Research, Engage, Enjoy: A Young Artist's Guide to Being Interviewed

We asked a veteran publicist to share her best advice for young artists.

We’ve all had it happen: you go to watch an interview with one of your favorite artists, hoping to gain some insight into their creative process, or maybe an interesting tidbit about their life, and it’s a trainwreck.

Whether it’s due to a busy press schedule, an early morning start time or terrible questions, there’s nothing worse that watching or listening to a despondent artist mumble or half-answer their way through an interview. We just saw it happen recently with Kodak Black, and he’s far from the first artist to fall prey to an absolutely terrible interview.

In an attempt to reduce the frequency of these types of interviews for any artists that might be reading, we reached out to veteran publicist Sarah Mary Cunningham to find out what young artists should do when it comes to making the most out of an interview.

Currently a publicist for Columbia Records, Sarah has over 13 years experience in the industry and has guided more than her fair share of artists through the interviewing process.

Sarah says that she always reminds artists that interviews are “essentially a heightened conversation.” She also understands that they can start to feel like a chore at times, but offers encouragement and perspective:

"Yes, they can be tedious, yes you may get asked the same question over and over, but your fans are going to want to hear what you have to say; interviews are excellent ways for you to connect with a wider audience, craft your narrative and just share your views and life."

“Journalists, radio personalities and content providers,” she says, “are always looking for engaging and interesting interview subjects.” Providing unique interviews can not only provide potential fans with a deeper look into your artistry, but it can also ensure your future placement with that outlet or others. The flipside, she believes, can have extremely negative outcomes:



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"If you mumble your way through an interview – or on the flipside – rush your way through an interview, you most likely aren’t going to be delivering your message in an efficient way or even making an impact. You also are probably not getting an invite back!"

If you’re fairly new to the interviewing process and you’re not confident in your abilities, link up with a media trainer if possible. “Media training is a mainstay in public relations and is not going to hurt you. Invest in yourself. Most media trainers will walk you through the process, give you tips and assign you ‘homework’,” said Sarah. 

Can’t afford media training or it just isn’t possible? No problem. According to Sarah, “Practice with a friend. Stage a mock interview, tape your conversation and review it.”

Hearing yourself give an interview can be beneficial in the same way that watching game footage helps athletes improve their skills. If you don’t find yourself engaging or interesting in the interview, it's likely viewers or listeners probably won’t either.

For artists who are looking to improve their overall interview experiences, Sarah recommends doing your research and finding enjoyment.

"If someone is going to interview you, research the outlet, read that journalist’s work, think about your message, collect yourself before you answer, and try to enjoy the experience."  

Essentially, if you treat your interviews with the same amount of respect and preparation you would put into a performance or a meet and greet, you’ll know you have done your part to provide viewers or listeners with an engaging, interesting interview.

Hopefully, these insights will help our younger readers who are artists themselves increase their networks, ensure an engaging relationship with their fans, and avoid conducting the bad interviews that inspired this piece.


By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.



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