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Music Publicity

8 ways to get the most out of a music PR campaign

Hand holding microphone - accompanies article about how to make the most of a music PR campaign

Hiring a music PR company to promote a release is one of the best ways to raise the profile of your band (well, we would say that). But it can also involve a sizeable financial investment – and one which will obviously be felt most keenly by artists who are self-funding their projects.

As such, it’s important to make the most of any music PR campaign you commission, and in this post we’re going to give you some tips on how to do just that.

1. Make sure the music is top-notch before you approach any music PR companies

It sounds obvious, but before you even go anywhere near a music PR firm it’s important to ensure that the music you are going to them with sounds as good as it possibly can. The best music PR companies are actually inundated with enquiries from bands and have quite a choice when it comes to which clients to take on – to work with your chosen company, you’ll need to make sure that the material you present to your prospective music PR company is as sonically robust as possible.

2. Make sure your other band assets are top-notch too

Music PR firms won’t just base a decision about whether to work with you based on your music. They’ll need to see evidence that all the other aspects of your output – from your music website to band photos to the quality of gigs you’ve got lined up – are also strong. This may seem a little harsh (surely it’s all about the music, man?) but in fact it’s very important that a music PR company looks at ALL band assets closely…because journalists and bloggers sure as hell will. In short, if a music publicity company isn’t convinced by the quality of your band assets, then you can bet that newspapers and music review sites won’t be either.

3. Approach a music PR firm that works with your genre

If you’re in an metal band, it makes sense to look for a company with a track record in working on metal music PR campaigns. Don’t hire one that only does jazz. If a music PR company is interested in working with you, ask for examples of successful campaigns they’ve worked on in your band’s genre.

4. Shop around, and be cautious of PR companies that say yes to anything

Some music PR companies will say yes to any project – because they care more about getting business through the door than promoting quality projects. If you get the feeling that this is the case with a company you're talking to, ask some probing questions – why do they want to work with you? Which music publications do they see your music fitting into? What’s their track record in working with similar acts? Who’s on their roster at the moment? Are there too many bands on their roster for you realistically to get a look-in? Don’t be afraid to shop around – as when it comes to hiring a builder, get several quotes, evaluate them thoroughly and make the best decision based on the evidence. When you come across a music PR firm that’s incredibly enthusiastic about your music and wants to work with you, that’s great – but always let your head rather than your heart rule your decision on hiring them. Enthusiasm about a project is something you should definitely look for in a music PR company – it just has to be backed up with a sense that the enthusiasm is genuine and the company has a coherent plan to maximise publicity for your act.

5. Invest time in creating assets that will help your music PR campaign

As mentioned above the music press take band assets heavily into consideration when considering what to cover. So the more great stuff your music PR has to work with the better – an EPK, strong website, great band photos and music videos with strong production values will all make it easier for your music PR company to do the best possible job for you. (Having great hair also helps).

6. Listen to your music PR team's advice

It’s easy as an artist to get so wrapped up in your own musical talent and creations that objectivity goes out the window - and a good music PR team can help put that objectivity back into the equation. Perhaps a particular track would work better as a first single than the one you’ve got your heart set on? Perhaps a different band photo would be the best shot to distribute to blogs? Maybe a different running order on the album might help? Your music PR will have worked (hopefully!) on hundreds of previous campaigns and as such should have a good knowledge of how journalists and bloggers will react to certain types of content – so be aware that despite you being sure your band is better than Bowie, Lou Reed and The Beatles combined their knowledge of the media might just trump yours. Be open to advice.

7. Stay in touch with your music PR

Without overdoing it, don't be afraid to check in regularly with the person charged with working on your music PR campaign. The reality of the situation is that despite the best will in the world, when you hire a music PR team to work on a release, they're inevitably going to be working on several other releases too and the band that shouts the loudest often gets the most attention...so make your presence regularly known and ensure that your project gets as much time as everybody else's. Caveat: don't be a pain in the bum about it, as that can make your music PR team find you annoying - and may affect the effort they put into your project. Strike a balance between checking in about the important stuff and giving your team the space and trust they need to do their job properly.

8. Promote your music PR company and all their works

It may sound daft but as a band YOU need to promote your music PR company too, and the work they do for you. By that I mean ensuring that their contact details and website address are highly visible on any of your band assets – websites, promos, social media presences and so on. Same goes for any content produced or coverage attained by the music PR company on your behalf – you should ensure that the blog or news section on your site features your latest press release and any reviews, premieres or interviews secured by your music PR team (these should all be shared on social media / via e-newsletter too).

And now the obligatory plug: if you are interested in working with Prescription PR, don’t hesitate to contact us. (Just make sure you've followed all the above advice first).

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How to choose the best music promotion team for your release

A team of people working on a music promotion project

A team of people working on a music promotion project

As is often remarked upon on these pages, a technological revolution has brought about a massive drop in the cost of access to professional recording equipment whilst at the same time furnishing musicians with an easy way to distribute music globally. This means that the number of bands in a position to make and release albums has never been higher. However, the same technological revolution has brought with it streaming, illegal downloading and the gradual death of the physical album, meaning that the rise in the number of records being released has not been accompanied by a plethora of new labels with the finances to release and promote all of them.

This has led a huge number of bands ‘going it alone’ and self-releasing their records, either with a view to getting enough of a reaction to entice one of the dwindling number of ‘proper’ labels to get involved, or generate enough of a buzz to actually turn their music-making into a viable business. Both goals are extremely difficult to achieve, but they are doable. However, generally speaking, to have any chance of meeting either, bands usually need to work with a music promo team.

What do we mean by promo team, though? Well, as a bare minimum a music promo team tends to consist of a music PR firm, who will handle print, online press and possibly some radio / TV; however, depending on budget, bands may hire a broader range of professionals, for example:

  • A music PR company
  • A national radio plugger
  • A regional radio plugger
  • A TV plugger
  • An online marketing company

Typically, the most common scenario tends to involve bands hiring a music PR firm and a national radio plugger. Regardless of the size or make-up of your team, however, it’s vital to have really good people on board; music promo services cost money and the music industry is intensely competitive – pick the wrong team and you will end up 1) throwing cash down the loo and 2) not getting anywhere. So how do you pick the right people?

1. Identify your niche, and look for people who work in that area

There are a lot of PR companies and radio pluggers out there – but some will be a better or more natural ‘match’ for your project. If you make easy-listening jazz, it stands to reason that hiring somebody who works chiefly in the area of death metal PR is not the smartest move (and vice-versa). Before you hire anyone to do anything with your music, try to define what kind of genre you are operating in and do some research into companies and individuals who specialise in that genre.

2. Be cautious of companies that say ‘yes’ to every project

Delivering a serious PR or radio campaign involves a LOT of work: identifying press angles, writing press releases, selecting the correct targets, pitching, repeated chasing and reporting on progress. There is only so much time in the day, only so many people in the office (or in the case of freelancers, just one person in the office…), so if the company you are approaching seems to be one that says ‘yes’ to every project or has a huge client roster without the team to adequately service it, tread cautiously. Always ask a few probing questions about

  • why the company particularly want to work on your project
  • what else they’ve got on at the moment
  • if they can genuinely fit your project in.

3. Beware of outlandish claims

Musicians are probably the biggest dreamers out there. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as ambition is a pre-requisite to success, but unfortunately there are a bunch of snake oil salesmen about, all too ready to guarantee fame and fortune to these dreaming musicians…for a price, of course. Success in music is attainable but it is very difficult to achieve, and you need to be working with people who understand that alongside talent, graft is the key to this success. It is far better to work with a PR or plugger who gives you a realistic set of targets and outcomes rather than one who promises stardom without giving any hint at how he or she will deliver it. As the old saying goes, if something sounds too good to be true, that’s because it usually is.

4. Shop around

It’s a good idea to approach several companies / individuals with your project and ask them to pitch for your business – by averaging out the quotes you will get a sense of how much you should be expecting to pay, and by examining the quality of the pitches and the kind of media targets each company lists in their proposals, you’ll be able to get a sense of which company or freelancer is likely to do the best job.

5. Check for rapport…

As mentioned above, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions about how a company would potentially handle your project. This will allow you to get a sense of

  • how professional an outfit is
  • how good their relationships with media contacts are
  • their understanding of how your music could fit into the media landscape.

But crucially it will help you get a sense of the kind of personality / personalities you will be dealing with at the company, because it’s crucial to be working with people that you know you can trust and whom you will have a good rapport with throughout a campaign.

6. …and check for reports

Ensure that anyone you are thinking of working with commits to regular communication and written reports outlining who’s been approached, when, and what the reaction to date is. Nail everybody down to a robust reporting schedule. If somebody seems reluctant to commit to serious reporting, that should ring alarm bells.

7. Work with people who actually like your music

Music promotion is a business; profits need to be made and bills need to be paid. This inevitably leads to people taking on music projects even though they don’t actually like the music in question. If you’re working with a professional outfit whom you are certain will do their utmost on a project regardless of their opinion on it, then that’s okay; but in an ideal world, you want to be working with people who love your project and want to work on it because of that love for it. Passion breeds good results.

Good luck with your quest to find decent people for your project – and of course, don’t forget to put us on your list of music PR companies to check out. We look forward to all the probing questions…

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