Just as your booking agent secures you live performance opportunities, your publicist secures all your press and media-related opportunities. Essentially, they’re a “press” agent. They are responsible for pitching news items and stories to both online and offline media outlets such as blogs, magazines, satellite and online radio, newspapers, television, and even influencers now, to earn more awareness for your artist. When you’re signed to a major label, they have a built-in publicity department that does all of this for you. When you’re signed to an independent label — depending on the size of the label and where they spend their budgets — they may have a full-time publicist in house, but they will more likely have a 3rd party publicity company or independent publicist representing some or all of their roster.
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Nonetheless, as an independent manager of an unsigned artist, you also have access to these independent publicists or publicity companies. Instead of trying to secure press yourself, you may want to invest a little bit of cash in a publicist to help you out with it. If you’re very good at writing attention-grabbing press releases, creating press kits, pitching stories and music news to media, securing great media coverage, developing media contact lists and continuously building media contact relationships, and are always in-the-know of the latest media outlets relating to your clients, then you’re in a great position to do your publicity yourself! If you’re not good at those things, or don’t have the time to do it and have a little bit of money, then you’ll want to partner with a publicist who has a good track record to do those things for you.
How do you hire a publicist?
Publicists are hired on a project-by-project basis, meaning you could either hire them for a singles campaign for your upcoming single, a video release campaign, an album release campaign, a tour campaign – you get my drift. Otherwise, you can hire them on a monthly retainer fee. As an independent manager of a newer artist, you’ll likely be working with a publicist on a project-basis. The fees will range dramatically depending on the scope of the project and of course wherever you are based in the world. As far as I have experience, for a one-time project or a project campaign, it can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 in American or Canadian dollars. It also depends on how long the project timeline is, and if photography sessions are included or not. More likely, you’re going to be around the $1500-$2000 mark for a single release campaign, or maybe even an album release campaign. For a monthly fee deal on the other hand, this can range from $1000 to $2000 for a well-known publicist. You might be able to get one for less, maybe $700 per month, but just make sure you’re not getting a cheap publicist who doesn’t know what they’re doing. And speaking of knowing what they’re doing, you’re going to want to get a publicist that has a good reputation and good track record. So, you should look for publicists that have a massive contact base, which you can figure out simply by the great press they’ve earned for artists similar to yourself. You also want to look for publicists with great people skills, outgoing personalities, as well as great writing and creative storytelling.
What are publicists looking for from me?
Now, just because you’re looking out for the best publicist, and you’re handing over a couple grand, this does not mean that they’re going to want to work with you. They also have standards and things they look for as well. Firstly, not only do they look for amazing talent, but they also only want to work with talent that matches their personal taste, or at least talent that they believe in, or like enough to want to tell the world about it. They also want to work with talent are good performers live on stage, on television, and on radio; as well as talent with a good story behind the music, as media is all about the story. But not only that, they pick their clients based on their current workload, because they may not necessarily want to promote say, 5 rappers, all at the exact same time.
And in the end, if you’re not compatible with them relationship wise, they simply won’t want to represent you. It’s all about working with people you like working with, in this business. So whatever you do, don’t beg them to work with you, you only want a publicist who really wants to work with you. Don’t assume they’re going to want to work with you. AND, don’t assume they’re going to get you results. It’s a little bit of risk. There are no guarantees. But the best you can do is pick a publicist with a good track record, to put you in the best possible position, because at least if you’re working with a good publicist, that says something about your talent, because they wouldn’t be working with you if they didn’t think the media would talk about you. But just remember there are no guarantees.
How should I reach out to a publicist?
Last but not least, how do you reach out to start building a relationship with a publicist? You’re going to want to send an email with:
- A LINK to your best music
- Your unique story
- The reasons why you believe you should work together
- Your plan – even if it’s a very rough plan
- Your accomplishments so far
- Ask to set up a meeting in the coming weeks if they are available
- Invite them to a live show if you have one coming up in their area
If you have a mutual connection, then utilize that connection and ask them to connect you over email. If you have someone who is recommending them to you, put in your email that so and so has recommended them to you. It can go a long way. As for whether the artist or the manager should reach out, it does not matter, as long as you are professional.
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