Music PR: How to Hit the Right Notes
Unless you’re up for belting your guts out on a talent show and sabotaging your artistic integrity in the process, there’s no fast track way to make it in the music industry. Even if you’re talented enough to elicit an unsettling wink from Simon Cowell, the reality is that it’s a long hard slog to achieve anything that resembles a music career, let alone one that lasts. So how do you make things happen?
The answer is music PR, obvs. You can have a great sound, a unique image, and a demeanour cooler than Kate Moss’s fridge freezer – but if you aren’t hitting the right PR notes, then the right people aren’t going to put a record deal in your hands. Here are a few pointers when it comes to getting a buzz going.
Get that brand image just right
Image isn’t just about good hair, leather jackets, or matchy-matchy outfits with your bandmates. Image is about the whole package – and that means your look, your videos, your artwork and your marketing materials. Visuals are everything: a strong, unified, recognisable image is what’s going to separate you from the thousands of other solo artists and bands trying to get noticed too.
Your image is also defined by how you present yourself as a person (or persons), both on and off the stage, in person and online. Think of yourself as a brand – how are you coming off to fans and industry professionals? Are you delivering the right message? Are you interesting? Be as cool as you like. But drop the ego and don’t burn any bridges with rock star behaviour. You never know who’s watching, or how they could make or break your career.
It’s not just about the music
In an ideal world, the musically talented would while away their time writing, recording, playing gigs, and causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to hotel rooms. Unfortunately for up and coming artists, a huge portion of that time needs to be invested into very un-rock ‘n’ roll admin stuff instead. This includes everything from gig bookings and practical arrangements, to DIY PR practices, such as managing social media and talking to the press.
Understanding how everything works from a PR perspective gives you a much deeper insight into how to manage your brand better and gives you the space to develop your sound and image organically.
Reel in the music press
Like the regular press, the music press gets non-stop press releases from bands and solo artists seeking publicity every single day. And most of those press releases look exactly the same. So how do you stand out from the crowd?
Whether it’s for a new EP or a special gig, your press release is a chance to get noticed by the people who can get YOU noticed, so it needs to be bang on. Is your gig being held in a weird and wonderful venue? Did you work with a big shot producer? Does your record feature an artist you can name-drop? Identify your strongest selling points and use them to drum up interest and raise your credibility.
Don’t ignore the little press
When you’ve got your eyes on stardom it’s easy to overlook your local rag and small regional radio stations – but don’t. Even small-scale publicity can help build your following, and there’s every chance someone important might take notice of you too. Record label bigwigs always keep an eye and ear out for the next big thing, and unsigned radio shows like BBC Music Introducing provide a great platform to catch their attention. So submit your tunes and try to get some airplay.
When it comes to music PR you can try and go it alone. But it’s much smarter to get a music publicist on board if you want to break the big time.