Following my many years working in the music industry and running a music PR company, I wanted to share some tips to help any artists/aspiring managers on their musical journey.
A decent chunk of what I am stating below unfortunately comes from the mistakes I have seen people make, time and time again... and I am hoping this will help to save you some time, money and headaches...!
The key to successful PR/promotion is knowing what an artist should do before embarking on a campaign to release their music, or heading off on tour (whether you are using a PR company or doing it yourself).
So here are some of the fundamental basics which should be in place before even considering your campaign plans or launch:
1. Have fully mastered recordings in both WAV and MP3 format.
Do not set your planned release dates until they are done and dusted. If you feel you want to edit something again then cancel the release dates, move them forward, and start again. Not only that, but I frequently see people release an average version of a song and then create/publish a better edit afterwards!! What a waste of time and money…
2. Get your music videos planned and ready.
Too many artists assume their video will be shot, edited, and release ready within a two week time frame which has been suggested to them. But 90% of the time this does not happen. Do not set your release date until you have the finished edits in the correct formats on your computer ready!
3. Make sure your press shots are high quality and in high res formats.
High quality imagery is key to maximizing coverage. Make sure there is at least one landscape and one portrait image, and likewise with your album or single artwork. Have them in an easily accessible JPEG format. The media don't want massive photo files sent over clogging up their inbox either, so don’t make them too large - approx 1MB is usually about right, or send downloadable links to make it even easier.
4. Set up a Soundcloud Page
This needs to have all your latest relevant tracks uploaded, labeled and ready to be played. If the songs are for preview and haven’t yet been released, then just set up a private Soundcloud link with those secret tracks included so they can still be passed onto media contacts to listen to and review.
5. Have an up to date biog
If you’re using a PR company, they will probably write your press release for you and make you sound the best that they possibly can. However, you should still make sure that you have an artist biography written and up to date, including as much interesting personal background information as possible, as well as your key music-related achievements to date.
For example, if you’re in a band, information about where all the different members are from will mean more regional coverage is possible.
But really, anything interesting about yourself or your band members is material to work with, and yes...even the things you think could be a bit random or fickle might just land you a big interview.
6. Create a high quality online presence
Make sure that your website (if you have one) and Facebook fan page are fully updated with all relevant details for whatever you will be promoting, and looks as professional as possible. Try to make sure that you use consistent imagery and artwork across all your online/social media platforms too so that each one is as instantly recognisable as you.
7. Get your facts right.
If it’s a tour you’re promoting, then make sure you check that you include all the details correctly. Check those tour/show dates are noted fully with location, venue details, timings, and a concise direct link to ticket purchasing (whether that is the venue website, or a ticketing company e.g. Ticketmaster)
8. Have all your distribution ready
Before even looking at a release date, make sure you have a hyperlink ready with all your distribution links, be it a pre-orders, download links such as iTunes, or streaming sites e.g. Spotify. Likewise with physical releases, make sure that you include a link to any up to date merchandise pages on your website too.
9. Plan ahead !
Finally give yourself some grace on time. Don’t expect an effective PR campaign to start two weeks before you release your debut album, single, or start a major tour…it’s just not going to happen, and even if it does, it won’t earn you the best results. Timescales for a good campaign depend on many different factors, so let your PR agent or manager advise you, but the golden rule is don’t set any release dates until you have all these elements ready and have a clear plan in place.
If you follow this advice, not only will it help stop you from wasting time and money later down the line, but it will also make the whole experience less stressful and more enjoyable.
10. Enjoy the process!
And finally, get the right advice and the right people around you to make this process as easy and as enjoyable as possible. Because if you can’t enjoy getting your music out to the masses then really, what is the point?