Being a musician today is both easier and harder than ever before. Major record labels and producers needed to make it big before, but today, you simply need a single hit on YouTube to become an overnight sensation. However, let’s not kid ourselves: it doesn’t happen to everybody. If you’re a struggling musician with a band or even a solo act, you’ll need a media company to promote your talent.
These can be professional companies that get you gigs or expand your reach beyond your geographical borders. However, before you sign-up for these promotion services, you need to get a few things straight. A lot of promotion services may have your best interests at heart, but they may not work the way you want them to. It’s fair to give them a chance only after you’ve considered what they can do for you. Otherwise, you may as well not take the plunge at all.
This is why it’s imperative to ask them questions that will give you clarity on what to expect. These questions aren’t as cut and dry as “How can I promote my music effectively”? They have to be more specific and more practical. Here are four questions you need to ask a media company before hiring them to promote your band.
You can be indie, rap, hip hop, classical, pop, or rock-and-roll. However, does the company you’ve chosen, cater to clients like that? That’s the pivotal question you have to ask.
It’s not that a single genre isn’t welcome at the table when all others are. It’s just that when a company is known for promoting a certain genre, they have grown comfortable with a niche. They know the audience; they know the atmosphere and the ropes. And they know what tropes are unforgivable and what is working right now. If they don’t cater to you, they may end up misunderstanding your message and vexing your fans and supporters.
Media relationships also function differently in the music business. Promoters in the same genre of music know each other and can organize events and mix and match different acts better. You wouldn’t want to open for a rap group if you play indie rock, would you? You also wouldn’t want to play during the intermission of a Kanye West concert if you play classical folk. You wouldn’t go to Coldplay’s publicist to try and launch a Rihanna album, either.
The markets, audiences, and atmosphere are all different. While both may be hugely successful music acts, their sensibilities and products are poles apart.
The levels of bands that are promoted are also very different for each company.
Some promote a lot of independent musicians, others promote more commercial acts, and some only go for the big fish. You’re most likely getting started, so you need promoters who cater to your level. This is not only crucial because of what you can afford to pay, but how you’re promoted.
Big-time promoters know how to organize large shows and get the best venues. However, for small bands, the circuit is decidedly niche. They need to be promoted differently. The kinds of promoters that can organize shows in bars and hotels will think differently. Those that organize events for stadiums will think bigger.
Approach to band promotion should be clear cut and above board. Whatever music or style you deal in, you should make that clear to your promotion company. If they want to change things or completely revamp your promotion style, you should ask them to justify it. There’s no harm in changing things up, but it shouldn’t affect your audience. Otherwise, you’ll end up alienating your fans.
Also, you should decide what kind of involvement you would like to have. You should make it clear if you want to stay hands-on during the entire promotion cycle. If you want to take a seat and kick back and just focus on the music, that’s alright too.
Just make sure you’re not being overlooked regarding any key decisions. For example, if the company manages to partner you up with a sponsor that is against your values, deny it. Don’t end up being flabbergasted on the day of the concert if you have to wear a certain logo.
In this regard, you should have a contact at the company that you trust. They should always have your trust and vice versa so that you have peace of mind. As a musician, the number one priority should be your music. If you can’t concentrate, everything can go down the drain.
Finally, the one thing that you’ll need surety of is results. It’s not just because you need to make every dollar count, but so that you know how the company operates.
A company needs to know how to measure success.
For example, a positive result of an ad campaign for a clothing line is an increase in sales. A positive outcome for your ad campaign should be more concert attendees and sold-out shows. It could also be an increase in the number of gigs you’re playing or the frequency of fan mail, etc.
If the promotion company doesn’t specialize in any of these, find out where they concentrate. If it goes by the number of people that stream your music online or by your merchandise sales, that’s great. Those are measurable metrics, after all. However, never go for something vague. For instance, if a company tells you that they’ll increase your social media engagement, get the specifics. Press on this so that you get your money’s worth.
The PR company you hire will have a plan to do this. However, what that plan is should be above board from the beginning. What’s more, you need to know that if the company increases its rates you’re getting what you paid for. If you get that upfront, you’ll be able to make more calculated decisions regarding your spending. Bookkeeping is boring, yes. However, someone has to do it. You’ll certainly need to if you don’t want to get bamboozled by a PR firm.
Find out for yourself what the answers to these questions are. Demand straight answers and don’t allow them to be vague on anything. You should also find out any miscellaneous details you need to. These can include a past band the company has promoted and what they’ve learned from some past failures. Make sure that you get your money’s worth. It is your money after all.
If the sticker-shock of hiring a media marketing company has put you off of PR firms then you may want to start smaller and build up some steam. If you buy Spotify Plays for your latest release the popularity may help you get more followers and plays.
Popularity tends to lead to more popularity. We have no idea who Kim Kardashian is or what she does but we know that she’s popular just by looking at her Instagram followers.
Did you already contact a PR firm to help you promote your music effectively? What did they charge? Tell us below in the comments.