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Member's Success Story:

"I have become a different person Dec, I really have. Over the last 10 months of training with the Serious Writers Guild, I have changed my outlook on a lot within the industry.
I realise what it takes now and laugh at how I spent so long moaning at the industry and wondering why my door wasn't being knocked on. I am now hanging out with celebrities, meeting producers, publishers, people like me, and I actually feel an air of success."

Zac Zikis

The Art of Getting That Important 'Publicity'.......
Hitting the Headlines !

Exposure in the Press and on Radio/TV/Internet is crucial in Show Biz. Just think how many column inches The Spice Girls [RIP] have generated in everything from the Shields Gazette to Smash Hits. And look at how much radio airplay and TV exposure bands like The Corrs, Bond, Destiny's Child, Justin Timberlake, Robbie Williams and Madonna attract. Then, how about Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, even the Soap Stars?

The press include:

   print press - newspapers, magazines, fanzines [local and national]

   radio [local and national]

   TV [regional, national and satellite / cable]

The press can be very helpful in raising your profile. Your first port of call should be the local press. They are keen on local stories and may also have a pop or rock columnist, plus the film/theatre and club section.

Here's a few tips on how to work with the media:

   Don't speak to the press until you're ready for wider exposure. Fine tune your talent, your musicianship, songwriting and live gigs before speaking to journalists.

   Get to know local journalists. Find out which journalists are interested in your style.

   Build up a buzz in the local press but wait 'til you've got something interesting to say about your act or band. You only have that one chance to make that initial impression. If you've won a national or local music competition, this could be a good way of getting your picture in the local paper or being invited onto local radio or TV.

   Don't approach national press until you've got a top notch demo, a national angle to your story, or you've attracted national interest.

Spice Up your Life - Auditions:
Some pop acts seem to jump from obscurity into the pop limelight before you can say 'The Sugababes' ! How does this happen ? Auditions are usually held by bands or managers looking for a new band member[s]. Sometimes a whole pop act can be recruited this way.
Take the Spice Girls [RIP] who auditioned individually to become part of one of the World's biggest pop groups by responding to an advert in UK based The Stage newspaper.

Adverts for auditions often appear in national papers such as The Stage and Melody Maker billboard etc.
Local bands sometimes recruit in the classifieds of local papers but these are largely bands over 18.

At the audition, you will usually be asked to prepare two songs - usually a slow one and an up tempo song. If you're a pop artist, you'll probably be given the option of singing to backing tapes OR reading from sheet music. Always rehearse properly for an audition. For indie and rock bands, you may be asked to play something you have written or choose to play a cover of a well known song that demonstrates your musical ability.

The Management:
Confused about where to take your pop career ? Fed up with chasing around after gigs and answering phone calls about your band ? Exhausted with an endless stream of tasks to sort out - publicity photos, demo's and lists of music biz contacts ?

A manager could be your knight in shining armour...or perhaps not ?

A good manager can be useful in guiding your pop career and taking you to the top. It's often the manager who becomes the driving force behind a successful pop act. Pop's history is littered with examples of pushy managers who've taken their acts to the top - from Brian Epstein [The Beatles] to Tom Watkins [the brains behind Bros, East 17 and the Pet Shop Boys] and even Ronan Keating [now also co-manager of Westlife].

It's hard to look at yourself and be self critical. Managers can be very good at taking a more critical look at an act and telling an artist / band what is needed to turn it into a winner. Having a manager is no guarantee of success but it can help. Managers can sometimes come up with a winning plan to break a new artist into the big time. Simon Fuller, former manager of the Spice Girls, claims 'timing' and a 'publicity' gimmick [like 'Girl Power'] can 'break' an act into the charts.

Watch out for managers who are sharks, who promise you the world and then rip you off. Get any management contract checked out by a lawyer or the Musicians Union. Although asking a mainstream Show Business Organisation for legal help can take an age.... and your local lawyer will not know about Show business contracts.

When should you get a manager involved ? It's best to wait until you have some decent songs, a half decent live show and some idea of where to take your music. A manager can help you to make contacts with the music biz - record labels, promoters in larger venues, agents etc
Managers come in all shapes and sizes. Some bands start out by using their mum, dad or auntie which has its pros and cons. Parents can be useful in sorting out paperwork and running around chasing gigs, but few mums and dads have the sort of contacts needed to launch your career into the stratosphere. It may be helpful to get their help when you're starting out but remember it's unlikely that they'll know the ins and outs of the music biz unless they've worked in it themselves.

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   Develop a strong image for your act - whether it's clothes / hair, a dance routine, your stage act or your personalities within the band, the pop biz is one of THE most image conscious industries in the world. Think what would appeal to your fans. If you're a heavy metal band, it's no use looking like a boy band ! Pop acts are designed to appeal to a teen or pre teen [under 14] audience so think what would appeal to that age group.

   Many pop acts are packaged and marketed by record companies and managers so that they have a broad appeal. Just look at Westlife or Boyzone, Nsync, Blue. You can copy this yourself if you think about what image you would like to go for. The traditional recipe for success has been a mixture of the cute / gentle one [Mark Owen in Take That], the handsome one [Justin in Nsync], the quiet one [Bobak from Another Level fits the bill here] and the rebel / tough one [Noel and Liam Gallagher in Oasis or Brian from East 17]. Recently there's been a trend to 'mix and match' boy and girl types - a quick look at SClub [RIP] will put you in the picture here. Many of these bands are packaged up by labels and managers.

   Look at current trends - but you must be one step ahead of the game by coming up with something different and fresh.

What Next?

A lot of wannabe pop artists never get beyond dreaming about being the next Robbie or Damon. If you want to be a pop star, there's likely to be plenty of hurdles along the way so don't be afraid of failure. On the other hand, if you don't put yourself in the picture, you won't get anywhere. Only 0.1% of acts get signed to a record deal and end up on 'Top of the Pops' but that shouldn't stop you trying if you think you're good enough. Who knows, you could end up sharing the stage with Coldplay, Britney or the Stereophonics at the Brits !

This article was written by Generator's Sue Wilkinson with a lot of help from Dec Cluskey!

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