This is an exciting week on Life’s a Pitch. We’re hosting a virtual panel on when and how artists, managers, journalists, presenters and publicists single out musicians for being “special” in their promotion and career-building efforts. I’ll be joined by a musician, pianist Jonathan Biss; a manager, James Egelhofer at IMG Artists; a critic, Matthew Guerrieri, who blogs at Soho the Dog and writes for the Boston Globe; and a presenter, Michael Kondziolka at University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And in case you really haven’t been paying attention, I’m a freelance classical music publicist.
Tomorrow, these four people will respond to the statement below. From there, we’ll all react to each other’s posts and reader comments. Each post will be tagged with “#specialblog” so the conversation can be followed.
Many thanks to Doug McLennan for pimping my blog with slammin’ new sidebars and advising us on how to keep this coherent.
Don’t forget to COMMENT.
Update 1/24/10: The virtual panel is now complete. To access the full discussion, go to http://www.artsjournal.com/lifesapitch/prdebate/.
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In pitching media coverage for my clients and projects, I’m often asked what the “hook” is. Having only been a freelance publicist for two and a half years, I don’t remember a time when an acceptable answer to this question was “because he or she is coming to your town.” With traditional journalism outlets shrinking, publicists have to be more creative with the stories they tell. Is there a piece that can be placed in a different section of the newspaper or website? On what topics can this artist speak that others cannot? On what topics do many artists speak but this one stands out? Is there a local tie to this community? What has happened/is happening in a client’s life that he or she can bring to a feature, that will help readers and hopefully future listeners understand his or her artistic perspective?
I’d like to be able to say that I take on clients just because they are excellent musicians. I don’t. I like working with people who are interesting in a world beyond music, who are smart, who are likeable. Frankly, this makes my day-to-day life better and my job easier. Would I work for an artist with an interesting story and perspective who wasn’t a top musician? No, because all the storytelling in the world isn’t a substitute for the music. But I wonder how much everyone in the industry is pressured by the need for artists to be special beyond their artistic abilities. Some musicians are more willing than others to share aspects of their lives outside music, just as some are more inclined to create or participate in artistic projects that are themselves a story. In 2010, should classical musicians be responsible for setting themselves apart in any way but their art, or are managers, publicists, journalists, and concert planners responsible for booking them, promoting them, writing about them and presenting them as they are, story or not?