As far as win-win situations go, the service that The Men From The Press are offering to new bands and journalists seems, on first look, like a pretty good deal. Bands sign up to TMFTP’s website and pay a small-ish fee to get their music to journalists from well-known publications, who then get paid for offering feedback.
Want your demo to be heard by the broadsheet critic Paul Lester? That'll be thirty quid.
For bands who can’t afford to pay PR companies to solicit their wares, it’s a better gamble than hunting out journalists’ personal email addresses and risking their unbridled RAGE by filling their inboxes with a wodge of unsolicited MP3s (seriously, don’t do that). And surprisingly enough, a fair few of the publications listed on the site don’t actually pay journalists for their work, making it a vaguely attractive proposition for them, too.
But despite the er, technologically wowing flashy display of respected publication logos at the top of their website (including NME's, which is weird, because we have absolutely nothing to do with them), TMFTP seems anything but reputable.
As well as claiming to save you money (despite their extremely weird and inconsistent pricing system), they seem to be capable of time travel, given that they’re advertising the long dead Smash Hits as a potential pimp of your songs. And, judging by their negligible command of pixels and fonts, any money that founder David Chisholm is getting ain’t going back into improving the site and its services.
More importantly though, you’ve got to ask yourself what kind of music writer can’t be arsed to go and discover their own bands to fall in love with, instead of scraping in the hard-earned pennies of young musicians trying to make a name for themselves (and they often are hard-earned, especially when you’re being ripped off left right and centre by shady pay-to-play promoters).
Sean Adams, the editor of Drowned in Sound posted a blog about TMFTP yesterday, saying that some of their writers had been offered the chance to get paid to review records, without knowing what kind of site they had agreed to get involved with. Not wanting to look a supposed gifthorse in the mouth, a few replied saying they would, and they ended up with their names and a price on their critical worth listed on the website for all to see. The resulting scrum got their names removed, though the site’s name still appears as a supposedly affiliate site, which, as Sean makes pretty clear, it damn well isn’t.
Although using TMFTP might be cheaper than employing a PR company’s promotional wiles – you’re looking at a coupla hundred quid plus a hefty dose of deal-beckoning hype for a campaign on an unsigned band’s debut single – a miserly hack’s dashed off opinion is worth precisely nothing to you. Joy Divisions don’t find their Paul Morleys like this.
You need journalists with passion who are willing to forage for the finest music themselves, who then articulately roar its praises from the roof of every blog, magazine and paper going, all out of the goodness of their heart. (Speaking of which, you heard Anaïs Mitchell’s new stuff? No? You should.)
That’s the kind of attention and help that up and coming bands need, not TMFTP’s dodgy and misleadingly marketed dealings that seem about as win/win a symbiotic relationship as a tiny bird pecking the food from between an alligator’s teeth.