media interviews can be invaluable for earning new fans and generating buzz. We’re here to help you calm those pre-interview nerves with a few tried and true tips.
Articulate Your Brand
Just as a strong social media presence is vital when it comes to branding yourself and your music, the ability to simultaneously speak on that very brand — eloquently — is imperative to give your brand legitimacy and authenticity.
Whether you are a sultry, soulful songwriter or a raunchy, garage rock ensemble, you should strive to parallel your artistic vibe with your rhetoric. This means being confident and in-tune with your aesthetic persona. If you have a life outside of your music, it’s okay to distance yourself from your 9-5 identity to further embody and promote your artistic self.
Brainstorm keywords and phrases that correspond with your music to stay consistent with what you’re looking to foster as a musician, and keep those in mind when speaking to media. Also, think about who your influences are. While you want to set yourself apart from other artists, studying how your idols present themselves in interviews can be a source of inspiration.
At their core, interviews are merely conversations. If you are feeling skittish, remember that the interviewer probably feels the same.
Journalists and reporters are trained to maintain an uninterrupted conversation. They oftentimes will hold long pauses, as they know it will force you to continue spewing details to fill the awkward silence — don’t react to the pressure. It’s okay to take your time and think thoughtfully before you answer.
While the burden of conversational flow is ultimately up to the interviewer, don’t hesitate to ask them questions as well. As soon as you let go of the rigid expectations of what an interview is “supposed” to be, discussion flourishes and transcends into a two-way street, making for a much more authentic interview.
Be Honest and Mindful
It’s okay to shy away from being “politically correct” or pretending to champion causes you don’t truly care about. Readers and interviewers alike can see right through it.
That being said, remain mindful of the values and morals of your demographic. Outlandish characteristics can be interesting and whimsical, but being strange or outspoken simply for the sake of it is obvious and off-putting. If you need to divulge some less-than-PC information in order to make full sense, you can always tell the reporter that the information is “off the record.” This means they cannot, by all journalism ethical standards, share that information with anyone at any time.
Think about the ethical behavior and interests of your fanbase, and speak to those you have in common. Otherwise, you might find yourself the subject of an online witch hunt — and is getting your point across about the hot button topic of the day really worth putting your career in jeopardy? Probably not.
Bring the Whole Band
If you are in a multi-person band, try to get as many members involved in the interview. If some members are better at public speaking than others, discuss a game plan prior to the interview that includes who should lead the discussion, while the other band members add supporting details. If you’re doing a video interview, you don’t need to match but dress cohesively to appear as a unit.
This gives the consumer a sense of how your band interacts with one another, and that chemistry alone can be a huge help in attracting and engaging fans.
It’s important to be careful about which outlets you choose to speak to. Don’t just jump on any interview opportunity, even if you’re just starting out.
Research publications or channels before you get involved with one to ensure their policies and how they present themselves align with your personal ethics. Explore their demographic, values, and overall reach to ensure it’s a good fit and worth your time. Also research past stories from the journalist you’ll be speaking with; it can clue you in to what they may ask.
That being said, give smaller, local blogs a chance. You never know who those bloggers will work for in the future. Additionally, smaller blogs often have a much more dedicated following by their readers, making for potential dedicated fans.
Dealing With the Dreaded “Fresh Off a Set” Interview
Sweaty, shaken, and over-stimulated: your inevitable state of existence post-performance.
Being rushed by reporters after a set can be destabilizing. If you know you’re going to be asked questions right after a show, drink a little more water than beer during the performance. Liquid courage can be helpful, but there’s a thin line before it becomes hurtful.
Some form of meditation before you jam out on stage is not only beneficial for post-performance interviews, but for being mindful during the performance itself. One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re not fumbling over your interview post-performance is to relate all of your answers back to your set. It’s fresh on your mind, so it’s easy to circle back to all that you just accomplished.
Be Easy to Work With
Unless there is an emergency, be punctual to your interview. Frequent rescheduling is off-putting and can damage your reputation with future publications.
If you are doing an email interview, try to be grammatically correct. It’s ultimately their job to copyedit, but it certainly proves to the reporter that you are mindful of their tedious tasks. Journalists talk to one another, so being professional can help you out in the future.
So, the next time you are charged with nerves and butterflies prior to an interview, think back to these strategies, chill out, and relax. One good interview can pave the road to a career full of great ones (and one bad one usually won’t ruin you), so don’t let fear hold you back.