With artists having far more control and freedom when sharing their work with the public, many decide to do music PR on their own (or not do it at all).
Even with huge talent and an amazing story, your music might never get the attention it deserves without relevant media contacts and a few music PR tricks under your sleeve.
No matter if you decide to “go solo” or hire a publicist to connect with the media, there are at least a few things you should know about music public relations and, ultimately, getting publicity for your music.
I teamed up with music PR experts to answer the following questions:
- What is music public relations?
- How to get publicity for your music?
- What can publicists do for music artists?
- How to choose the right music PR agency?
- What are the best music PR firms?
Keep reading to find out.
What is music public relations?
Music public relations (music PR for short) is a form of promotion for solo artists and bands. It aims to attract media attention and get publicity for your music through press releases, interviews, album reviews, or concert and tour announcements, just to name a few.
Music journalists are known for offering a fresh perspective and finding interesting angles, which is beneficial for you and your fans. This should be a good enough reason to want to get them excited about your work.
How to get publicity for your music?
Here’s how to get started with music public relations:
Find relevant music journalists
Having quality media contacts and keeping them well-organized is the first step in developing relationships with the press and, ultimately, getting publicity for your music. After all, you have to send your press releases and media pitches somewhere.
In many cases, meaningful media relationships and knowledge of today’s music PR landscape are what you pay for when hiring a publicist. If you’re on your own, you have to build such connections and learn more about the industry first.
If you don’t know any relevant journalists just yet, you could:
- Research media outlets in the music industry and find music journalists “manually”
- Purchase ready-made media list
- Access a Media Database for PR and create your own media list with music journalists
Music PR is always shifting and there are numerous mediums to promote solo artists and bands. Besides media outlets that focus on music, it is imperative to branch out to others that specialize in entertainment, fashion, celebrity, as many of those also feature music artists. Don’t only focus on digital media – think of DSP playlists, podcasts, radio, and TV as well. – Kershona Mayo, The Mora May Music PR Agency
No matter how you go about getting contacts to music journalists, you should at least get familiar with their work and put some time and effort into effective PR outreach. Without it, it will be difficult for you to get any publicity for your music at all.
Come up with an angle
Before you pitch any music journalist, ask yourself a question: what about you and your work can interest the media and surprise your fans? Think of it as your angle.
Stop and think about the journey of writing songs, recording them, what you want listeners to experience when they hear them, and what your music means to you. These are just a few of the questions I would start with when crafting a press release, writing an article, or pitching you to a media outlet. – Fred Willis, Willis Communications & SoulProsper Media Group
Your angle can revolve around your relationship to music, day-to-day inspirations, and how it all got started. Or, it doesn’t have to be related to your music at all.
You might find it difficult to figure out a unique angle every time. The good news is: in some cases, your music will just speak for itself.
Write an effective press release (or two)
Apart from creating good music, finding music journalists, and offering an intriguing angle, you need a few more things for your media pitch.
An eye-catching press release, for example.
Since media pitches should always be straight to the point, the idea is to help music journalists access more information about you and your music from a press release. The fewer emails sent back and forth, the better.
- An attention-grabbing headline
- Links to your music (or embedded tracks) to listen to
- Album release and/or tour dates
- Photos and visuals
- A full bio
- Links to your website and social media accounts
You might also want to add these to a professional online press kit, along with other press materials, to make it easier for music journalists to cover your story. This will also help you control the narrative when getting publicity for your music.
No matter the exact content of your press release, remember about your angle. If you’re just starting out, nobody will care about “some artist they’ve never heard of releasing new music”.
There are so many musicians out there. So, the trick here is knowing how to differentiate yourself from the masses. Remember that music is nothing but the means of getting people to the brand. And that brand is you. You want people to like the music, but you want them to LOVE you. – Hunter Scott, Head of Marketing and Publicity @ music PR agency TREND
Now, where to send music press releases, you ask?
By now, you should already have a list of music journalists that might be interested in your story.
Pitch your media contacts
When trying to figure out where to send your music press release, simply go through your list of media contacts. There’s no need to pitch everyone right away: put some effort into your email pitch and send it to a few of your contacts. If you’re successful, other media outlets will follow.
What’s important is to do your homework and “get personal”. Instead of saying hey, I like the media outlet you represent, here’s my press release – show the journalist that you care about their work and you can be a valuable resource to them.
Just like any other journalists, music reporters receive plenty of email pitches. When you send a personalized email saying why they’re likely to like the tune (just because they cover similar tracks, for example), you increase your chances of getting publicity for your music.
My advice to artists who want to do music PR on their own is to:
– Make sure that you have solidified your story: who are you, what do people get when they ‘get’ you?
– Research the audience you want to reach and be willing to look for them! Where are they and what do you have that they like?
– Find ways to reach them, prepare a message that clearly communicates your story and offering (you may need to “hire” a journalist or publicist for this write-up, though).
– Are you ready to be revealed? Photos, press materials, products, and your brand all need to be fine-tuned before hitting ‘send’ on an email pitch.
Fred Willis, Willis Communications & SoulProsper Media Group
Feeling overwhelmed? No worries. You can always turn to a specialized music PR agency to get things off the ground.
Some of my favorite clients are those that have tried music PR on their own before. Once you’ve done it, you appreciate the hard work that goes into maintaining contacts and telling a compelling story. You can save money by doing it yourself, but at the end of the day, I can’t make music like you can, and you can’t market like I can. – Hunter Scott, Head of Marketing and Publicity @ music PR agency TREND
What can publicists do for music artists?
In case you’re wondering what music PR companies do, here are some of the major benefits of working with music PR agencies, according to Eddy Richman, CEO @ WMR Music Group:
- Immediate connections to media platforms. In the DIY music promotion world, the best pieces of media you can push out are limited to social media (Facebook post, SoundCloud track, Instagram stories, etc.). But with music PR agencies, you now have access to TV, radio, blogs, interviews, podcasts…you name it. Furthermore, music PR agencies’ phones are constantly ringing from media companies looking for stories and artists to cover. Needless to say, utilizing a publicity agency’s clout is invaluable.
- Access to branding experts. Your image is often more impactful than your talent when it comes to blowing up in the music industry. Good music PR agencies help craft your image in a non-biased way. They can advise on the what, where, when, and how of music PR. They can even advise on who you should be publically associating with since everything matters in the branding game.
- Online music marketing. Other than social media, this can include blog/content marketing, Spotify playlisting & campaigns, entertainment marketing, and news marketing. If you’re in the right hands there will always be constant activity toward building your career as a musician.
- Freeing up some time. Having music PR agencies take care of the ‘business’ aspect of the music industry gives you free time to focus on what you do best—create more music. Not only will you have more time, but you will have peace of mind knowing you’re on the right track. This peace of mind will free up your creativity to make better music—which could pay for the cost of your music publicist and then some. After all, time is money!
Today’s music PR is completely Internet-driven. Talent is a dime a dozen. With a quick YouTube search, you can find millions of talented artists from around the world instantly. Not only is talent becoming more and more abundant, but artists are saturating popular media platforms like Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube.
Unfortunately, a big issue lots of artists are facing today is a huge rise of ‘FAKE’ marketing agencies.
We have dozens of artists who have approached us who had more than one negative experience with music promotion ’companies’, and this largely due to the ‘quick fix syndrome’ where artists try to get their numbers up rapidly without proper planning.
There are hundreds of automated music marketing services that offer ‘amazing deals and false promises at the push of a button’… YouTube views? You got it! Spotify Streams? Say no more! Want 10,000 views for x Dollars? Buy now!
Unfortunately, these types of services are 100% scam/con artists who do more harm than good to artists and ruin their whole organic growth. The artists who tango with these folks also suffer from the quick fix syndrome. Rather than build a team of people and gain fans organically one by one, they instead aim for the mountaintop, neglecting to do the proper research or seek out the proof that Google can provide.
Eddy Richman, CEO @ WMR Music Group
How to choose the right music PR agency, then?
Hunter Scott, who also teaches music marketing at UCLA, gives the following advice to his students getting ready to shop around for music publicists:
- First, inquire about the firms’ client-to-staff ratio. A three-person team working with 50 clients is a bad sign. Ask yourself how many weekly hours you can expect them to work for you with that kind of caseload and look for a small client-to-staff ratio.
- Next, find out their specialty: Are you a pop artist speaking to a country-based firm? If so, they may be great, but their contacts won’t be a match for your music. And this goes without saying, but I’ve seen musicians hire non-music publicists like fashion PR firms and it never works out well so stick to a music publicist.
- Then, the big question: PRESS! Don’t ask just “Where do you get your clients press” but also “Where can you secure ME press?” We may have connections at Billboard or Rolling Stone, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready for those outlets. At TREND, we believe in laying out expectations in advance as the key to a healthy working relationship.
- Lastly, make sure you get along with your publicist. You want someone that understands your vision and will help you execute it and reach your goals. TREND publicists turn away more clients than we accept, but about 9 out of 10 clients we do take on stay for longer than the duration of their initial contract and it’s a great source of pride.
What are the best music PR firms?
WMR Music Group
WMR Music Group is one of the best PR firms for music, focused on artist growth, as well as delivering exceptional results and creative campaigns that are guaranteed to attract the listener’s eyes and ears. The team consists of the music industry’s professionals, the best creative team, and digital marketing experts. They’ve helped hundreds of independent and signed artists by working on their Spotify Campaigns, YouTube Campaigns & Publicity Campaigns.
Founded in 2008 and located on Hollywood Boulevard, TREND is a full-service music PR firm focusing on press outreach, lifestyle marketing, social media management, and brand awareness. TREND’s publicists help journalists tell compelling stories and expose fantastic music to their readers and listeners, while the firm’s social media managers utilize their analytical approach to create engaging content across a variety of platforms and further grow your fan base.
The Mora May Music PR Agency
The Mora May Music PR Agency believes every artist brings something unique to the table and they take it upon themselves to bring their clients to the world stage. They work closely with artists to develop a publicity strategy that is right for them and their music. This includes features, interviews, articles, reviews, previews, and other content that expose their music and stories to engaged audiences and attract publicity. The company also works in association with LPR Agency, a UK-based music PR firm.
The Media Nanny
Based in Amsterdam, The Media Nanny is one of the best PR firms for music that represents many well-known artists, labels, festivals, and brands, including Martin Garrix, David Guetta, and Disclosure. This music PR agency offers a range of promotional services, covering TV, radio, online, and print in any required combination.
Ready to get publicity for your music?
Getting publicity in the music industry comes down to understanding your fans and media outlets they follow, nurturing relationships with music journalists, and having something newsworthy to tell the world every once in a while.
Remember that you don’t have to do it all alone. Experienced publicists can definitely help you get publicity for your music – especially if you have troubles building and nurturing media relationships.
If you decide to do music PR on your own, though, try using PR tools like Prowly to find relevant contacts, create visual press releases, and pitch the media from one place.
Cover photo by James Stamler