Savage Roads

Friday, July 28, 2017

How to Contact Music Journalists on Social Media

                                               My first cover story in the UK. Photo by John Nordhus

Social media is both a blessing and a curse. This shouldn’t be news. These days, it’s easier than ever to connect with friends, fans, and total strangers. For musicians, it opens new portals to press opportunities and even lucrative contracts, but as with everything, there’s a certain level of finesse for each and every action.

Unfortunately, as anyone who’s ever tried online dating will tell you, a certain level of decorum disappears when people are protected by the Internets veil of anonymity. That’s why it’s more important than ever to retain dignity and treat others, particularly music industry professionals you’d like to work with in some capacity, with the same respect you’d show total strangers in real life
As a music journalist in the digital age, my inbox is literally bombarded with cold calls and requests for coverage from artists and publicists alike. That’s to be expected and while it’s somewhat annoying when the requests obviously aren’t genuine or were mass sent, the real frustration comes when my social channels are bogged down with insistent, even aggressive, messages. And, like online dating, there’s barely a, “Hi! How are you?” before the sender explains what he or she wants in explicit detail.

This isn’t to say that you should never try to connect via social media. On the contrary, if done properly, it’s a great entry onto a writer’s radar. Here are a few tips to contact music journalists on social media.

Do: Follow your favorite music writers on social media

Don’t: Request a follow-back immediately

Would you follow a random stranger on Twitter or Instagram and then immediately contact them for a follow back? Unless that person specifically said, “Follow me, then tweet to request a follow back,” don’t do it. The same goes for music journalists. Yes, our job is to source great artists and write about them, and yes, we may even be interested in your music, but asking for a follow back immediately, even in the sweetest way, guarantees we’ll ignore you.

Why? Consider the alternative. Whenever I get a new Twitter follower, I’ll always look at his or her profile, just to see who they are, what they do, and what we have in common. If that follower is an artist, I may listen to one or two tracks organically to get a sense of his or her sound. That won’t always lead to an article, but there’s that possibility. And yes, it may warrant a follow back.

Alternatively, by the time I check my phone and see that I’ve got a new Twitter follower and a tweet from said follower asking me to reciprocate, I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth. If this person is tweeting at one music journalist in this fashion, it’s a safe bet he or she is reaching out to a whole bunch more the same way. There’s zero chance I’m going to follow him or her back or even take that quick moment to listen to his or her music.

Do: Respond to their tweets in a genuine way

Don’t: Reply to tweets with non-relevant links to your music

Twitter was made for discussions, and the cool thing is that anyone can participate and get involved. But when those discussions are interrupted by self-promotion or off-topic garbage, it can kill not only the chat but also any relationships that were blossoming between Twitter pals.

Keep in mind that music journalists are fully formed people, too. We have good days and bad days; we have 140-character random thoughts that we tweet out without really thinking about them. If your favorite writer tweets, “Can’t wait to hit Disneyland with my BFF this weekend! Don’t you guys love Dole Whip?” don’t reply with, “Listen to my new single, ‘Best Song Ever!’ When can you review it? Let’s do an interview!” Again, like so much of this, it’s obvious. But it happens all. The. Time.
An appropriate tweet, on the other hand, might be, “Dole Whip is the only reason I go to Disneyland!” And, since your aim is probably to engage this writer in some way, add a relevant question (emphasis on relevant), like, “What’s your favorite ride? Mine’s the one with the shortest line!” Interactions like this are genuine and human, which is all we’re really asking for here.

Do: “Like” their photos on Instagram

Don’t: “Like” all of their photos on Instagram in an effort to get noticed

Everyone’s had this happen at one time or another: You open Instagram, see that you have an obscene amount of new likes, and realize you have no idea who said liker is. Usually, it’s:

  • a creepy creepy creep
  • a random company trying to get your attention (and dollars)
  • a bot
  • your mom’s friend who just joined Instagram, followed you, and is liking all of your pics
  • a drunk ex from college
If you’re a music journalist, however, there’s one more option:

an artist who saw your name on a blog/figures you covered his or her friend so, naturally, you’re eager to cover him or her/randomly found you

Look, we appreciate followers just like everyone else. But, to re-emphasize the first two points, don’t act like a freak trying to get attention by flooding our Instagram “like” feeds with a barrage of hearts. Yes, it’s weird that some dude I don’t know is liking photos of my friend’s one-year-old baby, my cat, and the pretty personal photo I posted on Christmas 2014.

In circumstances like this, I have to wonder, “What’s this person’s end game?” which is a question you, as an artist, need to be asking before every social media interaction. What do you want to achieve here? If you’re liking a bunch of Instagram photos, you’re probably trying to get noticed.
There are better ways to do that, like (see above) through genuine interactions. Pick an appropriate post, like a photo of a concert, the beach, or something that’s a little removed from that writer’s personal life, and give it a like or comment along the lines of, “Awesome shot! Zuma Beach is my favorite, too.”

Do: Request to DM them after building up a rapport

Don’t: Endlessly spam them with your music

Seriously, is there anything more invasive than a Facebook message or Twitter/Instagram DM from someone you don’t know and that person doesn’t provide a reason for contacting you? It’s one thing if it’s a completely organic, “Hey, Just wanted to say I really enjoyed your latest ReverbNation piece!” and quite another when it’s, “Review my album! Here’s a link to share with your readers, and please post it on your social media channels!”

Here’s an actual example of a cold-call Facebook message I got recently from someone I don’t know from Adam:

At first glance, it doesn’t seem so bad. This person seems to have a lot going for his or her music: 2.5 million Spotify streams ain’t bad. But it’s clear that he or she is after one thing: coverage, and there’s no subtlety, which is a turn off. (And, for the record, I had no idea who the person was that apparently referred this message-sender to me. Also a turn off.)

Think about it this way: you’re at a bar, and you spot a music writer across the room. You wouldn’t walk right up to him or her and say, “I’ve got 2.5 million Spotify streams! Cover me! Here’s my single! Listen to it!” That’s a surefire way to not get coverage. Remember, social media isn’t removed from real life; politeness will take you far.

Start your interactions in public; Twitter is ideal for this. Once you’ve developed a foundation for a professional relationship, ask if you can send the music writer a DM. He or she will probably know what’s coming, so if you get a “yes,” it’s a great sign. And it’s all because you created a basis of familiarity.

Do: Find something you both have in common

Don’t: Make it obvious you want something from them

For me, there’s nothing cooler than someone who shares my interests, whether they’re music related or not. Like most people, my social media profiles are an amalgam of what I like and what I don’t, which opens up conduits for conversations with my friends, followers, and whoever else happens by. If an artists pops in to add his or her two cents, that’s completely okay. In fact, if that person adds something particularly special to the conversation, that’s definitely going to pique my interest.
For example, one of my weird, musical quirks is a love for jug bands. So when I recently got a message request on Facebook from a guy who plays in a jug band and recognized that I was a fan, I immediately accepted. That spoke my language in a real, human way, as opposed to someone who spews a bunch of generic, copy-and-paste garbage at me (see above).

If it’s obvious that you’re half-assedly injecting yourself into the conversation and pretending to like say, a particular cuisine the writer is raving about for the sake of a little attention, wait for a better opportunity. If one doesn’t come up, this person probably isn’t the right person to be writing about your music.

Why? Because if you’re a hip-hop artist, sooner or later, the writer will tweet about something hip-hop related. If he or she doesn’t, double check that you’re familiar with his or her beat. If that writer regularly covers Latin music or smooth jazz, it’s not going to be a good fit anyway. And no, he or she won’t make an exception for you because you’ve got 2.5 million Spotify streams.
All of these tips can be boiled down into one, trendy catchphrase: Don’t be thirsty. Seriously, just like in real life, quality relationships take time to foster — even professional ones. Keep in mind that even though these words of wisdom definitely increase your chances of coverage, they don’t guarantee it. There’s a plethora of reasons why a journalist could choose to ignore you. When that happens, don’t take it personally, move on, and start the process all over again.

Allison Johnelle Boron is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Goldmine magazine, Paste, and more. She is the founder of REBEAT, a “blogazine” focused on mid-century music, culture, and lifestyle.

The post How to Contact Music Journalists on Social Media appeared first on ReverbNation Blog.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Savage Harley Roads #3 The World's Most Dangerous Roads

Imagine riding your bike down a scenic road in some exotic, far-flung locale when around the bend the railing disappears, the road narrows to practically a trail, and thousands of feet below -- if you squint -- you can see the skeletal remains of cars long lost. Yes, sometimes the road less taken is less taken for a reason. And in the case of these 12, it's because they can kill you.

James Dalton Highway


  If we've learned anything from Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel, it's that the roads in Alaska suck. And the most infamous sucky road is the James Dalton Hwy, a 414-mile passage between the Arctic Sea oil fields and civilization. Winter is unfortunately peak season for drivers, and high winds and icy conditions turn the road into a Slip'N Slide for truckers. 

Kabul-Jalalabad Highway

Located in “the Valley of Death,” this notorious road is highly trafficked by the Taliban and attacks are de rigueur -- so don’t expect an easy, breezy drive. Even still, the narrow mountain passes that always seem to be full of oversized freight trucks are just as frightening.

The Art of Conscious Breathing


The Art of Conscious Breathing

Variations of this breathing technique have been used for millennia to induce altered states of consciousness and connect more deeply with the divine. On the surface, it’s hard to fathom how breathing alone can take us to such great heights. I had doubts myself – until I gave it a try. As it turns out, I hadn’t given my lungs enough credit – the experience was cathartic in ways that defy description.
When was the last time you thought about how and when you breathe?

Biologically speaking, breathing is a rhythmic, involuntary process regulated by the body. Most of us do it about 12 to 20 times per minute. It’s kind of a requirement on the standard “staying alive” checklist.

But spiritually speaking, your breath is far more than that.

In Peru, one of the most well known shamans, Roman Hanis, shows us the power of using the breath to access higher realms of awareness. He leads us through some deeply trans-formative breathing exercises that combined both Amazonian and Tibetan mystic traditions.

Before beginning each session, he reminded us that we all begin our lives in a primordial state of peaceful love and kindness and through breath work, it’s possible to return to that place.
In Roman’s words:
“Within many archaic languages, including Andean Quechua, Amazonian Quechua, Tibetan, Aramaic, Latin, Greek, Hawaiian and others, the word for “breath” is the same word that is used to describe life, spirit, and soul.”
This begs the question I’m always asking myself – what did the ancients know that we’ve forgotten?
For thousands of years, up to this very day, people have used conscious breath work for many reasons. Here are just a few:
  • To access healing and insight
  • To expand consciousness
  • To release stress or anxiety
  • To re-energize the body
  • To gain clarity and vision
  • To connect with higher forces / spirit guides

A Simple Yet Powerful Breathing Exercise:

The breath work exercise I will share below is intended as a simple intro, to give you a taste of what your breath can do. However I was on the fence about whether or not to share this exercise, because it can be intense and needs to be used with care.

A friendly warning before proceeding: 

This type of breath work should be avoided by anyone with a history of the following: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma, retinal detachment, aneurysms, significant recent physical injuries or surgery. Pregnant women should avoid this type of breath work as well.

Keep in mind that during the process, it’s common for you to experience a wide spectrum of feelings. Such sensations can include deep relaxation, joy, serenity, sleep or meditative states, and possibly the release of past trauma. Reliving the birth process or even past life experiences have been reported too.

With this in mind, it’s strongly recommended that you have someone with you who is aware of what you are doing and is willing to assist if you need anything along the way.

Remember, if you experience any overwhelming sensations it is OK to stop at any time.

The Practice:

Preparing your space:

Find a firm, flat surface to lie down on – a yoga mat on the floor is ideal. Many people also put a pillow under their head and a rolled blanket under their knees. An additional blanket can also be used for warmth if you become cold during the exercise.

Important: If this is your first time trying an exercise like this, I strongly recommend keeping it to 20 minutes max, before gently bringing your breath back to normal and letting your body relax for 10 minutes in a laying position.

Again, this practice should be done with a partner who can supervise you. Take turns at 20 minute intervals, one experiencing while the other holds space. Using a timer with a gentle sound is also recommended when trying this outside of a workshop or class setting.

Read through all of the steps below before starting and familiarize yourself with them.

Step #1

Lie down on your back, with pillow under the knees and any blankets positioned in a way that makes you comfortable. Close your eyes and relax your body and breathing for a few minutes.

Step #2

Take in a slow, deep breath. Gently breathe all the way to the bottom of your lungs so that your stomach moves outward a bit. At the end of your inhale, immediately begin to exhale at the same speed. At the end of your exhale, immediately begin breathing in again, slow and steady.

Step #3

Be mindful of continuous, “circular” breathing – where there are no gaps between inhale and exhale. And be sure not to hold your breath. When your lungs are almost full, begin to exhale, then before your lungs are empty, inhale again. You want to create a pattern of constant breathing either in or out. Think about the breath as making a circular motion in, through, and out of your system, and repeat.

Step #4

You will need to breathe a little bit faster than you would under normal circumstances. However, and this is very important, you don’t want to breathe so fast that you create tension anywhere in your body. The lungs and entire body should be as relaxed as possible. In this way, the breath cycle can be maintained for a longer period of time.

Step #5

Breathing in and out through the mouth will support emotional release more completely. But if you find that it’s more comfortable to nose breath, that’s ok too. In about 10 minutes or so, your body will find its own rhythm and way of breathing.

(At about the 10 to 15 minute mark, you may begin to feel a tingling sensation in your extremities, a feeling of euphoria, or an “altered” state of awareness.)

Step #6

After 20 minutes, your preset timer will sound (remember to set a peaceful alarm sound) and your partner will gently put a hand on your shoulder to let you know that it’s time to slowly and intentionally bring your breath back to normal. Take some time in this in-between state to notice how what you’ve learned integrates and interacts with the reality that comes back into focus around you. *Some find this to be the most revelatory piece to this exercise.

Step #7

You are complete ?

I hope this practice gives you a glimpse of the innate wisdom that is available when you tap into the power of your breath. Conscious breath work is yet another way to stay connected to the sacred in your life.
Thank you to the ancient masters who gave us this deeply trans-formative wisdom.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Celebrities In The Wind

Joan Jett

We all love our Harleys us old school bikers and the newer breed all over the world.
Here are some of our beloved celebrities enjoying their own Harley motors. Vroom

Bruce "The Boss" Sprinsteen

Sly Stallone

Arnold Swarzenegger

Brad Pitt


Lenny Kravitz


Tommy Lee


Mickey Jones

James Caan

Hugh Jackman

Tina Turner

Friday, March 10, 2017

Crush Of The Day #24

Been too long since I did a new "Crush Of The Day" collection. Baggers beautiful and outrageous.