If you’ve read my last blog post, “How To Write the Engaging Newsletter You Should be Writing”, you’re probably in the process of drafting what will be one of the fundamental assets you will need to create a long-lasting career for yourself. Here are five things to keep in mind as you go through the process.
You have a a lot on your plate as an independent musician. You’re trying to keep up with Twitter, come up with content for your next blog post, book shows, write tracks, and the list goes on. Probably the last thing you want to hear is how underrated the newsletter is and how you should be writing one every month. I know.
But one more hour in the studio can make a song single, and one newsletter once a month can be key to generating revenue. Your newsletter is the one place that you can ask your fans for money on your own terms. Studies prove that you can’t be pushing your newsletter to the side.
To understand why the newsletter is so crucial and for tips on how to write one that is effective read my latest post on the Cyber PR blog, Cyber PR’s Three G’s- GREETING, GUTS & GETTING – How To Write An Effective Newsletter, at http://cyberpr.com/2014/08/newsletter/
‘Tis the season for concerts, summer jams, and amassing more fans! Summer is a time to relax, but it is also a time to continue working towards some of your aims. As a musician, I’m sure one of your aims is to continue building your fan base.
For 9 fail-safe ways to build your fan base this summer head to the Cyber PR blog and check out my article “9 Ways to Increase Your Follower Base This Summer”!
You have your music, your vision, and you are eager to make that first move in the world of PR. But before I jump into what you’re here for, the nine critical things you should now about PR, we need to be sure that your ready to begin such a relationship with the media. It’s not a matter of feeling ready, it’s a matter of being ready.
Before you even begin thinking about PR, you need to have what I refer to as your social media house in order. This is your foundation. You need to have your presence sufficiently fleshed out on the internet from your website to your blog to your Twitter page. You won’t get the results you want from your PR campaign if you don’t have a strong internet presence.
With the number of musicians and publicists flooding the inboxes of the media, you can count on the fact that these editors and writers will be checking each submission’s social media presence as a means to weed out who not to cover. As always, you want to have the edge. Having a presence doesn’t mean having more Facebook likes than everyone else. It means having consistent activity online and engaging with your fans.
Once your social media house is built and stable you can begin thinking about amassing the publicity you’re looking for.
Let’s get started!
1. What is publicity exactly?
Before we delve into specifics, let’s make sure we have the basics covered. Her are some definitions of what publicity is exactly, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Publicity – “An act or device designed to attract public interest; specifically: information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support. Also: The dissemination of information or promotional material.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Publicity is precisely all of these things.
A music publicist is hired as a member of your team to represent you to the media. Media is traditionally defined as editors and writers of newspapers, magazines, college journals, and television. Some publicists may also cover radio for interviews or live sessions on tour stops. But if you want to get on the radio charts (like CMJ), you will need a radio promoter. More and more publicists are covering Internet PR, like my company. However, not all traditional publicists do this, so make sure to ask before you hire.
A publicist’s job is to liaise with the press. In other words, a publicist establishes working relationships between you and those in the media. You should not expect them to get you a booking agent or gig, a label deal, or any other type of marketing deal. That is what a manager is for. A savvy and well-connected publicist may be able to hook you up with all of the things mentioned above, but it is not in his or her job description.
2. You Are the Visionary Here.
Remember, as the artist, you are the buyer, and you are shopping for PR. You’re in the driver’s seat. It’s your money and your music that enables publicists to stay in business. Hiring a publicist is like hiring the next guitar player for your band. You have to choose someone you like, who jives with your vision and your short-term and long-term goals. Everyone on your team has to be on the same page for you to advance. All too many times I’ve heard that a publicist was hired in spite of the artist’s personal opinions. You should like your publicist, and they should be the right fit for you.
3. With Publicity, You Pay for Effort – Never for Results.
I’ve had disgruntled artists call me and say, “I hired a publicist and I only got six articles. That cost me $1,000 per article!” Unfortunately, this is not how you quantify a PR campaign. How you quantify a PR campaign is by how much buzz (i.e. Facebook activity) and feedback your band is getting during and post PR campaign. You pay for the amount of time, effort, and consideration the publicist makes on your behalf. Now, of course, you should get some and even many results. Getting nothing is totally unacceptable. But you never know when your publicist’s efforts will show up months, and sometimes even years, after your campaign is complete. Not everyone who is going to see your YouTube video is going to view it the day you post it.
4. A PR Campaign Needs to Be Planned Well in Advance.
For long-lead press (meaning, for example, magazines with national distribution like Rolling Stone), the editors put their publications to bed three full months before they are published. So if your album is coming out in October, you must have it ready to go, artwork and all, in July. Of course, not every PR campaign focuses on national press, but no publicist will take you on with zero lead-time, so you definitely need to prepare lead-time for every scenario.
- Recommended Publicity Campaign Lead Times:
- National Campaign – 3-4 months before the release
- Tour Press Campaign – 4-6 weeks before the shows
- Local Campaign – 4-6 weeks before placement
- Online Campaign – 2-3 weeks before placement (minimum)
- (Placement = blog article, album review, calendar listing, podcast/radio interview, etc.)
5. The 4 Components of a Press Kit.
In today’s digital world, a thorough one page press kit consists of four parts: the bio; the photo; the articles, quotes & album reviews; the music.
The Bio – Create a one-page bio that is succinct and intriguing. You have an original story; tell it! I strongly advise hiring a bio writer (this should cost between $200-$500). If you are not ready to pony up the cash, consider enlisting an outside source to help you. I find that people who are great storytellers make great bio writers. If you would like to hire one of our trusted and affordable writers to help you craft your story, check out http://www.ReviewYou.com for available bio writing services.
The Photo – Arrange a photo shoot; if you take this seriously, you will benefit tremendously. Create a photo that is clear, well-shot, and attention-grabbing. Showing movement is a plus (sitting on a couch or up against a brick wall has been done too many times before). If you have a friend who knows how to use PhotoShop, enlist him or her to help you do some creative and fun editing. Always utilize your resources!
The Articles, Quotes & Album Reviews – Getting that first article written about you can feel daunting. Two great places to start are your local hometown papers (assuming you don’t live in NYC or LA), and any music websites or blogs you like. Also don’t forget to check for comments on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby that you can use!
The Music – The way you present the music, like the press kit, must be well thought out. Do not bother sending out copies of your CD via snail mail – instead send a link to Bandcamp or SoundCloud with professional artwork and proper tagging so the writer can access your tracks easily.
6. Publicity is a Marathon, Not a Sprint.
PR is very different in nature from a radio campaign that has a specific ad date and a chart that you are paying to try to get listed on. There is no top 40 publicity chart. With the number of albums coming out into the marketplace (approx. 1,000 per week), it could take months longer than your publicity campaign runs to see results.
7. Online Publicity Is Just as (If Not More) Important as Offline Publicity.
I would argue that online PR is more important, because today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s recycling (and that’s if you even get today’s newspaper). Most articles you find in printed newspapers and magazines are just as easily accessible online. Online publicity goes up fast, and it can be around for months and sometimes for years. The internet also provides a platform for you to discuss articles in a public arena (i.e. comment sections, Twitter). More people rely on the Internet as their main source for news, so Internet placements are absolutely wonderful and totally legit, and they can help your Google rankings as well.
8. Publicity Does Not Sell Music.
If you are hiring a publicist to see a spike in your record sales, I have news for you: There is absolutely no correlation between getting great PR and selling music.
PR is designed to raise awareness of you in the press, to help build and share a story, as well as build up critical acclaim. Of course, a great article can lead to sales, but overall, if selling albums is your goal, PR is not the only thing you will need. To sell albums you will also need to build a loyal fan base (see In Defense of 1000 True Fans) and take care of fans with sweet offers.
9. All Publicity is Good Publicity.
I know we have all heard the phrase “all publicity is good publicity”, but it’s beneficial to truly understand this. If one of your goals for PR is to get your name out there (and this should be a goal), the truth is that the average person remembers very little of what they read. People only retain a tiny percentage of what they read. Readers and internet scrollers are not going to remember a lukewarm or mediocre review of your album. I mean when was the last time you remembered the band that was the subject of a tepid review?
And never ever take your own PR seriously. As my favorite artist Andy Warhol once said, “Don’t read your press; weigh it.”
My New Book Crowdstart is available for Pre-Order Now!
This is an excerpt…
How To Get PR for Your Crowdfunding Campaign
“People do not buy goods and services.
They buy relations, stories and magic.”
I know what you are thinking: a great way to get attention for my campaign would be to get PR for it!
Not so fast.
“Traditional” PR outlets are newspapers, magazines, and television; I caution you when approaching these outlets for your crowdfunding campaign.
Online PR is another story and if you are like the vast majority of crowdfunders and you are raising money for a project that is relevant to a smaller niche-focused group (your personal fan base), the most effective PR you can garner is online PR.
This means approaching blogs, podcasts, and online tastemakers that are targeted to the niches that will care most about your project. This type of PR is worth your effort if you are launching a larger campaign (10K and above).
Traditional journalists are looking for newsworthy items with wide appeal. This means news that is topical and relevant to a large audience and include an intriguing angle.
There are only three times that a crowdfunding campaign would be considered newsworthy to traditional media:
- A campaign has had explosive numbers in a short amount of time (i.e., Amanda Palmer raising a quarter of a million dollars for her album in the first 24 hours).
Read the full excerpt on the Cyber PR blog.
I have been having a blast being interviewed on many podcasts recently. Here is part 2 of a 3-part series. This one comes from the Music Business Facts Podcast down under in one of my favorite places to visit – Australia.
This Podcast was wonderful for a few reasons:
1. I was interviewed by a professional musician and educator Rodney Holder. Rodney has a bachelors degree in communication & media production and has been teaching music business studies at tafe college since 1999. his career in the music industry began back in 1987- Initially as a drummer and co manager of my psychedelic metal band Alchemist. He released numerous internationally acclaimed albums, toured Australia countless times, and performed at some of the world’s biggest metal festivals, sharing the bills with the likes of Iron Maiden, Slayer, Motorhead, Judas Priest, and Kiss. He currently teaches a Diploma of music business at The Southbank Institute of Technology in Brisbane.
2. We talked about the best books & Online resources – The 4-hour work week by Tim Ferris, and Seth Godin’s – Linchpin - listen in for the others!) and online resources (Lessdoing) to share and we had a candid conversation about the power of outsourcing and why it is critical to do it in today’s crazy email overwhelmed world.
3. There’s a fabulous question at the end about having it all to do over again and he told me that my answer was the best of all of the answers he has ever received. I got honest about our propensity to STRUGGLE instead of be in powerful flow.
I also said some dirty words in AUS that my North American friends won’t find dirty at all AND I reiterate that my book CrowdStart will be out June 20th! (if it kills me!)
Thank you to Rodney for a fabulous time!
Here’s to your success!