This article aims to highlight the behind-the-scenes work that music publicists do, the ways in which their work can help you and your career, and why you may wish to consider using their music PR services.
For many artists the obvious first step when releasing new music is to attempt to do everything yourself. This DIY approach has its own benefits, for instance: being budget-friendly for artists, offering the chance to learn about – and gain experience in – a different aspect of the music industry, and provides an insight into the work that music publicists, labels, and managers do behind the scenes.
There are, of course, also advantages of hiring a music publicist. Two significant benefits of having someone else conduct the PR campaign for your new release are: that, firstly it is a big job that you no longer have to do (therefore allowing you to spend more time writing new songs, rehearse for gigs, and manage your social media) and secondly, that the experience, reputation, and professional-network that a publicist has, can help to deliver your music to the right people who, in turn, can magnify the impact that your music has during the course of your release campaign.
With these two options highlighted, it’s then worth discussing what the work of a music publicist actually entails; knowing exactly what it is you’re paying for and understanding why these services can be justified and how music PR fits into your music career.
Firstly: what does a music publicist do? A music publicist will try to secure as many opportunities, as much coverage, and support for your newly-released music as possible during a campaign. This means that they will aim to get reviews, interviews, and features from blogs and magazines; receive airplay from radio stations and presenters relevant to the sound, style and genre of the release; gain playlist support on streaming services; and inclusion on music podcasts. To achieve this, a good publicist will first create solid foundations by constructing a strong press release and electronic press kit (EPK).
A good press release will include links to an artist’s social media, a general biography, and relevant information about the song. Whilst a good EPK (which can be a Google Drive or Dropbox) will contain helpful assets such as high-resolution press shots, copies of the song/EP/Album as both MP3 and Wav and a copy of the press release.
Following this, a music publicist will contact their professional network, pitching your releases to them and persuading them to support your music. Rather than sending out blanket emails, they can tailor their pitches to outlets that have both an audience, and editorial team, that will like your music. Furthermore, by utilising their professional-network, a music publicist can pitch your music to tastemakers and other influential outlets that have a respected reputation in the music industry, thus maximising the impact and reach that your release has. As such, the specialisation that a music publicist offers can help artists, and their music, cut through the background noise and build the momentum that an artist needs to get to the next stage in their career.
Having identified what music PR is and what it entails, your next step will likely be working out what budget you may have for you PR campaign in order to decide whether you run it yourself or pay a PR agency.
This post already details what PR involves and to do it yourself is pretty straightforward: making an EPK, writing a press release, and then sending the press release to outlets. This budget-friendly option is great for gaining experience, though can be time-consuming.
Alternatively, paying a PR agent/agency can be both costly and a risk with no guarantee of media coverage or playlist adds. You can reduce some of the risk by researching a variety of PR firms and studying both their past campaign results as well as their clients. Our main piece of advice here is that PR firms are very good at marketing themselves, so a great tip is to see which clients/artists run repeat campaigns with the same PR firm: if an artist/band continues to work with the same PR agent/firm for all their releases, that indicates that they trust the company, are pleased with the results, and are consistently happy to work with them again; this can be contrasted with a firm who may have a lot of one-time clients who may experiment with a PR firm for a campaign, find that they weren’t happy with the cost, process, or results, and don’t return in the future.
Another crucial piece of advice is to be wary of any PR firm that reaches out to you, your manager, or label. A PR firm will have their PR agents working on running your press campaign and will spend their time sending your music to blogs, playlisters, and radios. If a PR firm – or PR agent – emails you (or messages via social media), the chances are that they have also sent the same copy & paste email/message to a multitude of other artists. This is also time-consuming for them and, ultimately indicates that, instead of working on an artists’ press campaign, they are dedicating time trying to entice new clients. This means that, if they’re reaching out to you when they should be working on a press campaign that an artist has paid them for, it is also likely that they will also spend time reaching out to potential clients during your press campaign. With PR, you want someone to be dedicated to your music release, rather than someone continually looking for new clients at he expense of their existing campaigns.