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Playing The Game : A Guide To Press Releases For Independent Artists

I get plenty of acts asking me how they can promote their next show or their new release. I always give the same answer; “Get yourself a PR”. And the bands always give the same answers to me; “We can’t afford it” or “We don’t know how to do it”. PR is pricey, no doubt, but you’ll get nowhere without it. Nothing will be written about you, or your music, if you don’t have one. That’s the reality of the situation. If you are not willing to spend money promoting your music, then you are not serious about it. Get out now and save the time and effort for yourself and for us.

But if you are genuinely strapped, and are in this for the long haul, then I’ll get you started. I will now show you how to write a Press Release that will get published. In an ideal world, the music would speak for itself but that is not good enough. All of your favourite bands have great PR behind them. Even the ones that say they don’t.

So you have booked your headline show, or have your single/EP/album ready for release. We’ll do this for a single but the format is identical for any circumstance.

First write yourself a headline, which includes the name of your band. It can be a pun, or make a point, or be whatever you want, as long as it is short and publishable. A simple [BAND NAME Release ‘SINGLE TITLE’] will do nicely.

 Next, copy in a picture of the band or the single cover (gig poster if relevant). Put it in the body of the email. You can put a link, attachment, or dropbox link in as well, but the one in the body of the email is probably the one that will get used.

 Next put a link to the song on YouTube and Soundcloud. These are the most commonly used and most easily embedded media for websites. You can include the Spotify/ Bandcamp/ etc if you like. Don’t use a tinyURL or anything, post the exact link. Writers and editors can then embed them whichever way their particular website works.

 Then tell us about the single. When is it coming out? Is it from an album? Is it following up another single? Does it rock hard? Is it a booty shaker? Is it a rip-roaring party record? Is it super serious subject matter? We don’t know, and the readers won’t know unless you tell us. So tell us.

 Next, tell us about your band. We don’t need your life story but describe your sound in 10 words. Where are you based? Have you released anything before or is this your debut single? Tell us that [OUR BAND have played FESTIVAL NAMES, as well as playing VENUE NAMES, and have shared stages with BANDS THAT PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE HEARD OF].

 Next, tell us if you have any planned future releases or gigs to promote the single.

 Next, a member of the band should tell us a bit about the single. What is it about? What happened when you were recording it? Did you work with anyone interesting while making it? E.g. [BAND MEMBER JOE BLOGGS says of the new single “we had a great time recording it. It’s a song that means a lot to us because X. Working in STUDIO NAME was a great honour. We could feel the history of those other bands that recorded there]”.

This whole thing should be 200-500 words. That’s all we need. If you follow those instructions and then send that press release to every blog, paper and magazine that you can think of, you will get coverage (unless you are very unlucky, or your music is totally unlistenable). Then you’ll have a quote or two for your next poster or PR campaign; “[A Rip-Roaring Party Record - Musos’ Guide]”.

It may seem disingenuous or phoney, but this is the game. And if you don’t play by the rules, your band will fail. You can start by writing one about your next release or gig and sending it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Good luck!

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Kaveh Afagh, Milad Tower International Convention Centre, Tehran

For the first time in the world, an Iranian rock star improvised a piece of music in a live concert in Tehran, attended by an audience of nearly 2,000 eager fans.

Recently, the rock star Kaveh Afagh performed a concert in the Milad Tower International Convention Centre and managed to improvise a piece of music after realising that the crowd were repeating his song ‘Shawl’ precisely.

 “When the people started singing ‘Shawl’ (by far Afagh’s best known song) and I saw how well & in time they were doing so, suddenly it struck me I should make melodies with the audience, to interact and improvise on the basic structure. The new piece will appear on my next album,” he said.

Kaveh Afagh is an Iranian rock singer who started his professional music career in 2000.

He is the founder of The Ways rock group and has previously been banned from performing and recording for 10 years.

During that decade the other members of The Ways all left Iran but Afagh, having weathered the storm, became the first musician of his kind to gain an official state license to perform.

Along with Kaveh Yaghmaei and Reza Yazdani, Kaveh Afagh is one of  the most popular rock singers in Iran now.

Due to the paucity of such singers in Iran, they generate a lot of energy and excitement in their audiences and their concert performances are extremely popular with the public.

This recent concert of Afagh's came after the release of his new album Shawl, and was wildly welcomed by his fans. Traditional styles of music and their performers are the generally acceptable face of music in Iran at this time so this show, and the improvisational element of the event in particular, were a real treat for the small but growing number of rock fans in the country.

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Bearded Theory Preview : Musos' Guide Chats With Winachi Tribe

Bearded Theory Spring Gathering is back at its iconic home of Catton Park nestled in the National Forest for their 11th outing. They have six main music stages being The Pallet, Magical Sounds, Woodland, Maui Waui, Convoy Cabaret and One Big Showcase. They have several smaller venues including Something Else Tea Tent, The Ship, Rogues Hideout, Magic Teapot, Alpaca, Creative Intentions to name just a few. We’ll be live tweeting Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (@musosguide), as well as bringing you reviews from all three days here at Musos' Guide.

The line-up is pretty great with legends like Robert Plant, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Jimmy Cliff, The Membranes and Therapy? Other festival staples like Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Jesus Jones, The Coral and Altern-8 join the relative newcomers like Sleaford Mods, Idles, Jake Bugg, Rews, Pins and The Winachi Tribe for a very promising three days of dancing and merriment.

The Winachis are headlining the Showcase stage on Saturday night, and we spoke with singer Liam Croker about the festival, headliner Robert Plant, and the band’s adventures in Hollywood.

Bearded Theory festival is one of our big dates. It’s one I’ve been wanting to go to. It’s really eclectic. The line up this year is mind blowing. I was thinking about going anyway just to watch the bands. We got an email form the Academy Of Music And Sound and we’d been picked out of 2000 applicants to headline their stage on Saturday night at Bearded Theory and wow, what an honour that is! From planning to go and watch to headlining one of the stages, we’re over the moon. It’s the introducing stage. We’re at that point now where we’re headlining those sort of stages. We’ve been around for about 3 and a half years now. We’re getting to that point where we’re headlining these stages and looking to break in to the bigger ones too.

I saw Robert Plant in March in Hollywood. We were touring in California and our manager and sound engineer brought us to see him in this really small theatre. There were only about 300 people in this wee theatre with Robert Plant. It was surreal. He was amazing. He’s still got it. And he had a pair of really tight pants on so it looked like he had a massive chopper. What a dude!

It’s been a hell of year. We went out to America in March and came home to play two really big home town shows and we just did a massive show in Warrington town centre last weekend. It was the Warrington Music Festival. Us and Fun Lovin’ Criminals were the two main acts. We did that on Saturday. We don’t get to play our home town much so it turned into a big carnival. Now we’re gearing up to do a full UK tour from May until September.

The first time we went out to America, we were working with Danny Saber, the producer. He’d worked with Black Grape, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie. We were working with Danny when we met Harry (Bridgen). Then Harry came on board and has been managing the band since.

We went back out here in 2016. We did the video for our single a room with a zoo with Tommy Flanagan from Sons Of Anarchy. Tommy’s a fan of the band. Our manager says Tommy approached him about being in the video. He said he had a little break in his schedule and if you can get the lads to LA within this time, I’d be able to do it. Tommy was great to work with. It looks like I’m riding through the desert on the back of that horse but that’s Tommy’s garden. It’s fucking enormous. That’s his actual horse too. It’s called Zeus. The video for ‘A Room With A Zoo’ and the horse is called Zeus, quite an interesting coincidence. The first scenes are done in East LA, in a rough neighbourhood, in a warehouse. The Tommy scenes were done at his ranch in Malibu. His next door neighbour is Will Smith or somebody. I went from a council estate in Warrington to being on a back of a big white horse in Tommy Flanagan’s back garden within a week. The craziest Tuesday afternoon I ever had. What an experience!

And then we went back again in March of this year and did a tour of California. We got a new guitarist and his first show was headlining The Harvard And Stone at Hollywood Boulevard, no pressure there! His name is Mike Bee. I’ve known Mike since we were in our late teens, a long time. Our old guitarist, Jamie, had to leave and Mike stepped in. It’s been a very easy transition into the band. We broke him in in America and he’s coming out with us again. It’s all good.

 

The equipment company, Behringer, we did a live session for them which you can see on YouTube. They launched a new series called artist profiles. They get a new artist and you talk about your career and stuff. We launched that series while we were in LA. It was an honour. We are going back. I can’t go into it too much but this year we’ll be back in LA for another round. While we were out there we did some work in the studio with a producer called John X. He’s worked with Danny, with all those big names. We did a track with him called ‘Funky But Chic’ and we’ll be launching that back in the States. In the coming months, all will be revealed.”

Bearded Theory runs May 24 - 27 and tickets are available here.

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The Cosmic Dead To Undergo Line-up Change

Noticing last week that The Cosmic Dead are playing MONO in Glasgow on May 12 I nipped on to bandcamp to see if there was a new release being supported. There's not so I bought a t-shirt instead.

A click on the band's own website, however, revealed the news that the gig's the final one with the current line-up, with two members set to move on after it. Seeing as The Cosmic Dead are one of the few acts in Scotland, let alone the rest of the UK, which I've been keen to see regularly in the past five or so years (shows such as this one being reason enough) this selfishly struck me as a shame (+ I can't make it through West on Saturday) but change is inevitable and replacements are obviously in the frame as other live dates are listed (including a set at Doune The Rabbit Hole) so thanks and all the best lads.

In their own words here's the duo's statement:-

"After 7/8 years of brotherhood on the road, in the studio, self-destroying, self-empowering, thrashing, trashing, howling and screaming - the time has come for change. I know what you're thinking - 'change is scary, I don't like change' - that's OK, but remember the waves never stop coming whether they're just washing over you or crashing down over your little floating lylo - Don't fight it too hard and you'll soon float right back to the surface.

The news is: Myself (Lewis) and Julian are leaving The Cosmic Dead in an act of metaphorical self-immolation: An act of devotion to the thing and people we've both held so close, that has defined most of our adult life, that has taken us across continents, that has connected us with the most beautiful lifelong friends all over the world, that has taken us to the plateaued peaks of human love and shown us the darkness that can lie beneath, that has allowed us to transcend these fleshy bodies so many times and be with everyone in that room together and whole - one big flame burning up to the heavens - passion, tears, blood, spirit and most importantly, love.

And it is with this feeling in our hearts, these experiences which will never leave us, that we each move on to the next zone - As our bodies burn, the energy released is a devotion to our eternal brothers, Omar and James, who will continue bounding boldly on this path we all carved together, recruiting new members, and taking the Cosmic Dead into it's next chapter.

The Cosmic Dead live on in this zone and in the next.
In the distance the calling is loud but unclear: Julian leaves with the knowledge that a recent vacancy as leading celebrity astrophysicist has opened up echoing round his mind - As for me, I'm thinking about moving to Oregon and starting up a devotional community (DM for details). Of course, what would this be if you too were not invited to the leaving ceremony?: Of course, you are invited to ride the crest of this wave with us. Of course, you are invited to have your face roasted by our burning altars.

This is all for you. One final show in this beautiful, tangled form, before the branches are untangled and new blossoms spring forth, ushering in the next chapter in the Cosmic Dead.

And to the vast majority of you who won't be able to be there on the night to hear us say this - let me say on behalf of both myself and Julian - Thank you thank you thank you for everything you've given us. You mean more than you'll ever know."

- Lewis and Julian, April 2018.

The Cosmic Dead's bandcamp can be perused here

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Musos' Guide Chats With The Motives

 

The Motives  play The Music Library in Dublin next month as part of the library’s Emerging Artists series for the Musictown Festival. The alternative rock band from Wexford formed in 2001. Difficult to define and restlessly defying genrefication, Geoff Morrison (vocals, guitar), Joe Bernie (drums, vocals), Allan Kinsella (guitar, vocals, harmonica, keyboards) and Dean Redmond (bass, drums) have been compared to The Divine Comedy, Jonathan Richman and Talking Heads.

After a lengthy wait, The Motives have made their return to the studio and emerged with four typically quirky, charmingly offbeat guitar pop songs on the For The Love Of The Motives EP. The quartet delivered a collection of structurally complex but effortlessly louche tunes with overtones of The Smiths, Frank Zappa, The Cars, Pavement, Whipping Boy and Rollerskate Skinny. The Motives have a singular voice that will appeal to encyclopaedic music nerds and casual listeners equally. We spoke to the band in advance of the Musictown show. It’s their first gig in a library but not the most unusual place they’ve played. “We played on someone's roof last year.  That's about a weird a venue as I can think of”, says Geoff before adding, “I think we were the first band to ever perform on a roof, as far as I know.”

Joe: Kevfest. A really sound Australian guy's birthday party on a residential rooftop on Kevin Street.

Allan: Kevfest was the closet we'll ever get to being The Beatles.

Dean: We actually released one of our EPs in a garden centre.

Musos’ Guide: You’ve a new EP out, how was the recording this time around?

Geoff: We put a lot into it.  There was a lot more synth involved this time round.  I think this one is crafted very well.  It is a labour of love.  We worked with Brendan Carthy again in Orchard Studios and we'd find him very intuitive in regards what we want out of our particular sound. We worked tirelessly with him. We're very happy with the results.

Joe: I love recording, and this time was even better than the last. Mainly because it wasn't the first time we'd worked with Brendan. It's never straight forward with The Motives, given the off-kilter song structures, and I think he thought hard about how to customise the process to suit us best, and as a result it was a more fluid process this time. 

Allan: For me, the recording process is the peak of being a musician/songwriter, so any time in the studio is great. Working with Brendan has been really fruitful before, he gets what we're about and it was a no-brainer to go back to Orchard. You want to do the songs justice and also have room to try new things and I think we accomplished that.

Dean: It doesn't usually take very long to get the bass down when we're in the studio, so for me there's actually a lot of hanging around. Luckily I'm really interested in the recording process and the technical side of things, so yeah it was really fun just hanging out with the lads for a few days.

Musos’ Guide: There was a bit of a gap between that and your last record, was that deliberate or a case of life getting in the way?

Geoff: Money and trying to get everyone together was the crux.  I kinda feel like I'm hoggin' this interview. What do you think Dean and Allan?  

Dean: Yeah, it’s been pretty hectic lately, I'm back to college and working weekends. Joe's been working and doing a master’s in his spare time. Allan has two jobs, and Geoff's working full time as well. It takes a lot of time to get in the practices we need to get the songs to a place where we're happy to record them.

Joe: We'd love to record at least once a year.

Allan: I'd personally live in the recording studio if I could.

Musos’ Guide: Your songs are quite theatrical and ‘break the fourth wall’, does that come naturally?

Joe: I'll let Geoff and Allan completely contradict me if they like, but I think “yes” for Geoff. It's completely natural. He writes what comes to him. With Allan, I think he has started to write like this a lot more having worked with The Motives.

Dean: I can't really take any credit for the songwriting but yeah, that was one of the main reasons I was interested in joining The Motives. The songs and the shows always had and extra element to them that can be really entertaining.

Allan: I think the songs are always self-aware. Writing and singing and playing songs about yourself is sort of absurd as an art form, but there's something cathartic about the process. It's hard not to acknowledge that in the writing or the performance.

Geoff:  Well, I hope it doesn't sound forced. It would come naturally. We're four people who are on the same page most of the time. We would all be big movie buffs and I would definitely agree with Frank Zappa's adage that, “Humour belongs in music”.  We would all be big Ween fans also and they have certainly had an impact on our music and attitude in our latter years.

Musos’ Guide: There are complex structures in the songs too. What’s your writing process like? Is it particularly arduous?

Geoff:  Slow. The parts develop like a drip. I would say I write about one song every two months. I bring the parts to the lads to practice and we hammer it out about a 1,000 times until it takes some shape or form. The guys in the band are very patient. Joe won't let us play the song until it's ready for the stage.  I'm glad of that. It'd be an absolute shambles live otherwise. It is arduous yes, the best kind though.

Joe: Arduous makes it sound like it's not fun. Which it very much is. But it does take time to finish the songs, and to learn to play them together. Doing the songs justice live requires almost instinctive knowledge of the songs and each other. I won't say individually we can't write or read music, but we don't write out the music, it's much less formal than that. And it can change slightly every time we play it. Geoff's songs deconstruct basic pop song structures in that there is minimal repetition. The musical cues and lyrical shifts play out as he naturally works his way through an idea as opposed to chaining the idea to a verse/chorus/repeat structure. The songs are a challenge but never a chore. We're all self-taught musicians so our attempts to articulate musical instructions are hilariously unhelpful. Which one is a bar? Is that two bits or 4 measures or 6 biscuits? 

Dean: When we get together to practice it's usually to prepare for a gig, so when we actually get down to working on new songs it's a real treat. The lads are always writing away themselves so when we get to it there is often a good backlog of songs to catch up on. With all the changes and the little bits in each song it can take a while to separate out the songs in your head.

Buy For The Love Of The Motives on cdbaby. 

The Motives play The Music Library in the Central Library, ILAC Centre, Henry St, on Saturday April 21 from 2.30 – 4.30 pm. This is an all-ages event. Admission is free and booking is essential. Phone 01-8734333 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to secure your place.

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Distorted Truths: Originality, Property And Creativity

 

Originality means everything and nothing at the same time. On the one hand, the word ‘original’ has a correct meaning. However, to say originality means something is to say what it does not mean is, paradoxically, also the meaning of originality because it tells you “Originality is newness”, “Originality is not the name of an animal” and so forth.

However, the idea that originality is the name of an animal is true, because it is really thought of by me and is truly content in a sentence. In this way, originality, like all other things, means nothing, anything and everything, and not only because people use it ambiguously and arguably care too much or too little about it.

It could even be argued that any use of the word ‘originality’ will vary. This is because it will arise, whether written or thought of in a different context, even if the only way it differs is in terms of a slight difference in time or the space on a page or the angle it is perceived from. The context of anything defines meaning, but meaning partly defines the context because it is part of the context which influences meaning, and so forth. Despite this variation, though, words that are in a way completely different are the same. They are words and reflect reality because they are a real combination of letters and reflect prior creation, even if they are made up and even if they are created unintentionally.

All lyrics and music (hence combined into one as ‘music’) are based on symbols (including letters), musical notes and/or sounds and on those that use them that came before the music. This makes the music unoriginal. However, to be original is to be the first in line: to have created something that, in one way at least, has never been done before.

Even a cover is an original. Even if it is apparently played exactly like the original recording will differ from anything done before because its place in time is different, plus the guitar’s strings will have deadened over time (even if this is only slight) and the tone will differ as a result. Even if the tone arguably varies less and is recorded, it will still be heard in a different context and the song itself will change even if it is supposed to be one repeated or sustained note. Every song changes over time, even if time is altered by the song. This is the case even if it only means that the song is going from the first half-second to another part of the song, and even if in a way the recording does not move through time, capturing instead a past moment. Also, even if nothing seems to have affected the speakers or other parts of the listening environment, they have been affected by things like decay, even if only minutely. Therefore, all sounds are original since they are different from what has happened before

However, a piece of music or album or anything also always stays the same in addition to constantly varying. Even if the music features many different notes, it remains part of reality even if the music ends. Since music, however brief and however often it is listened to, moves forward in time, it is always new because it has never appeared in that exact time before. All music is original even though no music is original.

Songs are property of their creators, or are they? Can songwriters even have property? Even if we are talking about something more commonly thought of as property, like a house, even this is arguably not their property in that it cannot be theirs. How can they not have it if it is their house or their song, especially if they are only person that has experienced it? It could be said that it is not their house or their song because it is not a part of them. It is not in their brain or the rest of their body. Even though they thought of it, it is sometimes not in their thoughts. Even if the house was always in their thoughts and they were always playing the song wherever they went, they would in a way not be their writer’s at all.

However, it absolutely is the writer’s. This is true even if someone else created it if the writer hears it or even if they do not know about it but someone else does and gives it, even simply in speech or thought, to them, as I am doing in this sentence. Even if something is just a hypothetical statement or imaginary, the fact it is imaginary or part of a hypothetical argument makes it real even though it is non-real.

If a song is something, it is the opposite of that thing at the same time. How can a song be mine and not mine? Because however you define me or the song, the song and I always change in relation to space and time. Even to say it stays the same is to say something is constant, which suggests time passes and therefore it is no longer owned by the songwriter yesterday, nor is it owned by the songwriter of today or tomorrow, because the songwriter and the song are different from each other. Even if time did not pass and context was ignored, even the existence of the idea that anyone can own anything is a reality because it is a real idea which is part of real thoughts. How can someone have something and not have it? Again, the idea’s realness, at least as an idea, makes it real. All ideas, including property, are therefore real and not at all real, as are everything and nothing.

Creativity is (and is not) often unintentional. To do nothing, unintentionally or otherwise, is to create nothing, and therefore create something while in the same act not creating. Everyone is creative: even rocks like those in this sentence create part of a sentence even if they do not exist outside of it. Everyone is also always non-creative in the sense that they are always not creating other things that they otherwise could be creating, such as a lack of creativity or something different.

Creativity and non-creativity are possible at the same time in the same way. The fact they are possible makes neither of them possible, since both possibility and impossibility are possibilities and are therefore both real and non-real. To create property is to not create property. Therefore to never create property is to always create property. 

This may seem irrational, but all ‘irrational’ statements, even ones like “Steven Hawking is a musical instrument” are the opposite of rational and therefore ‘of rational’. Basically, the irrational is rational. Even this article is simultaneously nonsense and complete sense, a waste of time and completely worthwhile, ugly distortion and beautiful truth. Plus, Hawking was an instrument was truth that was music to my ears.

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