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What’s a Publicist and Should I Get One?


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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.
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I was going to write an entire post about the world of music PR and discuss when it’s time to get a publicist and what you should expect to pay and WHAT THEY DO (most musicians have no idea), but I figured why not just interview a successful music publicist (and one who I have worked with in the past). Amy Draheim is the founder of Shatter PR, a Los Angeles based PR firm. We sat down for an interview about the elusive world of music PR.

Ari: Give us a little background on yourself. (What have you done inside and outside of music? What lead you to start Shatter PR?)

Amy: I studied Journalism and Mass Communication in college and had planned to work at an ad firm until I realized that I didn’t really enjoy it all that much and the ad firm life wasn’t for me. I fell into a job as a tour manager for a singer/songwriter traveling around the country managing the day to day tour details while also helping promote the tour. I met some other musicians and bands along the way who asked me to help promote their tours. Thus began my entrance into the world of music PR.

I’ve helped develop bands’ online presence and was a full-time manager for one band before getting a job at a Hollywood PR firm. I started Shatter PR after leaving the Hollywood firm last year.

The world of PR is awfully elusive to most musicians. Can you give us a breakdown of what most music publicists do?

Generally speaking, publicists manage a band’s image. They are essentially like brand managers and work to generate media interest in the band, the music and the shows. Publicists write press releases, pitch stories to journalists and set up interviews and is the band’s spokesperson and liaison between the band and the public/media.

When a band is on tour I reach out to the newspapers, magazines, radio stations, blogs and TV stations in the cities they are playing to generate buzz leading up to the show. I usually try to get a a featured preview of the show, an album review or an interview with the band. For TV and radio, if the band has the time, I’ll get them into the station for a live performance and interview in the city they are touring through. Occasionally I’ll get journalists out to review the show as well.

When do you think bands are ready to hire a publicist?

It all depends. In general, if a band has only played shows in their hometown, doesn’t have any music recorded and isn’t ready to tour, then it’s probably not a good time for a publicist. If a band has built up a decent following in their area, is gearing up for some bigger shows and needs some great press for a successful tour or to promote a big event (like a CD release), then it’s the perfect time to hire a publicist. There are also the rare occasions when a band’s YouTube video goes viral and their single sales skyrocket. This is the time to hire a publicist to get you on Ellen.

+Your Music Doesn’t Matter

What do you look for in a band when you’re taking them on? Does genre matter

Genre doesn’t matter, but I usually only take on bands if I like their music. And they have to have a website and a decent social media presence.

How can bands get in touch with you if they feel they are ready to hire a publicist?

Email me. Include links to your website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and let me know if you have anything big coming up like a tour or a new album release. I get back to everyone who emails me.

+Don’t Be Afraid of the Phone

How does payment work for most publicists? Can you give us a price range for music publicists?

Instead of working off a percentage (like most agents and managers), publicists will generally work for a monthly fee from their client. Superstars will usually keep a publicist on retainer for a few thousand dollars a month, but the range is really all over the place for most music publicists. If you are an independent musician on a budget, don’t hire a big time publicist who charges $4,000 a month- you’re probably not at that level. But also, don’t trust any publicist who promises you the world for $100. They will put 10 minutes into writing a press release and then send it to their entire media list in a mass email and tell you that Rolling Stone read your press release.

So, will you tell us what you charge?

I usually work on a 4-6 month contract and it all depends on how much the band has going on.

So that’s a no?

(laughs) Email me and we can chat.

Anything else you’d like bands to know about the world of PR?

One thing that most people don’t realized is that there are no guarantees in the world of PR. PR is not advertising. You are not paying some publication to print exactly what you want, when you want it. With publicity, we pitch stories and ask for reviews, but we can’t always control what journalists write and what makes it to print. Sometimes even if your band has been at the top of the iTunes charts and you’re returning to a city where you previously played to a sold out crowd, Madonna might be in town the same night and take over all the music coverage.

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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