When To Hire a Publicist

Has your band (or you, as a solo artists) been growing its following and creating a buzz in its hometown? Are you at the point where you're starting to wonder if you can handle the "day job" aspect that goes along with a music career, and if it's time to start assembling a team of professionals? Well, you may be at that point, and you may not be. But hopefully you'll read on and I can help you determine that for you.

I am a full-time music publicist representing both signed and unsigned acts. The signed acts come to me through a record label, and usually have a manager and booking agent in place already. Basically I'm hired to promote the band, landing them newspaper, magazine and online coverage as well as radio and TV opportunities. But I work with unsigned acts as well, the ones who are trying to get the attention of record labels, or just trying to build up their own hype machine when they get too busy to do it themselves. If you're reading this, that might be you.

First of all, you have to determine if you are truly too busy. Many of you have full-time jobs and are part-time musicians who hope to one day be full-time musicians. You play shows in and out of your own town on the weekends and work in the evenings (or at your day jobs....don't worry, I won't tell) to promote your band. This involves writing and sending out press releases or newsletters about your band to your fans and to media types such as music editors, radio programmers and concert promoters. Basically, if you are at the level where your shows are increasing and your fan base is increasing steadily, and requests for interviews are starting to come in, it's time to at least think about hiring outside help.

A good music publicist is not cheap. You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1000 per month or more for an "entry level" music publicist. And most of them have campaigns with a three-month or six-month minimum. But many bands are able to pay this if they are making enough money through touring, or if they have a budget for hiring outside help (many artists today even attract investors for help).

The upside is that hiring a good publicist can help you get to the next level. They have contacts at a national level and in each touring market that you probably don't (other than in your hometown) and can reach out to them with ease about the artists they represent. What's more, they have earned the respect of the people they are pitching to, because those music editors and radio/TV producers equate certain publicists' legitimacy by the roster they represent. And that kind of connection is invaluable if you are trying to accelerate your band's recognition.

Additionally, if you are this level and you have a manager already, often it is your manager who will hire a publicist and deal with them on a day to day basis.

So what should you expect from a publicist once you hire them? You should expect someone who is professional, friendly, courteous, a good writer, and someone who has a wealth of contacts and a track record for landing media coverage. You should expect a weekly or monthly report that details all of the placements, and you should also expect online links to coverage or hard copies of articles that have been published.

What you shouldn't expect is repeated media coverage in your home market. Most bands overplay their hometown, and generally newspapers as well as radio will only cover your band for a CD release show or big event, not for every pub gig you play. For that matter, you make things much easier on a publicist if you give them a big event with an angle, such as a CD release, or a string of tour dates across different markets, even if they are just weekend shows.

Now, if you've read this all and still feel like you have the time, and either the contacts or the sales ability to tackle this yourself, I don't think there is anything wrong with that. This way, you can save money, learn how the business works, and build your own buzz. There are reference guides such as the Billboard Guide to Touring or the Musician's Atlas. Both of these have great contact information broken down nationally, or by touring market.

Good luck, and if I can ever help you, feel free to contact me via my company's website.

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53 comments

Jack Jones 8 years ago

Absolute NONSENSE!! Musicians Beware-MOST people WILL take your money, sit back with their feet on their desks, and do NOTHING for you! Musicians work very hard, and THEY are the ARTIST. Period. Musicians-USE your fan base-your website-and YOU will GROW. After all, ITS ALWAYS BETWEEN the Artist and The Fans. Most of these so-called pubs are lookinnnng for work themselves, because the internet has put most out of business. THEY should PAY the BANd 500-1000 to be part of the band. Again-NONSENSE TOTALLY.


Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

Hey Jack...I'm allowing your post because I believe in free speech. But you are basing your reaction on nothing. I know plenty of respectable publicists and others in the music business....true, we all need to make a living, but I work harder than just about anyone at any position in any field. Yes, there are a few flakes out there, but grouping us all together, is, well, NONSENSE.


guitarman51 profile image

guitarman51 8 years ago

I thought your article was very well written, providing a lot of information which musos and artists need to know about gaining publicity and getting their music out there and up to the next level.

The paragraph "You should expect someone who is professional, friendly, courteous, a good writer, and someone who has a wealth of contacts and a track record for landing media coverage" should have allayed some of Jack's reaction. As you say there are plenty of respectable professionals around - the trick is finding one. Like everything in life, there are always a few bad apples, but lumping everyone in this category is simply ridiculous.

Thanks for a great article!


Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

really appreciate your feedback and support Guitarman!


Dan Duval 8 years ago

Great article! It makes me sad that there is not a huge string of comments on this like there is on articles about weight loss, Oprah, VH1, etc. As a writer hoping to make a few bucks off of one of these websites, I am discouraged by the lack of comments on what I see as a well written, informed, useful article. Thanks for the info - as a musician who plays in several moderately successful groups in Portland, OR, the information was very valuable to me!


Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

hey Dan, thanks for the kind words man! I'm glad the hub was helpful to you, and good luck with your band


brian 8 years ago

Thanks for the good introduction on hiring a publicist. I write a blog for musicians on how to market themselves and am going to link to this article in a post later this week. Good solid info! Keep it up...

Best,

Brian


Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

awesome, thanks Brian.....what is your blog?


Tosha 8 years ago

It was great that you allowed Jack Jones comment to be viewed because it shows your belief in this service. You know what, as one that has managed, booked, promoted, and is doing what your doing, I absolutely 100% agree with you. I will say this though, having worked with many independent artists, to save on costs, they are finding very low key management to help cover all those aspects you mentioned. It appears the traditional ways of management overseeing these avenues has now become management performing these different avenues of need cutting the cost of 10% booking, 20% management, 10% promoting to just one person, hence why many artists at this stage don't hire publicists. ( I know those percentages were meek). With this said, you made something very clear. A publicist will have a wealth of contacts and they handle pertinent tasks in regards to consumer/public relations. Personally, I think publicists aren't being utilized enough in independent artists careers and probably aren't being utilized soon enough either. Great job! Keep up the good work and best of luck in this industry!


Danny 8 years ago

G-man we have a budget of $300 per month can you recommend a good publicist?


Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

hey Tosha...thanks for the kind words and I agree with you on all of that as well. Best of luck to you!


Matthew Cepican profile image

Matthew Cepican 7 years ago

Nicely written!


Janice 7 years ago

Wow, Sorry G-man you got the slam down from one of the readers here.

I recently was signed in Japan. I am wondering if there would be a need now for me in that area being the label is involved, to hire a publicist..

I have a lot of press, but when I begin touring I indeed would want a real publicist. My question is this: For the money, would there be an accounting way of getting a report from the publicist or company of what they have done and who they have contacted? I am very hands on with my career and I have learned to be that way. Without being that way and relying on others to get jobs done, it can get scary. So again if I hire someone, I would want proof of and who they have dealt with. I would also hope there could be a "trial" period of where a publicist could prove themselves to me first for a nominal fee of who they know, the contacts and perhaps be able to provide references of artists I could actually get in contact with that have been with the company.

To me this is almost like hiring someone to watch a kid or child. My music is the only way I make my living and my career is my baby! I would not want it in an irresponsible hands.

I hope to hear back from you.

Thank you for a very well written article.


Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

hey Janice...thanks for the kind words and congrats on your deal. I can tell you that I always report to my clients on what I've placed or not placed, usually weekly, sometimes monthly, depending on the project. And if they ask for it, I supply a complete contact sheet that detalis phone calls and e-mails, as well as expense reports for mailing. Are you in Japan or is your label there, and where would your music be distributed and where would you tour? Let me know those things and I can give you better advice on what to do from here. We can keep the conversation here so everyone else can read too, but you are also welcome to email me at mike@michaeljmedia.com. Thanks!


johnny 7 years ago

Hey G-Man, really enjoyed the article and thought it was very helpful. I'm in a band and we are about to hit the studio to record for what will be our 2nd full length album. We are looking to hire a publicist asap so that they can help get word out now before the album drops, and to also help the band's name get out there. I am having some trouble finding quality publicists and am running out of ideas where to look. Do you have any advice as to where I can find some quality publicists that will represent an up and coming band? Not looking to toot my own horn but our band is really good and with the right publicist I know things will break to the next level, I just need a little help locating the right PR firm. Please help?!?!


Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

sure thing Johnny....e-mail me at mike@michaeljmedia.com and include some links to your band's website or myspace page. Thanks!


J.Twiz 7 years ago

Great Article. Do u do Publicity for hip hop artist?


Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

hey J...I don't do hip hop but e-mail me at mike@michaeljmedia.com and I will see if I can help you find a good fit


Napua 7 years ago

Thanks for the info. I'm thinking about this as a career option and would like to learn more.


Christi Pemberton 7 years ago

Great article! Although I do agree that the internet provides a great variety of ways that musicians can promote themselves, and conduct business; sometimes it is a good idea to have a few good people to help take care of progression in one's music career. I have worked with performing artists and visual artists regarding public relations/promotion and shows, and it does say a lot when you do have a professional to personally deal with contacting and talking to media companies and professionals to get the word out about a particular artist/musician that caters to the type of audience and personality that this artist/musician want to convey. My advice is for a musician/artist who want to go beyond the internet tools, and get to a more personal level, to find a publicist who is sensitive to their budget, willing to work out a financial arrangement for services, and also a publicist with very good and targeted contacts, that will bring a respectful audience to the artist/musician (or audiences that respect the talent of the artist/musician).


tw 6 years ago

GREAT article. My question is if a publicist can be used for promoting a songwriter or producer or producer songwriter?

Again all the best and thanks again for the feed...


sxip shirey 6 years ago

Jack it's not nonsense. I am an unsigned musician and what I have seen again and again, is that my peers who have spent the money on a good publicist have moved up in the world.


Christi 6 years ago

Hi G-Man. I really liked your article. I am an arts publicist, and I agree wholeheartedly that hiring a "good and reputable" publicist is a good idea if a musician does not have the time..or are truly busy with their work as a musician to handle public relations. Hiring a good publicist can be costly, so if one is able to do some of the publicity themselves for regular/non tour or special event gifts..then that could at least save a little money. If a publicist has a website, then he/she can provide proof of their work right there..whether it is a link to an article/interview they arranged for their client, a video promo, online press kit..etc.


Christi 6 years ago

Corrections: I made the mistake of submitting the wrong URL linked to my name: I just corrected that mistake. Also, in my original email, I was supposed to have said "special event" performances instead of "special event" gifts. My mistake again.

Christi


Christi 6 years ago

Corrections: I made the mistake of submitting the wrong URL linked to my name: I just corrected that mistake. Also, in my original email, I was supposed to have said "special event" performances instead of "special event" gifts. My mistake again.

Christi


Inpirational Girl 6 years ago

Hey G-Man

My husband and I have been touring together for 5 years now and we have never heard of a publisist till now, We use a promotions company out of Nashville that has really helped us and we book our on venues, We've been on TV, Radio, newspaper and magazines, But it's gotten to where it's to much on our relationship would you say you are more like a manager that can releave my husband from his position back to the position as a husband?


Anonymous 6 years ago

I'd like to post in response to the comment about publicists existing to take money and do nothing. Also, about how bands could do a publicist's job.

Firstly, almost every famous artists, actor, etc have a publicist. That should tell you something right there!

Secondly, publicists reach people that bands cannot. They have extensive lists of media contacts and industry relations as well as the tools to place their client in a position that creates a lot of buzz!! I know a lot of publicists in the L.A. area that work very hard, and they get there clients A LOT of press from magazine reviews to TV clips to celebrity placements. The list is endless. Internet is great but is pales in comparison to the access and contacts that many publicists have. Getting the right publicity is extremely important. If you want to do it yourself via social networks you will join the millions of artists or actors who are trying to do it that way and more than most don't get the recognition that a publicist will get them.

Cheers


Playo a.k.a Jerry Indiana 6 years ago

Hey Nashvile G Man I believe you know what your talking about how can I reach you I wanna do some business with you asap


EBAN BROWN 6 years ago

HELLO FOLKS, WELLI MUST SAY THAT HAVING A PUBLICIST TO HELP PROMOTE YOU IN YOUR OWN RIGHT IS MORE INPORTANT THAN SOME PEOPLE REALIZE I AM MUSIC PROFESSONAL FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS AND I WILL VERIFY THAT A BONIFIED PUBLICISTS IS IMPERATIVE TO ONE'S CAREER IN IN ANY INDUSTRY, AUTOMOBILE, COMPUTERS, LIMOSINES SERVICES, ETC..... YOU REALLY NEED A PUBLICISTS IN THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE SEEKING TO GO AT IT ON YOUR OWN STEAM!!!!!! THANKS!!!!!


Angela 6 years ago

I believe a Publicist will do more good than bad for any Industry someone is in. I believe to find a good publicist you must know exactly what you will need the publicist to do and how it is beneficial for you. Make sure you get an publicist who is honest with your needs the publicist needs to be honest of what they can and cannot due for you. Making these decisions should take you a long ways and more than likely a successful path is set. A publicist has so many connections that we are trying to seek will not be in reach for the average person. Publicist connections are so deep that's why they are needed if the average person got what they have they are not needed. Make sure you have a publicist that needs you and work hard for you especially what you have to offer is gold. The foot work and social networks are fine if that's what works for you, that situation can be a slow process. If you are serious in getting out there for real and want it get a publicist. It is worth paying them. You will not have to worry about e mail blasts and so many other promotional things the publicists does for you. Thank You !!!


dusy7969 profile image

dusy7969 5 years ago from San Diego, California

Now you can be a confident expert on When To Hire a Publicist. OK, maybe not an expert. But you should have something to bring to the table next time you join a discussion on When To Hire a Publicist.


maurers 5 years ago

Thanks for this post ;)


gogussuz 5 years ago

I'd like to post in response to the comment about publicists existing to take money and do nothing. Also, about how bands could do a publicist's job. ;)


gogusbuyutuk 5 years ago

Secondly, publicists reach people that bands cannot. :)


K Slack 5 years ago

I think what the 1st dude was saying has some truth to it but for the other 99% its false! If your music is great never under estimate the power of "word of mouth", and promoting yourself! But like the author said some people work 9-5 and only do shows locally on the weekend! There is no way I know a band that only plays locally in New Hampshire if I live in Florida! So having a publicist is good thing for most! Some places don't even want to talk to an Artist! So you need a publicist at some point!


STEVE POWER 5 years ago

Real talk real words great article "it go so" jah bless


keith albright 5 years ago

How do you value deliverables like broadcast time or column inches?


Jermaine 5 years ago

Thank you bro for sharing, this is really what it is about...sharing to help each other grow...I found this very informative and well written...I am looking for a Christian/Gospel Music Publicist and will certainly consider what you have said...Peace bro


francis yao djabaku 4 years ago

i need a professional publicist base in u.s.a. for my book publication


keyshauna 4 years ago

I need a publicist a.s.a.p in Oakland California can you help me find one


desmond 4 years ago

I am trying to find a reggae music publicist. Can you help me with that?


tammy beal 4 years ago

Can you help songwriters.

Message me! Mywurk2@yahoo.com

thanks


Thefilmbeast 4 years ago

Okay, if you haven't figure it out I'm a film maker. I'm on here looking for information for a musician friends. I think their music is incredible and can get them so much success. I want them to get a publicist, because I know that not all them are bad people like some might think. And while I know there is so many resources for independent artist to get notice and recognition, there is so many more reasons to get a publicist. My friends(Emcee - Polo and Producer - Simon Sez), aren't good with handling public relations and they can benefit from staying in the studio making music rather then splitting themselves between their craft and getting noticed. As an artist you don't do everything yourself just because you can. Hell if I tried to write my own contracts and read up on copyright crap, then I would be wasting so much time I could be making money versus hiring a professional lawyer who studied the ins and outs of the trade.

All in all, getting a publicist should be a number 1 goal for most artist, because why pull yourself away from doing your art when you can hire someone to do their art(public relations) . . . and they're probably a lot better than you at it.

If you don't believe me, then read up on Henry Ford and other game changing entrepreneurs, that understand the concept of team delegating and the power of utilizing interdependence to create successful units to accomplish a common goal.


cellis johnson 4 years ago

g-man i its not to much to ask but i need guidence with my hiphop music ive been flowing sence i was 12.i like to make hits im talentetd with my voice ive copywrote all my muzic but as far as it go with promo bookings who to meet????G-man im lost.check me on youtube an tell me what u think ohnestly.it is cellis da gorrilla the song is called chevy


gloria 4 years ago

hi my name is gloria and i believe u just what i need.after reading ur article i was so impressed.is there a way i can contact you.my facebook id is gloria ziregbe


Felisha 4 years ago

I am a publicist and I am the owner of Urban Kreatures Creative, a grassroots music PR and marketing concept here in Nashville, Tn. I find that most people are willing to meet with you but NOT willing to pay you. I have even had clients think that I could do them a favor or contact one of my media contacts for free. Why? This is a business. The concept of making music is for the love of music. At the same time, people have to take the time to invest in themselves and their art. NOTHING is free. I do a lot of work for producers, djs, and artist and NO ONE wants to hear or talk money. WELP...you have to pay. The whole point of media coverage is to get your music out there and to build a fan base. No fans=no one to hear your music.


Felish 4 years ago

Oh and GREAT article!!!! I will be sharing this all over :)


Ortega The Omega 4 years ago

Im an upcoming HipHop Recording Artist. This information is very useful. I bumped into many PR's but wasn't sure about them. Im a give it a try.

twitter.com/Ortega_Omega

liquid.army@yahoo.com


Jurinea evans 4 years ago

Hi I am looking for an publish for me an my daughter are starting in the music field how can I get in contact with you I like your article you wrote


Michael Murphy 4 years ago

One of the reasons I want to hire a publicist is because of the type of acts that have responded to your writing. Hip Hop, Gospel, Family Bands, etc. I am an older guy, with a blues band of older guys. We have been playing in small clubs, a few festivals and the like, and beating our heads against the wall trying to get somewhere. Together we have over 100 years of experience. In this age when any person with a computer can make a record and and gain popularity with their age group, we don't have the luxury of being in a position to take advantage of that. We don't wear leotards, nor do we do back flips on the stage,nor bite guitar strings, nor swing a guitar around like a juggler! We play from the heart, and have tremendous respect for the blues, performing in our own aggressive style. We don't copy anyone, but we do play covers and originals, with the covers being given our own interpretation without losing reverence to the masters that created the music.

Hopefully, a publicist will be able to convey the message we seem to not be able to! That being, we are a band that should be seen and heard; that we offer something a lot of today's young blues bands don't - scars of experience and a life of sitting in small corner's in dimly lit rooms bleeding blue for everyone, anyone who listens. We have "club related" followings, as opposed to a wide region of folks that would come out to see us, mainly because they haven't heard us. True, the listening audience today is NOT blues oriented, instead are innundated with the same beat, excessive low end kick drum redundancy, and lyrics using words we would never use onstage, much less in public!

That's one of the reasons we're hoping a publicist can get us to a much broader audience who appreciates blues. Sounds like I'm whining? Maybe. But we are very good, very aggressive, and have paid more dues than most young acts will ever have to. Thanks for listening to my rant.

Michael "Big Dog" Murphy


jaspreet 4 years ago

"Hip Hop Online, Hip hop music, hip hop blog, hip hop website,new hip hop music, hip hop music videos, hip hop"

That's an incredible template for a hip hop blog. It's pretty colorful. I'm into hip hop so this is right up my alley.


phil 3 years ago

sure you believe in free speech, you cocksucker


punksandcriminals 2 years ago

There's a small publicity firm operating called Punks & Criminals that gets pretty good results at a fraction of the cost of the bigger firms. Just FYI. www.punksandcriminals.com

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