I had the chance to speak with Jason Pettigrew who is the editor in chief of national print and Cleveland-based magazine Alternative Press to pick his brain on a few matters of interest to indie musicians.
WBJ: Let’s say I’m in an indie band and I can’t afford a publicist. What is my best chance with Alternative Press? Do I send my CD package to you or to your staff?
JP: We have a section in the magazine called AP&R – get it? (Like A&R which means artists and repertoire). It’s in print and on our website as well – http://www.altpress.com/apr/ Publicists or bands can submit but the rule for AP&R is that you have to be unsigned.
The contact form for this section is located at http://www.altpress.com/apr/application/
WBJ: Does all of AP’s content run in print and on the web?
JP: All the content is uniform except on the web there will probably be MP3s where people can actually hear your band.
WBJ: Let’s say I am an artist who did have a label deal, let’s say hypothetically on Capitol but now I am putting out my own music. Does that count as unsigned?
JP: Yes, if you are putting out your own music you are unsigned. Even if you were previously tainted by the major label curse (laughs), we’re kind of forgiving that way.
WBJ: Do you prefer to receive digital or hard copies of music from independent musicians?
JP: I like physical CDs from unsigned bands and the reason for that is because that way I see they have put the money and the effort to create a tangible product. That shows that you’re dedicated to what you do. Any schmuck can just put an MP3 up on the Internet and claim they’re the shit.
WBJ: For an unsigned indie rock band, what kinds of things have you seen over time that might draw you in to open the package? I assume you are getting about 100 packages a week?
JP: Yeah probably.
WBJ: And you get what, about 300 emails a day?
JP: Yeah, about 200-300.
WBJ: So what will catch your eye from a non-record label or publicity firm package? Also do you read pitch letters?
JP: I click on everything. As far as an actual bio or pitch letter, a bio shouldn’t be longer than the front of a page. Just give me all the details, I don’t want a stack of clips (by this he means press clips, articles or reviews that have run in other publications) because I don’t really care what MyMomOnlyReadsThis.com thinks of your band and I don’t care what the Anti-Globe Gazette thinks of your band. A lot of indie bands, they put these mentions on there, like “look! Somebody thinks…” but I’d be more inclined to ask the kid who stocks the meat section in my grocery store what he thinks about a certain band.
WBJ: Say you’re a Chicago band who is going to be playing in Cleveland and you did get a write up in The Reader (Chicago’s main alternative weekly), should that be incorporated in the pitch letter since that’s a notable publication?
JP: Yeah, sure, absolutely because the Chicago Reader is a big deal. Just like the LA Weekly or Minneapolis’ City Pages.
More words of wisdom from Jason Pettigrew are coming up next time, for now, check out his rants on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ptgrw