Music Interviews


Interviewing artists that create music you love can be so exciting! The information you'll find here can help you feel prepared, relaxed and get the most out of the interview for your listeners.

Research & Preparation

You want to have at least ten open-ended questions ready to ask.

To prepare:

  • Ask the artist to send a copy of their biography (bio) to you and a copy of their latest music so you can research questions.
  • Avoid closed (yes or no answer) questions e.g. 'You’ve just released your 3rd album, is that correct?’, instead, ask open-ended questions that help the artist share more information e.g. so you’ve just released your 3rd album, what makes this album different from your previous two albums?
  • Keep in mind that artists want to promote their latest activities - make sure at least half of your questions are about their latest activities, not simply past achievements.
  • You should consider how the artist likes to be referred to when interviewing them e.g. musician, group, band or producer.
  • Tailor your questions to suit the stage that the musician is at in their career. For example, it may be OK to ask a brand new emerging artist questions about their name or how the group act formed, but these questions will tire and annoy established artists.
  •  You should order your questions so that you ask about the artist's most recent activities first (e.g. new album or tour). Questions about old achievements or past hit songs can come later.

Before the Interview

Last minute things to consider just before you go to air include:

  • If unsure, check the pronunciation of the artist's name, album name and tour name and practice saying it aloud.
  • Ask the artist which of their songs they want you to play and cue it up so it is ready to go.
  • Let the artist know that if they need to cough or clear their throat to please move away from the microphone/phone.
  • Give the artist warning about when you're going to air - tell them when there is ’30 seconds’ or ‘1 minute’ until you go live on air, and again when there is 10 seconds remaining before you will turn on the microphone.
  • Often more than one musician from  a group will come into the studio. Ask the group who is the best talker and would like to be asked the most questions. Direct most questions to that spokesperson.
  • Write down group members’ names as soon as you’re introduced. Draw arrows pointing to them on your page so you don’t forget who is who when talking to them.
  • Position the microphone in front of the artist and get them to wear headphones. Tell them that ‘it might sound a bit funny hearing your own voice, but they need to keep the headphones on during the interview’.
  • Tell them that you can adjust the headphone volume for them during the interview if they simply point ‘up’ or ‘down’.

During the interview

  • Listen to the answers the artist gives and ask relevant follow up questions.
  • Sometimes artists might answer your questions before you’ve even asked the question. Tick off those questions from your list and do not ask them again if the musician has already covered that topic.
  • Do not cut off the artist by talking over them. Be sure to give them time to answer the question fully. You will often find that they will provide a more in-depth or interesting answer.
  • If you play one of their songs during the interview, introduce the song name to the listener and ask the musician what the song is about.
  • Back announce the song and reintroduce the musician to the listener when you go back into a talk break. For example, ‘that was Dancing Dame by Bob Smith. Bob is live in the studio with me talking about his latest album and tour (now ask the next question).
  • Avoid keeping the musician in the studio for too long with music/announcements playing. Musicians often have to rush onto the next appointment so try to only play their song(s) before returning to the interview.
  • At the end of the interview on air thank them for taking the time to talk to you and remind the listeners of the most recent activity. For example, what the name of the new album is or where the musician is performing.

Tips for live studio performances

Things to remember if you're going to have an artist perform live in the studio:

  • Encourage acoustic instruments and to play ‘unplugged’.
  • If you’re using the studio microphone get the musician to sit back from it.
  • Ensure they keep their headphones on.
  • Keep your headphones on and be ready to make adjustments throughout the performance. Try and make these in a subtle and relaxed way so that the artist isn't thrown of the performance.
  • If it is too loud in your headphones turn yours AND the musicians down.
  • If it sounds distorted turn the mic fader down a little bit on your mixing desk. If it is still distorting move the mic a bit further away from the musician.
  • If the mic is ‘popping’ when the singer sings words with the letter ‘P’ angle the microphone away from the musician’s mouth.
  • At the end of the song give the musician a clap with your mic turned on! It’s important that they feel comfortable as they may be feeling like they are just singing to you – when in fact they’re singing to your audience.
  • Back announce the song and say ‘live and exclusive in ‘your stations name’.

Phone interviews 

Phone interviews can be pre-recorded or live. Here are some quick tips to ensure that they run smoothly:

  • Try not to use mobile phones because the sound quality is often poor and the phone connection can be weak. Instead, try to arrange for you and the musician to be on landlines. Even if you were told during planning that they can only speak via mobile phone, ask them when you get on the phone to them if they have a landline nearby that you can call them straight back on.
  • Some phones have a delay so when you ask a question leave a space for the musician to hear and absorb your question and then let them answer.
  • Give the musician plenty of time to finish answering the question as a phone delay may make it sound like they are finished when they are not.