Saturday, September 06, 2008

Government Names FAQ 1.1

1.0 originally posted on Sept. 6, 2008 - questions #1-28
1.1 updated on Sept. 9, 2009 - questions #29-44

After running this site for 4+ years, I'm getting more e-mails than ever, and have always welcomed music submissions, and am humbled by the fact that people in the Baltimore music scene care about what I do enough to send me their work. At this point, about 2/3rds of my music posts over the past 6 months have been tracks or releases sent to me by the artist or someone involved with the project, and the rest is stuff I took the initiative to buy or find or track down myself. And I try to write about every full-length release I hear, and pick the best possible song to spotlight as a download from each one, whereas I'm more picky and opinionated about what singles and individual tracks I post. Either way, responding to e-mails quickly and helpfully is important to me, although sometimes I lose my patience like anyone, or get tired of going through the whole ritual multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. And sometimes, I'm just dealing with people who need to get their shit together before they talk to me (true story: a while back someone had me go downtown, pay for parking, and wait over an hour for them to show up, and then handed me a CD with no artwork or tracklist, which I won't write about because I can't review a CD without song titles). So I'm trying to streamline that process and make it easier for everyone involved, especially me, and the first step is creating a Frequently Asked Questions section that I can refer people to. I'm still going to get back to people personally whenever possible, and don't want to come off like a dick with a flippant answer, but now and then someone's gonna ask something I'm really sick of answering and I'm just gonna show them this page and refer them to #14 or #3 or something.

Q: How can I get my album or mixtape covered on the site and what are your requirements for submissions?
A: If you e-mail me privately, we can work out whether you can mail me a copy or drop it off to me personally or send me a download link, or even let me know where to buy it. I prefer to get physical copies of CDs with all the artwork and liner notes whenever possible, but if a download is the only option or the most reasonable one, that's cool. Big involved press kits with pictures and bios don't really do anything for me; if that info is on your site or can be emailed to me, that saves a lot of printing and postage for you, and I don't have to throw it out later when the mess in my apartment is getting out of control. People who I see out at shows or who reach out and talk to me like a person and not a customer or a career opportunity always make a bigger impression on me than people who put a lot of effort into seeming "professional" in all the ways that don't actually matter.

Q: Can you post the flyer for my event?
A: If your event features local Baltimore hip hop artists playing in a Maryland venue (or in some cases, Baltimore artists playing out of town), yes. If it's a show by national/touring artists with no local artists on the bill, no. If it's just a rock concert with hip hop or club music or R&B artists, no. If it's just a DJ night or dance party with no performances, probably not, unless it's a Baltimore club DJ spinning club music.

Q: Can you post my press release or bio?
A: No. I post flyers and occasionally promotional copy for shows, but I don't post about artists or their releases unless I'm using my own words and giving my own opinion.

Q: Can you post my flyer right now even though the event is weeks away?
A: No. If I post it more than 2 weeks before the event, it will definitely fall off the page before it happens, and I'm not going to post the same thing twice.

Q: My album isn't out yet and/or doesn't have a release date and/or doesn't have distribution yet. Can you review it now?
A: I prefer to review releases that are already available to the public, whether as a retail product or a free download, or in some rare cases shortly before a definite release date. Getting an advance copy is cool, and gives me a chance to write about something when it's brand new, but I'm not gonna write at length about something that the reader can't hear for themselves anytime soon. There's already enough bullshit in the mainstream rap industry feeding into hyping an album that won't be out for months and months, on an indie level I think it's better to focus on the here and now.

Q: I gave you a CD a week ago/a month ago/6 months ago. Why haven't you posted about it yet?
A: Because I choose what I write about when I write about it, and this is not a Burger King review factory where you have it your way as fast as you desire. Sometimes I write about something quickly because I'm excited about it and want to share it with people right away, sometimes I write about something quickly because it sucks and I don't want to take the effort to listen to it more than once. Sometimes good stuff gets shuffled to the bottom of the stack and forgotten for a while for arbitrary reasons. I literally have a stack of roughly 50 CDs on top of my desk right now that I haven't written about on Gov't Names yet that I plan to at some point. I try not to let things sit around for more than a year, but considering that I do this for free out of my own compulsion and love of music, I'm not really gonna apologize if it's not always an airtight operation.

Q: You've posted my music in the past, why haven't you posted any of the last 15 things I sent you?
A: Maybe I haven't gotten around to it, maybe I only post music that often by artists I really really like and you aren't one of them, maybe you fell the fuck off.

Q: Can you post about my DVD?
A: I try to do DVD wrap-ups now and again when I have a few new ones, but it doesn't happen very often, because to be honest I would rather listen to a hundred mixtapes before I sit through one hip hop DVD. They mostly suck, to be honest. I mean, I'm sure yours is the best that's ever been made, but as a whole they're pretty boring.

Q: Can you review my CD for the Baltimore City Paper?
A: Maybe. Again, I write about almost everything I get on Gov't Names, but I write about maybe 10% or 20% of that stuff for the City Paper, so I'm only going to bother with the best or most noteworthy or interesting stuff I hear. And I am just a freelancer contributor, so I pitch things all the time but it's up to editors whether I actually get to write about them. If your #1 priority is getting written about in the City Paper, you should send your CD to every editor and writer that covers local music for them, not just me because I happen to be the most accessible.

Q: Can you interview me for the City Paper?
A: I'm even more selective with my feature articles than I am with my reviews, and I tend to choose to write about people because I see a story there, whether they've brought up the idea or even know who I am. So if you're going to ask me straight up to do one, I need to know what the hell there is to write 1,000 words about you before I even think about answering that question, and more than just garden variety "rags to riches"/"I'm going to change music" bullshit, like actual past accomplishments or your unique personality or perspective. If you can't make me excited about your music and your story to write a great article about you, then I'm the wrong person to write about you and you should go talk to other writers. Some people I know for years and hear several projects from before it feels like the right time to give them some kind of serious coverage, so I'd rather build with people and hear from them consistently than just be asked for a feature right out the box.

Q: Can you come to my show and review it?
A: The answer is probably yes, because I cover live music twice a week for the City Paper's Noise blog and am pretty much constantly looking for shows to check out, although obviously it all depends on whether I'm free that night (or if I feel I've already covered the event or venue or the other artists on the bill too much lately).

Q: Can you write about my film/clothing line/lemonade stand/etc.?
A: Probably not. I'm a music critic, first and foremost, and now and again I cover things that aren't explicitly music-related, but there are a lot of other writers you'd be better off asking.

Q: Can Gov't Names sponsor my event?
A: Maybe, if that doesn't involve me providing any funds.

Q: Can the City Paper sponsor my event?
A: I write for the City Paper on a freelance basis, and am not a full-time employee or representative of the publication or its parent company, and have no

Q: Can we make a prize for our battle that you will write an article about the winner?
A: No, I write about what I want to write about and it would be unethical to put my writing up for auction.

Q: Can I pay you to write about me?
A: No. That's against my personal ethics as a journalist.

Q: Can I pay you to write a bio for my press kit?
A: Maybe, although if I like you as an artist, I'd rather give you press coverage than write your promotional copy, and if I don't like you as an artist, I probably won't be interested in writing a bunch of positive things in your bio that I don't really mean. Unless the money's really really good, then maybe I can muster up the enthusiasm.

Q: Can I cut-and-paste or liberally borrow from something you wrote about me for my press kit or website?
A: Sure, if you put it in quotation marks and credit myself and the outlet I wrote the words for by name, and provide a link if possible. This is an entirely imaginary question, by the way, people never ask before doing this.

Q: Can you post my music video that I hired a director for and put a lot of money into looking as good as possible?
A: Sure, probably.

Q: Can you post my shaky camcorder YouTube video of my freestyling or lip syncing to a song in front of a brick wall?
A: Probably not.

Q: Can you post my new song "featuring" a big mainstream star that sounds suspiciously like I just added my vocals to a hit single already on the radio?
A: Unless you dropped the best verse of your life on it, I probably won't bother posting it. And if it is the best verse of your life, why'd you put it on a half-assed "remix" of a song by someone you don't even know?

Q: Can I put your name or the phrase Government Names on my event flyer or CD liner notes?
A: I'm fine with that most of the time, if you let me know in advance. However, bear in mind that I probably wouldn't write professionally about any CD or event that has my name or my site's name displayed prominently on it, since that would probably look like some kind of unethical conflict of interest, even if in reality it isn't.

Q: Can you judge our MC battle/producer battle/etc.?
A: Maybe. I've done a few and they're fun, but it's gotten to the point where I have to say no as many times as I say yes because I don't want to do that every week.

Q: Can you get me signed or make me a star?
A: No. I'm a big fish in a small pond, and some people here act like I'm important, but in terms of the mainstream music industry, on a national level or even just in Baltimore, me writing about you will not make you famous. I can give you a first impression to my readership, and I can introduce you to dozens of artists and producers and journalists and studios and labels and share my knowledge of the scene with you, but anything beyond that is on you.

Q: Can I quote you or use you as a reference for an article I'm writing?
A: Yes, sure, anything for a fellow music writer. But I do reserve the right to be bitter about the fact that writers seem to read my work and base their own work upon it much more often than editors seem to read my work and ask me to write for their publication.

Q: Who are the other writers on Gov't Names and what happened to all the mainstream Southern rap coverage on this site?
A: GN was founded as a collaborative blog with multiple contributors, but after they all kind of dropped out after the first year, I became the sole proprietor and decided to make Baltimore music its permanent focus.

Q: I'm not and never have been from Baltimore or anywhere else in Maryland. Can you post my music?
A: Nope! Geography is the criteria that dictates the content of my site, and there are millions of other sites that don't have that restriction that you can talk to.

Q: I have some new songs on my MySpace page, can you post a link to them?
A: If you send me an mp3 or a CD, or let me know where I can buy/download the music, then I will check it out and consider posting it. But I'm not gonna just link to streaming audio on MySpace.

Q: Can you post the release date for my new album?
A: If you want to leak a song to me that I can post in advance, and I like it, I will consider posting abuot the album in advance. Otherwise, I'll just wait until it's out to write about it.

Q: Can you post that you 'heard' that I sold 10 thousand copies and that labels are in a bidding war over me?
A: Fuck no. I'm not here to pull the wool over the public's eyes just to make you seem more important or successful than you really are. Give me solid evidence of your accomplishments, and I will post about htem.

Q: Can I write for the City Paper?
A: I'm just a freelance contributor, I have no say at all in that kind of thing. I can tell you who to contact and give you some advice, but it's not like I can just 'put in a word' and make it happen, and you need to have your shit together and know what you want to write about, and have some clips ready before you talk to anybody.

Q: Hey man, any good shows coming up?
A: Please don't ask me this. Especially not out in real life when I don't have a calender in front of me. You can go here and see the last 20 flyers I've posted, and invariably there'll be several upcoming events there.

Q: Hey man, who has new music out?
A: Once again, you can look at the damn blog and see for yourself, please don't make me hold your hand through this shit. You can go here and see the last 20 mp3s I've posted.

Q: What's so-and-so up to?
A: There's a search function at the top of the page! Type their name in, and see the last few things I've posted about them! I'm begging you!

Q: Here's my new song/album, can you give me some feedback?
A: If I post about or review your record, I will say what I think about it. But if you want me to give my opinion to you one-on-one I'm probably not going to put a lot of effort into it beyond "that was alright." If we have a rapport or you're really ready for me to be brutally honest and give you constructive criticism, the maybe I will take time out to explain what sucks about your music and why it sucks, but probably not. I don't have a lot of time for private consultations.

Q: Your review/post/article contained an incorrect fact!
A: Thanks for the clarification, I will try to correct it.

Q: Your review/post/article contained an opinion I disagreed with!
A: That's because it's my opinion and not yours, fuckin' duh. If there are other writers and bloggers who would think highly of your music, then go get them to give you coverage, and get some thicker skin before you send me anything else.

Q: Can you e-mail/call me when you post about my music/publish a review?
A: No. Find it yourself, or use the search bar to find posts about yourself or people you're trying to follow. I am not your personal Google Alert.

Q: Can you bring/mail me a copy or several copies of the issue of the City Paper you wrote about me in?
A: No, run your own errands. Or find the article on the CP site and print it out.

Q: Do you have business cards?
A: No. My e-mail link is at the top of the site, and I might give you my phone number if you ask for it. Maybe.

Q: You know that CD I sent you? Can you post about it now? How about now? How about now?
A: I do this site in my spare time on my own schedule for no pay, out of my love for music and my love for Baltimore. You might think you're just being "on top of your business" by micromanaging me and checking up with me constantly, but it's mostly annoying and makes me want to do this less.

Q: Can you come out to meet me for a dinner meeting/listening party/studio session/sewing circle/etc.?
A: If I say "no" to this kind of invitation, don't take it personally. I work a 9-5, and usually when I'm done the only way I'm not going home to be with my family is if I'm getting paid to cover an event or interview somebody, so if someone asks me to come out for something else kind of casual and optional and non-essential, I'm probably really really not going to be interested.

Q: Can you re-up the mp3 link you posted 5 weeks/5 months/5 years ago?
A: Occasionally, I will do this. But if the song is readily available to buy on iTunes or at some other online retailer, I will refer you to that. Don't tell me you can't afford to spent 99 cents on the song or, god forbid, buy a CD.

Q: Please take down the mp3 you've posted, it is in violation of copyright law and/or we object to you giving this music away for free.
A: I have never ever ever ever had an independent artist say anything like this to me. However, I have had Blogger take down posts with the weird DMCA thing on behalf of labels/publishers, in which case they don't bother to e-mail me, but only rarely do I post anything that major labels have any ownership of. But if this is ever an issue, please contact me directly and I will happily comply.

Labels: ,

"maybe you fell the fuck off."

thats about the best shit I heard in awhile.

i am fucking crying ova here

Al your a funny fucking guy B
this is incredibly awesome!
Ay Al Im sitting here laughing my ass off. And these are just guidelines - people need Rhino Stegasaurus Dino skin for the reviews lol................
Best FAQ's I've read EVER. Funny stuff.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?