Following on from this thread (http://drownedinsound.com/articles/3785812) I'd just like to offer a few really simple bits of advice if you band want to grab the attention of DiS or any other magazine or record label for that matter. Other DiS writers and contribs feel free to jump in and tell me I's wrong but after 10 years of doing this, this much i know and trust... am going to listen to peoples reactions and tweak this into a more succint feature...
1. People Do Judge CD's By Their Cover
Think about first impressions. If you demo is in a pile of other tatty looking, hand scribbled cdrs and looks like you don't particularly care, why should the recipient? I still remember the first demo I got from Emmy the Great had this insane photo of her in a tin hat sitting on the loo and Catherine A.D. sent me something with a ribbon that looked like something Constellation would release.
2. The Direct Route Hardly Ever Works
OR There's More Than One Way to Skin a Lion
I'd guess I have between 30-40 bands, bands I've never heard of or vaguely recognise the names of, per hour, fighting for my attention via various different mediums, be it traditional stacks of jiffys twice a day, emails, myspace messages, people enthusing on these boards, friends twitters, other media from mags to hype machine chart to last.fm, support act names, festival bills, phone calls from PR's and various music industry people.
How do I pick what to listen to? Like most other people it's a case of hearing about something enough to check it out, either because someone who i trust/knows my taste pretty well recommends it or raves about it (booking agents and promoters are especially great for this!). Or because someone sends me a note with some key words (subject lines with intriguing descriptions, lists of acts i like, no mention of the word "funk"). Or because someone who writes for DiS or an act I work with recommends it. Or because it's on a label i like. Basically I'm just like any other music fan trying to find things I might like.
What I'm saying is there's more than one way to skin a cat and if you're trying to target me that's fine and cool but if you wanna ensure I get things I'm more likely to listen if you make the effort to hand it to me at one of the many DiS nights or if it comes via one of the slightly more reliable channels above. Def' recommend hitting up people who contribute to DiS directly who are likely to like what you do, as they're likely to be being deluged in communicaes by a lot less acts than me and mike.
3. Work Out Who You Are and Who Might Like You
Social networking sites are a revelation, especially when you can look at your biggest fans profiles and see what else they like or even better, using last.fm see what else they're listening to. So many bands have said to me "i don't know what we're like, a bit indie and a bit rock i guess" and I've already glazed over and am making a quick escape (and if you're Steve Lamacq who's much more noticeable this is a hundred times worse!). Then go beyond that and work out what sort of people you are and what people like you do and how you're going to reach them. Forget about the industry and just aim to get a following and from that word of mouth with transpire.
4. How to Make Industry Inroads
So you've work out who you are and who you want to be. Now don't rush and push yourself in the wrong peoples faces at the wrong times. Basically you should contact similar bands (goto their gigs, give a cd to the folks on the merch desk, often the acts themselves) or google for the people who work with them and send a package. It's not always best to go for the labels but aim for the people who talk things up around the record industry which is what builds buzz, from press officers to bloggers (easily trackable) to managers. Find a champion and subtly ask for more contacts or better still for them to pass things along the foot chain.
5. Be Patient
Things take time. I know acts who've sold 3000 EPs and can headline Bush Hall who are only just getting some music industry attention. Arctic Monkeys may say they only played a handful of gigs but they were chasing me for Kaiser Chiefs support slots before the Kaisers head even put out their debut single (foolishly i didnt take the time to follow their progress as someone called them "Sheffield's answer to Jet" and i gave up).