What Information To Provide
Every time I ask for permission to play a song, I also ask for information about the musician or musicians who made it and for information about the song itself. The responses I get back vary from non-existent to the band's usual bio to wonderful stories about band histories and songs. For musicians who aren't sure what I am looking for, here is some information.
I am not looking to pry into your personal life or find out information that you don't want to tell me. I am not doing an interview. Also, if you don't want to tell me the meaning behind the song, you don't have to. What I am looking for is information that you would like the audience to know about your band and also any information that will help listeners feel a little bit closer to your group. This is free advertising for you and a chance to speak directly to listeners.
At this point, I'm going to ask you to do me a favor. Please, don't talk about what non-music-related things your music is like (talking about genres or what instruments are in your group is good) or list a bunch of names of influences, who mixed your album, or bands you have played with (unless you are playing with someone super well-known in the near future). Why? I see a lot of bios that say things like "Mr. Snuffleupagus's music is like rain on your windshield, old paint, and puppies at 2am. They are following in the footsteps of Maria and the Overtones, The Pink Hedgehogs, and Igreja 14. Their new album was produced by Mike Jones at Mike Jones Music in Los Angeles, California." Those kinds of things are useful if you are trying to explain to someone who has never heard your music what it sounds like. However, since I'm going to be playing a song on the show, the audience doesn't need to hear what your music is like. They will get to hear it. Also, they may have no idea who those people are or what you mean with those descriptions of your music. My goal is to get the audience to care about your music and your group. Descriptions of the music and lists of names don't feel very personal.
Here are a couple of examples and then some questions you can answer. Ideally, your text will be a couple of paragraphs long. That's long enough for you to tell about your music but not so long that we're hearing your entire life history. A little longer or shorter is fine. I definitely prefer a couple of sentences to nothing.
Example 1: "We are a group of high school kids who are trying to make it into the next generation of ska and make a name for ourselves in the Denver scene. We wrote Model Rocket for 3 reasons : 1 for people to jump up and down at shows, 2 to slow things down, and 3 because it was awesome when we jammed on the chords."
Example 2: "we spent about five years and saw about 21 members cycle through as they came to school, and then graduated. Last year we headed out to denver with our current lineup. The song 'Never Stop' was written by one of the original members, Nick Istas, and has always been one of the great Ruckus classics. It's a fun song, with a powerful horn line, that definitely makes ya wanna get up and dance."
Example 3: "I wrote "The Eyes, The Beard, The Nose, The Stomach, The Lungs" at the police station, in my head, when I was doing some paperwork for my car - don't even ask. I made up all of the first verse and was really struggling not to forget anything by the time I got home. By some odd chance, ideas for other verses started suddenly popping into my head, and I had to struggle not to let them in. Because once that happens, I'll totally lose the first verse, I thought. Which I wasn't going to let happen, I thought. Naturally, I had no pen/paper with me at the time, so I had to remember the entire thing for about three hours. And I did let all those other ideas in eventually. By the time I got home, I had all three verses done in my head. I penned the chorus later that evening and recorded the thing the very next day. The video took about 2 hours of shooting and 4 hours of cutting and mashing in Movie Maker."
You don't have to answer all these questions. These are just to help you come up with ideas.
- How many people are in your group, and where are you from?
- How did the group form? When did you start making music?
- Where did the name of the group come from?
- Where do you rehearse? Where do you record?
- Do you have any kind of philosophy associated with your music? Some idea that you are chasing? A sound that you are after?
- Why and how did you start making this kind of music?
- Is there anything cool/interesting/unique about you or the members of your group? Like you all work at NASA, you are all in high school, you have a really stressful job and music is how you relax.
- What inspired the song?
- Is this song representative of your music in general?
- Is there a video for the song? What was it like filming it?
- Do you have any stories related to this song? For example, my husband's band was playing their song "Alleyway Rover", which includes the line "piss away your charms". They were playing this at an outdoor venue with an all ages audience, so there are kids running around in front of the band. Just as they get to the line "piss away your charms", a little kid pulled down his pants and started peeing right in the middle of everything. It was a memorable moment. Do any of your songs have any?
- Do you have any plans for the future?
- Do you have any goals for the group?
If you still aren't sure, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I promise not to yell at you for being unsure.