Before I Was Famous: 5 Signs You're Not Ready for a Music Publicist
The world of publicity can be exciting and full of opportunity. However, that does not mean that every band is currently ready for a publicist. There are checkpoints that really should be met before it’s practical for both your band and the company you’re ready to hire. It’s tough out there for everybody, and especially for a newer band or musician, so there are a few things you’ll want to make sure you have lined up first.
Here are 5 signs you’re not ready for a music publicist.
1. You don’t have the money
Since this is possibly one of the most important reasons, let’s get out of the way how to determine if you’re not ready. I’ve been in a band for a while, and I understand that equipment breaks down, and gigs don’t always pay what you expect. Money is tight, but that doesn’t necessarily give you a reason to use your financial situation as an excuse. This is simply not any way to start a business relationship of any kind if you want to be taken seriously. Nor is it fair to place the burden of your financial situation on anyone you are doing business with.
Instead, try to think of some ways you can raise some money or look for more affordable options. When my band needs to make some extra cash, we put together DIY CDs with custom artwork. People love having something handmade and giving them an option to pay what they want lets them support you however they can.
2. You don’t have the music
This might not seem as obvious to everybody, but if you don’t have any music to promote, then what are you doing? Make sure you understand exactly what your publicist can and does do. If the only thing you’re interested in is getting interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, then first take a step back to evaluate your expectations, but secondly, make sure your publicist knows them as well. Sometimes a small reality check can be super beneficial. Above all, make sure you have an upcoming release ready to promote so that you can build up some steady momentum for your project.
If you don’t have music, practice a little patience (again). Wait until you’re almost done recording to hire a publicist, and let them know when you’re finished music will absolutely be ready.
3. You don’t have the social media stats
This one isn’t quite as important, but there is still a lot of merit. If your band doesn’t have Twitter, or at the very least a Facebook, then you might not be ready for publicity yet. Publicists build off of your credentials which helps give them an advantage over every other band a blog is listening to. If your band doesn’t have any social media presence at all, you might want to take a step back and again, be patient.
Instead, start building up your social media numbers by inviting friends and family to “like” and “share” whatever they can. It helps to engage and start making fans that could be potential readers for the blogs that will be covering you later down the road.
4. You don’t have any gigs under your belt
Playing live shows in a band is possibly one of the more underlooked elements of success. After all, let’s not forget that the notion of “a band” or a “singer” comes from the live performance. These days, recording at home or in a studio is much more accessible to a wide range of people - which is amazing. However, you need to back your release with some live music. There is probably only one percent of artists that can rely solely on releasing music and never showing their face.
Instead, try to book a few local shows to start generating some attention. I firmly believe that you need to conquer your local scene before you can look elsewhere.
5. You don’t have realistic expectations
We’re going to re-touch on a few things, but also sum them up here. If you’re going to enter a publicity campaign with the intent of getting on national television, or you want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, or featured in every Pitchfork “best of” list out there, then re-think hiring a publicist. If your first name is Father, and your last name is John Misty, then maybe you’re on the right track. But otherwise, you need to keep your expectations reasonable. I’m not trying to kill anybody’s dream or say that it isn’t possible. Let’s be real, I would love to be on a national television show, but it’s not going to happen at this stage in the game. Think of it like school. It’s unreasonable to think that somebody in 2nd grade could attain an MBA. I’m not trying to say you’re immature, but maybe your band just needs a little time to grow and gain some momentum. Don’t forget, there’s a lot of great stuff that happens along the way - maybe somebody will ask you to prom (i.e. go on a mini regional tour).
Instead, just remember that every step counts and that if your expectations are more reasonable, you’ll be happier with the success that you do receive instead of seeing it as below you.
Green Light Go: Talk it over with your band and make sure you're all on the same page!
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After you evaluate how prepared you are to hire a music publicist, you will want to take the next step and find a publicist that is right for you based on where you are at. Download our free Publicity Scorecard Worksheet which will allow you to give a score to potential publicists to see if they are a match for you. Click here to download your scorecard!