This is perhaps the most basic and most important piece of band advice I can give a group looking to drop their next release – get PR. It’s really that simple. It can seem expensive I know but it is almost worth it. If you don’t hire PR, no matter how big you are, it’s going to be very hard to find someone who is willing to covering your band. So in this article, I wanted to breakdown what music PR is, why it matters, what to expect and of course how to not get ripped off. These are the keys to any band trying to take advantage of their brand, grow in the scene and get the press coverage that it will take to elevate their band to a whole new level.
4. What PR Is
PR is short for public relations. In praxis in metal, this means the person who goes out and gets you reviews, premier placements, interviews and sometimes even playlist placements. They usually are not the person who sets up your ads or runs your social posting. You should be looking at paying in the range of $200-500 a month for low to mid-level metal PR which is a great starting point. You will want to coordinate with your PR person to figure out release dates for your singles and even your record as a whole – they can help ensure that you get the maximum amount of buzz about your record. If you are paying in the $1000 range you are probably paying too much, because even if those guys get bands in Rolling Stone your band is probably not big enough to merit Rolling Stone’s attention.
3. Why It’s Important
The market is just so oversaturated and journalists have so many promos coming in (I literally get a hundred a day) that we can only rely on personal relationships and recommendations when it comes to checking out new bands. There is just too goddamn much to sift through otherwise. Music PR is important because it is the PR people who have relationships with journalists that ensure you can get press and premiers and interviews and all that good stuff. I can tell you I have not reviewed a band (who I wasn’t personal friends with) who didn’t have PR in literal years. I honestly can’t remember the last time it happened.
2. What To Expect
When you start to work with a PR person they are going to ask you for a bio, your music, and all those other assets. They will send your record out to various journalists they are connected with and see who is interested. These journalists will do reviews, interviews, and all that other good stuff. In an ideal world, you just need to stay in touch with your PR person as they pitch and talk to others for you. It’s your responsibility to share the links which cover you on social, respond to all emails in a timely fashion and generally be someone who is present and supportive. The PR person is just a member of the team and they are trying their best to help you – but you need to be able to coordinate with them and remain present.
1. How to Not Get Ripped Off
Now, of course, everyone wants to make sure they aren’t going to take a bath on this because it’s true – there are scam PR people out there. Broadly speaking I would not hire anyone who does what we call “Dollar store PR” the people charging less than $100 a month. Usually, they are not spending enough time with individual records to make it worth it. These people also usually don’t have very good sets of contacts. You want someone in that $200-500 per month range I mentioned earlier. Maybe go a little higher, maybe a little lower. It has to be someone who communicates regularly and clearly though. If they aren’t communicative that should be a major red flag. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can speak to former clients, get testimonials or any of that other stuff – a reputable PR will offer that. So if you’re about to drop a record – keep this article in mind – it might just help you reach that next level!
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Matt Bacon is a consultant, A&R man, and journalist specializing in the world of heavy metal. Having worked with everyone from Glam Rock icon Phil Collen of Def Leppard, to post Black Metal titans Alcest, by way of legendary thrashers Exhorder as well as labels including Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music, he has dedicated his life to helping young bands develop. Having started his own blog at the age of 14 he views his career in artist development as ‘a hobby that got out of hand’. In 2015 he formed Dropout Media in order to better support the artists he loves. We sit here now, years later with countless tours booked, records released and deals signed, and loving every minute of it.
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