A little over a year and a half ago I had the pleasant opportunity to meet Shukmei Wong, one of the founders of WeRoqq PR. The company is a New York based boutique publicity house and it was one of those coincidental nights where two random but like-minded paths just manage to cross. The scene was at the Lit Lounge where I was able to party hearty with the mighty Amon Amarth who were in town to let the media listen to their newest album “Twilight Of The Thunder God” while WR’s Shukmei was checking out her friend’s band downstairs where the bands perform. The usual business card exchanging thing took place and over time we became allies in the media realm and good friends to boot. That’s never a bad thing in this hectic and often very difficult business.
Recently Shukmei contacted me about offering up my views on a few questions in their brand spanking new “Media Star” section. Shuky’s view of the section is to have the various players in the realm offer up insight that will be hopefully be viewed as both interesting and helpful to others who are braving this kind of passion. This was really an honor that I could not refuse and we really enjoyed helping Shuky to launch her new blog section. Check out the mini-interview and some of the other activity that WeRoqq.com is up to by clicking the link below.
http://blog.weroqq.com/2010/03/media-star-ken-pierce-from.html – Link No Longer Works (see below)
Many thanks again to Shukmei Wong and WeRoqq.com for their interest in our insight. We wish you the best of luck in this new and exciting feature.
UPDATE 5/1/2013: Since the time that this interview was posted on the WeRoqq.com website, they have sadly gone offline but in order to entertain you readers the best, I have copied the original correspondence that took place for this interview. Read on.
WeRoqq:Tell our readers about PiercingMetal.
Ken Pierce: PiercingMetal.com is an online review magazine that while primarily focused on the Heavy Metal side of music, also has made some room for the closely tied genres of Rock when its applicable. We’ve tried to offer readers a little more with the site by not only sticking to present CD and DVD reviews to them but also to do Concert and Special Event coverage and review Books related to the music scene or bands that we are supporting. It’s not a “fanzine” but more of a historical archive of anything we have placed into the site content and we have lots and lots of photos and resources to poke around in. We think that there is enough to entertain a wide variety of heavy music fans.
WeRoqq:When and why did you start it?
Ken Pierce: My own writing and photography adventure started by accident with a contribution to a Metal newsfeed that I liked. The information was picked up by a foreign Metal presence who started asking me to send them stories. They opened the door for me on a couple of avenues but being in NYC with them in Europe found me needing to build my own contacts database since each side did not “talk” to the other as easily when it came to assigning releases or access. This led me to another website that I was putting a lot of content into but really doing so on my own dime and not getting much from the sites leadership. With the content and work all my own, I thanked them for their interest in my words but started on my own battle plan. I kept myself active by contributing to another site that focused more on a couple of more genres until I launched my own brand PiercingMetal.com – I know that this was a long answer to a short question but there was some relevance in this since this site came to pass after building up a solid reputation for my own creative work and have a lot of content at my disposal. My writing adventure began in summer of 2003 as a once in awhile casual thing to do but it was in 2005, April that we jumped into the fire as Metallica would sing and give the readers our own voice to help guide them down the proper Metal path. Nothing to it LOL.
WeRoqq:How has the available technology and online resources helped or hindered what you do?
Ken Pierce: As a website technology is incredibly important because the internet is the only place where we serve up what we do and when I launched this site there were those who felt it was a waste of time with all of the other sites that were already out there and “more popular” – add to this the fact that we had a lot of the conventional print magazines on the news stands. Fast forward a few years and many of the magazines have shut down their physical printing side and gone online competing with the long standing websites in a more head to head fashion. Consider also the now popular blogging style that has convinced many more that they are writers or critics of audio and video releases. In short everyone is making their voice present online in some fashion and it only seems to be growing as things like Twitter and Tumblr grow in popularity in addition to the MySpace, Facebook and several dozen other Social Networking mediums that rule the roost. Many of these types are now reaching out to the same sources that work with my own enterprise and others that are of its immediate kind and hence thinning out what is being made available. What I am getting at is that sometimes doing the same simple task is harder now that there is so much out there. So in that sense it hinders the process by sheer volume and in the other it helps out because it makes one focus on “upgrading their own game” in a manner of speaking. With so many other people doing similar things to what I am doing I just try and push myself more and more to use the available mediums and keep raising the bar so I have to reach higher. The great phones and netbook devices find people reporting from the field or even offering up video only moments after it happens and while we don’t record the shows like that, we do often line out some of the happenings as they happen to raise awareness. I’m not sure if this answered your question to the tee but in the end it’s a little of both yes and no. We just all need to push forward harder to be seen I think and I am very grateful for any of those internet surfers that choose to read what I have to say about things.
WeRoqq:What’s the best way for artists to submit their materials to you?
Ken Pierce: This is a tricky one because traditionally the publicist for the record label is supposed to send you the materials in order for you to do the job properly and yet with so many online things out there now like I mentioned above I think many of them have their work cut out for them. There is just too much out there and it keeps this “profession” being a lot like a roller coaster ride. Primarily I like to work with the publicists as there is often a larger amount of things that you will endeavor upon together in the future. Of course sometimes you don’t keep the relationships with the press people and they move on from you to work with other sources to be fair or because they’ve grown disinterested in how you do things or no longer feel “your voice” speaks the way that they need it to. You also have to face the replacement press person who wants to build their own contacts from scratch and not use their predecessor’s network so they can prove themselves. This does happen and we have seen it firsthand. From their end they are trying to reach new sources for the material while to you it makes life trickier as you still have a role to fulfill and an audience to entertain. The upside to anything like this is the fact that now thanks to MySpace, Facebook and even Twitter, a lot of the artists and their immediate circles get into the game on their own and bypass the channels and ask you for reviews or concert critique. I prefer the conventional manner of industry contact but again its not always possible these days. I’ll never download a release illegally and review it of course, but if a band I meet and speak to gives me an album and their press people don’t deal with me, I would still work on it and only direct the article to said musician or manager. Doing otherwise would give credit to a resource that didn’t feel you were worth working with and I’m not here to make those types job easier, only to make the band bigger stars. It’s important to know that a lot of stuff gets reviewed and sometimes things take longer to do based on the amount. We always stress that if something is super duper important that we are made aware of a timer ticking on it so we can process it faster. Obviously also any major label release takes precedent over an unsigned band demo CD and that’s just the cold hard truth without being offensive.
WeRoqq: Any pet peeves we should know about?
Ken Pierce: I don’t know if I have any real pet peeves, but I do admit that I dislike when the pace gets so relentless (which it often does) that it gives pause to the focus. There is a lot to do when one runs an online medium and the keeping content loaded is not always easy to do because a number of processes go into it. Writing is almost like having endless homework as there is always something to talk about and get online whether it be a new thing or an older item that merits attention. Turning the thoughts about something into the content the larger public sees is also time consuming, so you have to be sure that your quality doesn’t suffer for sheer volume sake. The music industry seems to move at a lightning pace these days and as a writer and photographer you must run in the same fashion as much as possible to keep people interested in what you are serving up. I think there is plenty of stuff to do to go around and I would like to see more resources working together than currently do. Work to build the scene and this music up instead of tearing it down is what I am getting at.