This month's issue
Features & Indexes
fRoots on Facebook
Come Write Me Down
Many CDs featured in fRoots (and a wide range of books, DVDs and other products) can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk. Click through to Amazon.co.uk here. Anything you buy while connected from this link will cost you nothing extra but earn a small commission for fRoots, contributing towards the costs of maintaining the resources we provide.
cdRoots in the USA stock some of the harder-to-find international small label releases.
This month’s issue •
Come Write Me Down
The fRoots FAQ
- Q: Are you a Folk or World Music magazine?
- A: Neither, both and beyond.
- Q: How can I advertise in fRoots?
- A: Read this
- Q: How can I subscribe to fRoots?
- A: Read this
- Q: How do I get a news item printed in fRoots?
- A: Email a brief press release to our News Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't send it as an email attachment - put the text into the body of the email with as few graphics as possible. Unsolicited attachments often go unread, mainly because they are time-consuming to open. We are more likely to get it right if it is concise and easy to read. In the case of live events, don't forget to include a venue address, web site address, a contact 'phone number for the general public to enquire further, and state the date (including month!) clearly and obviously. You'd be surprised how many don't.
- Q: So why do you never print my press releases?
- A: Have you checked our copy dates? Many people send in news long after the issue covering the relevant period has gone to press. For example, the issue covering March is published on the penultimate Thursday in February, but the final copy date is January 20th. Because we get such an enormous volume of news, the policy is to only carry news of an event in the issue bearing the cover date of the month it takes place. In other words, a March festival or tour gets listed in the March issue, published in February, and not before. In exceptional circumstances, news of an event that takes place in the last ten days of a month can go in the following issue, e.g. if you missed the March issue with news of your event happening on March 27th, it may be able to go into the April issue published on the penultimate Thursday in March if we have space. And by the way, if you missed a copy date, you can still post news on the fRoots Facebook page.
- Q: How do I get my festival listed
- A: For our April festival issue free diary listing (date, venue, contacts) we need the info by early February. This is also shared with the on line listing which we do jointly with Spiral Earth. Email a brief press release to email@example.com. To have the details of the artists on the bill listed in the news section, we only have space to do this in the issue whose cover date is the month of the festival. So for example a June festival goes in the June issue which is published in mid-May, for which the copy date is early April. See our exact copy dates. To advertise in the annual April festival supplement or any other issue, read this
- Q: Do you have back issues available?
- A: Read this
- Q: Do you have a complete index available?
- A: Yes, we have an index for features - find it here - and finally after many years of work by a wonderful volunteer we now have an index of all the reviews - sometimes 200+ in each issue - that have appeared in our pages up to about two years ago (there's some catching up to be done). Find it here.
- Q: I'm coming to Britain on holiday. Can you send me a list of all the live music venues and who's playing at them?
- A: No we can't. We have no such list. However, we have large sections of news and live dates adverts in every issue of the magazine. How to buy a copy...
- Q: Do you accept contributions from freelance writers, reviewers or photographers?
- A: Most of our writers are freelances, and many of the features in fRoots come about because the writer has suggested the subject or the photographer has lodged files with us. See our full writers' guidelines and photographers' guidelines.
- Q: How do I arrange for my gig to be reviewed in fRoots?
- A: We do not generally have a lot of space for routine live reviews in the printed magazine, preferring the unique or out-of-the-way. The few that we publish generally come about because they are proposed by one of our writers rather than an artist or promoter seeking coverage, and we strictly cannot accept live reviews written by the event organiser, participating artists or their associates.
- Q: How do I get my album reviewed in fRoots?
- A: You post a CD - or sensibly, two copies - to the Reviews Editor, fRoots, PO Box 3072, Bristol BS8 9GF, UK. We do not accept reviews of items sent direct to a reviewer by the producing company or bought privately by the reviewer, unless we specifically requested it.
- Please note that we only review new releases from finished production copies, not from downloads, streams or advance CDRs without full final packaging. In these days of downloads, it's the ambience of the full artefact - notes, artwork, presentation, extras - that inspires investment in a physical CD (or vinyl LP) purchase, so we think it's important that our reviewer has the same artefact that the public will buy.
- We don't have the space to review recordings that are only available as downloads, we don't review demos and we hardly ever review singles (but we often do EPs). Generally we have no space for privately-produced short run CD-Rs, unless important historic documents.
- All we need with your CD is a simple biography - what our colonial cousins call a "one sheet" (but please include one per CD if sending multiple copies). We don't need reams of reviews from other publications (often, these may accidentally fall into the infinite filing system and not be passed on to the reviewer). Digital photos are always useful to have: they should be minimum 300 ppi resolution high quality JPEG files and preferably downloadable from a web site rather than emailed (see above). Optimum guide size is around 2500 x 3500 pixels, with a miniumum of 1000 x 1500 pixels.
- Q: Does my CD need UK distribution for you to review it?
- A: As long as your CD can be bought somewhere in the world over the internet, we will review it if it fits our remit. We do not expect you to have UK distribution. 35-40% of our readers are outside the UK anyway, and many love the thrill of hunting down new music. Often, getting a review in fRoots can help gain UK distribution later and open the doors for the artist to become known here.
- But please note if you are sending us review items from outside the EU: put the value at which you are declaring it for customs as basic manufacturing cost, e.g. two dollars per CD, not the full retail price. Otherwise it will incur a customs charge and we won't accept the item from the post office. You should also write on the outside of the package that it is a free review sample.
- Q: Before I send you my CD, what sort of music will you actually review?
- A: As a simple guide, what fRoots covers is music, however ancient or modern, that has some clear roots in a tradition. Neither the instruments or level of technology employed nor an artist's nationality are particularly relevant. For example, neither the act of playing an acoustic instrument or singing in a language other than English have a major significance either way. It ain't how you do it, it's what you do!
- Q: I'm an acoustic singer songwriter. That's surely OK then?
- A: Almost certainly not, unless your music is strongly influenced by a tradition. The musik biz categorises anybody with an acoustic guitar who writes their own songs as 'folk'. Which is fine, call it whatever you like, but fRoots isn't necessarily the place for it.
- Q: Hey dude, I do Americana? Do you review that?
- A: Probaby not. Unfortunately we are often having to turn things down that we might have included back in the last century. With so much great local roots music to cover from around a world that is fighting back against global cultural imperialism, plus the explosion in vanity-published CDs in the wealthy nations, we simply can't shoehorn it all in. So we had to take a long hard look at why we should be covering certain aspects of US music (or clones of it) to the exclusion of others, and the conclusion was this. We continue to feature and review what you could call local, regional or traditional American musics: country blues, Cajun, conjunto, old-time, Appalachian, musics of established immigrant communities. We only include music made by current writers or interpreters if they are clearly rooted in such traditions, but not disproportionately to those from other parts of the world. What we just don't have space for any more is music that has no sense of roots, place or community: for example singer/songwriters who are essentially just playing acoustic rock music with a country twang, mainstream Nashville country, blues rock, amorphous music that could come from anywhere. And spare us the stuff about dolphins . . . Sorry!
- Q: How do I know you've received my CD and when a review will appear? Can I advertise in the same issue as the review? Can you put my advert next to my review?
- A: The CDs section of our monthly news pages lists all the CDs that we have received and considered relevant to our content: just keep a watch on that. A listing there means it has gone out for review, though this does still not totally guarantee that one will eventually be published. It usually takes a couple of months at least before a review makes it into print, and even when we've received copy back from the reviewer, we can never say it will go into a particular issue - partly because the volume of advertising and news dictates review space available right up to the last minute. Regularly telephoning or emailing the fRoots office will not result in your review appearing any faster, perhaps the opposite! It is fRoots policy to never place an advert adjacent to related editorial material.
- Q: How can I get a track on one of your free fRoots compilation albums or included in your online fRoots Radio show and podcast.
- A: The simple answer is, you can't by hyping, polite persuasion or bribery (well, nobody's come up with a sufficiently attractive bribe yet!). It doesn't make any difference if you are famous or unknown, on a major or small independent, in the UK or anywhere in the world. Tracks for the fRoots compilations and fRoots Radio are picked by fR editor Ian Anderson entirely from personal choice. The best you can do (apart from making a great record!) is send in two copies of your CD (and don't forget to include two copies of the press release/ one sheet). We receive over 200 CDs some months, which means that many go out to reviewers without the editor having had the chance to hear them. If he's not heard it, even if it's a fantastic record and you are offering a sweeney to Fiji, there's no chance of it being considered. But don't let that stop you offering the sweeney to Fiji . . .
- In the case of the free fRoots compilation albums, we will approach you to clear permission to include tracks. In the case of fRoots Radio we operate on the reasonable assumption that all promotional CDs are sent to fRoots in order to gain free publicity, and that therefore you've automatically granted permission to include a track or two in the streamed or podcast radio show for promotional purposes.
- Q: Why don't you group CDs into categories in your reviews pages?
- A: Because many people would then skip the stuff they think they don't like. One of our missions in life is to introduce people to more musical possibilities.
- Q: Why don't you give star ratings to the CDs you review, like proper magazines do?
- A: Because that gives too much importance to the opinion of one person, and might mean that readers skip past reviews that contain intriguing detail.
- Q: So how do I get to be a reviewer and get all those free CDs?
- A: Er . . . that's not actually the motivation we seek for in reviewers! However, if you are interested in being considered as a reviewer, first look at our writers' guidelines and then send us some samples of your work along with a brief outline of your areas of interest and expertise. First and foremost, apart from being able to write expressively, our reviewers will be able to say if something is good of its kind or qualified to say why it's not.
- Q: Is it OK to send you sound files and graphics as email attachments?
- A: Photos of good enough quality for publication have large file sizes: it's OK to send them by email, but if you have more than one or two to send it's better to place them on your web site for us to download if we really need them. They should be minimum 300 ppi high quality JPEG files. Maximum size needed is A4 (around 3500 x 2500 pixels), with a miniumum of 1500 x 1000 pixels. Sound files of good enough quality are too big and can best be checked on a web site or Soundcloud page if we want to hear them. We NEVER listen to attached ones: experience learned the hard way shows that they are invariably crap!
- Q: What do those initials IAFWAFIAWMWQ mean?
- A: Old Malagasy proverb: "In a fight with a fool it's a wise man who quits."
- Q: And how about ARSS?
- A: fRoots office shorthand for Acoustic Rock Singer Songwriter. Pronounced as it looks.
- Q: I used to play in a rock band but we never got anywhere so I bought an Ovation guitar and wrote some really cool New Age folk songs about relationships and the environment, man. Will you do a cover feature on me and help me become really famous because, like, the world owes me a living?
- A: @*!%!!@@***
- Q: Phew, that was a bit strong! Who the heck do you think you are anyway?
- A: Read this
- Q: And anyway, who the f*** does your editor think he is?
- A: Not that one-legged flute player, for a start. Here's his own web site
This is an evolving FAQ. If you have more questions you think we should answer here, address your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
This month’s issue •
Come Write Me Down