The Courtesy Tier
Not to go and break the fourth wall or anything, but I would like to take a moment to talk about the business of writing a music blog. Most of the writers working in this field rely heavily on the PR people whose job it is to engage said writers – or bloggers, to use a term from 2007. The PR people send out press kits full of tour updates, album release info and mp3s. The blogger then sorts through all of these press releases (or has their intern do it), separating the wheat from the chaff. Then, if the writer deems the material worthy, he or she writes about it on their blog/website/facebook page.
We work a little differently here at Tough Customer, only because we focus on smaller, lesser known bands. Needless to say, we are not on the radar of Kanye’s publicist – which is to say that we have to do a lot of our own legwork to find the bands we cover. But our inbox is still inundated with material from managers and PR people trying to get their band heard. A lot of times the bands themselves write to us, hoping we’ll hype their new record or video. Which is cool. We like that. The more options we have to choose from, the better choices we can make.
This is the basic framework for the meritocracy that the world wide web is supposed to represent. If everybody and their dog records an album and posts it online, then naturally the best stuff will get the most attention. That’s the theory anyway, although in practice you’ll still read way more articles about Radiohead than say, The Significant Figures or Thunders. But whatever. It’s one big, happy party and everybody’s invited. All you have to do is play some cool jamz and keep it real.
These rules are pretty easy to follow, and yet so many people can’t help but break them. Mostly they screw up on the cool jamz part. Seriously, the crap to decent music ratio of the submissions we get is hovering around 50:1 right now. There are a lot of people out there trying to be rock stars who really should be accountants instead. We’ve actually talked about rebuilding this site to include a new section covering all the bad Russian metal bands, wimpy singer/songwriters, and über mediocre indie rock bands who have tried to convince us that their new album is the game changer we’ve all been waiting for. Everybody wants to live the dream, I guess.
Fewer in number, but more egregious in their crimes are those that fail to keep it real. These are the fakers that present their music under false pretenses or convince some poor high school student (aka “member of the street team”) to do it for them. This usually comes in the form of some highly polished promo material that makes it look like the band has toured with Cold Play or written the soundtrack for Transformers 2. Either that, or one of their “fans” writes us a heartfelt letter about their new favorite band that we just have to hear.
Enter Brooklyn’s Courtesy Tier. They’re a pretty cool rock duo that plays guitar rock in the vein of The Black Keys or The White Stripes. Their sound is a little more psychedelic than either of those bands, but they didn’t put much effort into their promo material, so I’m not going to waste too much energy on their review.
What I will tell you is that I received an email from one of their “fans” telling me about this new band that was burning up stages around New York. There were a few other exhortations to check out their music and third person declarations of fandom, including the bold proclamation “I really think they are…taking this two person thing to a whole new kind of level.” The email included a link to their websites and came from the email address of one Omer Leibovitz.
Of course, I clicked the link and checked out the music. It was pretty good, so I flipped over to the bio for more info. Guess who plays guitar and sings lead vocals in this awesome band? None other than Mr. Leibovitz. Come on now Omer. Did you think I wouldn’t look? Did you think I would be tricked into believing you already have legions of devoted fans? Did you think about this at all?
Really I don’t know why this bothers me so much. I guess it’s because the assumption here seems to be that I’m an idiot, and that approaching me with some half-baked con about one of your admirers is the best way to trick me into writing about your music. And what do you know – it worked. Here’s your name in print. With any luck, this will help you score some real life fans (with better grammar) who will send emails to other less discerning blogs and tell them of your prowess. If not, I suggest you get a new email address and some dark glasses before you head back out into the blogosphere.
MP3: 'Buddy Casey'
MP3: 'Set Things Right'