Music PR firms - worth the money?

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#1

Hi, hope you’re all good.

I was wondering if anybody on this board has ever used a PR firm to help with their album/EP/single release? If so, would you say it’s worthwhile?

We’ve been together for a couple of years and have done everything ourselves so far but feel like we’ve hit a brick wall and can’t get any further on our own. We work hard, play live regularly and get great feedback from every gig we do - from industry folk and music fans. We’re at the stage where we feel we’ve got something to shout about with our new EP, but don’t have the contacts or time (we all work) to do it justice with a proper campaign.

For those who have used a PR firm before, would you say they represent good value in terms of progressing your career? Also, could you maybe give an idea of how much it cost? We’d be looking at a 4-6 week national campaign to include online, print and radio.

Thanks in advance!


#2

I was lucky that a friend worked for a large PR company whose normal clients were multinational companies or bands like Foo Fighters and Metallica etc. They wanted to do an experiment seeing how things went doing PR for small fry like us. So we didn’t actually pay a penny for it.

The number of reviews a release received increased tenfold after a news release went out to tens of thousands of journalists etc compared with us doing it ourselves to around a hundred that we could look up the details for. I think a large number of those hundreds ignore stuff from obvious amateurs anyway.

Sales did increase too, though only by around 10-20 per cent, at a rough estimate.

Getting it for free like we did, yes, it was worth the “money”. Sorry that I can’t tell you anything more informative as I still have no idea how much that service would have cost us normally.


#3

Thanks for your quick response, appreciate you taking the time.

Yeah, I think we’ll be looking at a small to mid-sized company who’ll be able to make us one of their priorities throughout the campaign, although like you say, bigger company will probably have better/bigger contacts and resources to get it to as many people as possible.

I think things are even tougher than they used to be a few years ago. Everybody knows somebody who makes music and we’re all competing for the same features/reviews/festivals etc. Sadly it does seem to be much more less inclusive now, even at the very beginning of artists’ careers. I’ve been in bands in the past who’ve managed to get great national reviews by way of hard work, good songwriting and sometimes just plain old luck.

It’s almost as if you don’t exist unless you can afford to constantly pay for PR. It’s really disheartening to see bands who are pretty much universally known to be terrible getting great press, all because their parents/family/girlfriends are essentially bankrolling their career.


#4

We’re using one for our current release at the moment. A lot of the time it’s a big gamble as to whether it’s worth the cash and the likelihood of it paying off hinges on more than how good they are at their job (whether your product is any good, how well your already done, whether you have any pre-existing blog support etc). However, b
they’ll almost certainly have more avenues and contacts with some of the bigger online and print outlets and a lot of the time it’ll look more serious coming from a recognised press person than just the band emailing from their own account.

As far as price goes, assuming you’re unsigned, I’d not pay more than 350-400 per track for print and online. Radio pluggers you would have to pay separately. We’ve been quoted anything between 250 and 750 per track for this in the past. Some press agencies have preferred pluggers that they use, otherwise you can find a fair number online. The hit rate of this depends on the same factors stated earlier.

So yeah in a nutshell it isn’t cheap and there’s no guarantee with it, but if you have a budget, it’s one less thing to have to worry about.

Good luck with it (y)


#5

Oh and if you’re going to radio pluggers and have any designs of getting anything more than late night radio shows, make sure you have a radio edit of all tracks you want plugging that are 3.30 or less, or you’ve got minimal chance of it being listened to.


#6

depends on your budget, how big/“buzzy” you are already and who you end up working with…


#7

We’re currently in the same boat, unsure how much of a good idea this is - I have a couple of friends getting good press and national tours/support slots off the back of their campaigns, but similarly I have friends who have spunked away thousands of pounds and have absolutely nothing to show for it. It’s the number of variables that’s the most disconcerting thing really


#8

Thanks again to everyone for sharing their experiences. It seems to be as I thought, in that nobody really knows how successful a campaign will be until it’s happened. I guess it’s just a case of being prepared, although to what degree I’m not really sure.

It’d be really handy if there was some kind of checklist of things you’ll need and targets to hit before starting the campaign; i.e. professional press shots, increased social media following etc. It’s a really frustrating situation though because you need the publicity to increase your following, yet you ideally need a decent following before embarking on a campaign.

On a slightly separate issue, does anybody know the most effective way to release an EP? We’ve been advised to release a couple of singles from it before it’s released to drum up publicity - has anybody else here done this? If so, is it a prerequisite that they’ll each need music videos? We’ve done videos before (both DIY and professionally shot) but really don’t have the time or money this time with all the costs of getting the EP out.


#9

Yeah, there are a so many catch 22s with stuff like this that it can be difficult to know where to start really.

One given is that it’s always good to know what you’re hoping to achieve from a campaign and in fact that’s probably one of the first questions a PR person will ask when you meet them. I’d split them into things that you would expect, and things you would really like to aim at, but know you may not end up getting.

As far as preparation goes - have your online stuff (social media, distribution channel for your tracks - AWAL/Distrokid for example are good, press photos) all sorted out. Make sure the songs are tight, and try and get at least a couple of shows booked for when you release it so there’s something more for the copy on the press release. Seems obvious, but, erm, we haven’t always done this!

As for releasing it…well it depends what you’re trying to achieve with it, but yeah if you’re looking at press and radio pluggers then leading with at least one single is probably wise. It’s not a prerequisite of having videos for all of them. On balance we prefer to, but I mean money only stretches so far and depends if you think the tracks really need them to stand up. You see fuck loads of bands premiering tracks on blogs with soundcloud links now purely cos nearly everyone is a band gets so fucked by the ££ thing and people just forego them, or put something very lo fi on youtube.