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Howwastheshow Writers Guidelines - Published 3/10/04

Help Wanted: No pay. Worse hours. Extremely loud, smoky environments. Hearing damage and hangovers likely. If this sounds like your kind of job, perhaps you'd like to write for howwastheshow.

Howwastheshow.com publishes primarily live show reviews of national and local bands playing in Minnesota, with a goal of maintaining a balance between local/regional and national shows. Time relevant interviews, articles and photographs are also published on occasion, as are reviews of non-music but music-related events.

Unsolicited reviews will be read, but there are no guarantees your submitted work will be used. Please read our already published reviews to get a general idea of what we're looking for. Especially welcome are intelligent, informed reviews of bands outside the roots rock, alt-rock/pop, Americana genres that typically dominate the mainstream music press.

Questions you can ask that will help give your review content people will find useful:

    1. What were some of your expectations coming into the gig?
    2. What is the venue like? Had you been there before? Was it the same or different than at other times you'd been there?
    3. How would you describe the crowd?
    4. How was the band's presentation, i.e. tight and professional, loose and disorganized, crazy and over the top?
    5. What other bands might you compare the band to? What kinds of associations did you have during the show, musical or otherwise?
    6. How was the band dressed? What was their stage presentation like? Any interesting props?
    7. What specific songs were played and are they available on recordings? (Getting a set-list is extremely handy.)
    8. What were some show highlights? What were the high points/low points in musical energy? Did the band make any remarks worth mentioning?
    9. What are the band members' names and what instruments do they play?
    10. What does the band sound like live compared to their recordings?
    11. Would you recommend that other people see this band? Do you have any caveats to that recommendation? (Admitting your biases will add depth to your review and aid the reader in deciding for themselves whether they'd enjoy the band.)


General guidelines:

    1. Have fun. Writing about shows should not be a grueling experience. In most cases it will enhance your own enjoyment of the show, and augment your memory and appreciation of it.
    2. Show up for the shows you ask to write about. If howwastheshow has been able to obtain a guest-list spot for you, remember that such arrangements require the time of the bands, the clubs and publicists and are a privilege that should be respected.
    3. Ideal length for a live review is 500-750 words. (500 words is approximately one single-spaced typed page.) Multi-band reviews may occasionally run longer.
    4. Get a live photo of the event if you can. If you cannot get a live photo, please attach a pre-selected photo that is appropriate and that we have the appropriate permission to use for the review.
    5. If the band has a website or MP3's available for download, either work it in or include it so we can list it as a "related link."
    6. Ideally, live reviews should be online within 72 hours of the end of the show. (I realize this is not always possible, but it's still a goal!)
    7. Reviews will be edited for spelling, grammar and to a lesser degree, style and content, but I do not believe in censoring opinion. However, if you accept that "all press is good press" about the best thing you can say about a band you truly dislike is not much or nothing at all.