That is the advice I always give photographers when they ask how to “Make it” in the music business. But even that seems to be a pipe dream!
I just had dinner with a friend of mine this week. She is young- been shooting for about 5 years around Chicago, but she is, in my opinion, the best of the Chicago music photographers. During the course of the conversation, she told me that she is hardly shooting anymore. She was never the one who went after access to the arena bands, she always went after the smaller, mostly hard rock bands touring through town. Now she is having a hard time- getting turned down more regularly- by even the smaller bands.
I was thinking of this when I read a new book this morning called “Do the Devils Work For Him- How to Make it in the Music Industry.” The book is written by two journalists, one of whom is also a publicist. They work mostly in the hard rock part of the music business. One of the basic premises of the book is that you should work with any band a publicist offers you because
1.That band could become famous and you will have an in with them and…
2. The publicist will be grateful that you are helping the young band and might give you access to some of their bigger bands.
The writers (Amy Sciarretto and Rick Florino) continually talk about building up relationships with the publicists, but they fail to mention one important fact.
For the most part, publicists are not interested in building up relationships with the press, photographers in particular.
In the old days (when cavemen ruled the earth, it seems) publicists used to call me regularly and ask me to photograph their artists. Many even offered to bring them, or send them, to my studio for photo shoots because they saw the value of what I did. It was worth a short period of the artists time for the possibility of the pictures appearing in any of the hundreds of publications that I had access to. This was a regular occurrence- at least once or twice a week. I would always send the publicist a proof, or some duplicate slides, and always let them know where and when the photos appeared in print. Many times they would arrange for the record company to purchase access to one or more of the photos. I always gave them a reasonable rate, as a thank you for working together.
All that has changed. In the last six months, I have gotten only four emails (three from one publicist) offering photo access to their artists. Access was easy, professional and painless, and all the photos are available on the wire service that represents me. The three shoots, in total, took up about 30 minutes of the artists time, and could possibly result in some press for them in the future. Too bad this doesn’t happen very often!