Posted tagged ‘press kit advice’

Puppetmastering Reviews: Make ‘Em Say What You Want

March 2, 2010

I recently talked to a friend of mine in a band called Yellow Light Maybe that just released a record in my hometown area of Columbus, OH.  Great local record in my opinion.  Most of the press was great, they had an amazing turnout at their cd release show – but (sound the suspenseful climactic music) the typical “everything sucks” paper in town gave them a pretty crappy review.

I immediately started to think back to when this same publication ripped me to shreds.  Oh man, and did they…they did everything but come to my house and slap me in the face.

We got all up in arms about it too.  Called to talk to the editor, wrote a letter about how they are just “tearing down the scene by slamming local artists rather than leaving the story open ended to give it a chance for people that may actually dig the record…” blah, blah, blah.

Pretty foolish of me, yes I know.  But I was pissed.  This was my first experience with not only a bad review, but a public flogging.  I didn’t really know how to handle it.

After a couple of weeks though, I calmed down and thought back to some advice a friend/early manager had told me:

“There is no such thing as a bad review.  You can always make them say what you want them to say…”

Holy crap!  In that case, this publication did say that my songwriting “Invoked the better days of Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner”

So guess what?  I only used THAT sentence. And with that I completely turned a sh*t ass horrible review into one that I was actually proud of.

And I didn’t cheat or make anything up.  It was true.  They said it.  I just left out the bad stuff and then slapped it on my press kit and website.

Get a bad review lately?

What was the good part about it?  There had to be something decent.

Ever see the movie reviews come across the screen and they are just one word? “Exciting…”  “Breathtaking…”

Those are the distribution houses or labels puppetmastering the reviews.  You can do it too.  There isn’t a damn thing wrong with it.

Will people still see the bad review?  Yea, but who cares?  If you are really in this for the long haul like I always preach – one, two, or a handful of negative reviews aren’t going to hurt you.

You will still find your audience.

In the example above YLM still had 400 people show up to the show and almost completely sold out their merch.  Friends and fans left comment after comment on their social sites about how great the show was.  Bad review?  Didn’t affect them one bit.

In fact, it helped them.  Made them stronger and more united.  Brought the fans together and united them.  And not sure if they’ll use it or not – but I fished together this review from the original negative one:

“Yellow Light Maybe has the formula down…”

What are some ways you have been able to change around a review or two?

Yellow Light Maybe’s new disc More of the World is available at or on iTunes.