Making music is a creative process, an art. However, if you want to keep making your art and have as many people as possible hear your music, you are going to have to market it. PR is an important tool to get your music or band seen, known, and hopefully loved. Here are seven tips for anyone planning to do a music PR campaign.
1. Know what you’re selling
What is it you’re promoting? It can’t just be your band. A good PR campaign is set around an album/EP release, tour or both. These products are tools to make your band known. Make sure you know what your aim is when addressing press. Are you looking for reviews and interviews or do you want them to mention your tour or show? Know what you want before addressing them, which brings me to point two.
2. Know who you’re talking to
You also want to know your audience. Are you a black metal band? Than maybe don’t send your album to a women’s fashion magazine. Do you have a new video? Don’t send it to a magazine that is only printed in paper. This may all seem logical, but trust me; it’s important. Check out magazines, webzines, radio shows. What are they playing? Do they have certain returning articles that you’d like to be featured in? If a magazine has a “a look into the bands rehearsal space” article and you rehearse on a submarine, the drummer’s grandmother’s basement or whatever special or funny place, that’s a perfect target to aim for when addressing that specific magazine.
3. Know who you’re talking to part deux
It’s also nice to know the person behind the e-mail address or Phone number. Are you a rock band? Check out who usually writes about rock in that magazine and address your post/e-mail to that person. Do a little research. Did you read a brilliant interview by a journalist you’re e-mailing about your band? Tell him you read that article and loved it. There is nothing better than showing that you’ve done your homework and you respect someone’s webzine/magazine/whatever, writing, or musical taste.
4. Have your assets in order
Whether you send music and info out digitally or by mail; please make sure you have your assets in order and make it easy for the receiver to know what he’s getting, what you want, and who it’s from. Not only should you include the album or digital stream/download, also include a good press photo (don’t email the hi-res version because there’s nothing worse than receiving a 2MB email from someone you don’t know), a well written biography in which you highlight important features for the band like when you were played on the radio or that you won some competition, been touring with so and so etc and never forget to leave your contact info.
5. Push, but don’t be a stalker
Wait a few days to a week after sending out your stuff before you follow-up. If you don’t get an answer within another week, try again, but please don’t be a stalker. At some point you have got to cut your losses and leave someone to be when they are not responding or have said no. You’ll get them next time. Maybe. And always, ALWAYS, be friendly. Your music can be great, your band cool and your album killer, but still no one likes a dickhead. So just don’t be one.
6. Timing is everything
All of the above should be done in a clever timeframe. Take at least three months before release to do PR. With all the back and forth follow-up, setting up times for interviews, etc. you want to have some time. Magazines are usually made a month in advance, sometimes even three to six months. Those are your long leads; address them first and on time. The easiest way is to draw up a little timeline, an agenda or schedule in which you note when each step should be taken. It’s also very helpful to note reactions to your requests. If a journalist replies with; this is really not for our audience, note that down and don’t email him again. Or when someone replies with a ‘not quite sure right now’, note that down and email them a bit later with the latest super cool news about your band and this album and get him on board.
7. Hire an expert
There is a lot you can do by yourself, but at some point it’s really good to consider a professional. Professionals have the network. They know the people and it took them a few years to get there. Don’t underestimate that. You might also come to a point where you want someone else to speak for your band, it looks more professional and it saves you a lot of work and pressure. Sometimes it’s just easier and smarter to have someone else ‘sell your product’ than to constantly blow your own horn. DIY is great, having a great team of people who know their shit is fantastic.
Doing PR for your band
There’s a lot more to say about PR, but these tips should be helpful. Remember that nothing is set in stone so don’t hesitate to use your own creativity when doing a campaign. And last but not least, be enthusiastic and persistent, but also realistic. Remember to have fun!