Special Feature

Interview tips for musicians. What’s your hook?

Identify what is most compelling about your music or story

Do you know what your musician story is? What’s your hook? Why should someone who’s never heard of you take an interest in your music or story? Find it. Know it. Boil it down. Be ready to tell the interviewer something interesting about yourself.

On the other hand, don’t give it ALL away. You need to save some good stuff for other interviews. For instance, one interview could focus on your songwriting process, or the stories behind the songs. Another could focus on the recording and production process. Another one could deal with life on the road, or your personal life, or your inspirations.

Another point that’s worth making,your musical persona should enhance what is most interesting about you. You can’t (and shouldn’t) convey every little thing about yourself, so super-size a few of the most dramatic aspects of your story.

Investigate the audience ahead of time

Have you done your research? Do you know who the audience is for each of the media outlets where you’ll be interviewed? Do some homework and make sure you’re prepared to speak to THAT audience. A music business podcast will probably want to have you on to talk royalties and other revenue streams, not your trip abroad that changed the way you conceptualize vocal harmony.

Practice, practice, practice

Delivering a compelling interview is a kind of art, and one that requires practice, just like your music. Whether you’re being interviewed on camera, at a radio studio, over the phone, or via email, obviously you want to make the most of it. In the days leading up to an interview — when you’re driving around town, when you’re muting the TV during a commercial break — practice asking yourself questions. Throw yourself a few curve balls. Craft some interesting answers, and make sure you’ve included all the important information in a succinct way. Then speak your answer aloud.

Why out-loud? Because when you’re nervous your heart beats faster and your breath flutters. Then your voice shakes. Then you’re sunk. Practising out-loud ahead of time will help you avoid some butterflies.

BUT… don’t memorize your answers verbatim. Just come up with the basic framework, and a few sound bites. WHY? Well, see THIS ARTICLE for warnings about what happens to your mind (and face) when you memorize a speech. Also, an interview is supposed to be (at least in appearance) a conversation, not a monologue.

A last word about practising: it’s important to remember that you’re not going to have time to squeeze in everything you want to say; so be ready to adapt your practised answers on the fly.

Embrace the fact that it’s all about you

You’re not just the guest, you’re also the subject and star of the show for however many minutes you’ve been afforded. That doesn’t necessarily mean you want to try to outshine the host or interviewer (after all, it takes many stars to make a constellation), but it’s okay to come out strong, display some big personality, and deliver confident answers. Remember: you’re the absolute authority on YOU.

Avoid one word answers — even if it’s a yes or no question

The point of the interview is for you to tell your story. So tell it!

If the interviewer asks you Were you nervous to put out your sophomore album after so much buzz happened around your debut?, don’t just say yep. Give them the grit and drama, the struggle to overcome, the breakthroughs and brilliance!

Don’t be long-winded

On the other hand, you want the interview to be a conversation. Don’t bloviate — and don’t make the interviewer have to constantly interrupt you. Give them a chance to respond or ask another question.

It’s even okay to discuss this beforehand with the interviewer. Ask them how many questions they’d like to ask. Divide that by the total time for the interview, and then you’ll have an average time frame to shoot for with each answer.

Be ready to talk for 2 minutes, or 2 hours

Hopefully you’ll have a good idea going into the interview what your time commitment will be: 2 minute TV news spot, one hour phone call, etc. But there are times when things are cooking, and the interviewer just keeps the conversation rolling (this happens more often in podcasting where there’s no fixed time limit). But the point is simple: get ready to talk for a long time, even if you only need to call upon that reservoir 1 out of every 50 interviews.

Don’t be afraid to leave the topic of music

Musicians aren’t one-dimensional subjects. Some of us have other things we want to talk about in addition to music if the opportunity presents itself: our political convictions, relationships, past struggles, etc.

Bring it back around to you

But let’s say you DO want to talk about your music and the interviewer gets off-topic. That happens. If they do, roll with it for a bit. Be good humoured about it. But if the interviewer goes too long without asking you a question that you feel is relevant to your music career, find a way to guide the discussion back on course. After all, you only have so many minutes to get the word out, so you wanna use every one of those minutes wisely.

Be visceral and descriptive

The skunky smell of the tour van. The burn of the bright stage lights. The way the rain looked on the runway as you landed in London for your first tour of the UK. Bring the listener or reader into your world with rich description. The more vividly you paint your world, the closer they’ll feel to you and your music.

Quote your own lyrics

Musicians are petrified of seeming pretentious, but if reciting one of your lyrics helps to illustrate some point you’re trying to make about your songs, or life, or the creative process — do it, and don’t be ashamed of it. Again, this interview is all about you, and a clever or heartfelt lyric might be just the thing to win over a new fan.

Plug your website, upcoming shows, email signup list, etc.

What are you hoping to get out of the interview? What’s your top priority? More YouTube subscribers? More CD sales? Say it! Don’t be shy. False humility seems a little weird when it comes from someone who’s agreed to be interviewed. So mention your YouTube channel. Plug your show. Tell listeners where they can purchase your music online. I mean, don’t be obnoxious about it; maybe just give yourself a single shout-out during the discussion — but what I’m saying is, no one will fault you for pimping your music in a directly actionable way if you’re gracious (and sparing) about it.

Get permission, and get the files

Earlier in this article I mentioned “re-purposing.” You want to make sure (particularly if the interview goes well, or if it’s from a high-profile media outlet) that you can share it on your website, social platforms, and email newsletter. If there are audio and video files that won’t be readily accessible and embeddable via services like YouTube or Soundcloud, ask the interviewer if you can get a copy of the file and post it directly to your sites, social, etc.

Of course if the interview is meant to be exclusive content that only lives in one place online, fine — but it can’t hurt to ask in an attempt to broaden its reach.

Alright, those are just a handful of interview tips for musicians. Again, practice is key. The more you practice, the better your interviews will be. The better your interviews, the more new opportunities will open up.

Source : http://diymusician.cdbaby.com

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