What's the buzz?

September 12, 2011

“Buzz” is the most elusive and mysterious of all qualities in the music world. Bands that don’t have it are desperate to get it. Bands that have it worry that it will prompt a backlash. And few people even can really say what it is.

At its core, buzz simply means people are excited about a band. They’re talking it up to their friends, spreading the word and the music. And those with an outlet for it are writing about it.

How does an artist get that rolling? Well, step one is perfecting his or her craft. But step two is getting the word out, which is both easier and harder than ever in the digital age: It has never been less difficult to make contact with folks in the press who might dig your music, but there is more music to sift through than ever.

In its latest Musicians at Work Forum, The Chicago Music Commission will parse the fine points of publicity for underground acts and offer helpful advice from a panel that includes my friend Thomas Conner from the Chicago Sun-Times, Casey Meehan of Chicago Mixtape, musician and publicist DJ Niena Drake, and Heather West of Western Publicity.

CMC honcho Paul Natkin will moderate, and the free session gets underway at 6 p.m. Monday at Columbia College on the second floor of 618 S. Michigan building.