“No Stacy, EDM blogger at WildDropBeatzzz, I won’t be at the Skrillex show in New York” and “No Jacob, hip-hop editor at the Every-Other-Weekly, I will unfortunately not be able to down ‘shotzies’ with you at Das Racist’s show in LA.” Why, you may ask, would I pass up these prime audio opportunities? It is not because of a lack of interest, but rather because I am boldly standing at what I feel is the frontier of the entertainment industry: music publicity in the Midwest.
Despite Chicago’s reputation as the nation’s Second City, our broad shoulders tend to land us into the fourth, fifth or sixth place as far as music is concerned (behind Nashville, Miami and, probably, Omaha). It has become my mission, and is the unending MO of my employer Biz 3, to transform the polarized bicoastal entertainment landscape into a tricoastal one, infused with good-ol’ mid-American hardworkin’ and values.
I’m not a historian, but it seems like we got screwed on the music publicity tip. For a city drenched in such a rich musical past -- we are home to some of the most innovative music ever, from Chicago jazz and blues to house and juke -- it would seem like we would have a better representation in the biz.
This post is not supposed to be a total whinefest, though. Let’s, instead, focus on why Chicago is the ideal place for music publicity. For those who are completely vexed by the job, let me elaborate: publicists are the liaisons between artists (read: managers) and print, online and on-air press. We are behind most of the stuff on your Pitchfork RSS feed. In Chicago, we can make an impact in the music game because we are making an impact.
1) Geography. We are in the middle of it all, at least as far as cartography is concerned. We are never more than two time zones away from LA or NY, which makes setting up interviews convenient.
2) Uncrowded marketplace. In Chicago, we are the big fish in a small pond, compared to LA where you can’t go to your local In-N-Out or Pinkberry without running into the competition. We are insulated from some of the backhanded client-snatching that runs rampant on both coasts. (Although, it does happen.)
3) Young, diligent and informed workforce. Chicago is a magnet for urban-craved suburban youth from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan who only want to work hard, be relevant and join a gender-queer punk band.
So go forth, do not be afraid to dip your toes into the proverbial pond. Gather up your best bands, hit up press for contacts, buy database software and download a bulk mailer for the clever pitches you will send and go at it on your own. Just don’t steal our clients! Shotzies at the next Justice show at the Congress?
Eric Dresner is a Detroit-born, Chicago-based publicist, performer, gamelaner and lusophile. He is rarely, if ever, seen in the presence of olives.