Ready To Hire a Music Publicist? What To Expect From Your First PR Campaign

It’s a common misconception in the music industry that hiring a publicist will make all your dreams come true, and that to make this happen you won’t have to lift a finger. The idea that hiring a music publicist will automatically land an emerging act on Pitchfork or Stereogum, and that all you have to do is make good music couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a few things that every artist should know before bringing on a publicist.

A music publicist can get you in front of the right people, but we can’t make them like your music.

One of the more disheartening things about my job is telling a publication how incredible an artist is, only to find out they don’t feel the same way. Unfortunately, it happens. We can get your music to the right outlets, make sure we’ve researched what they’re into, and if it seems like you’re a fit, send them a perfectly fine-tuned pitch email with all the proper info and why we think you’re the greatest band ever, but at the end of the day taste really is subjective and we can’t force them to like or feature your music. Try not to take this one too personally. Just because the current staff of writers isn’t into your music doesn’t mean that someone else won’t be, or even that in a few months when you release your next single, a new team member at the same publication won’t be into it. A lot of this industry is about timing, so if your first single doesn’t stick with certain publications, there’s still a chance that your second one will. I know it can be easy to shoot the messenger, but try not to blame your publicist if you’re finding that your music isn’t getting into the outlets you’d hoped for. After all, we can only work with what we have, and we can’t force people to be into your music.

We can only work with the content you provide us.

That last sentence takes us straight into my next point: We can only work with the content you provide. This means that if you give your music publicist a low-quality, poorly mixed single, that’s what she has to present to the media. If you give her a well-mixed, properly mastered work of art, guess which single is likely to get more traction?

Beyond producing quality content, it’s incredibly important to keep your music publicist in the loop regarding upcoming releases, tours, and show dates. We’ve lost countless opportunities to promote an artist because they’ve released a music video without telling us (premiere opportunity: gone), told us last minute about a new major show date (opportunity for an Instagram/Twitter takeover: gone), or failed to tell us about a string of tour dates until a week before they hit the road (tour press opportunity: very limited without lead time). Each piece of information surrounding your music career that you neglect to tell them costs you another potential opportunity.

You will be expected to meet deadlines.

Nobody ever said it would be easy once the media begins showing interest. In fact, this is where the hard work comes in. It’s simple to think that hiring a publicist means paying someone to deal with all your problems and to make things happen independent of your help, but that’s not reality. Once coverage starts rolling in, it’s your responsibility to meet deadlines for things like interview answers and guest blog opportunities while making sure you’re in regular communication with your publicist via email or whatever method you’ve agreed upon.

It’s not only frustrating for me when an artist I work with isn’t getting coverage back to me, or is only half-responding to my emails, forcing me to ask the same questions or request the same materials 15 times, but as you’ve probably gathered by now it also majorly impedes the success of a campaign. If I have to focus my attention on chasing you down for materials, that’s time being taken away from me pitching your music to outlets. Hiring a publicist is a great asset, but you have to be willing to do the work on your end to get the most out of it.

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Be prepared to promote any and all coverage.

Let’s be real here. Why wouldn’t you want to tell the world about the coverage you receive? First of all, it’s just plain rude not to promote coverage and tag the outlet that offered it. They’ve taken time out of their day to promote you to their audience for free—don’t you think that deserves a little “thank you” on your social media?

Second, it’s part of your job as an artist to continue to tell fans why they should care about you and your music, and by sharing blog/podcast/radio features, you’re reminding them that you’re someone to watch. It’s not just to say “thank you” to the blog; it’s about allowing your audience to discover different sides of you through those features.

Be realistic.

The number of hopeful artists we work with who believe their music will one day grace the covers of Rolling Stone, or pop up on Pitchfork, inspires me. I think those kind of stretch goals are beautiful and they’re what keep us all going. But just because we believe you can be there one day, doesn’t mean you’re ready right now. And that’s ok! There is no shame in gathering features on some of the smaller to medium tier sites as you build your reputation and audience.

One of the most common pieces of advice I give our artists is not to ever think they’re too good for an opportunity. If a blog wants to feature you, let them! If they’re on the smaller side doesn’t that make you two a perfect pairing? After all, don’t you want someone to take a chance on you? Partnering with publications that are on the same level as you is a brilliant way to make connections, and help one another grow.

On the flip side, many writers who have their own smaller blogs or write for smaller publications eventually go on to write for much larger outlets. Building that relationship from the start can be a great way to open doors later on. Everyone starts somewhere.

So be realistic, be humble, and be ready to take advantage of the opportunities you’re presented with. As music publicists, we help artists get one step closer to their dreams, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an incredible feeling. However, the work doesn’t stop when the PR campaign does, so make sure you’re in this for the long haul. After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, but with patience, perseverance, and a little bit of passion, you’ll be crossing that finish line in no time.

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Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR and Infectious Magazine. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.

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