Please contact us first before submitting anything. We do not accept responsibility for any unsolicited materials.
We can only accept written material that is original to fRoots, and generally give preference to writers who are loyal to us as their outlet in the UK’s folk / roots/ world music print media.
Please note that as a magazine of record and because of the sheer volume of wonderful new music constantly emerging, we rarely repeat features on artists or genres until some considerable time has elapsed or there have been substantial developments. Before suggesting a feature subject, it’s best to check with our past features index to see if we’ve already covered it.
Copyright for anything we publish remains with the writer or photographer, though we assume the right to grant permission for reprinting elsewhere. Any fees paid for such reprints go to the original writer.
fRoots’ motto has always been “inspiration to enthusiasm”. Within that, we have to strike a balance between informing new readers and interesting experienced ones.
Please avoid: unspecific geographical terms like “British folk”, “African music”, when you perhaps mean “English” or “Senegalese”, for example; obscure unexplained references to records, musicians, books, films etc. that the majority of the readership won’t have a clue what you’re on about; the over-used adjectives “stunning”, “exciting” and “exotic” (the cliché zapper will get you!); that irritating American phrase “sophomore album” (it’s their second, OK?); the cheap journalist’s device of praising an artist by gratuitously slagging off a similar one by way of comparison.
In particular, we are sometimes criticised for over-praise. It should be remembered that we are writing and reviewing in the general music market place and not just in comparison with the lower average standards of production and presentation of certain areas of the “specialist” scene – i.e. go easy on the ultimate superlatives.
However, bear in mind that we do not use a star rating system on reviews. With that in mind – and also that it’s useful to artists and their labels to be able to pull out an incisive, juicy quote for adverts and press releases – if you do really like an album, it would be appreciated if you could try to include one short, snappy summary quote, whilst avoiding the obvious dull clichés like “highly recommended,” “long awaited”, “potential album of the year” etc etc.
And in fRoots, we call a spade a spade. Readers like the fact that we don’t hedge around whether we like things or not, and regularly say that they are more inclined to believe enthusiastic endorsements because we pull no punches in cases where things aren’t up to scratch. Being neutral about everything does nobody any good. We don’t do beige.
Please also note: under no circumstances should features or reviews be shown to the subjects prior to publication. This is strict editorial policy.
Main features – interviews and overviews of types of music – should generally be maximum 1800 words, which produces a finished feature of two pages when assembled. Sometimes we commission 3 page features (by prior agreement only) at maximum 2700 words. Only pieces specifically commissioned by us as cover features should generally exceed that length, where 4000 (preferable) – 5,000 words (very maximum) would be more normal. We virtually never accept freelance pitches for cover features. Please check with us before starting work on any feature to find out if we actually want it, when it might be used, and whether there are specific angles.
We much prefer that interviews are not presented in straightforward question/answer format, and that the interviewer’s questions are removed or abbreviated. We do not use sub-headings or academic-style footnotes/references.
The Root Salad section falls between the news roundup and major features. These pieces, which include introductory features on new artists, longer news items on certain special projects and products, various scurrilous bits of current controversy, historical itemettes, etc, are around 800 (preferable) to 900 (very maximum) words. Keep them snappy and entertaining (or very thought-provoking).
We will always need photographs if a feature or Root Salad is to appear.
We rarely set deadlines other than for cover features – you tell us when you think you can turn something in, and we’ll schedule it as soon as we can after we’ve received it from you (unless for some reason it’s time-sensitive, for example to tie in with a tour, in which case a certain amount of nagging may ensue!)
All review items must come to you from our office. We do not accept reviews of items sent direct to the reviewer by the producing company or bought privately by the reviewer, unless we specifically requested it. We cannot accept live reviews written by the event organiser, participating artists or their associates.
We do not normally review CDs from pre-production CDRs without full final packaging, unless by an artist clearly of urgent major interest to our readership, and we never review from lower quality mp3 downloads. Generally we have little space for privately-produced short run CDRs, unless important historic documents or by exceptionally interesting new artists. We only have space to carry reviews of new releases (not back catalogue) and recent events.
Please present your review in the house style (also see below). Preface record reviews with ARTIST, title, record label, catalogue number, in that order. If a record is on an artist’s own label and no label name is specified, use the artist name as the label. If there is no stated catalogue number but the record has a bar code, give the bar code number. For live reviews, list artist, venue, in that order. For books, list title, author, publisher, ISBN No, price, in that order. Please put your name at the end of every review. Please always include one label, artist or distributor web site address at the foot of each review before your name.
CDs AND DVDs: Because of the impossible volume of CDs we now receive, only noteworthy releases should get full reviews. This means either that the music is above average, extremely interesting or thought-provoking, or that the content is important for historical or rarity reasons (which can justify compilations getting full reviews, for example), or that the artist or release has a high profile which may mean that readers are likely to want to know more.
In the case of full reviews, please aim for a MAXIMUM length of 250 words (unless we have specifically asked you to do otherwise) and there’s really no need to go to that maximum if you can say it in less. No track-by-track detailed accounts: overall impressions, highlights and lowlights only. Please remember that you are reviewing the music on that CD; although some background is desirable (particularly in the case of historic re-issues) we do not want to learn more about the biography of the artist or the reviewer than the item in hand.
Where it is possible/logical to combine more than one item into a joint review, please do so. In this case, write less per individual record – the more records, the less words each. For two or three together, a maximum of 200-250 words each would be more appropriate.
We’re big fans of good CD packaging at fRoots, believing it’s what makes the difference between physical purchase of a nice artefact or just a download, and is an indication of the care and attention that’s gone into the project. Please mention notably good (and bad!) packaging in your review.
Especially now we’re quarterly with more to fit in, ANY musically average CDs, especially if self-released or on imports that are barely available, any straight re-issues or compilations of readily available material (unless significant), any fringe items of marginal musical relevance (however good) and of course all the complete crap should be reviewed in the And The Rest… section. This is a simple listing of artist, title, label and catalogue number plus a snappy, maximum 40 word description. Readers expect savage wit, whether the views are positive or negative. In the And The Rest section, you will be anonymous…
LIVE EVENTS: 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. Always check first to find out whether we want a live review for the print version – somebody else might already be reviewing the same event or a similar one, or we might feel the artist is inappropriate or over-covered. For a single artist/band at a concert or club, around 300 words maximum. Please, no song-by-song accounts; overall flavour and highlights are the most important. Remember you are reviewing that gig: we don’t want biographies, history of the venue, details of floor singers or support acts, or what funny things happened to the reviewer on the way to the gig, unless very relevant (and brief!) Reviews of festivals can be longer, but rarely over 600 words, depending on the scope and importance of the gig. Because many festivals often tend to have similar bills, on those few which we accept we only want the highs, lows, atmosphere, not a “what we did on our holidays” list of every act who appeared.
All copy for fRoots should be submitted digitally.
Copy should be submitted by email. Best is straightforward text in the body of the email, accompanied by an attachment in Microsoft Word.
We work entirely on Macs. In the case of Word, PC users please save in “Rich Text Format (*.rtf). Then select this file when you specify the e-mail attachment. This way we can print out a proofing version which has italics, bolds etc in place, and we get all accented characters correctly.
If you are not sending an attachment as specified and your text has diacritics, please also send us hard copy so we can check that they have been properly translated.
It’s of great help if you follow our established house style which saves lots of “search and destroy” time translating files! Please follow these simple rules:
- Do not put inverted commas around song or album titles. They will be italicised.
- All words in song titles and band names should be initially capitalised: e.g. The Flight Of The Bumblebee, not The Flight of the Bumblebee; Show Of Hands, not Show of Hands. It looks better typographically and avoids confusion – for example if there’s a title like The Devil And The Feathery Wife and you write “Standout tracks include The Devil and the Feathery Wife”, it’s not immediately clear whether it’s one song or two.
- It’s 1960s or ’60s, not 1960’s or 60’s. Just like it’s CDs, not CD’s!
- Please start and finish each quote from interviewees with double inverted commas – “. If there’s a paragraph break during a lengthy quoted section, close the para with double inverted commas and re-open the next one with them. If there are quotes from others within these sections, use single inverted commas – ‘.
- Do not indent paragraphs with letter spaces or tabs. Our style sheets do this automatically, so we have to delete additional ones you have inserted.
- Do not double space after stops.
- Only one paragraph return please. Do not put an additional return in to widen inter-para gaps. Our style sheets do this automatically. You can achieve the same effect in Word by formatting your document’s paragraph spacing.
- Don’t fully capitalise any words in text for emphasis. They will be italicised. No need to SHOUT!
- Please put your name at the foot of each individual review.
- CD reviews need ARTIST Title, Label and Catalogue number at the start (see above for self-released CDs). Book reviews need TITLE Author Publisher and ISBN number. Check with a recent issue to see what we mean.
- There are many alternatives, but we spell it “accordeon” if for no other reason than it irritates the shit out of accordion/accordian anoraks
These days, most of our images are supplied digitally, either attached to emails or downloadable from a web site. These should be minimum 300 ppi high quality colour JPEG files. Ideally, minimum size is approx 210mm (2500 pixels) wide for landscape or 140mm wide (1666 pixels) for portrait, but the bigger – up to A4 size, roughly 2500 x 3500 pixels – the better. If sending hard copy, what our scanner likes to eat are good sharp prints from 7″x5″ up to A4, with good contrast and shadow detail. We use colour throughout the magazine, but good quality black and white images can still be useful, especially for historic features.
We pay against your invoice some time after publication for features, live reviews and photographer-submitted photos used. We are unable to pay for record/ book/ DVD reviews but the reviewer gets to keep the reviewed item. All promotional photos supplied by artist, management or record label, and all news items for the Rooting About news section are assumed to be provided free of charge for the benefit of the organisation or person seeking publicity. Enquire for our current pathetic rates.