As a musician, when your music becomes popular, people are going to want to know more about it - hence the music industry interview. Interviews aren't like tests. You should know the answers to the questions before they're even asked, because they're all about you, right? Who is a bigger expert in you than you?
Well, at least that is the way it goes in theory. In reality, an interview is a conversation with an agenda, and it is easier than you may think to miss out on what you're trying to accomplish - i.e., the promotion of your work. In fact, some interviews can go so badly that your chances for future press are substantially diminished. Before you sit down with that music business journalist, get ready with these five tips.
1. Do Your Homework
Sure, you know when you were born and where you grew up. But do you remember where and when you played your first gig? When you recorded your sixth song? The name of that venue in St. Paul? If you're a music biz newcomer, your relatively short musical past works in your favor, but when you've been at this a long time, the details can get a little fuzzy. Music journalists will research you before they write their questions, and they may come up with a question that seems important to them about a point that seems relatively trivial to you - so trivial that you can't really recall all the specifics.
Although it's not a huge deal to admit you don't remember what color socks you were wearing at your fourth show, it's good to spend a little time refreshing your memory about your music timeline so you can paint as full a picture about your music as possible. The more info you can give them, the longer the story they can write about you - very good for moving some units.
2. Know the Agenda
Remember that point about interviews not just being conversations but being agenda driven chats? Well, know what your agenda is going in. Do you have a new album to promote? A tour? Are you working on a Tone Loc covers album? Be ready to steer the conversation in that direction. You may have a limited time to talk to the interviewer, so make sure you don't waste your entire allotted time talking about the new tricks you taught your dog. Have a few talking points in mind and work them into the conversation.
Incidentally, the agenda should never involve bad mouthing people. Got beef with your old label/producer/manager/drummer? Take it to them, not the media.
3. Stick to the Schedule
If you're doing a major press campaign, you may have several interviews lined up back to back, in which case, sticking to the schedule is incredibly important. Shortchanging a journalist on their due time could impact the press you get in that publication - in fact, if you can't give someone their time, you may not get a story at all.
Even if you just have one interview lined up, be on time for the meeting or call. If you're going to be late or something comes up, reschedule ASAP. Don't just blow off an interview and don't just assume it is cool for you to call two hours late. Emergencies do happen, but a little communication means the difference between still ending up with some good press and building a reputation for being unreliable.
4. Have Dress Rehearsal
You know how you sometimes spend some time planning what to say before you make an important phone call? Do the same thing before an interview. You can't anticipate every question, but there are some things you can usually bank on coming up, like the inspiration for your songs, how you write, where you recorded, how this record is different from past releases, and so on. Before you sit down for the real deal, consider how you will answer those questions so you're ready for them. Being armed with some good answers will let you relax into the interview and will help you make sure you your intended message across.
5. Be Nice
In a perfect world, it would go without saying that you should be nice to the person who is interviewing you - both out of a basic sense of decency and out of the desire for some positive press - but the world is not perfect. Don't be sarcastic, don't sound bored, don't treat them like their questions are the dumbest things you've ever heard (even if they are) and remember that they are helping you to sell your music. Hundreds - wait, no, make that THOUSANDS - of musicians are dying to be interviewed. It doesn't have to be you. Play your cards wrong, and it won't be again.
This rule is especially important to keep in mind when you are being interviewed as a band rather than individually. It's pretty easy when you're hanging with friends to get an "us against them" attitude, but like most things in the music biz (and in life), you catch more flies with honey. Plus, what may seem hilarious to you at the time will almost always make you look like a moron when the story is relayed in print. Real talk. Keep in mind that the person writing about you will ALWAYS have the last word.
A "thank you" after the interview never hurt anyone, either.