One of the biggest mistakes artists make when they hire a publicist is they have no idea what they need to have in place before they spend their money. If you do not have the right resources and materials in place to satisfy any potential interest, your whole PR campaign basically falls off the cliff. This is YOUR Business, and you have to take responsibility for putting in place the tools and materials that allow the buzz that your PR and Marketing team create to go to the next level.
The job of a Good Publicist is to create a buzz, and it is that buzz that sparks further exploration of your “Brand” and “Product” by both those who wish to expand that buzz and those who wish to find out what the Buzz is about. If you are not prepared to fill that need, your PR momentum will quickly fade away and you will have wasted both your money and a potential great opportunity. The object of this article is to give you a good idea of what you should be doing before you spend the money on a publicist!
Now I have spoken to two great Music Publicists (Betsie Brown of Blind Raccoon and Frank Roszak of Frank Roszak Promotions) about what they believe should be in place before they get to work, I have also used my experience in publishing this Webzine and as a publisher of a print entertainment newspaper back in New York called “Long Island Entertainment” to come up with a list of material you need to have BEFORE you hire a Music Publicist or Radio Promoter.
CONTENT IS KING
BIO – The first piece of content you need to create are the Bios! You need to have a “Bio” of the Band, one for the creation of the CD and then one for Each Member of the Band. Why is this important? Well when writers start to write reviews of a CD the first thing they do is go to their website and research information about the CD and the Band. They go through the bio of the band and the members of the band for interesting information they can put in their reviews. The easier you make this process the easier it is for the reviewer to put together a great review of your CD. Many times a CD may get passed over because the writer was unable to find any information on the CD, the band or it’s members. Make Sure these are accessible on your Website!
CD GRAPHICS – Next you need Hi Resolution graphics of your CD artwork both as Hi-Res Jpg’s (1000×1000) and as a PDF (at lease 300Dpi or better) for Print. There is nothing worst then having a great review of your CD and the artwork look like crap in the review. And PLEASE, take the time to really create a good looking package for your CD. This is your first impression for your product. If your graphics are out of perspective or just look like your 5 year old did it, it doesn’t entice people to want to buy it let alone listen to it. I know from my experience (I get between 15-20 CD’s A Week), if a CD’s graphics looks like crap, I get the impression the artist does not care about his product and that CD goes to the bottom of the pile! Make Sure these are accessible on your Website!
IMAGE PICTURES – Get some Hi Res “Image” Shots done of your band and of the principles of the band. “Image” shots are professional looking photographs that portray an image of the Band and of the principle artists of the band (NOT LIVE SHOTS OF SWEATY GUITAR PLAYERS OR SINGERS). DO NOT use your Cell phone to take pictures! Get a real damn camera and someone who knows how to use one and take some good pictures of the band that portray an image of who you are as artists! Should your publicist get you some interviews, whether they are in print or as a web based Mag, they are going to want some pictures to use in the article about you. Those images should be of good quality and should enhance your vision for the band’s Image. Make sure you get both “Portrait and Landscape” pictures! Make Sure these are accessible on your Website!
LIVE PICTURES – Ok, if you really think you look great when you perform and are all sweaty and making the pained face of someone who just got cut by the love of his or her life. Really Live shots of you and your band are important too. But, do yourself a favor and once again find a good camera and someone who knows how to use that camera to get some really good “Live” shots of you and the band performing. Again these are great as options for those who want to write about you to use in their articles. And as above, get both Portrait and Landscaped photo’s.
Even though cell phone cameras have come a long way, they don’t have the optics of a decent camera and in the hands of an amateur they rarely produce something usable. So leave the Cell phone pics and crappy shots for your facebook, instagram and twitter pages. Make Sure these are accessible on your Website!
VIDEO LINKS – Create a youtube channel for your band, AND JUST FOR YOUR BAND! DO NOT post cute cat video’s, you Aunt Emma’s Birthday or any other personal or unrelated video’s on your channel. Keep this channel for “GOOD QUALITY” Video’s of your band. So when someone looks for you on Youtube they will find a professional curated channel of Video’s about you and your band. In Addition you can monetize your video channel which can create another income stream from your videos! Make Sure these are accessible on your Website!
Creating videos use to be a very expensive and time consuming task in the past. This is no longer the case! Just about any band can create great video’s with a decent camera and some simple editing software. Just about every consumer camera (both DSLR and Video) shoots HD Video, which is more that enough for Youtube! There are great inexpensive (even free) video editing software options available. Don’t get hung up on all the fancy bells and whistles. All you need is cuts and Fades to produce a good looking video. With a little planing and some good information you can create some impressive “Production” videos (Read “Creating Video’s on a Budget“) See Below for Examples..
STREAMING LINKS – If you don’t have yourself on every streaming service available (ie: Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, Itunes, etc) because you read some article about how “Taylor Swift” is bitching about how she is not making enough money from them. Well then, you are an idiot. This is how people discover new music, and unless you have a million selling CD and are selling out stadiums around the world, then what you make or not make from these services doesn’t mean shit. This is the new music business, and it’s all about access and the ability for people to find you and your music and listen to what you are doing. You either embrace it or go the route of the dinosaurs. (See Spotify Explained)
Let’s be real, you can play a gig and get 3 or 4 new fans, but if you get into the Spotify algorithm you could potentially get 10,000 fans! Who cares if you made .001 cents per play if .01 percent of those fans started showing up at your shows! I don’t care if you are Taylor Swift or Joe Smoo and the Knockouts, the “JOB” of musician is getting out there on the road, playing and putting butts in the seats! And if these streaming services are the way people are finding new artists and music and it can expose you to new fans, then you need to make sure you are doing everything possible to get yourself in the mix!. If you believe that you can record CD’s Sit home and rack in the cash, you are delusional and are in for a rude awakening, Nuf Said.
FOR YOUR PUBLICIST
DROPBOX “LINK” – Create a dropbox folder for your new CD. Put high quality 320 Mp3’s (with the proper mp3 tags on them) in the directory tree – Artist Name/CD Name. Also put in High Quality Graphics of your CD Cover, Bios and your Onesheet in this directory as well. Give your publicist a “Dropbox Link” (NOT A SHARE) that they can use to send to stations and reviewers that may not, for whatever reason, get a physical CD. This gives your publicist a lot of flexibility in getting your music instantly to opportunities as they arise. The Best part is dropbox is free to use and they give you plenty of space in the free account to accommodate your CD.
CD INFORMATION – Put together all the information on your CD for your publicist. The More information you give the person you hire to promote your CD and band the better a job they can do for you. Here is a list of things you should have ready before you hire them
- Name of the CD, Release Date, Distribution Date and Label Name
- Identify any tracks that could violate FCC regulations for terrestrial radio
- Track List with Song Lengths
- Composer Credits for All Tracks
- List of Musicians on Each Track
- Lyric Sheets for any Original Songs
INFORMATION – Let your publicist know of any Significant Gigs or Festivals you are booked for, Any Awards or nominations you have gotten, any success you had with your previous releases, any Recent Reviews of the CD or Live Shows and any quotes of Note you have gotten on either your Live show or CD.
If you do not have a webpage, then get off your ass and get one! Building and maintaining a webpage has become so easy today. This is the hub of your digital foot print! All the “Content” we talked about above in the first section should be contained on your website. In addition this where you would have your tour schedule and stage plot. Information on who does your booking, PR, and general contact information. All of your social media pages should be linked and accessible on your website (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). This is ALWAYS the first stop when someone wants to know more about a band or artist. This IS your best first impression and you should do everything you can to make it count. Also make sure your website has links to purchase your music and players that allow your fans to stream and listen to your newest release!
You should have a link to your EPK (Electronic Press Kit) and a poster that venues can download when you tour in with a space blanked out so they can write in the date your appearance will be.
Also as your publicist gets you reviews and interviews make sure you post them on your website and do your part to drive traffic to the sites that were good enough to publish those reviews and interviews about you. You can create a page on your website just for posting these reviews and interviews, which can ironically lead to more reviews and interviews.
Now don’t get scared, you don’t need to know HTML Code to create a great website, all you need is a domain (Name of your band as a .com), A web hosting service (a place to put your website) and from there you just install wordpress on your site, get a good theme and start filling it with your content. Remember CONTENT IS KING!
Themify has some great inexpensive themes for bands, and their included “Builder” allows you endless possibilities in how your page will look and has a great interface. With a little time and a little effort you can have a very impressive website in no time.
NOTE: Making a Scene uses the Themify “Magazine” theme for our new look!
Mange Your Expectations! – Ok, here is the big secret. No matter who you hire as a publicist, no matter how much you spend, they are not going to be able to create something that does not exist! They are not going to get you on the cover of Rolling Stone and they are not going to help you get on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. Especially if you last three gigs were attended by 20 people or less. If that is what you are expecting, then you are better off spending your money elsewhere.
A Good publicist is only going to enhance what you already have going on. They have established contacts and relationships in the industry, over the course of many years, that gives them insight into what these reviewers, radio DJ’s, etc will listen to and respond to. They use this knowledge to coordinate and help you get interviews, reviews, articles written about you and airplay. Keep this in mind, the only reason people care about interviewing you, writing about you, or reviewing your CD is they believe you are actually out there doing something of interest. That is the magic of the publicist. After that it is up to you, to first of all be out there doing something AND have in place the information to backup the work of the publicist when they go looking for more about you or your band. If you are out there touring, and you have put together the professional resources we have outlined, you stand a chance of getting the most out of a good music publicist.
Remember, a good Music Publicist will talk to you about your expectations before they will agree to work with you. They will explain what they can and can’t do for you. Listen to them, learn from them and if they agree to work with you, make sure you listen to what they tell you to do. If they ask you for a resource, get it to them immediately and for godsake don’t ask them when they are going to get you on the cover of Rolling Stone!!