Promotional Tips for Artists
This site is one of several platforms we use to highlight the PR activity we have ongoing for any number of artists we are working with
Any regular visitors will know we are a professional PR company, not a magazine or member of the media. However, our background was originally as artists operating an independent label. At that time, we hired PR companies and for various reasons the situation developed to concentrate fully on promotional work. We learned the positive aspects from the people we hired, and also realized there were a lot of areas for improvement, so looked to adapt those in our own Company. One example simply being the level of service. It appeared that the level of service you would be expected to receive in the music industry was far less than that from any other industry - mainly on the basis it was "cool", and "dont worry about it". That doesn't wash with us
The result being we have a natural affiliation with independent artists, understand their concerns (having been there ourselves), and as a result have a long track record of developing their levels of exposure far beyond what they had received previously
But this piece isn't about self promotion. You can check what we do at www.urbanelitepr.com and we'll leave it at that
We're writing this for various reasons
1) As the season of goodwill comes upon us and we know artists will be planning for next year, we thought it perhaps useful to highlight some things for future consideration
2) The PR, Promotions and Marketing industry is seen right now about as trustworthy and useful as the Merchant Banking and Estate Agent industries and we know why
3) We have operated within the industry one way or another for around 20 years. We've seen and heard it all. So hopefully this will actually help people get a better understanding and answer some of the questions we know independent artists and labels always have.
We know there are many issues and questions you will likely have, and maybe in the future we'll address others. For now, we'll just highlight some facts for you about why & how to choose a PR representative
The purpose of PR and promotions is pretty straightforward at its most basic element. To get the artist & their music as much exposure as possible in the various media outlets. The idea being, that is then relayed to a greater number of the general public who in turn may be interested in buying your record, coming to a concert etc. To do that properly, with the time it takes, it is a full time job. There aren't any shortcuts.
These days of course artists can get greater access to the public directly because of the internet, and that's very positive. However, there are thousands, if not millions of artists out there all wanting their day in the sun, and understandably so. That said, at least at local level, artists can generate a good following and fanbase which is something to build on - and always recommended to do.
The idea of hiring PR is to broaden that level of awareness. So when it comes to considering what to do, take the following into account :
These days, everyone's an artist, everyone's a manager, everyone's a label, everyone's this, everyone's that....you'll recognize that, yes? OK, fine. No different in this case. How many profiles have you seen of people who say they do "a bit of PR"? That's the first category to avoid. There are many Promotional Companies who are good and reliable, and they all share one thing in common - they are 100% full time because the job demands it and they have a proven track record. You hire anyone who has a "day job" and does PR on the side, you've got problems. You're not their priority. They don't have the time or financial incentive for you to be their priority. They are putting as many irons in the fire as possible, and as a direct result, not becoming expert in anything.
Typical examples would be members of the media themselves - often journalists. Bit of inside information. The vast majority of people who contribute to online magazines and blogs, and sometimes physical publications, dont get paid for doing so. But they do it to get the name known in the hopes they can build a journalistic career / inroads to other industry jobs. So you can see right there the incentive to spread their wings into other things, on the basis they can "guarantee" you magazines X, Y, & Z. No they cant. All they can guarantee is that they'll write about you & hope their editor agrees to run the piece.
Another are online "magazines" who have basically turned into mailout companies. They have a database made up of subscribed readers and also various other email addresses who they're in contact with. They'll send your news around that database for a very attractive rate - and we can tell you right now the level of significant impact that will have - none
There are some whose primary job is PR, but they still harbour dreams of being a dj / artist / manager themselves. So their primary concern is themselves and how they can perhaps write themselves into plans for you. We've seen it, it always causes countless problems, and again they're not 100% focused on their job
So that's one category to be wary of
The next is the classic. "For just a few bucks / pounds / Euros, let us send your next mp3 or video around 1000000000000000000s of media and industry contacts". Where do we start with those characters....
First, they do indeed have many email addresses on their database. And we're one of them. One of our email accounts when we last checked had over 40,000 such emails and we no longer use it as a result. They were all for artists we hadn't heard of before, and haven't heard of since. So if considering hiring such a company, take this into account :
The A&R's, managers, labels and industry contacts will likely do what we do when we receive this, and will be one of 3 things :
1) Delete unread 2) Mark as Spam 3) Have their email a/c put into ignore. They are viewed as irrelevant, and unfortunately for you as an artist by association, you will be too
Secondly, if your PR company is sending ourselves your track or video, what exactly do they think we're going to do with that? Do they think we'll turn round and say, "OK, someone has paid you to promote them. Here, let us put it all around our own media contacts for free and apart from the vast improvement, your client wont notice the difference"?? ANY promotions company who sends another PR company their mailouts are smalltime and wasting YOUR time & money. If sent to members of the media only, then that's a perfectly reasonable service - providing your genre is matching the genre the targets ordinarily operate within.
The idea that for new artists in the modern age, all you need to do is send around an mp3 or video and all the doors will open without a more extensive gameplan is well wide of the mark. The whole situation with the media, who & why they support, is another matter altogether and something for another day
Any Company who having checked the information on the Contact page of our official site, sends anything OTHER than very specific enquiries about an artist we're working with or a business proposal are smalltime. Theyre desperate to impress you that theyve "done their job" by highlighting you to us and people like us. In fact, several are now given to write a brand new email headed "RE :" to give the impression they're replying to one of YOUR emails in a desperate attempt for it to be read. Embarrassing.
Whether twitter, Facebook or whatever, is there anyone left naive enough to think that by going around a load of contacts and either posting their track or video on individual's Facebook Pages, or tweeting "please check my half assed shit & RT" is going to get them anywhere....other than blocked? Only people you know well are likely to check it out, or of course any existing fans.
Social media is at the end of the process. Useful as part of the bigger picture, but reflects what you do, it shouldn't BE what you do. The people with astronomical numbers of followers on twitter or Facebook achieve that by who they are and what they do. That is, there is a natural and genuine interest in what they do. Why is it then that so many artists with "thousands" of followers can't get 300 people to come see them at a live event? Smoke & Mirrors. It's bullshit. But as the novelty's worn off, people have wised up to this in any case. You could apply the same ruling to "interesting" numbers on Youtube hits. Dont be tempted to go down that raod, because if one thing doesnt appear to match another, it'll be obvious and do you more harm than good. Again, you'll be seen as desperate
So that's the negative. What would our suggestions be for artists & labels to move forward?
First and foremost, whatever style of music you do, do it from the heart. Do what you love doing. What's hot just now, especially in specialist genres, will be ice cold in a year or two. If you're doing music for any other reason than for the love, at best you might get 2 minutes' shine, but you will not have longevity. Do something else
Appreciate that there are thousands of artists out there just like you all looking for shine. They're not your "enemies". There are only so many media outlets. Yes, some have their own agendas, but at the same time arithmetic means they can only cover so much. So if they don't play your material, or write about you, that's not necessarily a criticism of you personally. Get tight with your local media, djs, press and other artists first. Ask them for an honest opinion, not just one to make you feel good. Listen to them as they'll be trying to help you. Building heat in your own immediate area is not to be underestimated. Scenes can often be built this way, and the media by nature are re-active. They'll go where the action is.
When sourcing a PR representative, look at similar artists you feel were on a similar level. If they have been enjoying greater levels of exposure, find out how and possibly who did that - pretty simple. Guarantee it wont be any of the ten - a - penny blast companies. If you can, contact those artists and ask them for their opinion and recommendation - the best and most honest recommendation will come from them
Preparation is everything. The most important thing is that your music rocks, but you will probably need a lot of ammunition to go with that, additional promotional assets made IN ADVANCE of starting promotional activity. You will probably have to work many months ahead. Various factors may come into play that decides the album release date, dovetailing that with plans for live dates, what you'll need to have ready & when. Once you've sourced the PR company, speak with them about these things and agree a plan before you do anything. If they say you're nearly ready but not quite, take it on board and do what they're suggesting. It will help you in the longer run. Accept the fact they will know more about this than you do. Flipside, they wouldn't try to make out they can sing or spit some bars. So everyone has their own area of expertize
We often spend up to two months - sometimes a lot more - speaking with people we work with before beginning anything and the results speak for themselves. A PR company who agrees to move on something when its really not ready are not doing the artist any favours. Those who actually care will take the time to explain what else is needed if they think that applies. Many apart from ourselves WILL do that. Unfortunately, too many wont.
Speak with your representatives about how to present yourself for media interviews. Everyone has different personalities, so you shouldn't be expected to turn into something you're not. However, if you're not used to doing interviews, it is a skill in its own right. Again preparation can help combat nerves or uncertainty, but again your PR company can help you with that. NEVER feel embarrassed about asking them for a little guidance about that. Of course some are naturals, just depends.
You will always be offered advice. Look at the person offering it. If they have a good track record, take it on board. Work hard and take the good with the bad. Some people will be feeling what you do, and others wont. Always been that way and always will be. If you believe in what you're doing and also THINK about what you're doing, you'll have every chance.
We wish you the best of luck with whatever you do in the years ahead