David McDonald is a tour publicist at Century Media [US] & Concrete Marketing. Having worked with David for quite sometime, I like the way he handles tour press in-terms of giving more visibility to the bands that deserve to go places. Recently I had an in-depth chat with David on all things journalism. He expressed the level of excitement in being a publicist and his opinion on why he loves his job. Here’s an insight:
Greetings, David. How are you doing?
I’m well! Thanks for asking. Jamming some music in my apartment and enjoying a nice, cold beer from my home state. I live in Los Angeles now, but I was born and raised in Michigan.
What do you love about your job and what was it that sparked the inception of your journey into the world of music Journalism?
Well that’s a story that could fill a few pages! Haha like most people, I was in high school and going through that whole “finding yourself” phase. Really, I didn’t even start listening to rock or metal until I was like twelve years old. Anyway, in my early teen years I fell in love with rock music…and it was kind of the band Breaking Benjamin’s fault. I dug that band a lot and they had an amazing online community…even an internet radio station with on-air hosts! It was that community that turned me on to bands like Chevelle, Tool, Shinedown, Slipknot, Mastodon…and even some lesser known groups like Karnivool, Fair To Midland, Strata and Hurt. But on top of all of that I loved the radio side of things and it quickly became a huge passion of mine. So when I went to college I became very involved with the radio station there…and the rest is kind of history. I did that for five years…mostly on-air but also some promo stuff, then I worked as the Music Editor for a few websites and did a little event promo for CBS Radio.
I love talking about music…and I love that it’s a dialogue that anybody can engage in and feel passionately about. Before I joined Concrete I had roughly seven years of experience working with people in the music industry, but practically all of my income through those years came from retail jobs that I honestly don’t miss. I love my job because it allows me to keep pouring all of my energy into the one thing that I will literally never get sick of. When you truly find joy in music and feel gratitude to the people who give so much of their lives to make it, why wouldn’t you want to spend hours upon hours of each and every day making a big deal about that?
Well I could go into painstaking detail here, but I don’t think that would be in the interest of anyone! The two most useful tools at my disposal when it comes to publicity are persistence and the humanizing factor. The former is essential beyond words. Every publicist asks someone to do them a favor at least thirty times a day (and that’s low-balling it). Sometimes you will hear no…but you definitely won’t hear yes if you give up easily and don’t show determination. Everyone in this business is busy and totally inundated with information…and they have lives! Make the time to follow up with people and be outgoing about it! Pick up the phone. Some of my favorite people to work with are the ones that I know we already have common ground to discuss. It could be shows we’ve been to lately or what’s going on in sports or just random funny stuff…this also why most of my favorite people in this business love wrestling.
But yes, beyond being organized, a good writer/communicator and exercising patience and understanding to the point that it physically exhausts you sometimes…you need to be a person willing to put themselves out there and work with people. And yeah…it helps if they like you, too.
Competition, Criticism, and Risk are all part of today’s world, what are some of your strategies? What is the driving factor?
Whaaaaat? These are all foreign concepts to me! Wow, well you’re absolutely right. And I would say that the unifying theme that dictates all of those obstacles is performance. You have to have that inner drive that not only can push you past adversity, but actually turn it into this masochistic form of pleasure. There are no golden parachutes left in the music industry. If you want success you really just have to drive the hammer to the nail and trust in the tools you’ve put into place. But with that in mind, a thirst for knowledge is also essential, because what was working one minute isn’t always the best strategy when you get to the next one.
What were some of the biggest road blocks you faced (internal or external) in the path between you and your passion?
Well the biggest physical, measurable road block was the two thousand miles between where I was living and the entertainment capital of the world! Haha but in all seriousness, the biggest challenge anyone faces in a career pursuit is what I call the “adjustment in lifestyle”. We live in a day and age where it’s not good enough to just have the talent that’s required to do a job…you have to make a conscience decision that, if this career means that much to you, you’re willing to adjust how you live your day to day life in order to get and keep the job you want. So many people who either work or aspire to work in the music industry give several hours of the personal time day in and day out to make sure that they’re paying dues and building credibility. And even doing that doesn’t guarantee success. The other challenge involved in making moves in this business is just knowing how to capitalize on opportunities…and even finding ways to make your own.
Owing to how rapidly changing the industry has become, what steps do you take to stay relevant?
By continuing the dialogue. There is no replacement for experience and putting in the time to stay engaged. If you want people to continue working with you and being kind enough to serve your interests, you need to show them that it matters to you and that you’re willing to do the same.
Insightful and liberating. I face challenges everyday…but I honestly love what I do, the people I work with, and take a morbid sense of delight in all the insanity! And at the end of the day, we all do this because we wouldn’t be the same people without music. That’s a real bond.
Have you ever had to face fanaticism or any other form of revolt in your line of field, if so what are some of your counter-measures?
Not really. I guess the only issues I’ve ever had when it comes to working as a publicist boil down to “expectations v. reality”. Sometimes reality isn’t fair or it doesn’t work out the way it was originally planned to. When that happens, sometimes people want someone to blame and sometimes they even have reasonable points. But at the end of the day it’s far more advantageous to everyone if things are handled amicably and you treat someone like a person…rather than, well, a genie.
Who is your biggest motivational role model? And what kind of a role model would you like to be?
This is a really tough question for me because I feel like I’m going to end up not giving someone their well-deserved due. But the obvious answer(s) are George Vallee and Mark Abramson…two dudes that I have the immense honour of being on the same team with now. Both were beyond instrumental in getting me to where I am today and have such a passion for music and what they do in this business. They live and breathe it every day and have earned the respect of everyone they work with. The mere fact that either of them saw something in me is still a badge of honour that I cherish.
And yes, I know I named two people. Deal with it. Haha and if I end up being a role model to anyone (god forbid), I’d like it to be because I treated people fairly and stayed true to my values…as murky and questionable as they may be sometimes!
Journalism has branched into various types and styles in today’s generation with new media types like the internet and pod-casting. What do you think is the future of journalism and journalists alike?
I think we’re moving more and more towards personality driven media. I see what’s happening on platforms like YouTube and Instagram and I think it’s changing the landscape of entertainment and what it means to be a media personality. There will always be a place for good journalism…and even print; because the desire to stay informed about things isn’t just a passing fad. But I think that we’ve reached an advent where people come to hear the person talking…often more so than what they actually might be saying.
If it weren’t for what you are doing today, what do you think you would be doing instead? Would you still choose this career knowing what you know now?
I probably would have either stayed in radio or pursued creative writing. I love hearing about current events and providing commentary on things that I find interesting.
Can you share word or two for those who are potentially inspired by you?
Never doubt yourself and never assume that you’re finished learning or paying your dues. Also, be nice to be people and hold them to the same standard.
How has been your experience of working with Metal Wani?
Fantastic! I love working with people who have passion…and there’s an abundance of it at MW \m/
Thank you for sparing sometime, David. I appreciate it 🙂
My pleasure. Gratis!