This guide will give you all of the knowledge you need to choose the right Music PR company, along with key questions to ask, signs which help you identify bad companies and tips to deal with each of them.
As a musician, you are releasing your music in to one of the most competitive markets in the world. Despite the decrease in purchases of new music, this has not deterred artists to create music with the vision of breaking in to the industry. There are 30 million songs on Spotify, with 20,000 being uploaded every single day, which is 600,000 songs you are competing against for that month alone.
Therefore, for your release you are going to want to hit the ground running and look to promoting your track. We live in a fantastic time, where the use of social media means you can spend money on directly promoting your music to a specifically targeted audience. Or simply by being persistent and building a loyal fan base one track at a time, where some artists have even gone on to out sell Justin Timberlake using only their YouTube channel as their form of promotion.
However, you may not feel you have the necessary expertise to manoeuvre the social media platforms to maximise the potential of your music, or you simply don’t have the time to commit to what is necessary to reach out to publications to feature your music, therefore you will look to employing one of the many music PR companies to do this for you.
Searching for the right company can be a daunting task, with a range of various companies out there offering so many different products and methods to get your music known, how can you possibly know which direction to take. We will critically analyse each form of promotion to understand what each option involves and whether it’s right for you.
Digital (Social Media) Marketing Companies
There are many agencies out there who will offer their expertise for various social media platforms in order to promote your music to a large following.
These guys will usually take your budget and spend it on digital advertising to ensure you get as many eyes on your music as possible.
Signs of a good social media marketing firm:
They are open about how they achieve their results and their techniques – Social Media is an easy thing to claim to be able to ‘hack’ and there certainly are very talented growth hackers out there who are capable of achieving great things on Social Media. A good Social Media marketing firm should ask for a budget, they usually take your budget and spend it across various platforms and influencers to get views on your video, their fee is a percentage of your advertising spend.
A good marketing firm shouldn’t be afraid to tell you how they achieve what they achieved. Sure, every client’s situation may be different and therefore they take a different approach, however every marketer will know the source of their views/streams and what is generating great results. Remember, whenever you find out the secret behind a magic trick, there is always that feeling of disappointment, and this the case with growth hacking too. So, the marketing firm shouldn’t be secretive over how they achieved their results, and if they are, I would assume that the views are generated by fake bots and I would walk away.
A good marketing firm knows that one single video is difficult to promote on its own, a core fan base is needed to launch the video and also should be creative and work with you to create content for your social media accounts in order to grow your audience. This means the results are sustainable, allowing you to take away your new audience and use it as a platform to launch your next release instead of starting from zero again.
Any agencies who guarantee you a number of views/plays – your music should always be the driver of success, not your budget. The agency can’t predict with great accuracy whether your track will get 10,000 views or 10 million views. If they are doing their job correctly then they are going out to real people who have a real opinion and the decision is in their hands whether the listener chooses to share the track with their friends.
Ask to see past client, how many views did it get, but look closely at how many likes and dislikes it got, how many comments, we see too often music videos with 400,000 views, 9 comments and 0 dislikes. Are you telling me that 400,000 people watched this video and not a single person didn’t like it?
Small Management Companies and Record Labels
These are the companies who are likely to invest their own money and time in to your career, but don’t think of these companies as “If I could only just get them to invest in my music, then I will be successful”, the music industry has changed dramatically, and a lot of these companies are run by a small group of industry veterans, who’s objective is to get you signed to a major label, however the major labels rarely sign anyone without significant online traction.
Signs of a good Management company/record label:
The company should have a solid strategy in the digital world, long gone is the strategy of shooting a music video and recording an EP followed by presenting it to major labels. They should have a strategy to launch your career without the end goal to be being signed by someone else.
Any company whose sole purpose is to get money from somewhere else.
Do not pay the companies upfront if their business model is to sign artists and invest their own money, this simply implies that they don’t believe in your project but are willing to take your money.
You may be desperate right now to get on the radar of these companies, but you need to pick the right one for you, they demand years of your time, which are precious to your career right now, you can’t afford to waste those years. Ask them who they know, who can they bring in to the project to add value to you as an artist.
Music PR Companies
Music PR companies are in abundance, promising to get you in the biggest publications to give your music the exposure it deserves. However, there is an entire range of PR companies, from the very best to the very worst. A PR company will try everything they can to get your music reviewed and featured in high readership publications, which means by nature the results are highly speculative. This can open you up to be vulnerable as if you were to have a poor performing campaign, you don’t know whether it’s due to poor reception for your music or the company hasn’t done their job. So, these are our best tips for ensuring your investment is in the best hands.
Finding out what a PR company is really made of, is all about the questions you ask them before you sign up. I know that it can feel like an accomplishment to persuade a PR company to take on your project but remember there are some PR companies who will take on every single project that comes their way and will give the client nothing in return. There are also PR companies which were founded by ex-industry veterans who have worked with some of the biggest clients in the world, however since leaving their position to found their new company, they haven’t accomplished anything since, so don’t be persuaded by their impressive roster of ‘Past Clients’ and ‘Worked with’.
Signs of a good music PR company
A good PR company should be able to tell you their current clients and clearly articulate their strategy for their current roster. They should be able to name each person at every outlet they have contacts at, as well as being able to name the last artist they secured in that particular publication. They should be passionate about your project and have listened to your music before your first initial call, with a clear idea of target areas. They should know your genre and already be able to identify other artists you are similar to.
Any company that won’t give you a price for their services. We hear of a lot of PR Companies who give you no indication of the price they charge and ask you to tell them your budget first, then they will write a proposal to match this budget. This is simply a ploy to make sure they have extracted as much as they possibly can from you in order to charge you for the same service. A PR company should know what your music can achieve, how long it will take, and the budget required to meet these goals.
PR companies like to hide behind the big names on their website, if you ask their experience they will be happy to direct you to check out their past roster, but some companies are over 50 years old, so of course they have built up a strong list of past clients. To prevent this, ask them who they are working with right now, ask them what their biggest accomplishment has been this month and with which client. This will give you a true representation of how good the PR company is, they should consistently be getting results. This will also serve the purpose of giving you an idea of the standard of clients they are willing to take on.
Be sure that you are paying for an experienced professional to manage your campaign, don’t be shy to ask difficult questions, ask the target areas that they’d recommend, ask them the last client they worked with of your genre, and again, don’t let them direct you to the roster on their website, ask for recent successes. If you are a new artist and launching your music career, you could ask them for a case study of a previous client where they have taken on a client at a similar level as you and how they took them to the next level.
PR freelancers are usually individuals who have worked for a PR company before and decided to be a little more flexible. They would look after less clients at once and perhaps working from home or flexible working hours suits them better. They usually have their own website which lists their entire CV.
Signs of a good Freelancer:
A freelancer has to work harder than anyone else to win clients, so anyone who puts the time in to creating you a bespoke proposal will be worth giving a shot. The more time and effort they put in to your proposal the more they are willing to put in to your campaign too.
Avoid freelancers who have only worked for one company and then decided to go freelance, they should have a long list of industry experience behind them, so if you feel that the freelancer is lacking in experience, your gut is probably right and you should avoid.
Get references – this is vital when working with someone who does not represent a company. They won’t have a website or not too many testimonials, therefore ask for someone they can contact to discuss their campaign. Anyone who is very pleased with the service they received should be more than happy to take a quick call with you and tell you about how happy they are. If this person refuses, then you should be suspicious.
Streaming Promotion Companies
Streaming promotion companies will help you get more views and streams on your music, whether it is on YouTube, Spotify or Soundcloud.
These companies are generally best avoided as they are very likely to be fake views using bots to generate the streams. There are times when someone can use manipulated clicks to game the algorithm to get your music video in the suggested section of YouTube or Spotify, but this may run the risk of you getting banned from YouTube and Spotify, especially if you are taking an income from the streams which is an act of fraud. Not only this, the equipment required to run the computers and network proxies if very expensive, so much so that it should not be cost-effective for anyone to use these services. Google owns YouTube, and Google is one of the most advance and intelligent companies in the world, we don’t believe for a second that they don’t have the technology to detect manipulated numbers.
We are very against buying fake streams and are of the opinion that you are fooling no-one by faking your numbers. We see it as buying a fake Rolex, it may look good at first glance, but as soon as somebody takes a closer look, and holds it in their hand and feels the quality, they know immediately that something isn’t right.
We highly recommend you avoid using any of these services.