When I first launched my music blog, Infectious Magazine 5 years ago, I was ecstatic when the feature requests began to pour in. I remember being enamored with each band that was introduced to me, and completely in awe at the grace with which publicists seemed to bring me these artists. Each day was like Christmas, as I opened my inbox to tons of new music all courtesy of various PR companies. Like me, they were excited about a band and couldn’t wait to tell the world about it.
So when I started my own public relations company, Muddy Paw PR, a few years later, I already had a strong handle on what did and didn’t work when approaching bloggers (after all, I am one myself!). I harnessed that intense passion and determination that had helped me launch Infectious, and created a new company, Muddy Paw Public Relations, that would allow me to further promote the bands I loved.
Having been on both sides of the industry, I’ve learned a thing or two about promoting your music. And while working with a PR company can be an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience, there’s a lot to keep in mind before signing on the dotted line. Check out these 5 tips, and if you think you’re ready, feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to meet you.
Do you have something to promote?
So you’ve had some success with your band thus far; a few placements, large crowds at shows, and a lot of positive fan feedback. You’d like to expand on that by partnering with an agency to take your career to the next level. First and foremost ask yourself “Do I have something to promote?” You may have a great lyric video that you released 6 months ago, and a few shows in your city, but without something new to promote (think: upcoming EP or album, brand new song or video, tour, etc) it can be tough for publicists to pitch your story. Although some outlets will be interested in a feature story based solely off your location or your sound, many will need something a bit more recent to grab hold of and give purpose to their story.
Is your release new?
As a blogger, I’ve had bands submit albums that were up to 6 months old, and it’s heartbreaking to turn them away. But once your release has been out more than a few weeks (even more than a week in some cases) it’s been too long for most blogs to post about it.
As a music journalist, we’re always looking for the first scoop. When a release is submitted to us weeks or months after its release, not only can it be a little insulting (we know you don’t mean it, but we’re only human) but it can often feel like there’s nothing left to write about, as it’s no longer “new.”
Public relations is not sales
One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve found with artists seeking PR, is artists thinking that it’s going to lead to an increase in album sales and Facebook likes/Twitter followers. This is not the case. Although we certainly hope those things occur for our artists, the goal of PR is to plant a seed, and give influential bloggers the artist’s name, so that even if they don’t feature that artist today, or a year from now, that when they hear that name again, it means something, and it sticks with them. To us, that is success. Of course, we also look to gain tangible placements, exclusives, premiers, and reviews, but it’s important to understand that those things don’t always lead to sales. They’re simply different departments.
Can you do this yourself?
Running PR campaigns take a lot of time—especially at Muddy Paw because we reach out personally to all the outlets we approach. However, for those of you on the DIY route, it can be done on your own. It’s just a matter of how much time you have, and how many connections you have. As much as I hate to say it, the industry is very much who you know. It requires constant (and sincere) communication with bloggers. Personally, I genuinely enjoy getting to know everyone in the industry, finding common ground, and gaining new friends. But for some bands, it’s simply too draining or time consuming.
Do you have the time to commit to a PR campaign?
Participating in a PR campaign takes time and effort from both the publicist and the artist. As publicists, we can get you interested outlets, and secure those interviews and features for you, but when we ask you to get us something we need for a feature, there has to be a reasonable turn around time. This will depend a lot on the feature, but it can be anywhere from 24 hours to a week. Without those interview answers, acoustic videos, or guest blogs back from you in a timely manner, there’s not a lot we can do. And it doesn’t stop there. At least at Muddy Paw, after those features are live, we’ll always ask you to promote the blogs that just promoted you. It’s a two way street, and blogs are counting on you to help them out, the same way they’ve just helped you out. Believe me when I say that music bloggers are some of the hardest working people in the industry, often not paid at all, and and don’t get nearly the credit they deserve. Besides, long after your PR campaign is over, you’ll want to maintain those relationships with bloggers that have supported you, for future features.