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Critics vs. Publicists: Why Must Things Be Contentious?

While we all pretend our relationships are ultra cordial, there is resentment galore on both sides of the Publicity/Critics axis. Critics complain about getting too many pitches, about miscues in interviews, about not getting the access they request and so on. Publicists feel ignored, get angry when critics request everything and review nothing, when critics insinuate that they'll review a show when they really just want tickets, and so on. Let’s hash out these issues, face to face.



MODERATOR Heather West Pres Western Publicity

HEATHER WEST just celebrated twenty-five years working in the music business and ten years of experience as a publicist. In 2010, she started Western Publicity, representing the Ponderosa Stomp, Riot Fest, The City Champs, Gorevette, Wiley & the Checkmates, The Everyday Visuals, Antennas Up, and the New Orleans Bounce Project.

Kyle Ryan Managing Editor The Onion A/V Club

KYLE RYAN is managing editor of The A.V. Club, the pop-culture wing of The Onion. He lives in Chicago and was once sternly admonished by a publicist to "NEVER CONTACT THE ARTIST DIRECTLY."

Bill Bentley Dir A&R Vanguard Records

BILL BENTLEY started his music career as intern at KYOK-AM in Houston in 1965, and went on to work at the Austin Sun, KLRN-TV, KUT-FM, L.A. Weekly, Slash Records, Club Lingerie, Warner Bros. Records, Neil Young management and He is A&R director at Vanguard Records, with first signing Merle Haggard.

Traci Thomas Indie Pub/Mgr Thirty Tigers

Working under the Thirty Tigers umbrella, TRACI THOMAS offers independent publicity to Thirty Tigers' artists and outside clients. The roster is intentionally kept small and diverse so that each project gets the attention it deserves. Her current clients include Drive-By Truckers, Elizabeth Cook & Caitlin Rose. She also manages Jason Isbell.

Bill Holdship N/A

BILL HOLDSHIP is a music journalist, critic and historian, currently based back in his native Michigan. A former editor of CREEM, BAM, New Times LA, Variety, HITS and Detroit Metro Times, among others, he's written for numerous publications, including national rags, websites, city weeklies, and Britain's NME and MOJO magazine.


Friday March 18



Austin Convention Center

Room 17AB

500 E Cesar Chavez St




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