Do You Need a Publicist Or Just Some Research?

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.]

 

Building out your team as an artist is a very difficult process. Young musicians often believe having a manager, a publicist or a booking agent onboard will be the core to somehow expediting the process of launching their career. Today you’re playing to ten friends and family members at your local VFW or singing at open mics. Then, viola! Your team has scored you a spot on tour with your favorite band, selling out arenas.

As most of you are probably aware, that scenario doesn’t necessarily match up with the reality of building a career in music. There is no magic bullet. In fact, building out your team too early can lead to getting stuck in business relationships that don’t necessarily make the most sense in the long run or, as is the case with publicists, see you investing what little money you have to spend on your project in areas that you won’t necessarily see the sort of results you’re hoping for.

Here are three questions to ask yourself before deciding whether or not to pull the trigger on bringing a publicist into the fold:

Will I Be Able To Give A Publicist Enough To Work With?

An important key to publicity is having assets to work with. Yes, you have a great EP, but is there anything else that your publicist can give to press? Are there tour dates or live shows in your hometown? Do you have a unique element to your story that could lead to a bigger editorial piece that will serve as a cornerstone for the campaign? Did you shoot any high-quality music videos for the project?

A publicist is going to have to sell a writer on the fact they are getting in early on something that will be bigger down the line. Just having a handful of quality songs does not go a long way to help them sell that idea.

What Are My Goals With This Campaign?

Am I hiring a publicist because I think they’re going to take me from my bedroom to the cover of Rolling Stone? Do I think that I am going to see a significant financial return immediately from doing a few months of PR? If so, you’re probably going to be disappointed with the results you’re going to get.

One in a million projects can break immediately without a ton of work from major industry powers going on behind the scenes. The vast majority of artists need to build out their public presence in stages. Your initial public relations campaign should be about building that first tier of coverage. This would likely consist of grabbing a few of the aforementioned cornerstone pieces and streaming playlists that you can start building a 1-sheet around and getting writers out to see you play live.

From there you can start building anticipation for your next release or, if the campaign goes really well, you can continue to go after additional coverage on the release immediately.

What Is My Next Step?

A standard PR campaign will run around three months. Once that three month period is over, if the coverage isn’t rolling in enough to continue seeking press, what’s your next step?

Are you going to be right back in the studio working on the follow-up or is there going to be a long wait before you release music again?

If this release took a year or two to prepare and you don’t see a next release in the near future, you’re better off handling press yourself and focusing on building an organic following through playing live and direct-to-fan initiatives.

In short, ask yourself if this release is going to set up a bigger push in the next year or is it step one in your career as an artist from which you will decide where you will pivot to next.

It’s best for an artist not to rush to add structure to their project to quickly. It’s usually better to find yourself creatively before looking to start working towards a sustainable career. If you do find yourself in this stage of self-discovery, don’t rush to hire a publicist. You can find the contact information for most of the writers or blogs that will be most likely to cover your project in these early stages on their website or via the writer’s Twitter account.

The more you can do on your own before hiring people around you, the better you’ll understand the process of releasing music and ultimately the more worthwhile your eventual first proper PR campaign will be!

The Artist & Record Label Relationship – A Look At the Standard “Record Deal” [Part 2]

[Editors NoteThis is a guest blog written by Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. It’s the second in a two-part series on the Artist/Record Label Relationship – read Part 1 here. Justin is an entertainment and media attorney for The Jacobson Firm, P.C. in New York City. He also runs Label 55 and teaches music business at the Institute of Audio Research.]

 

We will continue from our prior installment on “The Artist & Record Label Relationship.” We will now explore some additional contract clauses included in most recording agreements as well as a few negotiation tactics for these clauses.

Once the artist and distributor agree on the advances and what constitutes “delivery” to satisfy an artist’s commitment, the negotiation of the actual royalty rate earned for each sale is next.

ROYALTIES – (1.) Artist shall accrue to your royalty account, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, as described below; provided, however, no royalties shall be due and payable to you until such time as all Advances have been recouped by or repaid to Label. Royalties shall be computed by applying the applicable royalty percentage rate specified below to the applicable “Royalty Base Price” in respect of the “Net Sales of Records” described in this paragraph. Label shall pay to Artist all-in royalties (i.e., inclusive of producer and artist royalties). The term “Net Sales of Record” shall mean all gross income actually paid to Label in connection with its exploitation of such Album less all expenses (excluding overhead only) paid or incurred by Label in connection with the exploitation, manufacture, sale, advertising, promotion and marketing of such Album.

(2.) (a) The royalty rate (the “Basic U.S. Rate”) in respect of Net Sales of Records of the Album made hereunder made during the respective Contract Periods specified above and sold by Label through Normal Retail Channels in the United States (“USNRC Net Sales”) shall be as follows:

(b) The royalty rate (the “Escalated U.S. Rate”) in respect of USNRC Net Sales of each Album recorded pursuant to your Recording Commitment in excess of the following number of units, shall be the applicable rate set forth below rather than the otherwise applicable Basic U.S. Rate:

As the above clause mentions, the royalty that an artist earns for the sale of their music is calculated as a percentage of either the “Published Price to Dealer (PPD)” or the “Suggested Retail List Price (SRLP).” The “SRLP” is the approximate price charged by the retailer, such as Wal-Mart; while, the “PPD” is the approximate price that distributors charge to the retailers (wholesale unit price). It is prudent for an artist to attempt to negotiate for the highest possible royalty rate they could receive, as the higher the rate, the sooner they recoup the amounts advanced and the sooner the artist will begin receiving funds again.

In addition to agreeing upon the royalty rate and what the rate is based on (“PPD” or “SRLP”), similar to the clauses above, an artist can create royalty rate “escalators” based on album sales. As described above, when an artist sells 500,000 units (R.I.A.A. certified gold) or 1,000,000 units (R.I.A.A. certified platinum), the royalty rate escalates or “rises.” This increases the royalty rate that the artist is entitled to. An artist should also be cognizant of whether the royalty rate escalators are “prospective” or “retroactive.” A “prospective” escalator is one that only applies to sales going forward after a specified sales level is reached. This means that the artist’s royalty rate only is increased for any albums sold after they reach the listed sales level, for example, unit 500,001 is paid at the higher royalty rate. Conversely, and what is the ideal scenario for the artist, is “retroactive” escalation.

This means that once the artist reaches a specified sales level (i.e. 500,000 copy sold), the royalty rate is increased to the higher rate for all the albums sold prior (1-499,999 copies sold) as well as those going forward (500,001+ copies sold). An artist should also be aware that any “free goods” or albums given away for “promotional use” do not count as royalty bearing sales as no royalty or money is earned in these instances.

As in the example listed above, most royalties are considered “all-in.” This means that the artist is responsible for paying the producer of the track from the amounts they receive from the label. For example, if the artist is entitled to a 15% royalty rate from the label and the artist entered into a production arrangement with the producer providing him with a 3% royalty rate, the artist must provide the producer with the 3% royalty from the royalty the artist is entitled to. Thus, the 15% royalty rate paid to the artist by the label is split with the artist receiving 12% after the artist pays the producer their 3% royalty from these funds.

Once the royalty rate is set, the examination of the “reserve against returns” clause is necessary.

Reserve Against Returns – Label shall have the right to establish, during each semi-annual accounting period, a royalty reserve against anticipated returns and credits, of up to twenty- five (25%) percent of the royalty earnings associated with the units of each Record reported as distributed to its customers in that period. Each royalty reserve shall be liquidated equally and in full over the four (4) semi-annual accounting periods following the accounting period during which the applicable reserve is originally established.

While the above clause has begun to become obsolete in most instances, it is still important to examine and understand. The “reserve against returns” specifically applies to any physical record music as there is currently no way to “return” a digital downloaded MP3. This means that the label shall “reserve” or set aside a specified portion of the royalties the musician would otherwise be entitled to in case of any “returns” or “credits.”

For instance, in the example above, the label shall reserve twenty- five percent of the royalties the artist is entitled to in case any retailers must provide any refunds to its customer, which the label must in turn refund to the retailer. After a specified period of time, the “reserve” funds are “liquidated,” thereby, releasing the royalties to the artist. The frequency of “liquidation” is determined in the contract. As the above clause states, the reserves will be liquidated in “four” accountings, meaning every semi-annual accounting period. An artist should try to negotiate for a lower reserve percentage as well as a more frequent liquidation to earn as much of their royalties as quickly as they can.

Finally, one more clause that is included in many recording agreements is one that addresses the artist’s non-musical obligations, such as publicity and marketing for the released album.

Publicity – As Label reasonably requests, Artist shall appear for photography, poster, cover art, and the like, under the direction of Label or Label’s designees and to appear for interviews with representatives of the media and Label’s publicity personnel, at Label’s expense. As Label reasonably requests, Artist shall perform for the recording of brief audio, visual, and/or audiovisual spoken-word recorded messages and fan greetings suitable for use on and in connection with digital products and services and/or digital media platforms (e.g., Internet and wireless). In addition, as Label reasonably requests, Artist shall perform audiovisual works (e.g., so-called “B-roll” and “behind-the-scenes” footage) suitable for use on and in connection with Records embodying the Artist’s performances.

As the clause above outlines, the artist has to make themselves available for any public appearance, audio or audio-visual fan greeting or other audio-visual work as requested by the label. This is fairly common and in most instances, the artist will not receive any additional compensation for these services. However, an artist should try to negotiate for some of their expenses to be covered, such as transportation and/or meals, especially if the artist is required to travel further than a specified distance from the musician’s home.

Overall, the artist and label relationship is one of the most important ones and the next step in an artist’s quest for stardom. Since these agreements typically span many years and many albums, it is prudent that an artist fully understand the contract they are signing and ensuring they enter into an arrangement that works for them as this could be the document that makes or breaks an artist’s entire musical career.

This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney specializing in the field should be consulted. Some of the clauses have been condensed and/or edited for content purposes, so none of these clauses should be used verbatim nor do they act as any form of legal advice or counseling. We are also aware of the importance of streaming recordings; but, we will need to leave that for another day.

3 Easy Tips to Consider Before Pitching to Music Bloggers

[Editor’s NoteThis blog was written by Janelle Rogers, the founder of  Green Light Go Publicity, a music PR firm which helps up-and-coming musicians reach their audience.]

 

You found a list online entitled, “100 Blogs You Should Contact Now.” You’re ready to start emailing those 100 blogs about your album right away, because like the list says, those are all blogs you should contact now.

There’s just one small problem. They might not be.

Lists like those are often a generic compiling of the most read blogs or the blogs that are most receptive to unknown bands. They don’t delineate between a blog focusing on hip hop and a blog focusing on folk.

Those lists are a great starting point to find the blog right for you, but there are a few steps you need to take first.

1. Determine the Genre

First and foremost, you want to make sure they cover your genre before you reach out to the blog. Often a first glance of the site will make it glaringly clear if you are the right fit. If you’re an Americana band and the site is clearly only covering electronic or dream pop, you remove it from your list. In some cases, it’s not as clear at first glance. In those cases, start by finding a column that could be a fit for your band. Then look at the last five bands they’ve covered.

Do any of them fall within your genre? If not, remove them from the list as well. You may still be thinking, but it looks like they cover all genres, so there’s a chance they could cover my music as well. If you’ve looked at five articles and none of them have covered your genre, you’ll have a less than 20% chance of coverage on that blog. That low rate of return is neither worth your time or the blog you’re targeting. If at least one of those articles represent your genre, add the blog and move on to the next step.

2. Determine the Musician Career Level

When my music pr company, Green Light Go Publicity, is determining if a blog will cover a band at the level we’re working, we first break the stages down into five categories. Those categories are unknown, emerging, buzz, indie established, established and superstar. As a general rule, if you’re unsure of a band’s level you can look at Facebook as a guide.

For instance, we categorize unknown bands as less than 2k Facebook likes. Emerging have between 2-5K. If you fall into either of those categories, you want to make sure at least one of the five bands who were just covered by the blog are also within the same range as you. Like the above example, if they only cover established bands, the chances of you being covered are really low if you’re an unknown band.

This is also why it’s really important to look for columns that could be a fit for you at the forefront. A high profile site like Stereogum may only cover established and celebrity musicians in their news features, but could potentially premiere an unknown artist whose music they really love.

3. Determine the Best Contact

Once you’ve found a site that fits within the first two parameters, you want to determine the best contact at the outlet. Start with a writer who wrote the article or articles featuring a band matching your career level and genre. If you want to get even closer, look at writers who have covered artists similar to your sound.

Add that writer or writers to your list while noting the specific article so you can individually tailor your message when you reach out. If the writer isn’t clearly noted, then take a look at the contacts on the contact page and see if you can find the editor who best fits the column or type of coverage who fits your band.

That’s it. It’s really that simple to target the right contact. By taking a little extra time at the beginning to determine who would be most interested in your band, you’ll be able to invest time appropriately in those who’d most likely turn it into coverage.

6 Steps To Making Your Band Press Friendly

[Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Janelle Rogers, the founder of  Green Light Go Publicity, a music PR firm which helps up-and-coming musicians reach their audience.]

Have you ever tried to reach out to media only to find the sound of a deep and resounding silence on the other end? Maybe you heard back from one or two people who gave you a firm, “Thanks, but no thanks.” If you’re really lucky you heard back from one underground blogger who loves the sound and will get it up right away – and that’s the only response you hear after sending dozens, if not hundreds of emails on your band’s behalf.

It’s not easy to grab the attention of media when you’re a band who is not on the blogger’s radar. There are, however, a few simple steps you may have overlooked. These steps can also make the difference in who will pay attention to you and who will rapidly reach for the delete button on the keyboard.

If you want to increase the chances you’ll band will be covered, follow the next six steps to get your music heard.

1. Make your Site and Social Media Press Friendly

Believe it or not, media is always on the hunt for new bands. Outside of a publicist or direct email from a band, the discovery may happen through Facebook, Spotify, Soundcloud, or a major music festival like SXSW. Once a blogger has found a band he loves, he’s going to look for more information on the band so he can write about it. That may end abruptly when going to the website or social media if there’s no bio, contact information, or in the worst case – music that can be posted on the site. You may think the blogger will just keep digging for the information like a detective hot on the case of a suspected thief. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The blogger is already buried with other band submissions who provided the information quickly and easily so he can write a legitimate post. He’s not just a lazy journalist who can’t bother to do his research. He’s a blogger who has a high demand for his time and can only do so much.

How can you make the blogger’s job easier so you can increase the chances he’ll write about your band? Use this checklist to make sure you have all the relevant information on your website and across your social media.

  • Contact information with an email address
  • Bio
  • Streamed music or link to hear streamed music on a site like Soundcloud or Spotify
  • Links to social media
  • Hi resolution publicity photos
  • Cover Artwork on the single or album

2. Know Your Sound

Blogs, writers and radio hosts often focus on a specific genre or niche, so it’s important to know if your sound would fit what appeals to that particular contact. Before you do anything else clearly state your genre and in seven words or less describe your sound. As uncomfortable as it may be to pigeonhole your sound, it will also help you reach the right audience and start building into a larger one. As I mentioned in my last point, bloggers often face a time crunch, so if you can quickly and easily show them your music is the right fit, you’ll also increase the chance of clicking on the link to hear your music.

3. Know Your Story

Now that you know what information to include for a journalist, you need to know how to convey that information. The first step is knowing what your story is so you can convey it in a compelling way in your bio. At my company, Green Light Go Publicity, we ask all of our bands to fill out a 35 question survey to help round out the story and determine what would differentiate the band from all the other bands out there. You want a bio and story that would make a journalist who’s never heard of you immediately want to listen.  Here are few questions to get you started in helping define your story:

  • Where are you from? How does your location influence your music?
  • Are there any current events or anything in the media that influences your music? Or do any of your songs or album themes tie into any current events?
  • What’s your history? (How many albums, when they were released, how long you’ve been in the industry, etc.)

4. Have an Image That Conveys Your Sound

A publicity photo or cover art can often be the first deciding factor on whether a media contact will listen to your music. Like the bio, you want to make it compelling. You also want to make sure it represents the sound you’re making. Hiring a professional photographer whose photos have been published on reputable music sites is one of the best investments you can make for that reason. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at bands who are similar to you and see how their publicity photos convey the sound. This can give you a great launching point to define your own vision for your band. If you do plan to invest in a photographer, ask bands with compelling photos in your area who they hired and determine if the photographer would be able to capture your sound with the right image.

5. Set a Single, EP or Album Release Date

News by definition is looking for something new. If you’re trying to peddle your six month old album, you’ve already missed the window of opportunity and you’re better off waiting until you have new music to release.  Although there are blogs who are more (and less) forgiving on the timeline, typically you have about a one to two week window to send information on your single release prior and after the release date.

Once you have released it, I highly recommend having it publicly available on your social media and website so it can be easily heard. Pin your tweet and and Facebook post announcing the single release so it’s at the top of the page. If you’re releasing an album or EP, you’ll want to start sending information three to four months prior to the release. This is so the media contact has time to become familiar with your band and give the music a good listen. Your album or EP should only be available as a private link until after the release date. [Editor’s note: Try setting up a Pre-Order for your release on iTunes and Google Play to build excitement!]

6. Make Sure Your Pitch Includes Necessary Information

Now it’s time to put it all together and write a pitch that includes the necessary information in a clear and concise format. You should include a two-four sentence description of your band including your hometown, genre and description of sound, accolades (notable musicians you’ve played with either on tour or on your record etc), and story about  your band or album. In addition, you should have links to the following information (no attachments!):

  • Single approved for download
  • Private album stream
  • Bio/EPK
  • Publicity Photo
  • Social media including Facebook and Twitter

Once you’ve pulled all this information together you’ll have a steady foundation to not only contact media, but to also give you a chance to be discovered and written about without having to advocate on your own behalf.

Interview: Jason Grishkoff, Founder of SubmitHub & Indie Shuffle

Whether you’ve got some scratch for a publicist or you’re an indie artist handling it yourself, pitching music to press outlets can feel like a long, tedious, and often unfulfilling process. Lots of email addresses, figuring out a proper word count, providing the right links, establishing relationships with bloggers and staying on top of their output – and that doesn’t even include the waiting for a potential response.

Jason Grishkoff knows all about this – but from the perspective of one of those folks whose inbox you’re jamming up. Founder of the well-known music blog, Indie Shuffle, Jason was able to ditch his job at some search engine company (Google) and pursue his taste making and curating passion full-time.

Even as indie music blogs exploded and eventually died down in numbers, artists, labels and publicists still consider this outlet to be an extremely important facet of press outreach. While he still runs Indie Shuffle, Grishkoff’s latest venture – SubmitHub – sets out to solve the problem faced by parties on both sides of the equation:

The goal of [SubmitHub] is to centralize the disorganized process of submitting to music blogs.

Premium submissions to SubmitHub see a response-rate that significantly exceeds standard email campaigns. Blogs respond quickly, provide feedback, and actually *listen* to your music. Even if they don’t like the song enough to share it, using Premium credits means you’ll be able to get insight into why.

On top of that, bloggers earn money for spending time with your submission: premium credits encourage focused listening and timely responses.

To provide a little more insight on his new platform (now with over 24,000 users!) and how it impacts the way in which artists and music industry professionals can pitch to bloggers, Jason was kind enough to answer some questions for us:

Let’s take it back to 2009 – a glorious time for indie blogs – what drove you to start Indie Shuffle in the first place? How did you grow it?

Jason Grishkoff: Glorious indeed! Indie Shuffle began as a mailing list in ~2008, and I honestly had no clue about the crazy music blogging world that existed at the time. It wasn’t until I joined a forum on a site called Elbo.ws that I discovered there were a few hundred other bloggers out there, many of them scrambling to grow their own passion projects into something sustainable. We shared a lot of tips and ideas, and we probably owe a lot to Hype Machine, an aggregator that drove many new visitors our way.

Tell us a bit about your time working for Google and how you wound up taking on Indie Shuffle ‘full-time’.

I was doing something completely unrelated at Google (figuring out how much to pay their executives), so Indie Shuffle provided a great outlet for my more “creative” side. It wasn’t until the blog was ~four years old that I decided I was ready to take the leap and make it my full-time schpiel. And boy-oh-boy has it been a roller-coaster ride since then.

Quitting a safe and comfortable job is always a risky move, but I was confident at the time that I left that I’d built a solid foundation for Indie Shuffle — both from a traffic and a monetization standpoint. In fact, I was already running pretty well at least a year prior to quitting Google, so it took some time to take that leap of faith.

In your experience, how has the way ‘active music listeners’ consume and discover new music since the time you started Indie Shuffle?

I reckon a huge portion of music enthusiasts (the audience that used to frequent blogs) has transitioned over to the major streaming services. If you’re paying $10/month for Spotify, why look elsewhere? Especially given that they’re getting better and better at highlighting new music.

As for the remaining active music listeners who haven’t yet put all their eggs in the Spotify basket… I think a lot of power still lies in the hands of bloggers. We’re the ones that A&R folks at major labels are keeping an eye on, and regardless of how much our web traffic might be slipping, they’re still relying on us to weed out the gems from the rubble.

Similarly, do you feel there has been a tide change in the way bloggers organize, keep up with or choose to promote up-and-coming indie artists that get sent their way?

I think we’re going to get to this in a moment, but, SubmitHub has changed that dramatically.  Prior to its arrival, bloggers were seeing their passion turn into an unpaid job — one where they would have to sift through thousands of unsolicited email submissions, rather than focusing on the methods that got them into music discovery in the first place.

The net result was that for many of us it was no longer fun to find new music; we were too busy telling people to stop emailing us. And in doing so, we missed a lot of up-and-comers.

As the founder/editor of a successful indie music blog, what do you consider to be some of the pain points of receiving pitches from artists?

95% of them aren’t going to make the cut, and when you’re receiving 300 of them a day and getting not much in return, it becomes hugely frustrating. Music bloggers didn’t start blogging because they wanted unsolicited emails; they started blogging because they like finding new music on their own.

SubmitHub's 'Popular' Charts
SubmitHub’s ‘Popular’ Charts

How did you establish the idea for SubmitHub and what drove you to pursue its creation as a platform?

I think you’ve laid out your line of questioning nicely, with the end result landing us on this one: why SubmitHub? The short answer: it was to solve a major pain for me as a blogger. The slightly longer answer is that I wanted to learn a new “stack” of coding languages, and needed a project to do that with.

What was the initial reaction of bloggers who eventually made themselves available for artists or publicists using SubmitHub?

Relief. Pretty much everyone who has signed up has done so because they were frustrated with the unrelenting barrage of email pitches. SubmitHub puts the focus back on the music: all they have to do is click play and make a decision. No need to open multiple tabs or sift through 300-word promo pitches for a link.

SubmitHub Stats

How are you ensuring integrity across the board while being up front and transparent about the entire submission/review process?

This is one of the biggest challenges right here! I think we’ve got a nice community going, and I’ve focused primarily on getting Hypem-listed blogs to join. Those guys already have a reputation for being reliable, and so 95% of the blogs on SubmitHub are a dream to work with.

The whole system of SubmitHub makes things really transparent. Submitters have access to statistics such as when a blog listened and what their reactions were. On top of that, I’ve put a lot of emphasis on setting expectations: when submitting, you can see how likely it is that a blog responds, what their most-likely response will be, and what their preferences might be.

All of this 1.) helps the submitter ensure their song finds the best possible fit; and 2.) ensures that blogs aren’t overwhelmed by songs that aren’t a good fit for them.

In what ways specifically are you hoping to expand the services that SubmitHub provides in the coming year or so?

More blogs! More SoundCloud channels! More YouTube channels! And… I’m also planning to open it up to record labels one of these days so that they can receive demos via SubmitHub, rather than having their inbox flooded.

7 Game-Changing Ways to Get Press Without a Publicist

PaigePalermoTuneCore Artist Jennifer Paige has been busy.  Her new duo Paige & Palermo released their debut EP, Stay, to rave reviews.  MTV.com‘s Buzzworthy says “the two croon, resembling a more electronica-tinged Lady Antebellum, or even shades of Fleetwood Mac.”  Jennifer took the time to share some tips with us on how artists can get press without a publicist…

As an indie artist, when someone asks my budget, I wanna laugh.  Umm…what can we do for zero dollars?  Even fair and small expenses can add up quickly and derail the indie artist.  It’s all money coming out of our pockets – no Daddy Warbucks, no major label Cash Cow paying our expenses.  We put all of our hard-earned money into making a record, and there’s nothing left for promotion.  But without promotion, no one will ever hear our music.

Thankfully, music is a force like no other – and it can spread like a wildfire.  I know.  My debut single, “Crush,” did just that – it blazed up the worldwide charts before the ink had dried on my first contract, before I had my first photo shoot – before I could even say “PR!”  With the Internet and social media by our side,  it’s possible now more than ever to be heard on the world’s stage, but we must learn to think like a publicist.

Here’s the cold hard truth...We’re on our own, kids!  Time to get smart.  Time to be resourceful.

We NEED blogs to feature us.
We NEED people to follow us and be engaged on social media.
We NEED radio to play our songs.
We NEED fans to come to our shows.
We NEED you, Ellen… and you too, Oprah!!!

But how?  I promise you, if you take the time to do this stuff well, you WILL get press.

AND THAT WILL TRANSLATE TO MORE FANS AND MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET – WHICH MEANS YOU CAN KEEP DOING WHAT YOU LOVE.  

7 Game-Changing Ways to Get Press Without a Publicist

1) Make it easy for them.

It’s your job to define your story and tell the world why it is that you need to make music.  Laura Goldfarb at Red Boot Publicity explains, “Getting coverage is much more likely to happen if your story is compelling and your content is streamlined throughout all available social media outlets.  So much of PR is about pushing your brand to the next level – and consistency is key.”

2) Become newsworthy.

When you have news to share, write an attention-grabbing press release.  Do a little investigating and compile a media list for your style of music (or purchase one online).  Make sure you only send news that is relevant to the editor’s interest.  Remember: It’s better to write fewer, well thought out emails to appropriate contacts, than to SPAM a random list of industry contacts.  For a detailed breakdown of how to best represent yourself, check out PR You!  The essential do-it-yourself guide to public relations by Becky Vieria and Michele Smith.

3) Be quotable.

I was recently retweeted by a Billboard writer.  When she followed me on Twitter, I asked if she’d consider listening to a new project of mine – that was Step 1.  Step 2 was to send over new music for her review – that’s when my music had to speak for itself.  She loved what she heard and offered to not only feature my music but to also do an interview.  Mission accomplished!  No publicist necessary.  BOOM!

4) When the embers start to burn, blow.  

The hardest part is getting those first few believers.  After you’ve gotten those first bits of press buzz and you’ve started to create a name for yourself, keep that fire burning!  When you approach new leads, reference the most credible publications who have featured you and your work.  That’s usually all it takes for new contacts to see that you’re the real deal and jump on board.  After all, they don’t want to get left behind.  This is no time to rest.  Go, go, go!

5) Write an informative blog.

We all have expertise in something.  Perhaps you’ve toured a lot on a small budget.  Or maybe you’ve created a successful Crowdfunding campaign.  Shoot – maybe it was unsuccessful and you can share what NOT to do.  Point is, we all have helpful information to share with one another.  Include a link to your music or website in every blog post you create.  As it circulates, readers will likely check out the link you’ve provided and stumble upon your music.  Stay visible.  Find opportunities to share your music outside of your current circle of friends.

6) Be more like Keaton.

While touring with indie-artist Keaton Simons, I was able to watch first-hand as he worked his magic.  When I asked for his best advice on getting press without a massive PR budget, he didn’t hesitate to share his secret.  “I think it’s about persistence and consistency, and valuing every member of your fan base.  Nothing substitutes the direct contact you get from touring, and true fans are the best free publicity we could hope for!  In today’s industry, we have the ability to write, record and release a song in ONE day, so releasing new material on a regular basis is a great way to stay connected to our fans.”  I agree with Keaton.  It always comes back to the music and ultimately the fans are King.  You can see Keaton on The Ellen Degeneres Show, June 10th, which I think is evidence enough that building a loyal fan base is what it’s really all about.

7) The Best PR = Free Advertising

Beth Hood Fromm of OMG Publicity graciously offered up a few incredible resources available to the hungry artist, willing to think outside the box.  Go sign up now!

  • HARO – Help a Reporter Out (and a few tips to get you started.)
  • Although ProfNet isn’t free, the small investment might be worth it for someone who can’t afford a publicist on retainer.

I used to think that great art should be able speak for itself.  I was dead wrong – if we don’t speak up for our art, no one will.  Buzz, press, fans, etc. start and end with us.

The key is realizing that, as artists, we are selling more than music – we are putting life experiences into songs so that others can sing along and say to themselves, “That is so true.”  Music can be life altering, and in some cases even life saving.  What an honor we have been given to share the gift of music.

So go ahead – PROUDLY SHARE YOUR MUSIC and BOLDLY TELL YOUR STORY.  Make sure you are putting your best foot forward, and you might just get that lucky break!

Your PR genius within will thank you because deep down it knows…we all make our own luck.