Words of Wisdom from
A Music Publicity Pro
by Christopher Knab ,
Back to The Academy
25 music publicity tips from the mind of a publicity genius... Howard Bloom
The following information is summarized and improvised
from an interview with the legendary music publicist and father of
modern music publicity... Howard Bloom in the "Billboard Guide to Music
Publicity" (out of print book)
Howard Bloom (now a retired music
publicist and well known author of books such as the Lucifer Principle)
is responsible for the publicity for such legendary artists and bands
as: ZZ Top, Prince, Talking Heads, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, REO
Speedwagon, George Michael, and countless other artists.
The 25 Tips;
1. Learn to be a writer for magazines, newspapers, and any online publications.
When going in to work with an act for the first time, go in AS IF you
were a journalist and interview them at GREAT LENGTH, spending as much
as 2 or 3 days in the interview.
3. The purpose of this is to
find out all the facts, but more than just bland facts—find those things
that will make an interesting and compelling ANGLE.
4. Having found the ANGLE....BUILD YOUR PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN ON IT!!
5. THEN, write your Bio, that incorporates all the information you have discovered.
Writing your Bio is like a good encyclopedia article...it tells all the
facts that would be useful to other writers you will send the Bio to,
and to yourself as you approach media contacts who will be EAGER to take
your phone calls and work with you.
7. Publicity by itself cannot sell records, but it will be a strong addition to your other marketing tactics if done right.
Don’t worry about generating tons of press. Concentrate on appropriate
media contacts within your geographic and budgeting limits. Then WORK
those contacts with constant, but polite communications that will
provide your contacts with useful information to do THEIR job.
If done right and in cooperation with a professional record label that
is dedicated to building slowly and consistently the careers of their
acts, publicity can do wonders...to the point that as an act grows, and
more and more articles and print media appear, people will ultimately
say something like; “Oh, that band (or artist)...I’ve been reading
10. Aim to get consistent press, month after month. No haphazard publicity planning!
Remember this truth: When it comes to the music publications, like
Rolling Stone, Spin, Uncut, or Mojo....or even local and regional music
outlets, there is a key group of critics that run through this country
the way a nerve runs through a lobster. These critics are all friends
and talk to each other. The have certain acts that are fashionable among
them to like or dislike.”
I2. Is YOUR ACT one of those acts that
these critics are likely to respond to? Research who these critics are
and try to determine if your artist or band might be appealing to them.
13. Keep your acts AWAY from any critic who you suspect doesn’t like your act’s kind of music.
Get involved with choosing the photographs that will be sent out with
other publicity material. Keep photos 8x10, black and white, glossies!!
15. Music publicity is just one of many tools used
to promote an act: get involved with the act’s management, record label,
and publishing company. Communication is everything. If anyone drops
the ball the whole campaign can collapse.
16. The first step in
planning a music publicity campaign is doing research; the second step
is creating one’s materials (bios, fact sheets, cover letters, quote
sheets, business cards, websites, and other online materials); the third
step is creating lists of those people you think are good contacts for
your particular act. The next step is sending out or emailing the
materials to those people you think can help your act, so that after a
week to ten days, you can begin contacting these people and have people
on the line who are willing to work with you.
17. Research and
write down the ‘lead times’ for every publicity contact you make.
Depending on whether a contact is a newspaper, a website, a blogger, a
national or regional publication these lead times can vary from hours to
days to weeks, or even months in advance of the publication date.
If you have done YOUR JOB with your contacts, you then have to wait and
see if THEY have done THEIR JOB helping you get the word out, (the
buzz) on your act.
If someone gives you bad press, don’t make a big
deal about it, just remember who said what about your act, and DO NOT
include them in any further publicity plans.
19. When working
with a record label always remember that a record company will put out
many obstacles to the development of the career of an artist. Being
signed to a label is not the beginning of stardom, it is the beginning
of your difficulties. A label will throw every obstacle it can in front
of you, and it is up to you to find out how to get around, under, over,
and through them.
20. You must be willing to work 12-18 hours a
day 6 or 7 days a week until your act is successful, and be sure their
label reps and management are going to be up working with you all the
way toward success.
21. There is NO SUCH THING as a short term
publicity campaign....it goes on eternally OR until the act breaks down
and quits. But as a publicist YOU will never stop working, you will just
move on to the next project that comes your way....VACATIONS? There are
no vacations in this profession. So, today, more than any other era,
acts are broken on the road,(talk about a lot of work) and your
publicity work should encourage that, and be in there helping plan the
tours and all that goes with working the publicity angle as you move
22. When you are planning a publicity project you have to
work out your strategy from the get go, like you are building a
building. If you don’t build the foundation right, it will tilt just
like the Tower of Pisa, except this tower WILL fall without proper
23. Be sure there is ONLY 1 contact to the press with
your act. YOU are that contact. Do not let members of a band switch
around talking to the press. ALL these types of interviews or press
conferences must be PART of your plan, and going back, IF you did your
initial interview with the act successfully you will know what
bandmember to work with to get the right information out to the press,
and that information should be what YOU said to your act as you train
them for working with the music press.
24. Choose your media
carefully. We live in an era of many press possibilities: From local
papers and magazines to the bigger national and international music
publications. In addition there is radio...AM/FM, HD Radio stations,
satellite radio, and thousands of Internet broadcasters. And don’t
forget television and the hundreds of cable channels out there. If that
isn’t enough, there are more music bloggers out there than there are
websites days for music exposure. The trick is ....WHICH OF THESE IS
RIGHT FOR YOUR ACT?
25. LASTLY....well, there is no last thing to
know. There is just more to know all the time. You must be possessed
like a demon in this business, or you...or worse yet...YOUR ACT may
suffer. Keep your eyes and ears open for new publicity
opportunities...like the old saying: “better look behind you, you never
know who is gaining on you.”
Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He
is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Knab's book, 'Music Is Your Business'
is available from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.
Visit the FourFront Media and
Music website for more information on the business of music from
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