Biko Kennedy, Youthlink Writer
In a previous article, I addressed some of the lame responses that artistes tend to give during interviews and wholeheartedly asked them to refrain from giving such responses. The blame cannot solely fall on them, however, as generic questions deserve similar answers. While it's understandable that an interviewer wants his/her questions to be on point, there are other ways to phrase simple questions and accomplish this. Here are seven questions I'm begging interviewers to not ask.
7. How did you get started in the music business?
Granted, with every story there has to be a beginning, but unless this is the artiste's very first interview, this question is literally pointless; mainly because the 'fascinating start' would have been told elsewhere already or would have been included in a biography; there's really no need for the repetition.
You could ask: Before entering the music world, what life events framed the path of your professional journey?
6. Why should persons listen to________?
The response to this question can easily be: "Well, my unique style is certainly different and I just have a new sound for the public!" Of course, in some cases this is true, but 90 per cent of the persons entering the entertainment business tend to follow a formulaic approach, so this 'unique style' isn't that unique.
You could ask: What elements do you hold that'll define you as an entertainer as opposed to just another artiste?
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Yes, you want to ensure that this artiste has longevity in mind, in terms of his or her career, but there's only one direction in which the response could possibly go. Indubitably, you wouldn't expect the artiste to say: "Well, with God's help, I kinda hope my career will plummet so hard that I'll be in the Guinness Book of World Records for experiencing the fastest and shortest burst of fame!"
You could ask: In the future, what are some of the areas you'd like to change professionally and personally?
4. How did you come up with that name?
This can only be used as a filler question; to basically break the ice with the artiste. The response can only be one of two things; either someone gave him/her the moniker and it stuck or the artiste just came up with it because of the need for a stage name; nothing really remarkable.
You could ask: Why settle for the stage name by which you currently go?
3. What are some of the challenges you see in the business?
The instinctive response is that the artiste is not getting airplay, people are buying out radio plays/TV slots/disc jockeys so that his/her songs can't be played, or the ever-so-popular 'crab-in-a-barrel' syndrome. Why ask a question for which you already know the answer?
You could ask: What was the greatest obstacle that you've had to overcome en route to your current status?
2. How would you describe your music?
Let me guess ... unique ... uplifting ... creative ... different (ding ding ding ding ding ... we have a winner!). This is possibly the most clichéd question anyone could ever ask an artiste. Unless it's an entire genre being created by the artiste, and not a fusion of three or four others, then what's the real point of this question?
You could ask: What has contributed the greatest to your musical diversity and versatility?
1. Who are some of your musical influences?
This isn't a bad question per se, as the general public would like to know who has influenced the artiste, but that's usually in the biography. If I were asked this question as an artiste I'd think the interviewer didn't research my career before coming to see me.
You could ask: How do your musical influences compound when you are writing/recording a song? Apart from the fact that they are timeless, what drew you to them so they could influence your sound?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the Youthlink entertainment team and do not necessarily reflect the positions of anyone else. Examples cited in the article were obtained from open sources and should not be utilised in real-world analytic comparisons. Assumptions made within the article are not directly reflective of the Gleaner Company.