Flyer Music’s Secret Cheat Sheet 

Have a seat. We need to talk. There are going to be some changes around here. It's been great covering the musical bounty of Memphis for The Memphis Flyer for the past year and a half, but I need some space. Don't cry; that just makes it worse.

There's good news. That Chris Shaw guy, the one who actually goes to shows and has even heard of the band you're prattling on about, is going to take over as music editor. He earned the job fair and square: paid the most cash and completed the Flyer music petty-crime obstacle course in record time and with record spoils. You're in good hands. Shaw has been on the front lines of making records and touring. We haven't written much about his band Ex-Cult, because only the music editor can write about his or her own band. Shaw will do a good job. Or the editor will take him on a "boat ride." I'm just glad to get out of here alive. But before I go, I want to give you some advice. Everybody likes advice.

click to enlarge Chris Shaw - BIANCA PHILLIPS
  • Bianca Phillips
  • Chris Shaw

I was recently told that some musicians have said they don't know how to get into the Flyer. This is my Edward Snowden moment. You are about to find out the long-held secret of having your band get covered by this illustrious newspaper. Contrary to popular belief, the Flyer music desk is not a giant throne from which we look down and deny you coverage. I asked for that, but was told no. Here's how it works:

Be good at music or be interesting: This inescapable reality has escaped a lot of people. Beautiful sounds have been pulling decent people's lives off-course since the days of Odysseus. Too many people hear those sounds and set off on ill-advised forays into a hyper-competitive world that offers low rewards. This is hard work. Even when you are really good, those who can pay won't value your talents. You have two options: either be great at music or become some sort of spectacle that people will pay to see. You can learn the scales, or you can bite the chicken. Your call.

Make a record: Recording music forces us to think about music. The benefits of organizing and arranging become immediately apparent. So many over-soloed live-music nightmares could have been avoided if people had thought of their performance in terms of the three-minute limit. Being aware of how you present your art is essential anywhere. But this is Memphis, everybody. You better have a record. You can go into roughly 75 million recording studios in this city and get the job done by master engineers. Want to learn about music? Go work with an engineer. Making records ranks third — after barbecue gobbling and yelling at the wrestling — on the list of stuff Memphis does. Want to be in the paper? Show us your Soundcloud page or, better yet, send us a proper vinyl record.

Get a real gig: Another great barometer of your musical worth? A crowd. Hurdling the bar of getting booked, showing up on time with all of your stuff, and not running off a room full of profitable beer drinkers all adds up to what we call credibility. Our friends the computers have tricked us into thinking that we can easily make music and double tricked us into thinking we should share it with everyone online. Settle down. Try your sounds in front of real people. Check out our listings for all of the bars that host music all over this city. Get on the bill.

The Big Secret: Give the chicken a benedryl. Just kidding. You have to let us know about your record or your gig. Our crystal ball got busted during a rumble with the television news people. We can no longer read your mind or divine when you are going to play somewhere. There is a "submit event" link at the top left of the Flyer website. Use it to put your gig into our calendar and digital coverage. Give us two weeks' notice for print.

*This plan may not always lead to adoration. But that's how the system works. Go game that sucker. The Memphis Flyer supports every knucklehead making records and playing gigs in this city. We have limited time and space but unlimited love for Memphis music.

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