The Planetary Group is a well-versed artist development firm with over 20 years of experience. With services such as boosting online publicity, media training, and radio promotion, Planetary Group takes an individual approach with each artist they work with. We connected with the founder of Planetary Group, Adam Lewis, to gather some inside information to help artists better understand what an artist development firm does and how they can help artists grow.
Also, be sure to enter here for a chance to receive a complimentary radio promo package from The Planetary Group.
Tell us about The Planetary Group. What exactly does an artist development firm do?
Planetary was founded in 1996 in Boston. We are the longest-running college radio promotions firm out there – although we do a lot more than just college radio. Artist development is all about working with artists to help get their music and vision out into the world in a way that allows them to build and grow – in a manageable way. We are often helping new artists take their first steps outside of their home markets. We do this through radio promotion, PR – digital and traditional, and Spotify promotion. We also present various showcases at some of the bigger showcase events out there.
How did The Planetary Group get its start? Was it all smooth sailing or were there some initial challenges?
I was a music director at my college back in the day. When I graduated – I wanted to continue working with bands. Being young and in a recession in the early 90’s – I started my own gig. I was a one-man shop until we formally launched Planetary in ’96. It was definitely a challenge in the beginning. Just takes time to build up your network and for people to find out about you. We are lucky now that we have been around for so long, folks feel comfortable working with us.
What do you believe is the most critical part of successfully developing an artist? How does the Planetary Group help facilitate that?
I think that many artists hurt themselves by being in such a rush to release their music. They spend so much time recording it – they just have to get it out and online right away. That really kills a project these days. You have to have a plan. You spent a lot of time and money making the release – best to also take that time to set the project up properly and promote it. Also, make sure you have a budget to promote it. You had all the money to record it – where is the money to promote it? Projects don’t just naturally get heard. You need to promote. If you can’t afford to pay for promotion – delay the release until you can hire a professional to help you. Planetary can offer our years of experience in how to best target the most supportive outlets for your release. We do this all day and every day and have for 25+ years. We live and breath it – and are happy to share that knowledge with you. You are buying into our relationship with these outlets. These are outlets that we talk to on a weekly basis. This is why you hire a PR/Radio professional – for that relationship.
What is your favorite part about being headquartered in LA?
After spending all my life in Boston – I definitely enjoy the weather here! Never gets too cold here! But seriously, I love the diversity of the shows and music here. So many artists do shows in LA that they don’t do anywhere else. So many international artists come through here. We are really spoiled. There is a show every night I could go to if I chose to. So many of our international clients come through here, so it is very easy to stay in touch with folks. Also, everyone out here is involved in the creative industries. Unlike anywhere else – being in LA is perfect for any creative, as there are just so many folks that you can work with here. Everyone you meet is either in the film world, music world, or advertising. Plenty of opportunity to collaborate.
What should artists look for when hiring a firm like yourself?
Transparency. Honesty. Accessibility. Track Record.
Everyone looks like a star on the Internet. Ask questions. Ask for references. Research the company. Look at the client list. Have you heard of the acts on it? If not – that’s a bit of a problem. How long have they been in business? Do they have connections? Do they answer your call or email promptly?
We try to be very transparent on our website and on our socials. We list our clients. We post the premiers that we get on our socials. We respond to all emails that we get through the website within a day or so.
What are some key things you look for in artists when considering artists to develop?
Really comes down to the music. If the music is great – we can help regardless of where they are at with fans, socials, etc. Make great music and everything else will line up. Secondly – we like to work with artists who have their act together. We will be able to do more, based on how together you are as well.
What can artists expect when running a radio promo campaign?
Airplay! We never take on a project that gets no airplay. If we take a project on, we will get you airplay. You can expect effort and communication. You will always know what we are up to and what is happening. We do the most detailed weekly reports in the business. You will know where you are getting airplay and how it is being received. This airplay will help an artist raise their profile over other artists. They can expect increased social numbers, online streams, and most importantly – I think that the best use of airplay is to target markets that make sense to tour in. Of course you can do that with Spotify – but with the stations playing you – you know you have an active partner in the market to help you. Spotify is so passive – you don’t know if those numbers are real fans.
How did you hear about ReverbNation and our opportunities for independent artists?
I have been aware of ReverbNation for years. You guys are out and active at many of the events I am at.
Tell us a little in your own words about the opportunity that The Planetary Group is running with ReverbNation.
We are offering a free college radio campaign for one lucky artist. This can be any style of music. It just has to be good. We will work the project for two months and do weekly reports for you. We can send it all digital – or we can send hard copies. If we do hard copies, we will charge you for postage. You will get more airplay with hard copies – but digital is fine as well.
How do you measure your success as a firm? Has that changed at all over the years?
I look at where every artist starts from when we start working with them. If we are further along at the end – then that is success. You have to be realistic about this. It takes time. Hopefully they leave us in better shape and with more fans and are able to build on what we have done.
You have an incredibly helpful blog. Do you have any advice for artists on how they can best utilize blogging for themselves (example: writing their own, specific blogs to follow, etc.)?
Thank you. Again, we try to be very approachable and helpful on our site. Too many folks in this industry have an attitude for no apparent reason. Hopefully artists find our article helpful and then feel confident enough to reach out to us. We don’t want a wall up between us. So many music companies have that!
I would suggest that artists be active in their socials or own blogs/sites. Fans need to see and feel your voice and passion. It is really the best way to sell yourself.
Do you have any plans to expand operations with The Planetary Group? Any big plans on the horizon?
Not really. I don’t try to do everything here. I think we win because we care about newer artists. We focus on radio and online PR and do that well. I think too many folks try to do everything and end up being bad at most. We are obviously doing more Spotify playlist pitching as part of our digital PR. We are doing more Non-Com radio format promotion. Those are very much natural progressions from what we’re already doing.
With over 20 years of experience under your belt, what advice can you give to any fresh young artists looking to make it big?
Don’t look to make it big. Look to get out there. Start slow. Start small. Take it step by step. Work your area. Spread out through college radio. Work socials, Spotify, and blog promo. Start to do regional touring. Build it. Be realistic. Don’t try to do everything at once. Build a good team around you. If you become big because of this, then that is great! Always have a plan when you release something.
Finally, here’s a soapbox. Any parting words you want to leave with our readers?
Don’t think that you can just exist online. You have to be well rounded in your promotional activities. Radio and PR are not the new shiny avenues of promotion – but they are still very effective. You need to have them in the mix with your Spotify/Apple promotion. The folks listening and reading those outlets are the early adopters and are much more actively engaged than those on Spotify/Apple, etc. So many of the plays you get on those formats are passive. You need active, passionate fans that want to shout out to the world about how great you are! That is college radio and the blogs.
With bands not being able to tour right now due to COVID, I think it is even more important to be doing promo. You need to be active and remind folks that you are still out there. Feed them music. The artists that do promotion through this pandemic – are going to come out stronger in the end when it is time to do shows, etc.
Also, if you are going to swear in your songs, be sure to do edits while in the studio. Bad words do not get played on the radio!