Tuesday, 24 November 2009


So - having signed to ace label, Cooking Vinyl... it's time to play the self-promotion game and honour their commitment to me... and my own commitment to my music. And yes, even at 40 I'm still ambitious - although frankly once you've been on Buzzcocks what's left?

And yet, and yet...I'm uncomfortable. The British music press has the attention span of a mayfly whose ritalin has just run out, and as it can't or won't write about someone for their music alone - I find myself struggling for suggestions as to how to fool journalists into actually giving me some press coverage.

How this normally works - and look away now if you're sensitive - is that you buy advertising space in a magazine or newspaper. The amount of ad space you buy corresponds to how much editorial they print (or if your song goes on the covermount cd). That's how the world works, you bribe people. But we can't afford that.

Ever wondered why album of the month is always the one with the biggest ad campaign? Ever wondered why film magazines tend to give even appalling films decent reviews? Turn the page and see whose advertising pays the wages of everyone in the building.

So for those of you who thought Kennedy was killed by a lone assassin or that the Pope is God's appointed representative on earth, sorry to disappoint you. For the rest of you, sorry for teaching you all to suck eggs. It's the way the world is, best not to complain but to get down in the trenches and try and come up with something, if it's all a stupid game, why not have fun playing it?

So, what I need - and I'm serious (even though your replies don't have to be)are suggestions for what I should put in my press release. The world's greatest living poet (Simon Armitage - not up for debate) has kindly agreed to write my potted biography, but in the absence of a drug habit (or fake one, see picture below) or dead super model in my closet - I can't think of an angle.

(one of these guys may have had a coke habit, but it sure ain't the guy in the middle)

I'm sorry Keane fans. Really. Sorry.

Apologies if I sound a trifle jaded, but this tired old dance of trying to get some press attention makes me irritable. I know just making music isn't enough, I know Leona Lewis is far, far prettier, I know Jedward are funny, I know music is slipping in its cultural significance now it's free - but surely, surely, there must be something to write about someone like me?

So, help me out - this is what I have so far.

40-yr-old singer-songwriter releases fifth album, quite good live, just passed driving test.


  1. You could pass for 19. Try that angle.

    Leona Lewis is NOT prettier. Although, granted, she may carry the frocks in a slightly more feminine way.

  2. And you haven't put nearly enough emphasis on the whole driving test thing. "Can travel to and from venues under own steam". Always a plus.

  3. "Offers a complete meal in a gig". Talented musician with dry sense of humour gives excellent value for money on face value of ticket - none of those 'awkward, between-song silences'.

    Happy to repost finished release in blog, by the by.

  4. A bit of class on a shoestring?
    Partial to a Dyson Airblade?
    Changes hairstyle frequently?
    Will wear lippy on demand?

  5. Send every paper those free Channel 4 3D glasses and tell them you'll correctly predict the lottery.

    Change you name to Derren Brown and bingo. Can't get him out of the news lately.

    You're very welcome.

  6. Bard to a forgetten generation of music lovers, Tom returns with his fifth studio album.........ok the first line was all I really had....but its not bad!!

  7. Declare war on a Central Asian or Middle Eastern country and then run an inquiry with close friends. The Turkmens are looking shifty.

  8. You're a God. You'll think of something. I'm 39 and determined to pass my driving test soon. Don't underestimate it as an angle. God, that made me laugh.

  9. "I know just making music isn't enough"
    Are you sure ? Regarding what you are writing, playing, singing I don't think you need to do the cover of a teenager magazine.
    I can easily understand how uncomfortable you are having to write "bankable things" about yourself to get the journalists attention...
    I will buy your album anyway ;-)

  10. oops, I wrote the "God" thing before I saw you have a Messiah complex.....

  11. I was so happy for the car commercial your song A Day Like Today was featured in. Being in the U.S. I probably would never have discovered your music without that. Trust that I tell everyone about the amazing music you make here. Start a campaign get your music played in a platform where people will hear it, because your music speaks for itself you just need the audience.

  12. The last sentence- I haven't laughed so hard in ages!

  13. Derek Webb - an American singer who was in a similar situation to you said that these days the way an artist releases a song can be as much an artform as the work itself. Not sure what I think of that, but he did some weird scavenger hunt with websites and some such nonsense that got him a tonne of publicity and attracted media attention to the real business of art.
    What about using your adoring fanbase to do an imaginative album release and selling that as the big idea? I don't know - hide copies of the album in various locations and slowly release details on Twitter.
    (And then buy advertising space in several huge publications.)

  14. First and foremost, congrats to Tom on the deal. Also on the biography - I always enjoy reading them.

    Just out of interest... how did the Keane Coke saga help them?
    An awful performance in a big slot at V, letting them down in front of audiences of thousands?
    Cancelling tours and pissing off fans?
    Do their core fanbase think drugs are cool? (Given that the first album sold about 5 million, I'd suggest their fanbase isn't entirely made of people who might think drugs=cool. To sell that many records you have to hit the mum-crowd, who don't really think of that as some kind of benefit).

    Please can someone explain how a fake habit would help in any way?

    I know I'm a Keane fan, but Keane are pretty weak example given that a lot of discussion about them is surrounding the fact that they're a guitar-less piano-led band... which is more music than celebrity if you ask me. Can you - or layman on the street - name the members who aren't the lead singer, for example?

    Snow Patrol however, make me want to scoop my eyes out with a spoon. "This is the straw; final straw in the. Roof of my mouthasIlietoyou"? Argh.

  15. I wrote a song once, and the lyrics might be useful for your press release. It goes something like:

    Welcome to the fifth reel. I'm glad that you could make it. He thought his fate was sealed, and this is not what he expected. He writes and sings and muses above his weight. He's more talented than he looks. Hopefully the ending won't be the same, and they'll keep him on his books.

    So on etc.

  16. Have you sent your music to Oprah? I think we (your fans) should start a campaign to get you on the show. Your live, perfect voice would need no other description. Could be the start of a new trend "british singer unable sadly to lip-sync shows due to actual talent, audience members gob-smacked".

  17. Dear Tom.
    The nineties called - they want both your press strategy and this joke back.

    I work as a community editor on a large website (1 million weekly visitors), and have some nice ideas for you - since they are not directly related to the press release and will take up some space, I'd like to mail them to someone - yourself or someone else.

    Consider my services pro bono, since your lovely music has brought me so much joy.

    All the best, Ricki from Denmark.
    I can be contacted through facebook.com/grapefrugten or ricki.melchior at gmail.com

  18. tom, as you can now drive its got to be a spot on top gear, joshing with clarkson on the sofa, a quick lap in the inexpensive car, then endless repeats on dave 24/7. stardom beckons young man.

  19. Go from your song lyrics, your first album still remains one of my favourites especially the lyrics. Just write the press release as you see it, be honest. The lyrics suggest a life lived so i am sure their is material there. It is not everyone who passes a driving test... Looking forward to hearing your new album.

    Also more than happy to host it/post a review on my blog when out.

  20. You really need to pass your bubblegun to DaveC - fabulous answer!

  21. 'There once was a man called McRae
    Who wrote a new song every day
    But when he tried to get famous
    He became rather shameless
    And soon all his hair had turned grey'

    Not sure how that helps you, it doesn't really. More of a cautionary tale.

    Have you thought about writing an opera? I think someneeds to write 'X factor -the Opera' and who better than you? (Ok, I'll rephrase that.. who more desperate than you?)

  22. Maybe, not to be morbid or anything, you'll have to die. I mean it seems to have worked for others. Trip to funeral row anyone?

  23. As a journalist myself, I'd have to say that the angle on you is your 'tell it like it is' attitude. You are a true musician so go for the outrageous vote, say what nobody else dares to. Think Jarvis Cocker vs MJ but in a more McRaesque manner. The downside is as Oscar Wilde wrote: "Never speak disrespectfully of society. Only those who can't get in do that."

    It's also advisable not to be too honest about the journos themselves as we are a fickle breed and can rarely take the abuse we are so quick to write about other people (see above).

  24. I think you just have to tell it like it is too. Your sarcasm and intelligence will attract anyone with half a brain and I'm not sure you really want to attract the x-factor screaming massive.

    The driving license isn't a bad start either. Maybe it should just be a really naff CV full of management speak ;)

  25. lie about your age for a start. Hang on a minute......

    Fucking hell Tom, if you can't get a decent ammount of press, theres no hope for musicians like myself who are further down the food chain and are trying to "get somewhere" in vain, whilst banging our heads against a brick wall. The thought that talent will overcome, is long gone. I guess the last resort is to get on my knees and suck.

    So you need an angle Tom. how about that you can actually sing and write a song, thats a novelty in this day and age!!

  26. I'll write you the most ace and peachy review your imaginings can imagine (an' i'm highly qualified so to do) if you advance me a copy of the difficult fifth album. Fair ? Love an' peas xXx Sid. (newlandsid@gmail.com)

  27. A few ideas.
    1) Be cruel to an animal. A limited run with real leopardskin CD case should do the trick. Morons with money will pay thousands for it. The rest of the world will revile you, but still.....

    2) Michael Jackson related. Either diss him completely or say how his death inspired your new album. I'm assuming you aren't above lying a little?

    3) Pretend you're that guy from Lost (Sawyer is it?) because my wife thinks you look like him anyway. Releasing your album with his name should get you some extra publicity.

    4) Organize a march of under-rated musicians. Have a sit-in in Trafalgar Square strumming your guitars and entertaining all and sundry.

  28. Katie Price is single again! How low are you prepared to go?

  29. What about all the tv shows / adverts etc. that your music has been in?

  30. Well keep at it - The Frames only gained mass recognition due to Glen Hansard other group The Swell Season. Josh Ritter toured endlessly for years - gaining attention first in Ireland. Also why not whore yourself out and try and get a song in 'Grey's Anatomy' - it does work.

  31. Tom MCrae is a man who once screen tested for the part of Gram Parsons and there is more than the ghost of that musician backing the talent of this artist.

    One of the more outspoken artists with views on anything from the world of politics, the entertainment industry and the history of his hair growth.

    Talent recognised early on with a Mercury prize nomination elevated his work above that of the other 'singer-songwriters' at the time, if only sales and support had been more forthcoming then maybe all those CDs would be coffee tables across the country rather than the likes of Dido.

    Not much about religious upbringing (if anything).

    Comparison to the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Ryan Adams (why not?) and a few others that have some credibility - ride the wave.

    Throw in some stuff about the recording studio/process.

    Something about the difficulty of getting music to a wider audience when it is less 'radio friendly' and you aren't the latest thing the press have got obsessed about.

    Reword all that so it approaches making sense, throw in some bits to tie it together and you might be onto something.

  32. your blistering blog would be worth mentioning!

  33. Reverse psychology with the help of us lot? You know, only we're privy to this remarkable secret, yada yada. Make people DESPERATE to get hold of you but make it more difficult for them to actually do it?? Dangerous, but when all else fails...

  34. An *angle*? An *angle*?

    CV thought so much of your reputation and the record they signed you. Ruined all our autumns, by postponing the release and tour, but there may be something in there.

    I think you should trade on your reputation for biting commentary (mind you, there's not a huge amount of that on the record?) and passionate live following.

    Have a think about the themes of the record - this isn't the sound of you decaying (like AMW) - is it the sound of you making peace (!) with the world - horrific though it is?

    Don't lower yourself with a cheap gimmick - though promo brollies would be hilarious - and I'd certainly buy one at a merch stand.

    Anyway. Happy to work up some copy on any ideas. But you know that already.

  35. Go on a brief tour where you rape and murder prostitutes....but you know be clumsy about it and leave plenty of clues.

    Then when you get caught and the media reports it then people will inevitably listen to your music.

    Your music being as good as it is will soon make them forget your minor mishaps, indeed you'll be seen as 'that loveable scamp that used to rape and murder prostitutes".

    Not perfect I admit but it seemed to work for Johnny Borrell.

    Get in touch if you want more advice. I have one involving pedophilia,

  36. If in doubt ......search!


    Or get in touch with Danny Brown who wrote that amazing piece on you on the website suite 101? when you played in Canada, clever lad is Danny. You probably would find him on your twitter.

  37. When McRae plays, ambulances suddenly appear (as one did in Belleayre, remember?)... He jokes about his music driving people to suicide but at least one fan will say it saved her life.

    Or is that too dramatic?


  38. After reading all the posts, you seems to have very educated, clever, devoted followers. Maybe you can offer the journalists we write the articles for them, they just have to print it. Good luck anyway and congrats for the driving test (i failed 6 times... but never had an accident in my life)

  39. I apologize for the directness, but if you ever went on Oprah, I'd be so disappointed that I would watch X-factor reruns... to cheer me up!

    So far, though, I'd recommend the ones involving:
    - picture of some sort* with Katie Price in The Sun
    - stage own death, to magically appear with a boa constrictor** on stage in the 2010 olympic opening ceremony
    - run through the Grey's Anatomy studio wearing only a cloth with the text "Tom rules. PS: The end is near"***
    - sell a cucumber that recembles the Prime Minister for £666'000'000**** on eBay
    - make pact with Leona Lewis, and become ToNa, the new Jedward, covering Tokio Hotel songs*****

    * interpret as wished
    ** can be replaced, parrots are cool
    *** for more text, use smaller font
    **** no more, no less
    ***** or then again, please don't

    Help and hugs from Norway!

  40. what is the most important ? be everywhere (and in all magazines )and one day be musicly dead or create, writte, sing and be happy coz people listen to U ?
    Think about that !

    Or just say U are doin music coz a french guy call Jerome discovered your CD in a library a few years ago, and since, is on the moon when he listen your music !

    It is not because you are not in the TOP 50 that nobody likes what U do !
    Look : leona is cool but do U really want people hear your music in supermarket, public toilet or lift ??? It is better to reach one person who is listening to U that 100 who are talking when your music is on !
    No ???

  41. Quite simply Tom is the best kept secret in music. He is the reason all of his fans remain positive. He is the reason we all remain cynical. He deserves recognition but also deserves to remain ours. From his live shows to his music, everything he does provokes a reaction be it positive or negative. His lyrics carry weight far beyond his role as a singer/songwriter and his voice far outweighs some of his contemporaries.

    Simply put the man makes great music and that is rare in this shoddy world we live in.

  42. Hey Tom

    Not sure about a press release - but why not get hairy angel, Susan Boyle to re-record your 5th album? Which would you prefer - dignity or cash?
    See if you can work something in about stroking cats in Scotland...

    On the other side - get your new label to market you at emo kids. Frankly your stuff is darker and better than the crap they suffer. Just a thought.

    Cheers & looking forward to the new album.
    p.s. If your new label is so lovely, why aren't you appearing on their artists roster yet?

  43. Wow!There are a lot of people who help you!
    How lovely!
    Unfortunately I live in Japan,I can't give you some advice.
    But I'd say you can add a information about you more.
    That is.....you can bake a cake like your wonderful album:)

    Anyway,I look forward to your new album.

  44. Hey Tom, you hooked me 9 years ago- christ 9 years on this journey! in the Angel church in London opening for Dave Matthews- Absolutely fantastic!!!!

    I've since moved to the states- how about you come over and leave England behind and tour with DMB?

    You'd be playing to 15000-45000 people a night and you would go down a storm- especially in the college towns.

    Though -this could be my own selfish wants- not being able to come see you play anymore- there is only so much youtube I can subject myself to.

    Then again- sell your soul and become Katie and Tom!! Will get you into the limelight a lot quicker-

    What a depressing thought........

  45. 'falling feels like flying, til you hit the ground', someone once said. tom mcrae, in fact. his latest album hits the ground running, in the futile hope of ever receiving the attention it so evidently deserves. it will not be number one, but then whenever was music about coming first. music is, at its finest, an immune system for those who are always second best. at its worst, music is.. everything it has become now. mcraes album is everything that music used to be and used to mean. its up to you if that is worth savouring. he is not the saviour of music, but he is simply stepping onto the other side of the see-saw that is the music industry, across from all tedous manufactured corporate constructions that are.. well you know by now, surely. its up to you if you want to come sit on the side of true artists and the art, and help redress the balance, one by one.

  46. Well, if selling out is on the table, you have the song "My Vampire Heart", and Vampires are all the rage these days. Just try and get yourself on the soundtrack of the next Twilight Movie or the Vampire Diaries or something. It might be your niche, especially considering that you were already featured on a Buffy soundtrack, it might just be your fate.


    Two years after the release of his latest hit album, famous astronaut Tom McRae is releasing his long-awaited fifth album. The new album "The Alphabet of Hurricanes" will feature original songs such as "Tony Blair in a Blender" and "The World's Largest Asparagus".

    Often described as the future of the rap-rock movement, the Essex-born songwriter has also achieved fame as an accomplished astronaut. He is not your average corporate space traveler though. "I have always been a rebel" says Tom. "Even in spaceman school I would sit at the back of the class, wearing a T-shirt with a naughty word on it, blasting some Crüe on my boombox."

    After four successful albums, it's back to the roots for England's pride. "This new album, The Alphabet of Hurricanes, is me going back the basics" Dr McRae explains. "Just me, a guitar, a piano and some guy named Steve or something. Buy it."

    To listen to select tracks and buy the CD, go to www.tommcrae.com

  48. There should be a Tom Mcrae week on X Factor!

  49. your devoted fans! what other singer-songwriter gets a Christmas present of an online cookbook lovingly compiled, or an online birthday card with 40 doors to open?! (This is where even I am thinking we should have gone with Rougeforever's idea for this Christmas...)

  50. Right... i'm going to win the next x factor for you and sing one of your songs!... hmm... easy!

  51. Take the astronaut-story, it convinced me :)

  52. don't forget financial guru......


    got to be worth an angle in these money obsessed times

  53. Tom, I've been a fan for eight years. I hate to be the one to say it, but even though the songwriting has had great moments it's never eclipsed the first album that got all the attention. If you're looking for greater success, than the unpopular answer is you've really got to step up your game, move away from the plain production and basic piano / cello arrangements and experiment, and push the boundaries. It's what attracted people to your first album, how different you were, now there's a worrying similarity to what you keep bringing out without offering anymore of those "transcendent moments" you used to speak of. Where's the frustration, and the messages that we all related to in the beginning? Would that Tom have sung lightweight dittys about hummingbirds and Houdini? Get angry! Fight for you and for us again!

  54. Pick thirty or so destinations around the world. Some tourist trail ones, e.g. top of the Empire State Building and then some more unusual ones. Your fans then have to colloborate via the forum so that someone can get to each destination, have their photo taken with that day's copy of the national newspaper (to prove it was recent) and post it on the forum. Once ten destinations have been done, release a snippet of the album. Once twenty are done, a bit more etc. Make some of the destinations media-related to get some interest that way, e.g. stand behind a local news broadcaster during a news report etc. Big it up as a treasure trail, show how dedicated and wide-spread your fans are... maybe?

  55. McRae carves sounds from silence, expresses the inexpressible, leaving in his wake a legacy of music that has stood the test of time. Flying just under the collective radar, he boasts a devoted and loyal fanbase. With his 5th studio release, McRae continues his musical journey of spreading peace and hope through songs that are at once both breathtakingly subtle and powerfully moving capturing the universal consciousness in a uniquely spellbinding stream of mesmerizing songs.

  56. Say you are going to end the war and then send more troops.
    oh no, you're not aiming for president.

    If words could kill..

  57. Wanna be in the press and hopeless?You can go out with a celebrity...Look, your friend Chris Martin did it, he is with an actress(gweeneth something)and he is an international popstar.
    Hey!Go out with Madonna!I know how much you worship her!(I try to imagine you and Madonna it is scary)
    ok i'm stupid but after all if you want intelligent political or cynical answers, you already have bunches of super ultra mega smart fans ready to serve you on plate all intelligence to be at your level.
    For me you are not a god, you do exist and it's cool, it means that musicians are still able to stay pure and honest in this hard time where everyone's goal is to be a star, and please.
    And as groupie, as stupid,as gullible as it sounds(i'm 24,so a little girl for you ,hihi) I'll love you forever.
    And believe me I help you everyday.In spite of me I became a living advertisement for you and your talent in France.

    Ta petite entreprise connait pas la crise Tom...


  58. the musical Richard Dawkins.

  59. or how about Isaac Walton? The musical Isaac Walton. How about "Isaac Walton meets Richard Dawkins; The musical"?

  60. Tom, say this.....

    Singer songwriter, has been writing some of the most thought provoking music in the last decade, but the majority of people are too retarded to listen. Wouldn't it be refreshing to talk about something more challenging then the X-factor results with your friends....Well come and have a listen to good old Tom Mcrae.
    Don't worry people, it's not self righteousness if its true

  61. I'd just go for claiming you've been having an affair with Tiger woods, seems to be getting EVERYONE else press coverage at the moment...

    Oh yes, and congratulations on the deal with CV!

  62. I thought you could do it with a simple Hiku

    Tom Mcrae can sing,
    and also he plays guitar,
    Bet you can't do that

  63. Bonjour daddy,
    Well i don’t really know what to say ,I'm trying to choose a new bass, it is difficult, so during a break i speak with you(make a monologue i mean)to relax, i don't know why. And i found a little bit of a new year party champagne in my frigde,my poor frigde can't drink it.So I'll raise my glass virtually and wish you a happy new year and a merry chrismas and a happy birthday...(I could open a new bottle but raise something in front of a computer suck! ! ! !)
    I hope you've managed to take the press in hostage for your new album. By the way, at 00.00 my first sentence was « hey guy, buy new Tom mcrae cd » Hey, something terrible happenned to me,Coldplay is not my cup of tea(it is more like a cup of a rotten soup) but i've forgotten their first record"parachutes".Just to have fun,i'd hear it and a song called"spies" surprised me and i cruelly admit that i liked it.But i bet that you can like it too.I don’t know what I bet but I bet quand même...sorry i've poisoned your blog again i could write you more but i'm too shy...

    bye bye

    Ps : Finally, i've chosen my future bass it’ ll be a fender jaguar hot red, the name sounds almost sexy and i'll also buy a ticket to see you at "la maroquinnerie"in paris

  64. Start the rumour that the new album provides a near perfect soundtrack to the movie "Dumb & Dumber". All viewers (and listeners) need to do is turn down the volume of said movie and start the CD and the words provide an eery soundtrack that seems to match all the zany and madcap action on the screen.

  65. Cover a Madonna song. Worked for the flaming Lips


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