Is All PR Good PR?: The Sherlocks Case Study

Many people that don’t work in public relations will tell you that “all PR is good PR”. In other words, if people are talking about you, it doesn’t matter what they say, they are still talking about you but is that true? PR can be negative or positive and you need to focus on keeping a good reputation rather than pushing for media coverage.

Just the other day British indie rock band The Sherlocks hit the press hard after they sneakily made themselves appear to have a bigger slot at Y Not Festival. The difference in posters wasn’t hard to spot after the poster the band shared on their socials listed them on the third line alongside Circa Waves, Seasick Steve and Leveller, whilst the official Y Not poster showed them on the fourth line along with Buzzcocks, Fat White Family, Tom Grennan, Peace and Shame.

Many fans on Twitter even claimed the band blocked them after they were caught out on criticising them for arrogantly making it out they had a bigger slot than they did. The Sherlocks swapped themselves with English rock band The Amazons, but they are yet to respond.

It’s hard to believe that people think that “all PR is good PR” but in the past the fact that your band were even being discussed meant you’d gained the media’s eye, however it’s damaging and clearly isn’t a good thing. Music promotion should be about getting your band heard and appreciated for their music, rather than getting your name out there no matter what the press are saying.

Sherlocks poster

Would you call The Sherlocks’ actions a PR stunt or just a moment of pure egotism? With coverage in the likes of BBC News, The Independent and Clash Magazine criticising their photoshop phenomenon, they have certainly taken over the press but is that a good thing?  No one really knows the aim of their efforts but surely this comes to show not all PR is good PR.

How to Write the Perfect Band Biography

As creative, expressive musicians, it’s easy to believe that your music alone does the talking. It does, of course, but a well written artist biography can be what gets your music listened to and is the foundation of your music promotion campaign, giving the reader a glimpse into your career, background and accomplishments. At the beginning of a campaign, all music PR companies will expect you to have this in place before you start promoting.

Whether you’re approaching music journalists for press coverage, creating copy for your website and social media accounts or adding to your Spotify profile, band biographies can be challenging to create so here are some tips on how to form one.

How to write a band biography
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Where People Discover New Music and How You Should Adjust Your Music Promotion Strategy

The music industry has dramatically changed over the past 10 years and Music PR companies are striving to get music where people are listening.

The new nature of the industry means your music promotion strategy needs to adapt too. But in order for you to create the best strategy for your music to be discovered, you need to know exactly how people are discovering new music and how best to reach them.

The infographic below highlights that Spotify promotion is becoming one of the most important aspects of your strategy, with 45% of people listening on streaming services alone, with trends showing that Spotify is on track to take over radio in terms of listenership and popularity.

Here is our infographic of the latest trends in discovering new music over the last year:

Music Promotion inforgaphic

Should You Hire A Music PR Company? | 8 Signs It’s Time To Bring In The Experts For Your Music Marketing

Anyone who is serious about their music career knows that it isn’t just about making good music and that the talent is just the core of a successful music career. With over 35 million songs on Spotify competing against yours for streams and fans, this industry is fierce but there are many ways for you to get your music out there. Can you do this yourself though and when is the right time to outsource and hire a music PR team to do this for you?

The marketing behind a release is key as it’s the make or break as to whether a track gets picked up, therefore whatever route you choose to go down, you need to be promoting your release in some way. In this guide, we will help you decide whether hiring a music PR company is for you, which companies you should be looking to hire and if you’re not wanting to hire one, how to do it yourself completely free!

1.You have Given it a Go Yourself

Why would you pay for something that you haven’t tried to do yourself yet? You pay for people to clean your car even though you could easily wash it because it’s easy to pay someone else to do it and this is the same with artists wanting to promote their music. Firstly, try your own DIY PR campaign, promoting your music on online blogs, radio stations, YouTube channels and social media. You can read our blog post on how to do all of those things and not pay a penny right here – http://www.burstimo.com/single-post/Music-PR-Tips

Don’t give up on your first attempt though. Your first DIY PR campaign might fail but that’s okay, that’s only normal with anything you do first time! Many thought Elton John’s self-titled LP released in 1970 was his first release but actually Elton released ‘Empty Sky’ the summer before and it was a total flop, so try again and learn from your mistakes.

Starting the campaign is probably the hardest part as finding time in your busy schedule of being a musician, and most probably having a full-time job, can be extremely difficult. However, try to dedicate at least one hour a day to promoting your music pre-release, whether that’s through pitching to blogs and radio stations or creating social media content and running your social media ads. Then once the track is live, continue to spend an hour or so a day promoting the live links out to more media, YouTube Channels, Spotify playlists and high follower social media pages.

The results from your DIY PR campaign may not be immediate as you won’t get responses to emails straight away, the followers won’t grow overnight and you won’t find the streams suddenly blowing up, but think about the long-term, as every post, every email you send and every minute you spend on promoting your music, will have an impact on your career in the long-term.

2. You have Clearly Defined your Goals

If you’re planning your release strategy you need to have goals. You don’t know which blogs you really want your track to feature on? Then research! You don’t know which radio you’d love to hear your track being played on? Then research! As we’ve mentioned already, this does mean you need time and if you don’t have the time or effort for this, then hire an agency to do it for you but if you have the time, then you need to work out your promotional goals.

Setting goals can be difficult as you’re always going to think your own music deserves to be covered in every publication all over the world but be realistic. If you struggle working out targets, look at similar artists to yourself and see what sort of coverage they’re securing and set that as your goal. Then, you can look at your inspirations and see what coverage they have and you can set those as your ultimate goals.

Once you’ve set your goals, you also need a method of measuring them. Start with the question, where do I want to see most success? This may be in social media followers, Spotify streams or pieces of confirmed coverage, but whichever way this is, make sure you measure it to reflect after the release and see how you can improve with the next.

If you’re measuring your success by social media followers, don’t be so harsh on yourself. Social media followers aren’t as big a deal as they used to be, especially on Facebook. With Facebook’s algorithm changing so drastically, your posts don’t even reach most of your audience, so perhaps reflect on social media interactions and shares instead of the actual likes/followers.

If you’re measuring success by Spotify streams, use the Spotify for Artists tool to follow where those streams are coming from. Fantastic you got 1,000 streams on Monday, but where did those streams come from? You want to be able to repeat a successful move, so work out where they’re coming from and replicate this. Also, there’s no point faking the numbers to seem bigger because Spotify can tell, meaning you won’t be taking advantage of their powerful algorithm and will never actually achieve the legitimate streams you deserve.

Do everything legitimately and don’t take any short cuts because that may mean short-term success, but it will damage your career in the long-term.

If you chose to hire a music marketing company, you will need those goals set so they know what you’re aiming to achieve and what you’re hoping to secure with the campaign. If they know what you’re aims are, they can tell you whether you’re being realistic but also make sure they’re focusing on putting together a strategy which will mean those targets are achievable at some point in your music career.

3.You’ve Already Created a Buzz on your Own  

Music writers, bloggers and producers are extremely busy and receive thousands of emails per day from artists, so to capture their attention, they need to believe there’s a demand for you and that you will benefit them. If you feel that you have successfully captured an audience already by yourself, it may be time for you to outsource, to help you tell the story of how you’ve been able to generate so much of a buzz on your own.

The Kooks music website

Music writers, bloggers and producers are extremely busy and receive thousands of emails per day from new artists, so to capture their attention, they need to believe there’s a demand for you. If you feel that you have successfully captured an audience already by yourself, it may be time for you to outsource, to help you tell the story of how you’ve been able to generate so much of a buzz on your own.

In this digital age, most of your engagement with fans and the media will be online but this isn’t just online reviews, features and interviews. Make sure you’ve also started to create that buzz on your social media platforms, you’ve got a website and even started an email newsletter. A journalist will look into all of these things when considering if they want to feature you too. Also, having a large social media following with be attractive to the press as the idea of you sharing the coverage, will be something the media wants.

4. You have the Budget

Do not pay for a music promotion company if you cannot afford it. Don’t get a credit card or use Mum’s money, just wait until you have the budget to outsource and feel comfortable with handing over that amount of money. If you end up taking out a loan to pay for the music promotion and then you don’t get the results you hoped for, it will be disheartening and also mean you’re in debt for something that may not have been worth the investment. Instead, focus on the points in this article first and then once you have enough money, you can consider investing in music PR.

A reputable publicist cannot guarantee anything but will work hard to craft your story and image to represent you to the media and accumulate press. A good PR is more than just hitting send on a mailing list, they should understand everything about you and your music. However, they’re not miracle workers, so don’t expect after one day to get results. Be patient and respectful to your team and they’ll be working their hardest to help you grow in return.

Make sure to pay for your promotion in instalments as that way, you trust that the company won’t just disappear, and you can secure the results you want. The majority of music PR companies charge monthly so try securing a payment plan that suits you and also the company, so you feel more comfortable handing over the money.

5. You Feel this Project is ‘The One’ 

You’ve just heard your final mixes back and they’re sounding amazing, but you’ve done these DIY music campaigns before and they’ve only come back with average results – time to outsource. If you’ve created something that you truly believe is ‘the one’ and could be the project that kick starts your whole music career, then it’s worth investing money in to and that money is best invested in a team who will be behind that release, promoting it to a wider audience and giving it the recognition it deserves. If this release is honestly the one you can see securing massive coverage and growing your audience, then investing in the professional to work that project will be worth it in the long-term as you’re getting the results the release deserves.

Be critical. Make sure you’ve picked apart your release to a point where you’ve had it on repeat for hours and hours. You want to give your audience the best possible product, so make sure it’s at its highest quality production wise as well as representative of how you wish to come across as an artist in the long run.

There’s no point rushing releases and then forcing a promotion team to take it on and get it out there. Instead, focus on creating the best product you can that represents you as an artist, so every piece of coverage that’s confirmed, puts you in the best light possible.

6. You have the Time

Once you’ve hired a music promotion team this doesn’t mean you can just throw everything onto them and put your feet up. When hiring a music PR company, you need to be at their beckon call to secure the best results. If they get you an interview, get those answers back as quickly as possible. If they ask for social media content, collaborate with them. If they need a certain image, get it over as soon as you can. Be available to them, so you can achieve the results your release deserves and make their job as easy as possible.

Remember that PR is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes months to see results from a campaign, whether it be a publication running a review late or a radio station giving your track a spin weeks after the release. A PR campaign is for the long run and to create long-term results, not immediate results that don’t translate into any form of success. It’s fantastic getting a premiere on NME but if you stop there or only focus your attention on securing that, then what’s the point? Focus on all areas of media and give yourself the time to do so alongside your music PR company.

7. You’ve Found the Right Company for You

You’ve followed all the tips above and you think it’s the right time to hire a music promotion team, but which one do you pick? This can be a daunting experience as there are so many out there and more than a handful of horror stories too, but if you do your research and ask the important questions beforehand, you’ll find the right agency for you.

Firstly, make sure they give you feedback on your music, you want to know that they’ve listened and understand your genre. If you look at their previous clients and they’re all rock and you’re a singer-songwriter, the alarm bells should be ringing. They need to specialise in your genre and style to have the contacts to get your music out in front of the right tastemakers. Most importantly, they also need to enjoy your music as if they don’t, they’re taking the project purely for the money and won’t have the passion behind it.

Ask for success stories. Case studies from previous campaigns will show you that they have the capability to run a strong campaign that could potentially be similar to yours. These case studies also need to be current. There’s no point being impressed by their work with Whitney Houston and Cliff Richard as that’s not proving they can perform modern music marketing campaigns to a high standard? Look carefully at their case studies, you want the artists to have the same style and be at a similar level in their career to you.

Finally, push to find out why they want to work with you. A music PR company’s roster represents them and their brand so ask, ‘why us?’ and it’ll soon become clear whether you’re just a way for them to make money or they actually believe in you as an artist.

8. The People are Coming to You

You’ve built up your fan base over time and now you’re getting emails and calls for interviews, sessions and live reviews but you don’t know which ones will be the best use of your time. A music publicist not only secures press, but they manage it too. If you’ve got to a point where you’re in demand, a publicist will know which opportunities are right for you, guiding you through interviews and ensuring that your release is getting pushed into the right places. Of course, you may know how to do this yourself but really make sure you do, as this can put your career in jeopardy, embarrassing your band and ruining any future releases. A music promotion team behind you can help you as an artist to take hold of every beneficial opportunity you’re given.

If you think you can do this yourself, nice one but make sure to research every enquiry you get, so that you know how it’ll benefit you. You want your press to match your image and sound so if you’re a heavy metal band, best not do an interview with PopCrush! Have your goals constantly in mind so that if something doesn’t fit within these targets or doesn’t seem to benefit them, think long and hard at whether it’s worth it.

In Conclusion…

Music promotion is the make or break as to whether an artist succeeds, so you need to reflect on whether you have the time, skills and effort to do it yourself first and if not, you need to outsource.

The search for a music PR company and then putting your trust in one can be hard as the marketing behind a release is such a huge part of your career but let go and pass it over to a trustworthy, hardworking team and you’ll see the results.

If you follow all 8 of these tips, you’ll find the best music PR company for you, resulting in the best coverage your release deserves.

Music Industry Jobs Explained | Who does what?

A big thanks to The Unsigned Guide for providing this post.

When it comes to navigating the music business, we often come across unsigned bands and artists who are still a little sketchy on who does what. This is essential knowledge if you’re to take advantage of the services that are available to emerging and independent acts. And, of course, if you want to know what you’re talking about (which you do!) it’s imperative that you are using the right names and terms when making enquiries.

This blog breaks down the main music industry roles that any band or artist is likely to come across and spells out exactly what they do and the services they provide.

A&R: 

An abbreviation of the term ‘Artists & Repertoire’, this is basically the role of someone seeking out new talent. An A&R rep or manager may work for a record label, management company or music publishing company, as each has an A&R Department that will always be on the lookout for exciting, emerging talent to sign.

The A&R contact for a music company is the person you need to be directing your tracks to. They spend their time discovering and listening to new music, going to gigs to check out artists they’ve heard a buzz about, and meeting with bands, artists or their managers if they are interested in signing them. Once they sign an artist, they will then work alongside them to help develop their sound and image to create a marketable finished ‘product’.

ARTIST MANAGER:

A band or artist manager will represent you, overseeing business and financial negotiation and deals, and sourcing and securing opportunities for your music. If you are open to it, a manager can also offer creative input in terms of how to best present your music; for instance, they may have suggestions on the best stand-out tracks to send onto labels from previous experience they have in dealing with them. The role can vary greatly, depending on what stage of your career you’re at and who else you may have on board e.g. agent, label, PR company etc. For instance, if you are yet to find a booking agent to work with, your manager may undertake all gig, tour and festival bookings for you.

An artist manager will typically work on a commission basis, taking a percentage of the artist’s earnings. As the main point of contact for your band, they will meet with suitable contacts to further your career, oversee your schedule, and generally take care of all business-related tasks, freeing up your time to focus on your music.

BOOKING AGENT:

A booking agent handles all live bookings for a band, from tour dates and festival slots around the UK or further afield. Until you have secured the services of an agent, your manager (or yourself) may be tackling all gig bookings, but the advantage of working with a booking agent is the established contacts they will have to secure shows at larger venues, support slots, or a better placement on a festival bill than you would be able to organise yourself. The booking agent will also take care of negotiations of live contracts, and is paid as a percentage cut of the income from your live performances.

DISTRIBUTOR:

A distributor enables you to get your release onto the likes of Spotify, iTunes, Google Play (digital distribution) and/or to record shops (physical distribution). Their role covers licensing your music to retailers, creating and ensuring Metadata is correct (the info used to describe your release such as artist/band name, release name, barcode, ISRC and any territory restrictions), processing and delivery of the release to digital or online stores, and gathering royalties for your release.

MUSIC PUBLISHER:

A music publisher or music publishing company is responsible for ensuring songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. Remember, this differs from the ‘recording’ of a song, music publishers are only concerned with the actual song composition.

If you sign a music publishing deal, the publisher will take over the rights to your songs and will work to promote the songs for use in advertising and brand partnerships, films, TV or for another artist to record. Their role also involves issuing licenses for the use of a song, collecting the royalties, accounting, and so on. There are 3 main areas where income can be generated; Performance, Mechanical and Synchronisation, and you can read more about them here.

PR COMPANY/PLUGGER:

A PR company works to promote your releases to blogs, press, radio and other media; securing coverage, and reviews in magazines and online, or interviews and sessions on radio and TV. A plugger is slightly different and typically specialises in the field of radio to get your track playlisted for regular airplay on national and regional stations.

Both PR companies and pluggers will have a strong database of media contacts who they can send your music onto, giving you a more direct route to music magazines, tastemaker blogs or national radio stations that you are unlikely to be able to tap into alone.

Most music PR is carried out on a campaign basis, so if a record label or artist wants to promote a new release, they will employ the services of a PR company for a period of 3 months (for example), during which time the PR company will work to generate as much promotional coverage as possible. Larger record labels may have their own in-house press/PR team, but many work with independent companies.

PRODUCER:

Based in the studio, working with a good record producer can make a vital difference to the sound and recording of your track. The role of a producer varies, depending on how hands-on you want them to be, but can involve gathering creative ideas for the project, suggesting changes to song arrangements, controlling recording sessions, organising session musicians and supervising the entire process to produce the best quality recording possible. You can read more on the roles of a music producer here.

Some recording studios have their own in-house producer that you can work alongside, or if you have a record deal, your label may suggest a reputable independent music producer for you to work with. Most producers are paid a flat fee or an advance, but some also receive points (a percentage of the dealer price of a record, and/or a share of the profits made from the recordings).