I got a call recently from a veteran musician who did his homework and avoided hiring one firm with a reputation for not delivering strong music blogger results – only to get all of his money taken by another publicist who never answered another email or phone call the day after the check cleared.
I’m not saying this is common behavior, but unfortunately, it happens more than I’d like to see. It’s bad for artists, it’s bad for business, it’s bad for music!
You Need A Few Things BEFORE You Need PR!
I spend a lot of time explaining to artists who come to me wanting PR that it may not be the right time for PR. There are many things you need to have in place before you start PR including a great signature story (which is the foundation that a PR team will be working with), a solid social media strategy (which a publicist will be defending) and an actual strategy that really addresses a 360 degree view of your whole career and not just “PR”
When Bad Music Publicists Happen to Good Artists
Quite often, artists get taken for a ride because they don’t actually know what music publicists do, or what to expect from one. This allows the bad guys to take advantage, by promising the world and then under delivering. Misconceptions about music publicity can also create false expectations and disappointments down the road when you realize that your publicist might not be able to get you that massive blog you were hoping for.
I’d like to do my part to prevent this from happening to you by presenting – and correcting – the five most common misconceptions about music publicists.
Misconception 1: A Publicist Called Me! That Means I am Ready!
This is the biggest problem I see. There are a few music publicity firms out there who hire teams of sales reps and force their publicists to get on the phone, work the socials and get artists to sign up!
Here’s the thing: 100% of the publicists I know are way too busy to be cold calling artists.
Keep this in mind: a publicist’s job is to “sell” all day long, over email and on the telephone.
They get paid to make compelling pitches. Many will naturally do a great job of selling themselves to you. So it is critical that you do your research, and always ask for references. Make sure that she (or he) is not all talk, and can actually deliver results.
Now, if that publicist sees you play and goes nuts (I’ve had many fangirl moments), or you are introduced through a legitimate source – that’s another thing altogether. But the cold call is something to be very suspicious of! If you do get a call and you are in the market for a publicist, MAKE SURE you reach out to a few other firms and get proposals. Remember, this is a BUYER’S market, and YOU, dear artist, are the buyer! Don’t forget this!
Misconception 2: If I Hire a Publicist, She Can Create Magical Opportunities!
Nope. She can’t work miracles, but she can introduce you to the media and help you once you have a defined strategy and a roadmap. Hiring a publicist is just the beginning of your work. You need to keep her busy with stories and angles and events to work throughout her time managing your campaign. Also you MUST have a consistent social media strategy throughout your time with your PR team as every single outlet they are pitching to will look at your socials and if you suck at posting your PR results will not go well.A music publicist is only as good as whatever she is publicizing, and it is critical to give her as much to use as possible and understanding these key points of music publicity will help as well.
Misconception 3: She Works For a Huge Band; She Knows All These Writers; She Will Get Me in Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan, Stereogum, NPR Tiny Desk & Rolling Stone!
NO! Music Publicists should absolutely be hired for who they know and other clients they represent and of course their relationships at national publications are critical.
But please be warned: Larger bands, on labels with big followings and history (not to mention sales and tours) get placed over smaller, up-and-coming artists. If you are an emerging artist, you need to build up to the larger publications. Sadly there is no jumping to the front of the line, no matter who else your publicist represents! tweet
It’s also about being newsworthy. Simply having a new EP, album, or shows is not grounds for national coverage. Many larger publications may pass you up the first campaign around. That’s okay; this should be considered a building block and not a rejection.
So the more appropriate journalists, blogs, and outlets your music publicist reaches out to, the better.
This does not mean that the publicist won’t try to get you appropriate placements, she will! Just know that even the tightest personal relationships don’t always equal results. Of course, the publicist knows these people and can always ask, but it is absolutely not a guarantee.
Misconception 4: I’m Gonna Be On National TV!
Television shows such as Late Night, Ellen, and even The Tonight Show, of course, showcase independent artists from time to time. But this is extremely rare, and not all publicists have the connections to get you on these TV shows. In order to avoid a major letdown, discuss this with your publicist before you hire her. You can ask: “Have you ever placed anyone on national TV?” And: “How many artists have played and on which shows?” She will be honest both in her ability to reach the bookers and about what chances she thinks you may have to actually end up on one of these shows.
If you are just starting out music blogs and Spotify Playlists are much better places to focus your energy
Misconception 5: If My Music is Good Enough, I’m Going Straight to The BIG TIME!
This is a misconception we see a lot. Yes, once in a blue moon a completely unknown artist will go straight to the big time. But this is a matter of LUCK.
The vast majority of artists who are labeled an “overnight success” have actually been toiling away behind the scenes for a long time, and have paid their dues in smaller blogs and publications – NO MATTER how good their music is. tweet
There is no fast track to the top, apart from the extremely off chance that the CEO of Capitol Records happens to hear you at an open mic. We hope this happens to you, but in the meantime, be realistic with your expectations. Your publicist will get you the best possible press. But it’s going to take a little while to get to the front page of Rolling Stone. Your best chance to get there is to start small and build your reputation organically, which is something a good publicist can help you do.
I know this post sounded a little ominous, but I speak from experience when I say that most music publicists are hard-working, talented, trustworthy people. They will do great things for you! Just do your research first, and make sure you know the real benefits and get the right person for the job!
And if you want to get a solid foundation and get your goals into place first consider taking my pop-up course – launching soon! Click to watch the video:
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