Behind the music…

A series of interviews with the people who work getting the music out there be they in PR, distribution, record labels, managers, PA’s or journalists…

The legendary Batttttty, who runs the SITN UFO& offshoot bands website plus realted Yahoo Group plus many musician websites (many of whom are bass players) and also the rather good www.getreadytoroll.com

1. How did you first get into the music business and what advice would you offer to someone else wishing to get into running band/artist websites?

It was a darkkkkk and storrrrrmy night….. As for advice, I think the best advice I could give anyone wanting to run band/artist websites is… KNOW WHEN TO STOP!  As much as you might love building and updating websites,  having fifty-seven sites to maintain is a bit crazy… Lots of fun though!
Ferrero Rochers – yes, definitely the Ferrero Rochers. Oh and meeting the fans who bring the Ferrero Rochers of course! – http://strangers-in-the-night.com/roadtripusa.htm -On the USA roadtrips this spring and summer, there were some nights that I received so many boxes of chocolates that we had to jettison the beer out of the tourbus fridge to make room for them all (chocolate melts fast when you’re driving through the desert).

3. How do you view the current state of the rock music business? (E.g. Is the CD on its way out? Can new bands ever build a substantial following like the older bands have?)

I sincerely hope the CD’s not on its way out. What would happen to sleevenote credits?!?! It’s just not the same downloading a stack of tracks without being able to listen to them whilst holding a glossy booklet with ‘thanks to The Legendary Batttttty’ inscribed therein.

4. What was the first single & album you bought and first live gig you attended?

First single was David Bowie’s A Space Oddity. First album was Moodly Blues, Days Of Future Past. I was of course only four months old at the time.]

5. What in your view makes for a good band/artist based website?

Regularly updated and accurate info, fast-loading pages (not everyone has the latest technobollogical Intel Pentium Zilligig Flashy Wifi wotsit that will download state-of-the-arty-farty movie files) and regular input from the bandmembers themselves. Hope you’re reading this, fellas – you know who you are.

6. Top 10 albums of all time for you…
Impossible to pick just ten, but my top five would always be SITN, MSG at Budokan, Walk On Water, Obsession,  Live & Dangerous – with any other five from a list of about 100.

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Roland Hyams who runs his own PR company Work Hard PR

1. How did you first get into the music business and what advice would you offer to someone else wishing to get into band PR?

I was Social Secretary at York University1979/80 and met tons of contacts to follow up when I left Uni. Advice? That’s a tough one…best way is learn from a master, like I did – the legendary Keith Altham.

2. What have been the most rewarding moments in running Work Hard PR and why?

National newspaper front covers, centre spreads and reviews of my bands and events always get me punching the air with delight. Waking up knowing I am going to work on stuff I like doing every day is also very rewarding frankly.

3. How do you view the current state of the rock music business? (E.g. Is the CD on its way out? Can new bands ever build a substantial following like the older bands have?)

Hmmmm The CD will never die, like vinyl, but it will become more niche. Until the music business  can work out how to make money from downloads in a way that doesn’t alienate music fans who think that all music should be free, even making a living out of recorded music will be hard. As for growing audiences? If you give away your music AND publicise it enough to start selling tickets on the road, you may be able to build a substantial following…

4. What was the first single & album you bought and first live gig you attended?

First single – Let It Be – The Beatles.

First album – Electric Ladyland – The Jimi Hendirix Experience.

First gig – Mott The Hoople at Guildford Civic Hall 1972 (I think) when Bowie came on for backing vocals on ‘All The Young Dudes’. I was transfixed and vowed to get into the music business that night.

5. What in your view helps promote a newer band considering the amount of new bands’ & music out there?

They have got to have fire in their guts, and songs that match…

6. Top 10 albums of all time for you…

Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland, Led Zeppelin 4, Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here, Black Sabbath 1st album, Hawkwind Space Ritual, Bad Brains Rock For Light, System Of A Down Toxicity, Neil Young – Live Rust, Deep Purple Made in Japan, Pink Floyd The Division Bell

Anything else you’d like to add… (please feel free to add weblinks etc and any new/upcoming releases you are promoting)

Watch out for the wankers in this business – there are plenty of them!

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MIKE EXLEY of MIKE EXLEY PR who look after AFM Records and AOR/Metal Heaven here in the UK.

1. How did you first get into the music business and what advice would you offer to someone else wishing to get into music PR?

M. “I started out as a writer on Metal Forces Magazine back in the mid-1980’s – around 1985 – when Dave Constable, Dave Reynolds and Bernard Doe were the main staff-writers. I contacted them after seeing the mag – then very underground, of course – in Shades, the wonderful, sadly missed record store in London’s Soho where all my pocket money from my first job in London was going back then. I remember seeing my first review in print and knowing that this was what I wanted to do, and yet was very humble at the same time because I realized quite early on that people did actually read what I thought and bought records on the back of it, which still amazes me to this day. The PR came much, much later when a band member in a very well-known band actually recommended me to a record company in Germany…. The contacts made from the writing days then became the basis for the PR.”

“Advice? Well, I learnt from a very professional Press Officer I employed back in the 1990’s (when running a label here in the UK), so definitely don’t be afraid to ask people for advice. Also, try to remember to treat people, as you would like to be treated. It’s a cliché maybe, but I try to treat all my journalist contacts and band members with the same respect as I was treated with when a journalist myself… And, although email is so easy to use, I still believe (if I can) that a phone call is best, although it’s hard work….”

2. How did you start Mike Exley PR and what have been the most rewarding moments so far and why?

“In the 1990’s I’d worked for a company, but when the chance to do M.E.P.R. came up I realised that I had to strike out on my own and back myself. It’s still not plane sailing, but I can get up in the morning knowing that I’m doing something I really love, so I hope it’s the right way to go. M.E., obviously because that’s my name but also because I’ve always wanted to phone up someone and when they answer, “Yes, who’s calling?” be able to say “Me” and know that they actually know who’s calling, ha! Ha! I think that’s a little way off yet though….”

“Most rewarding moment so far was first review in Kerrang!! (It’s still regarded as one of the most prestigious magazines to be covered in…), taking my first artist to be interviewed by Bruce Dickinson on his BBC 6 Music show and, strangely enough, one of the first times I stood in a sold out show when the band I was working for came on, knowing that just a little bit of that success was down to me….”

3. How do you view the current state of the rock music business? (E.g. Is the CD on its way out? Can new bands ever build a substantial following like the older bands have?)

“The business is changing fundamentally and I think you’ll see some very significant changes in the UK in the next 10 years. The CD will never die because there’s a collection-ist in all of us and having ‘the new anything by anyone before your mates’ is still part of the ‘bragging-rights’ culture we have today, but I think the record companies really need to think about their bands or face going to the wall. Bands now are businesses and anyone who kids themselves is just plain silly…. If the record companies cannot control the downloading menace that is threatening the sales base, they have to help the bands turn to tours, merchandise and playing live to keep afloat. The threat now is not CD prices as it was in the 90’s, it’s now ticket prices, T-shirt prices and stuff like that and what the kids that are downloading their music for free illegally should be thinking about today is all turning up to the venues and demanding T shirts become more competitive, that the band can play again soon and that the venue doesn’t over-price itself so as many people can see the bands as possible, not that the latest Ipod should have more memory or that they can download this or that album to their phone!……..Our festivals would then get better and stronger, our venues and promoters would all treat bands like human beings facility-wise and our bands would want to keep on coming back…”

“If a kid listens to or downloads a CD then goes to the gig and can afford to buy the ticket and buy a shirt as well (along with special editions, picture discs, that kind of thing), then the band still benefits, as will the record company, the venue and the band members…. It’s not rocket science …………..but getting everyone working that way will be painful because some will have to give up a bit before the balance is restored!!”

4. What was the first single & album you bought and first live gig you attended?

“Ohh, now!! The first actual music I bought was the “Metal For Muthas” cassette which featured Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild” and “Sanctuary” alongside Praying Mantis and Samson, then singles by Venom and Saxon…. the first actual LP was Motorhead’s “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” which I still have in pristine condition, but on CD now. Classic!!”

“The first gig was Hawkwind at Bath Pavilion, I think on the tour for “Sonic Attack” which would make it 1980 or ’81. The second was Motorhead…”

5. What for you personally makes for a good band/artist?

“A real belief in it / themselves and a humility too. Bands are like football teams. They are superb at times, sometimes awful as well; they drop down divisions and they win championships, but they must never forget who put them there… and, I don’t care who you are; Led Zeppelin, Motorhead, The Stones, whoever; if no one had bought your record or turned up at your gig, you’d still be a nobody taking the rubbish out and playing in your garage, wouldn’t you? I’ve seen some of the most humble of musicians who are adored, signing stuff for the fans up to three hours after the doors closed and I think some people in all aspects of this business need to remember that because there’s a lot of things that can get in the way. Some of the most talented musicians had very short careers, some of the most talentless go on forever, but that’s why we all love it and talk about it… It’s different and a matter of taste and how do you measure taste?

6. Top 10 albums of all time for you…

As I said, how do you measure taste? Do I have to put them in order? OK, here we go……….1. (Just because it comes first when anyone asks..) Slayer “Reign In Blood”, Venom “Black Metal”, Sepultura “Beneath The Remains”, Rush “2112”, Halford “Resurrection”, Iron Maiden “Killers”, Metallica “Ride The Lightning”, Motorhead “Ace Of Spades”, Celtic Frost “To Mega Therion and Kyuss “Welcome To Sky Valley…”

“Why? Because they all give me goose-bumps everytime I listen to them, hear a track from them live or hear them on the radio, pure and simple!”

Anything else you’d like to add… (please feel free to add weblinks etc and any new/upcoming releases you are promoting)

Thanks Jason. I don’t do these type of things very often because no one asks, ha! Ha! And no one really wants to listen to me going on…, but check out the stuff I’m promoting; AFM Records in Germany – http://www.afm-records.de (one of the genuine ‘nice guy labels’ who really put the band at the top of the agenda!); Doro Pesch’s new album is the priority for early 2009, Eden’s Curse the really big discovery; Voodoo Circle is great 70’s sounding rock and Tankard is just wonderful thrash; Metal and AOR Heaven http://www.metalheaven.net (who are run by a real, genuine fan Georg Siegl) have the new TNT album which is just totally different to what anyone was expecting but is super, Lahannya and Slick’s Kitchen (both people who espouse what I said before about real belief and humility with a desire to succeed, alongside individual talent) are both lovely, but just remember one thing when it comes to real music; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, folks!!”

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