Imagine waving at a barman in the dark, no matter how much money you have with you, it remains pointless because he cannot see you. Same goes for an artist, no matter how talented you may be, if people don’t know about the music that you put in all effort to make, then there’s no fulfilment.
The artiste who prioritizes PR is the one who is really ready to take on the world. In this piece, I will take us through the highly critical things that surround Music PR.
Music PR doesn’t start or end with being in publications or trending on Twitter. It is a set of short term and long term activities that place an artiste right in the line of sight of his target audience, make him the word on everybody’s lips, get as much press coverage as possible and remain on top amidst the array of musicians sharing the same space and audience attention. These are essentially the jobs of a music publicist.
Think about watching a weekend interview show with a guest like Olamide. Of course, he is not there just to show off his new hairstyle. Nine times out of ten, he will be there to plug and promote a new album, single, event or initiative. This is good PR, especially when it leaves a good impression on the audience. By his very appearance, he has just wormed his way into the forefront of your mind without you even realizing it. Once people like an artist, half of the battle is won.
Hiring a publicist is like hiring an in-house producer, so You must like your Publicist. You have to choose someone good at their job, someone you like, who is in alignment with your vision and goals.
Everyone on your team has to be on the same page for you to advance. You should like your publicist, and he/she should be the right fit for you.
With PR, Constant Efforts Lead to Results
Time and time again I hear artistes say: “I hired a publicist and I only got six placements. That cost me 150k per placement”. Sorry to burst your bubble, this is not how you quantify a PR effort. You pay for the amount of time, strategy, relationship, manpower and effort the publicist makes on your behalf not guaranteed fame and fortune. Of course, you should get many results but you never know when some of your publicist’s efforts will show up.
I remember working with a young afrobeat artist some time ago while working, we pitched him to various local and international media, some of whom didn’t think him press-worthy enough at the time, but those who did gave him all the attention. Six months down the line, he’s covering the front of GQ Magazine, Dazed and Pitchfork.
Again, when I started working with one of my current clients, a young budding actress, she came into the relationship with wrong expectations, hoping that PR works like magic and happens overnight. We had pitched her to various brands and agencies but at the time, she didn’t fit into their picture, a year after, 2 of the agencies we pitched her to, made her brand ambassadors for their clients and 2 other agencies put her on retainer as a social media influencer.
Another thing to note about PR is that PR is a Marathon, Not a Sprint.
PR is outrightly different in nature from a TV ad campaign that has a specific TV slot date and time, neither is it a chart that you are paying to try to get listed on or trying to cheat its algorithm. There is no top 40 PR chart.
Online Channels < Offline/Traditional Media
The decline of traditional media and the rise of digital technology (social media, email, websites, apps, podcasts, streaming platforms and more) has changed the general music PR landscape.
The evolution of devices, expanding social channels, the 24-hour news cycle, and instant access to every imaginable type of media for all who are connected constantly shifts the landscape.
People aren’t aggressively consuming newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV because “new media” has replaced it.
However, be aware that PR is designed to raise awareness of you in the press, to help build and share a story, as well as build up critical acclaim. But If you are hiring a publicist to see a spike in your sales, you might be heartbroken. Of course, a great article may lead to sales, but overall, if selling music is your goal, music PR is not the only thing you will need.
To sell music you will also need to build a loyal fan base, take care of fans with constant communication, great offers & beat the algorithm to reach new audiences. You will need a lot more than just PR, a lot more than just getting your song distributed to music streaming/buying platforms.
Lastly, Not All Publicity is Good Publicity.
It is common knowledge that negative stories attract more coverage and social shares than positive stories. However, reputations can be irreversibly damaged when the brand itself is the source of conflict.
I know we have all heard the phrase “all publicity is good publicity,” it’s beneficial to truly understand that it comes with its own down sides too.