SXSW profile project FAQ
This is a page specifically meant for the people working on our project to interview and write profiles of the musicians playing at the South by Southwest festival in March 2010. If you are interested in joining the project, read this post on Spinner, our indie music site.
Thank you for choosing to work on a profile of a musician scheduled to play at the South By Southwest music festival this march. This document is meant to offer some tips and guidance for you.
If you've got a question, please ask it in the comments below. We'll respond promptly so all the other writers can see it. Please feel free to post your own tips about this project below too. If you would rather, send your questions to SXSWSeed@aol.com.
Here are an example interview and biography.
- Contact the band's publicist or manager to arrange an interview.
- Don't wait, because you only have a week to conduct the interview and submit the article. If we have contact information, we have included it in your assignment e-mail. If not, search for the band's MySpace page and its own Web page. You should find a manager or press contact. If you're stumped, contact us atSXSWSeed@aol.com.
- Ask the manager or publicist to e-mail you a photograph of the band that will run with the article.
- Research the band. Listen to the band's songs you find on the Web. Read what you can about them.
- Prepare to record the interview if you can. Your local RadioShack or office supply story, has gadgets that can hook up a telephone to a recorder. Another option is to conduct the interview on speakerphone, so a recorder can pick up the conversation.
- While recording the interview is a very good idea, it's not required. Just be prepared to take very good notes.
- If you do record the interview, be sure to tell the person you are talking to. In many states, that's the law.
- Interviews must be conducted by telephone (or in person, if you happen to be where the band is.) E-mail interviews are not acceptable. The only exception is if the band doesn't feel comfortable in English. If you do conduct an e-mail interview in this case, feel free to e-mail back follow up questions in the (likely) case the initial answers are too terse.
- In the interview, be sure to ask the questions on our list below. Feel free to add a few of your own. Be polite and curious.
- If the person you are talking to doesn't really answer the question in a colorful way, ask a follow up to draw more out. You need more than a few sentances for each question.
- If you haven't already, sign up for an account on at www.seed.com/signup. Please use the same e-mail address you have used to apply to write for Seed.
- Go to the "Dashboard" (the first page you see after you sign in). Under "Recommended Assignments," choose the "Arts & Entertainment" category from the drop down menu.
- Look for the assignment called "SxSW Artist Profile." You may need to skip forward by a page or two.
- Click on the title of the "SxSW Artist Profile" assignment. Then click "Claim This."
- You will see a page that allows you to enter and edit your article. Put the band name as the Article Title.
- If you have a photograph of the band, click on the "Click to Add an Image" button. Press "Upload." Then insert the filename of the photo the band sent you. (Don't use photos from other sites that may be copyrighted.)
- Click "Save." Whenever you return to your dashboard on Seed, you'll see the article listed under "works in Progress."
- Go through your notes and recordings to extract the most sharp, interesting and informative quotes.
- Write a two or three sentence introduction to the article that simply sets up the band, where it's from, and a general description of the sort of music it plays. Make sure the tone is that of a reporter describing the band (with style), but not a critic or a publicist. It's not your job to say whether the band is good or not.
- The rest of the article is simply the questions you asked in bold face, followed by the answers.
- No single answer should be more than 200 words. And the entire article cannot exceed 1,000 words.
- Be sure to include all four of the core questions and at least four other questions.
- The answer to each question should be a direct quote. You can add additional information to make things clear [in brackets]. You may skip parts of the quote using ...ellipses to indicate that words were skipped. Of course, do not in any way alter the meaning or emphasis of what the artist said.
- Use the information you learned from the interview, along with what you learned researching the band in advance.
- Use reliable sources, including your own interview, the band's publicity information and web site, the site of their record label, and mainstream publications such as Rolling Stone. Wikipedia is often a handy starting place, but verify any information you find there.
- A chronological structure is usually handy for a biography. Again, your job is to describe the band, not to offer opinions about its music.
- Write 300-500 words.
- Link to all your external sources, and identify for us any other sources you have that aren't Web links.
- Be sure to use your own words, not copy those of others.
- It's best to write your article, using the editor on Seed.com. There are buttons, however, that allow you to paste text into the Seed editor and to paste formatted text from Microsoft Word.
- Simply append the biography to the end of the interview in the Seed. Put the heading "Biography" at the beginning.
- When you have finished writing your article in Seed and proofread it article, press "Save & Next." Write a short summary of your interview on the next page.
- Press "Preview" to see your article one last time. Then press "Submit."
- We will read it and get back to you within seven days.
- If we like your work, we may offer you the chance to write more SxSW interviews.
- When speaking to the band and its representatives, you can describe yourself as on assignment for AOL Music and Spinner.
- You may not describe yourself as working for us in any other context.
- Do not approach SXSW, or any other organization, and ask for press passes, tickets or any other favors.
- Do not write about any band if you have a personal or professional relationship with any people or companies connected to it in any way.
- Do not accept any tickets, goods, meals or anything else with a more than a nominal value from anyone connected to the band.
- You must use your full real name as the byline of the article.
- If you have a general question, ask it in the comments below. That way we can share our answer with the rest of the SXSW writes. Feel free to discuss the project amongst yourselves. Also you can e-mail us at SXSWSeed@aol.com with any questions or concerns.