To PR or not to PR?

Well, this is the big question. Amongst the most asked by the average human being, like “Who are we?”, “Where are we going?”, “Is the world coming to an end?, “Is there something after death?” And… “Is Mr.Trump going to win elections?”

No one has an answer to those questions. And surely I don’t either, but I think I can help you out with the first one about PR agencies.

Are They All Scum?

Hey, I see ya hater!
No they’re not. There might be some, like there are fuckers in every working field. But reliable ones still do exist.

Do I Need One? 

pr02That’s totally up to you , and it may depend on various factors, but on top of them all it depends on what you’re aiming for.
If you don’t have money to throw in your music, and I can’t blame you for that, probably you want to avoid any PR at all. You can still do great by your own.
But please, let’s state clearly that the equation “low budget=low quality” does not have to be true in the first place. Especially in this day and age where crafting decent sounding music isn’t only for big expensive studios.
While, let’s say, your main issue is the time, and again I’m with you, you may wanna think to hire one.

If you definitely have a good amount of money to invest, then I wouldn’t think it twice and would go for it. They always save you a lot of precious time you can invest in crafting better music instead, for example.

Spread The Tentacles of The Music Biz

When I was just a young and innocent boy, who was approaching to the insidious world of music business I was fascinated by the figure of Music Publicists.
I thought that if I was with a PR company I might have been famous and so cool, as they had all the most powerful weapons to make my music shine bright. But the reality is so damn different.
We’ll see that in a moment, but before the most important thing to bear in your own mind:
Second important thing is:
2. If your music sucks, it will always suck, no matter what!

Ok, I think you’ve understood my point.

But well, you also have to understand they ain’t wizards, so they cannot perform any magic trick. What they can do instead is sending away your promo and submitting it for consideration to a (hopefully) large database of music publications. See, no magic!
But you have to be aware that a larger database doesn’t directly imply a major number of reviews and features for you. What really matters here, is the reputation that a given PR has to those ‘zines and blogs.
At The Somber Lane, we work daily with a lot of music publicists and media partners, and you can trust me when I say that the emails we receive from some of them are eventually tossed into the trash as they pop up in the inbox.

Of course, you can’t get whether an agency has this good reputation from the outside, but I think that with a little brilliance, you will be able to find out the reliability of the interested company yourself.

That being said, the services provided by those people are wide and variegated. Starting from the simple “one shot promo” (term I’ve just made up, of course) to obtain reviews, radio streams, live gigs and many others. Not to mention some of them which rightfully provide label-related services. And some are actually music labels as well!

I Can’t Afford One, My Music Will Never Spread! 

As long as you have the good will to work out on promoting your own music, the sentence above is so bloody wrong. The same things an average level PR does, you can definitely do them by yourself. With the addition you’re the one who cares the most about your art, aren’t you!?
If you are seeking for some guidelines to become your own PR, then try and give this one a look: 5 Things to do when approaching music writers.

All in all, and this might sound obvious, you have to look at everything within the right perspective.
I mean, you wouldn’t pay for dance lessons if you only dance drunk at the club.
And it’s the same about promotion, you can’t pay 50 bucks for getting some reviews and possibly hope to become the next big thing in your given music genre. Everything has its own cost, even if sometimes we get lead astray by fake promises, and offers which are actually too good to be true!

My rule of thumb is less expenses is always better, as long as they are smart expenses. The point is, if you can’t hardly get any coverage at all, probably it is NOT because of your poor promoting skills. It may be, but it also may not. Have you ever thought maybe your music isn’t interesting enough to get covered on such publications?
Remember, quality always come first! And I mean it. If your music is boring, poorly produced and awkwardly played I seriously doubt any PR could be able to lift it to the stars.
And that line above may be the true key to success. And I wish I could have learnt it yet, but I haven’t…hahaha


In A Nutshell  (are you in a hurry?)

  1. Quality music is da key to success.
  2. Think well of what you aim for. And think cheap. There always are coolest ways to sink your money in. (yes, even if you have a lot)
  3. Properly evaluate a PR company before making any deal.
  4. Don’t trust agencies offering a lot of stuff for little money. Probably they won’t be giving you anything at all.
  5. I’d avoid long term deals as well. Just my opinion, but probably you don’t want to be engaged for more than 2 or 3 months with the same publicist.

What Now!?

That was everything I was able to tell you about PR agencies, music publicists and related stuff. There’s the chance I’ve missed something out, as I can’t totally cover a topic as vast as this one. Also, I still have so many things to try, discover and experiment (Hey, I’m still talking about music here, don’t try and misunderstand me!). But I guess that the previous lines could come in handy for any newbie or people who just want to dig in the topic.
So, that’s it so far.
Good luck for whichever promoting way you’ll choose!

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About Matteo "Teo" Gruppi 120 Articles
TSL co-founder, co-owner, editor, CEO, reviewer, interviewer and writer. Basically I do a lot of stuff and I can’t get anything done well. I was born in 1991 and started loving music since 1981. Got my very first band in high school and now I play as a lonely dumbass in 3 projects: Chiral, Il Vuoto and |||. I listen to every kind of music as long as it is good and intense. Favourite genres include: everything as long as it’s good! (but also folk, black metal, 70-80’s rock and post-rock).

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