Recently I worked with one of my musician clients to practice for some radio interviews. Here are some of the things we worked on.
get in and get out. Time is precious when you are taking part in any audio or video interview. If it’s live, you won’t have much time to stop and fix your words. Become comfortable with making complete responses in little bites of ten seconds, twenty seconds, thirty seconds, one minute. Finally, practice answering questions in exactly one sentence.
Talk about one thing. How would you answer the question, “So tell me how you got started with music?” You could describe your mom’s singing to the car radio, the music at your neighborhood synagogue, and how you loved a certain Brahms record when you were in high school. Try saying one thing, not everything. “I heard a lot of great music going to synagogue as a kid.” That simple response says tons and will lead the interviewer toward questions about tangible, specific, and memorable things.
Simplify. Call yourself a jazz performer, even though that isn’t exactly who you are. Call your music “roots” even if you don’t quite enjoy that label. Let an interviewer refer to you as an “emerging” artist, though that might feel a little patronizing. Create a three-word phrase to describe your music. “Mellow Americana.” “Nineties country.” “Urban story songs.” It’s like having a business card, just a little something that helps you stick in people’s memories. You’ll also need some pithy, simplified phrases to describe your music when talking to presenters, DJs, producers, and so forth. Trust that the folks you are talking to will understand that the simplified verbiage is just a hint of something far more substantial, and you would give them more if only time would allow.
Perform. Think ahead about what you want to show of yourself, and what you will keep private. Just like performing on stage, you create your performer persona. Be engaging, interesting, provocative, fun–whatever you do to get your music out to your audiences will also carry well in an interview.
Expect bad questions. An interviewer might ask you about your love life, or might make an inappropriate joke about your age, gender, or ethnic background. Assume the worst and most awkward questions will come up sooner or later, so think ahead of how you will respond to them. You might go with, “I don’t have anything to say about that.” Or, “That’s an insulting thing to ask.” Or, “I don’t know what to say about that, but let me go back to what I was saying about my new CD … ”
In my coaching practice I work with musicians, writers, and other artistic people on practical things like preparing for interviews. I also help my clients find fulfillment and accomplishment in their creative endeavors. Drop me an email if you’d like to find out more about my creativity coaching services. I’d love to hear from you!