The fact is, when you have a good relationship with a good publicist at the right time, then you will see the benefits. But problems occur when wrong choices are made and either the wrong publicist is hired or hired for the wrong reasons and it’s all too easy to find yourself in a situation where your expectations have not been met, money has been wasted and your expectations fall short. Ultimately resulting in disappointment and worse still, having a negative effect on wellbeing and creativity.
As a musician who has “DIY’ed” promotion himself for a long time and set up a PR and Marketing agency (Stampede Press) in 2012; I know first hand that there is a LOT music artists can do (and need to do) themselves in order to gather crucial momentum before the serious discussion of hiring a publicist should be had and monies invested in to something where there are essentially no guarantees.
With the rapid evolution of the digital age, there’s never been more music artists releasing music on a regular basis. Building a trustworthy promotions team (including PR, radio and playlist pluggers, marketing and advertising) to help promote your music at the right time is crucial if you have serious aspirations about standing out in a very saturated market.
➡️ DO BACKGROUND RESEARCH
Research the publicist. Any reputable person or agency should have easy to access social proof of their work to date.
➡️ WHO ARE THEIR CLIENTS?
Hire a publicist that specialises in your genre of music.
➡️ BUILD TRUST
By researching and asking others who have worked with the publicist, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.
➡️ BIG PROMISES
Be cautious of “too good to be true” promises.
➡️ CHECK SERVICES
The music industry landscape is ever changing and faster than ever. Try to work with someone that understands this and can help you beyond traditional PR.
With all this in mind, here are my five tips when considering reaching out to a publicist in 2019
1) CARRY OUT BACKGROUND RESEARCH
Dedicate time researching the publicist or PR agency. Find out who’s really behind the title, and what their experience is in the music industry. For me, music has been a significant part of my life for decades – particularly the heavy metal and rock music genres – and I swapped my traditional lifestyle for a non-traditional one working in the music business in 2004. I know what it’s like to start out from small beginnings with lots of hope and achieve a bit of “success” as a musician. I’ve learned first-hand that making it in music is about quality, hard work, money, building relationships, a lot of luck, and sustaining wellbeing whilst challenging yourself with your passion and creativity. If you produce music that touches people in some way, then you’ll eventually gain the momentum you need to make solid strides. The “good” people in this industry will spot another “good” person and help if they can. This goes without saying when it comes to reputable music publicists.
2) LOOK AT THEIR OTHER CLIENTS
You want to hire a publicist that understands your music. If you research someone and see that all of their clients are a mix of different genres, it can be off-putting. It might also suggest that all they care about is making money, without really having a love for the music. If the price tag on offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Instead, try and find people who care about your genre, understand what it is like to “walk in your shoes” and work with other heavy metal or rock artists. They should know your scene well, which makes it easier to form a partnership for them. At Stampede Press, I solely focus on rock and heavy metal artists because this is where I am rooted, this is the environment I know both as a musician and small business owner and I am passionate about helping rock musicians realise their true potential and deliver preventive solutions to aid wellbeing. It goes beyond simple PR.
3) BUILDING TRUST AND RELATIONSHIPS
You’re putting a lot of faith in a publicist to help grow and advance your music career. As a result, you have to make sure you trust them. Spend some time getting to know the publicist and understanding what they’re about. Take the time to research their company website and social media proof. Don’t be afraid to ask other people and musicians who have worked with the publicist and ask for their honest opinion.
By doing this, you be able to differentiate the genuine people from potential money-grabbing frauds. Find someone you trust; someone who operates ethically and has your best interests at heart and begin the journey of a transparent, reciprocal relationship. One where discussions can be had without fear of upset or consequence. Ultimately, understanding one another is a cornerstone to a successful venture in promotion.
4) BE WARY OF BIG PROMISES
Understandably, you want to be aware of what a publicist will do for you. So, you’d like for them to promise certain things, which helps build your trust. However, you need to be wary of big and ludicrous promises. If they bang on about how they can do “this, that and the other” or get your music in top Spotify playlists within a week and in magazines, then proceed with caution and ask for evidence and an honest evaluation of where they think you are actually are as a music artist.
Big promises are a classic tactic used to “sell the dream” to DIY rock music and heavy metal artists. Some people may tempt you by saying they can make you the next big thing, so you sign a contract, and none of their promises come true.
All you really need is the promise that they’ll work hard, be passionate about your music, and help you on the path to create great music that makes an impact. The fact is, there are no guarantees. Whilst the internet provides a wealth of tools for musicians to use to DIY their career, the fact is major music companies invest £100’s of 1000’s into profiling their artists music. This needs to be taken into account when hiring a publicist (or any music industry person) and spending your hard-earned money. Always look for proof and ask the publicist to be honest and transparent.
5) CHECK THEIR SERVICES
It’s very easy to hire a publicist just because it looks like they promote you far and wide, giving you instant gratification. However, in the digital age, with 100’s of 1000’s of musicians in our community and 1000’s of new music submissions released on a regular basis (did you know streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have 20,000+ songs uploaded every 24 hours?) hiring a publicist may not be the best way to invest your hard-earned cash.
With the evolution of the internet, some publicists well experienced in the music business may offer other services, such as marketing and consultation. Also, it should not be ignored that as a music artist promoting your new music, there is so much you can be doing yourself via social media and more. So, have a look at the services offered by the publicist; do they go above and beyond to help you become a better musician, understand the music business better where possible, empower you and help you avoid common pitfalls and sustain a better wellbeing? Ultimately, what’s going to help your music stand out from the crowd are the songs. With standards so high, maybe now is the time to focus on your creativity first before investing money and potentially being disappointed?
Companies like LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE offer consultations, music workshops, mentoring, and music production / song writing services alongside PR and Marketing (only when the time is right). As a music artist, being honest with yourself (as hard as this can be when it comes to creating art) will help show the music industry you care about what you’re doing and that you want to produce the best material possible. So, you get the long-term benefits of developing as an artist instead of just the instant fulfilment of a glowing review (for example) which can quickly fade given the overwhelming content digital platforms offer us as consumers. Recommendations by people you trust should always be taken into account.
So, before you reach out to a publicist, make sure you check their background to see if they’re really in this for the right reasons and can they offer you a different way of approaching your music release or even help you with your creativity to make your songs the best they possibly can be and stand out from the crowd.
Hopefully, these tips will help you reach a publicist that cares about you and your music. If they take the time to help you and show passion for what you’re doing, then you’re on the right path.
For more information about the services Stampede Press and Lightning In A Bottle offers, check out the websites below:
Stampede Press: www.stampedepress.co.uk
Lightning In A Bottle: www.lightninginabottlemusic.com
About Rob Town:
Rob Town is former bassist with successful British rock/metal group Panic Cell, and CEO of Stampede Press (an independent Rock/Metal PR and marketing agency) and along with Toby Jepson (Wayward Sons/Little Angels) he is co-founder of Lightning In A Bottle; a music management consultation business aimed at helping music artists strengthen their song writing and wellbeing whilst understanding the music business and industry better. Rob is currently studying for a Masters Degree in Music Industry Innovation and Enterprise with WaterBear College via the University of Chichester.
This post was published on 7th February 2019 and filed in these categories; Blog.