I just got back from teaching social media master classes throughout Finland, Norway and Iceland and many musicians asked me to help them understand what traditional publicity is and how it fits into their overall planning. This is a past article I wrote which I have recently updated for you for navigating the world of traditional PR. So, it’s back to the basics today…
I talk to musicians all day who call looking to hire a publicist, and I’ve noticed that many artists don’t really understand what publicity is. The following list will clarify the concept of publicity for you.
1. The Definition of Publicity.
First, we are going to start out with the very basics – some definitions of what publicity is exactly, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Publicity – “An act or device designed to attract public interest; specifically: information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support. Also: The dissemination of information or promotional material.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Publicity is exactly these things.
A music publicist is hired as a member of your team to represent you to the media. Media is defined traditionally as editors and writers at newspapers, magazines, college journals, and television. Some publicists may also cover radio for interviews on tour stops. But if you want to get on the radio charts (like CMJ), you will need a radio promoter. More and more publicists also cover Internet PR, like my company. But not all traditional publicists do this, so make sure to ask before you hire.
A publicist’s job is to liaise with the press. They are not hired to get you a booking agent or gig, a label deal, a distribution deal, or any other type of marketing deal. That is what a manager is for. A well-connected publicist may be able to hook you up with all of the above-mentioned things, but it is not in her job description.
2. You Are in the Driver’s Seat.
Remember, as the artist, you are the buyer here, and you are shopping for PR. You are in the driver’s seat. It’s your money and your music that keep publicists in business. Hiring a publicist is like hiring another guitar player for your band. Choose one you like, who fits your vision and your goals. All too many times I’ve heard that a publicist was hired in spite of the artist’s personal opinions. You should like your publicist, and she should be the right one for you.
3. With Publicity, You Pay for Effort – Never for Results.
I have had disgruntled artists call me and say, “I hired a publicist and I only got six articles. That cost me $1,000 per article!” Sadly, this is not how you quantify a PR campaign. How you quantify a PR campaign is by how many albums were sent out and what the responses were, even if they were inconclusive or negative. You pay for the amount of effort the publicist made on your behalf. Of course, you should get some and even many results. Getting nothing is totally unacceptable. But you never know when your publicist’s efforts will show up months, and sometimes years, after your campaign is complete.
4. A PR Campaign Needs to Be Planned Well in Advance.
For long-lead press (that means magazines with national distribution like Spin and Rolling Stone), the editors put their publications to bed three full months before they hit the newsstands. So if your CD is coming out in October, you must have it pressed with full artwork and ready with materials to mail in July. Of course not all PR campaigns focus on national press, but no publicist will take you on with zero lead-time, so you definitely need to prepare lead-time in every case.
Recommended Publicity Campaign Lead Times:
(Placement = article, CD review, calendar listing, TV/radio interview, etc.)
5. The 4 Components of a Press Kit.
I see fewer and fewer actual press kits these days. A great one sheet will suffice in today’s digital world, however a thorough press kit consists of four parts: the bio; the photo; the articles, quotes & CD reviews; the CD.
6. Publicity is a Marathon, Not a Sprint.
PR is very different in nature from a radio campaign that has a specific ad date and a chart that you are paying to try to get listed on. There is no top 40 publicity chart. With the sheer number of albums coming out into the marketplace (approx 1,000 per week), it could take months longer than your publicity campaign runs to see results.
7. Online Publicity is Just as Important as Offline Publicity.
I would argue that online PR is more important, because today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s recycling. This of course unless the newspaper also posts the article online (which most are doing now). Online publicity goes up fast, and it can be around for months and sometimes for years.
Current sales figures show that people are reading newspapers less and less with every passing day. More people rely on the Internet as their main news source, and on recommendations from friends, so Internet placements are absolutely wonderful and totally legit, and they can help your Google rankings as well.
8. Publicity Does Not Sell Records.
If you are hiring a publicist to see a spike in your CD sales, I have news for you: There is absolutely no correlation between getting great PR and selling CDs or downloads.
PR is designed to raise awareness of you in the press, to help build a story, and also build up critical acclaim – and, of course, a great article can lead to sales. But overall, if selling albums is your goal, PR is not the only thing you will need to reach it; you will also need to build your loyal fan base and take care of fans with sweet offers.
9. All Publicity is Good Publicity.
I know we have all heard this, but it’s a great thing to really understand. If one of your goals in PR is to get your name out there (and this should be a goal), the truth is that the average person remembers very little of what they read. Only a tiny percentage gets retained. If you really think that readers are going to remember a tepid or a mediocre review of your album, the answer is, they won’t.
And never ever take your own PR seriously. As my favorite artist Andy Warhol once said, “Don’t read your press; weigh it.”
Article originally appeared on Hypebot (http://www.hypebot.com) and was written by Ariel Hyatt.
Make it easy for your fans to find you online.
Choosing a band or artist name that is search engine optimized (also known as SEO) can help your career down the road.
Yes, many bands have managed to achieve success in spite of unsearchable band names (the band Girls come to mind), but why not make it easy on your fans and choose a name that is easy to search for and find?
Many musicians have discovered (the hard way) that an unsearchable band name can hurt sales, reduce concert attendance, and frustrate fans.
And it’s not just major search engines like Google and Bing that you should be concerned about. A poorly chosen band name can make it hard for fans to find your music on iTunes, your videos on YouTube, and your band profiles on social networks like MySpace and Facebook.
Below are some dos and don’ts for choosing an SEO friendly band name. Just remember, these are only suggestions. The real keys to musical success will always be rooted in hard work and great music with mass appeal.
Common names and phrases are often searched for. So it’s difficult to place at the top of search results for these terms. Avoid band names like Blue, Harmony, Hot and Cold, or El Nino. These sorts of everyday names and phrases present an uphill battle for good search results.
Using creative spelling will actually increase your search engine ranking, but only if your fans spell your name correctly. Take the band Gorillaz. Gorillaz fans know how the band name is spelled and therefore don’t have a problem finding the band online. But if I heard of Gorillaz from a friend, and didn’t know they used an “z” instead of an “s,” I might search for “gorillas” with an “s” and find myself knee deep in articles about big hairy monkeys.
Do you know how to put an umlaut over a ü when you type it into a search engine? Chances are, a good portion of your fans don’t. Many special characters will be unrecognized or ignored by search engines. Also some special characters can be misinterpreted by computer programs as code and it can cause errors. Keep this in mind before you name your band: <Bl@st%>
If you name your band The Katy Perry Experience you may get some traffic from Katy Perry fans who stumble upon your site, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to buy your music. Collateral traffic isn’t always the best quality. Also, popular news about Katy Perry may often supplant your good rankings and there’s always the possibility you get suedor the world gets tired of Katy Perry.
A single word band name will only be easily searchable if your band name is very unique such as Jamiroquai of Fugazi. But a unique band name can be hard to spell. Why not use a cool juxtaposition of a few common words such as Arcade Fire, Daft Punk or Kings of Leon. This way you can have a unique name that almost anybody can spell and easily find.
Let’s say I’d like to call my band Unicorn Bluff. Let’s search for that name in Google. For a more accurate result, I’ll put “Unicorn Bluff” in quotes so that Google only searches for those two words strung together. In this case, there are only 307 results for “Unicorn Bluff.” The top results are related to a unicorn poster. This looks promising. There are no Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, or music related results on Google’s first page of results. My only concern with this band name is that “unicorn” has been a popular word in recent years for band names. So I might also do a search for “unicorn band” to see what my competition looks like.
A good domain name that is close to your actual band name will make it easier for people to find you online. If my band name is Unicorn Bluff, my ideal website is www.unicornbluff.com. Unicornb-forever.net would be less than ideal because it does not contain both keywords of my band name and it may be hard for my fans to remember.
If my first choice wasn’t available, I might go with:
Make sure to check on the availability of domain names while you do your research. A good domain name will make it much easier for your fans to find you.
Once you’ve found the perfect SEO friendly band name, you should trademark it so nobody else can lay claim to it.
Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (http://www.musicthinktank.com/) and was written by Chris Bolton.
Do you or your band have a daily online routine? You better. At the speed this world moves you can’t afford to miss even one day of what is happening. Your competition is not sitting still, so you better be out there. But as a band you have to find a balance that is not going to hinder your ability to be a band. You need to write, rehearse, record, perform… if you don’t do any of those things, being online won’t mean much.
So I thought I would take a look at my daily online routine and maybe you can apply to it your routine.
10 Things Every Musician Should Do Online Every Day
1. Quick Email Scan. – When you wakeup, you’re a band, so whatever time of the day this might be is fine. Grab your iPhone or smartphone and do a quick scan of your email for anything important or urgent. Respond to those very urgent emails right away. You will know what they are when you see them.
2. Clean out garbage email. – Get out of bed, get yourself some coffee, breakfast, whatever you need to get going. Sit down and open your laptop, clean out all the garbage email you received overnight. Even with spam control all our inboxes get filled with crap. Get rid of it now so you only have real messages to deal with.
3. Review all new Twitter followers. – Twitter will send you a email for every new follower you receive. Do a five second scan of those new followers. No profile picture, no website link, no profile description, nobody follows them; delete the email and go on to the next one. If they have these items go check their profile in Twitter. Do a quick three second scan of their tweets, if it interests you follow them back. If they are clearly a music fan, a fan of your band, a fan of your style of music, a fan of similar bands… follow them back and send them a quick Direct Message thanking them for following you. Do this for everyone who is following you.
4. Do a Twitter brand review. – While in Twitter check for new Mentions of your Twitter ID. Check for any of your tweets that have been retweeted. Review your saved searches. Basically you are doing a review on who is talking about you on Twitter. Personally reply to everyone who mentions or retweets you. The searches could be for your real name, maybe your site URL, album title, anything. The key here is to get involved in the conversation!
5. Facebook initial review. – Review any friend requests. Check Notifications. Check Facebook Messages. See what is happening in your Facebook world. Just as you reviewed Twitter followers, do the same for Friend Requests. Do you have any friends in common? Are they clearly a music fan, a fan of your band or a similar band? If you accept their request, send them a quick message, or leave a wall post thanking them for the request. Check all your notifications. Who Likes your posts, left you comments, etc. Respond to comments that have been left. Check your Facebook messages. Same sort of review you give to your email can be applied to Facebook. Delete the garbage and respond to those that are important.
6. Facebook News Feed Review. – Do a quick review of your News Feed’s Top News. This will let you see what stories have the most activity. Leave comments and Likes on anything you like or anything that could help promote your band. Then switch over to your News Feed’s Recent News. This is a full list of everything all your friends have posted. Again, leave comments and Likes as you see best. Review everything since you last logged in. The key here is to get involved in the conversation!
7. Facebook Page Review. – Same drill, review all posts by fans. Review all comments. Respond to EVERYONE who left you a post or a comment. The key here is to get involved in the conversation! See a trend here? You have to talk with your fans on Twitter and Facebook.
8. Back to email. – Respond to any important emails. If using Gmail which I highly recommend… Star important emails you need to follow up on later.
9. Review your RSS feeds. – Switchover to Google Reader or your RSS reader and do a initial review of important feeds. Look for new, interesting and important stories. You can Star them in Google Reader to come back later for a full read. RSS feeds are the fastest way to keep up with new content added to your favorite websites, without having to visit every single one of them. You only visit the site when you find a new story that interests you. Be sure to review RSS feeds from other bands, see what they are doing.
10. Check your web or blog stats. – I bet most people never do this. This is so important, do not ignore it! Stats will tell you what your fans like and don’t like. Where they are coming from and where they are going. Be sure to look at these few numbers daily: Total traffic, Top stories, Referring sites, Top searches inside your site and searches that delivered you traffic and top exiting links (what links to external sites are being clicked). Google Analytics is a great free web stats tool to use on your website. WordPress.com Stats is a great plugin for a WordPress site that delivers great stats. Numbers don’t lie, so pay attention to them.
Now go write a song!
At some point during the day as the saying goes… rinse and repeat this entire process.
Do you have anything else that you feel needs to be done every day?
Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (http://www.musicthinktank.com/) and written by Michael Brandvold.