For those who don’t know me as anything other than the two initials that come before each question in the bulk of our interviews, I’m Adam B, the Interviews Editor here at RapReviews.com. I’m entering my fifth year at the site (tenth year in the game overall) and over those years I’ve tried my best to deliver you Q&As with some of the biggest names in the business as well as some of the hardest working emcees, producers and label owners in the independent and underground scenes. Lately, the scales have tipped noticeably in favor of the latter. Let me assure you, it’s not because I’m an indie rap snob. It actually has everything to do with artists and their work ethic.
Recently I’ve been getting more and more artists, and publicists, asking me to just email over interview questions rather than scheduling phoners or in-persons. The good points of the email interview are fairly obvious – as the writer I no longer have to spend any time transcribing, which oftentimes takes three times as long as the actual interview. The artist can take their time with the questions and put some real thought into their answers rather than being put on the spot and possibly having something major slip their mind. The artist also doesn’t have to do eight of them in a row like they usually have to do on a phone interview day. The negative aspects of an email interview are that it’s very difficult to ask follow up questions and sometimes those are the questions that guide an interview and make it really interesting. There’s also the very real chance that the artist thinks all they have to do is write a few quick sentences and send it back, which makes for a very brief, and usually quite terrible, interview to read. Thankfully, most of the time I get back something that ranges from usable to pretty dang good. Over the past few months, however, for all my efforts, I’ve been coming up short getting you all of the interviews I’ve been working for, but believe me, it hasn’t been from a lack of effort.
I’m not here to call out any specific artists, but I can tell you one formerly big name emcee who’s had two top ten albums totally blew off his interview day and his publicist never even called or emailed to let me know. When I offered to email the questions over afterwards I was told he wasn’t into doing email interviews. Apparently he just wasn’t into doing interviews. This was an artist I’d worked with multiple times in the past when he was signed to a major label and he was always on time and courteous. I guess that was the major label’s doing. Exactly zero interviews came out of that interview day.
There was another formerly big name artist attempting a comeback who called me two hours late for a phone interview. I was no longer in my office so they left me a message saying I could “call them anytime,” but then neglected to leave a phone number. We rescheduled the interview, which they again missed, and just like the first time I received no notice. I was just sitting around for over an hour waiting for them to call, emailing the publicist asking how late they were running, before I eventually gave up. I was then told I could email over questions. I really didn’t want to because I didn’t feel the artist deserved the press at that point, but figured I had prepped for the interview and the questions were done, so I might as well send them over. That was three weeks ago. No word back yet.
A rep for a group that had an anthemic hit a few years ago contacted me at the end of ’08 about getting some press. I offered a phoner, but the publicist replied it was hard to get them all on the phone at the same time so it would be better if I just emailed over questions. I sent them questions on January first. Still no word after two follow ups.
Those are just three examples of what’s been going on. It’s not like these artists are doing interviews for everyone else, they’re just blowing of the press altogether, even when we try to make things as easy as possible for them. You can imagine how frustrating it is to prep for multiple interviews, be asked to email over questions, and then never hear back. Heck, just the other day a publicist asked me about coverage for an artist knowing damned well they owed me interview answers from another one of their clients.
This is why you’ve seen the scales tip in favor of the indie artists in our interview section (marked Special at the top of the site). Quite frankly, I want to work with the artists who actually care enough to take the 30 minutes out of their day for a phone interview, or hour out of their day to type out some answers, rather than continuing to chase after big names that clearly don’t care as much as they used to. Just a handful of years ago the biggest names in the industry wanted to do in-persons and phoners for websites. I sat down with T.I., 50 Cent, Ludacris and many others. I don’t know what happened to those times, but they’re clearly gone (and I am in no way stating those three particular artists no longer care, they’re simply examples of the kind of artists that used to do a ton of online press).
Personally, I feel desire should be rewarded, and if certain artists only want to do interviews for magazine covers then maybe they don’t deserve the coverage.
Of course, that’s just my opinion. This is a website that thrives on its users and I still care very much about what you want to read. If you’re most interested in those huge names, I apologize for not getting them to you.
As always, your feedback is much appreciated, so let me know – Do you prefer to get insight from artists you already know, or do you dig learning about new voices in the scene? (“I like both” is a perfectly acceptable answer) You can reach me at AdamB@RapReviews.com.