Music Writing 101: Coverage Confirmations

If the first goal of every young music writer is to gain access to albums from their favorite artists before those records arrive in stores, then the second goal is usually to see those artists in concert without paying the cover charge. Yes, free admission to concerts and festivals is one of the perks of writing about music, but just like advance access to music it’s a perk that doesn’t necessarily have to be extended to you.

No show or event is truly free to writers. Your currency in these exchanges is your voice and whatever audience (aka reach) you have through the outlet that shares your work. Upon receiving confirmation that you have been added to the list of any event you are entering into an agreement that you both will attend said event and that you will write about that event in a timely manner. For example, if you attend Van’s Warped Tour on Monday after promising a review to PR then it should not take a week or more to post that review online. If it does you will risk straining your relationship with the PR that granted you access in the first place. More importantly, you will develop a reputation that extends beyond that one relationship and follows you where you go in music. The industry may seem large to outsiders, but it’s actually quite small, and everyone who knows anyone will come to learn of your lack of follow through.

This is about good business as much as it is respect. People will get upset if publicists do not reply to their requests in a timely manner, but see no problem dragging their feet to complete content that was promised in advance of receiving a coverage confirmation. Those who respect others and their time/work will in turn receive the same respect.

Rey Roldan, founder of Reybee Inc., recently wrote the following on coverage requests and confirmations from the perspective of a publicist:

If you request music or tickets from a publicist and promise or confirm coverage, it’s your duty to make good on it… and if, for some reason or another, you can’t keep your side of the deal, it’s only respectful to let the publicist know. Don’t ghost them.

It’s understandable if you hated the show or the music and you don’t want to cover it because of that reason. But let the publicist know, so they don’t constantly hound you for the link.

If you confirm an interview date and time but something comes up and you can’t make it, let the publicist know ASAP. Don’t wait for the time of your interview to tell them that it’s a no-go. It only makes the publicist look bad and could create tension in your relationship moving forward.

If you get confirmation of guest list or photopasses to a show (especially the bigger, higher profile shows) and can’t make it, let the publicist know as soon as your can. There’s a chance that the publicist can use your spot to give to another writer/photographer who was cut from the list. We publicists do sometimes check guest lists after the show to see who showed up and who didn’t.

If you are requesting tickets to a show with multiple artists, either send one email with all the publicists on copy or make sure if you get confirmed on one list to let the other publicists know you’re all set. If you are on multiple lists for the same show, it can prevent other writers/photographers from covering that show. Or if we publicists cross-check our lists and see you on it more than once (or worse yet, see multiple names for the same outlet on different lists), it looks bad for you and/or your outlet.

Making relationships in this industry can be difficult. Maintaining them is easy. Just don’t fuck them up.

Respect and follow-through are everything in this business. Do your best to follow the golden rule (treat others as you want to be treated) and you’ll do just fine.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.