One of the things that freaks me out the most about the music industry is the number of people who legitimately want to grow their bands and who are literally throwing their money away. It borders on terrifying when you look at the number of bands who will happily dump five thousand dollars in the studio, three thousand dollars on vinyl and merch and then just release their record without doing any PR. People aren’t out there looking for new music to randomly float into their eardrums guys. Record labels aren’t out there picking up random bands that they found on Bandcamp. I know that this sounds crazy – but this is where we are at. You need to hire PR if you want your record to go anywhere. I’m going to dig into why.
4. It’s How You Get Reviews
This is the big one, the obvious one. So many people assume that reviews just magically appear out of thin air. Now, this may be the case for major artists where there is a built-in interest for your band. However – this is NOT going to happen in the underground. There is simply so much that comes out every day, especially in the fall, that you need to make a point of getting your record to the ears of the people who might be interested in writing about you. The thing is though – a ton of people are trying to get the attention of writers. So your best hope of getting access is to hire a PR person. Why? Because they are the ones with the relationships to writers who can get you covered in cool places. If you don’t have a good PR person in your corner… well, you might be shit out of luck.
3. It’s How You Get Buzz
Another part of this is that getting PR is how you get a buzz. There’s something in marketing called the advertising rule of sevens. It’s essentially the concept that people need to see your name seven times before they check out your band. Well – one of the best ways to do this is to make sure that you are getting press coverage in as many outlets as possible. There are other ways to achieve buzz, like through having a loud social media presence, but that’s something that takes a while to build up. While it’s certainly something that you need to have if you want to succeed, it’s probably not going to happen overnight for you. Building buzz is critical and will take a long time for any band. PR though is a pretty effective hack to get you some around your release. Making it last is up to you.
2. You Need To Show People You Are Serious
This is a big one. If people don’t think you are serious about your band then you are shooting yourself in the foot. As a label guy, I am only interested in signing bands that have shown they are already capable of investing in themselves. There are no end of bands who will tell you that ‘We will totally start investing in our band once we have a deal bro!’ Bands need to take the initiative if they want a player to come out and help elevate them. I know that this is a brutal reality – but being a musician costs a ton of money at every level. If people think that you are anything less than 100% committed why should they risk their time and money on helping your band?
1. With More Coverage Comes More Opportunities
And so through getting coverage and showing you are serious, you are going to get more opportunities. Label guys are finding out about bands through the exact same channels that you are finding out about bands. This means that they are reading publications and looking for recommendations from connected friends. Well shit. The more you can embrace that and the more you can show that the press around you isn’t just hype but is actually a reflection of what you are about then the faster you are going to start getting attention. This can be leveraged in all manner of opportunities. It’s just on you to hire PR and start going for it.
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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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