Senior Correspondent - Billboard Magazine
Journalists are extremely time-poor. Many are expected to churn out thousands of publishable-words each day. There's a grind to it, and it's hard work. Don't waste the reporter's time by showing up late. Remember that a sharp writer might actually focus on the musician's inadequacies in an interview situation. I've been stood up by an interviewee; you can be sure I wrote about it.
Have something interesting to say. A great artist doesn't always interview well. Some artists are shy, and some are disinterested in the promotion process. But if you want good coverage you should present well as you would on stage. Don’t turn up wrecked, unless you want the journalist to write about your sorry state. Think beforehand what you want to talk about and be careful not to recite the same lines to different journalists.
The best interviews are done face-to-face. Telephone interviews can be hit-and-miss. Email interviews can save time for a journalist, but they're far from ideal.
Interviewers are trying to build a rapport with the musician. The idea being: the more the artist opens up, the more interesting and colourful the copy. Be as relaxed as possible, and try to be engaging – ask the journalist a bit about their own life and job? The interviewing process can be one of the most enjoyable moments in an otherwise hectic day. Make it fun for both sides.
My favourite interview was one of my first – with the legendary industrial artist Blixa Bargeld. He rarely gives interviews. He famously hates reporters. But he gave me two hours of his time, then invited me to join him backstage at his show that night. The interview was a huge success because I did my research. And I asked some sticky questions without being out of line. The best interviews have two things in common – they're well researched, and they're relaxed.