How to know if you should hire a publicist

#1

Opening up this discussion as I suspect many of us need to hear this advice about hiring a publicist. A few things I’ve come to believe:
-you’re not too small-time to hire a publicist
-your work is not too experimental, artsy, or weird to hire a publicist
-you’re good enough. really
-you’re almost certainly not doing enough/any publicity for yourself right now
-it can be kinda expensive but so is gear, mastering, pressing, etc.

(not that i’ve hired one, mind, so don’t ask me any questions. it’s just the #1 thing i’ve observed over the years that appears to separate those who get a decent amount of attention from those who don’t. and I think very few people talk about it because it’s not “cool”, it sounds corporate, or it’s not part of the grand artist mythology - all musicians are supposed to be 100% self-made and independent and sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus, right. press and attention should just come to you because your work has such high merit and importance that it’s unignorable and everyone will be dazzled by the magical light it emits from within. but obviously that’s not how anything ever works, and I’m willing to bet that’s not how your favorite uncompromising musicians got their press and attention)

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#2

(if you don’t actually want any press or attention, of course, that’s another matter. and totally fine. as far as that goes, probably worth being honest to yourself re: your goals as an artist and what you would like to see/achieve in your artistic practice, if anything)

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#3

I more or less agree with your points. I have varying amounts of direct experience in this matter from numerous perspectives:

  • DIY label manager hiring professional PR
  • DIY label manager doing PR myself
  • Press copy writer/editor and campaigner for private clients (available for hire for small campaigns, btw!)
  • Online music reviewer
  • No-audience artist contemplating PR options
  • Product blurb writer for a UK online record shop.

The latter case has been informative mostly because it’s given me access to huge numbers of press releases from numerous genres over the last few years. PR guff is typically soulless, boring, badly written and frankly offensive. But it’s more of a quantitative practice than a qualitative one, isn’t it?

PR can be a great deal of effort for little to no evident or actual gains; it can also get you reviews and sales. It’s always worth at least attempting, directly or preferably via someone already with the specialist knowledge, if people knowing about yer tunes is what you’re after.

Edit: Personally, as an artist, I’m in a phase of caring little and acting less on behalf of any semblance of a reputation. And the results speak for themselves!

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#4

I’m all for hiring publicity in some way for releases and tours.

The biggest challenge, apart from budgets, that I’ve run into is finding a publicist who actually knows about the type of music I make and the right places to get it reviewed or heard… I found one person who knows it well enough, and does an ok job, but isn’t really getting me the exposure I want.

I feel like the biggest labels have people, or partnerships, to do this for their niches… but as an independent it feels very hard to find someone…

Has anyone worked with a publicist that really gets experimental music?

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#5

Really good point. I’d also be keen to hear about publicists / agencies that are good with, and intimately understand, experimental music and its various niche outlets. If this thread included some specific recs, that would be amazing.

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#6

I forgot who recommended I do this, but someone years back told me to simply google some of my favorite experimental artists who have achieved some (even relatively modest by most standards) level of recognition, along with “publicity” or “PR agency” etc. in the search string. More often than not, after a little bit of digging you can find who is representing them, because publicists usually have a client roster on their site. A quick example is Grouper, an artist I consider rather interior and private (after some reflection: a very good sort of personality that can benefit from someone else doing her PR, so her music can speak for itself). Her PR agency, or one of them, is this one and I found it pretty easily with this method. They’re representing other people like Bitchin Bajas, Pharmakon, Tim Hecker. Probably working with specific labels (these acts are signed to some prominent ones, I believe), but it’s a start at least.

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#7

That’s a good tip, and a good find :slight_smile:

This is how I found the person I’ve worked with on my last few releases. As I mentioned, he did well enough but I feel like it could have been more.

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#8

I could probably make some recommendations as I’ve been on the receiving end of thousands of press releases for two-plus decades, and there are some excellent publicists out there.

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#9

The emo-rock band I used to play with had a really good experience with PR but we were fortunate enough to find an agency who is pretty specific to the world we were in. The problem with hiring PR that I found when you’re independent is that they stick super hard to the 3 month album cycle and then they’re gone. Usually a decent sized label will have a PR person on retainer and try to keep press going longer than the typical 3 month cycle. This was just my experience of course.

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