PR for DIY Musicians: Indie Music Marketing from Pro Robert Bradley
January 31, 2022
PR for DIY musicians can seem like a giant task. Heck, we've spent ten years helping indie artists like yourself market their brand of music, and we still find new things to talk about every month. But it's not impossible when you've got help from experts — which we do! Which means you do, too!
This week, we've got another industry professional to help us brush up on modern music marketing techniques. Bob Bradley is an independent musician from Orange County, CA, with over 20 years experience as a writer, performer, manager, and PR campaigner. He is the author of his new book, Public Relations for Musicians, from which he's excerpted some key tips below.
PR for DIY artists? Look no further! Allow us to introduce you to Bob, now!
PR for DIY Musicians: Public Relations Are Your Friend
PR is a buzzword many musicians talk about often when gearing up for an album release. Here's part of an article pulled from the book Public Relations For Musicians, which is an easy to read book on handling your own PR campaigns. The book essentially breaks down the PR process in an easy to understand format and serves as a guide for artists of all types to handle their own PR when perhaps hiring a traditional PR firm or freelancer isn’t in the cards.
From Chapter 2 - How Public Relations Helps Your Brand
So what is the big deal with PR anyway? Even though many of us have a rough idea of how the game works, how does it actually help your music and overall brand? The difficult part to wrap our heads around with PR is that it’s not an exact science. One writeup in a local blog is not the key to what we all obviously want here, and is just a small part of how everything comes together. Sure, a killer review in a great magazine is a nice badge of honor and validates what you’re doing, but what’s next? Also, the “how” in how that feature was secured will vary from artist to artist.
There’s a reason PR is approached in specific ways and abides by a certain set of standards. There are obvious benefits to working PR for your brand effectively, and here are just a few of the benefits of sharpening your PR sword and leading the front lines.
Message communication - This is the main prerogative with any PR firm, freelance publicist or ambitious artist you are pushing. What is the message we’re putting out here? It’s gotta be specific, and don’t worry, it’s smart and very normal to put out multiple messages every year, month or even weekly. The message is typically delivered via a press release, and sent to editors, influencers and specific journalists with a pitch or some sort of message conveying what the news or message is.
Sometimes news is brief, and sometimes it contains more information than the average busy person can possibly digest in one sitting. Sometimes, it’s very necessary to avoid leaving critical details out. With music, I have found that brevity and getting to the point is more of a service to an artist than the opposite. At the end of the day we want to be noticed, and with PR it’s really no different. We want our existing and new media contacts to notice what we are pushing into the world. It’s often best to take a step back from what you’re about to email or call someone with, and ask yourself “how would I react if I received this and had about 100 other emails in my inbox as well."
PR for DIY Musicians: Now that You're Talking to People...
So now, consider the mission is accomplished and you’ve figured out the right pitch, have started a few conversations and now the press is starting to flow in. You’re scratching your head wondering how all these multiple different features will help your career in the short and long term. Here’s the truth, some of your press will organically help without you lifting a finger, but most of the benefits are reaped by ongoing cultivation of your brand, networking and successes in other areas of your music business. Yes, I said it, music is a business as well as a creative outlet, especially if you are reading this book. It sure beats shuffling papers for a living, so let’s fully understand the game!
Reputation growth - Although most feel music should be done for the sake of the music, it’s a bit of a letdown if only your Mom, Dad and best friend know about the music you’re making. With every bit of media coverage outside of awareness, social media, streaming sites and live performances, the perception of your music and brand is being shaped. Who doesn’t want to be admired and receive feedback (hopefully positive) on the music they make? The beauty of garnering results from PR, is seeing your story and reputation come to life through the eyes and ears of professionals who write about this stuff for a living.
Professional leverage - I can’t even count the number of times I have been asked “How do I get a manager, booking agent or record deal?”. One thing is for sure, in today’s music business, artist development from scratch is not a common occurrence and most professionals want to see an artist reach certain milestones before taking a risk on them. The success of your brand is flexible but also grows together, so it’s important to focus on the important tiers like songwriting, performance, recording, streaming and creative marketing.
PR for DIY Artists: Media Coverage, Etc.
Media coverage is sort of the icing on the cake, which ultimately isn’t the end all but most people don’t like cake without the topping right? A music industry professional who sees you have been featured in a handful of credible publications or blogs is more likely to take what you do more seriously. It opens doors, that is for sure. If you have strong media attention, lots of streams, Youtube plays, an amazing album/demo and a killer live show, I can assure you that you’ll have a much better shot at getting what you want. However, every artist is at a different point in their career, I completely understand that, and the beauty of media features is that it will help attract more of the other tiers I’ve mentioned.
Backlinks - For those privy to the SEO game online, backlinks are simply having a link on one website link to your preferred source (your website, Facebook, Spotify, iTunes etc). Not only does it help improve SEO ranking, but it allows viewers and fans to be directed to the information most important to you as an artist. If you’re trying to promote a tour, a new single, a new hairstyle or just getting started as a band, it’s always helpful to have links to your music on other websites and social media sites.
Live shows + touring - Whether you are playing the dive bar down the street or preparing for your first direct support slot at a House of Blues, leveraging and experiencing the power of the secured press is priceless. The media secured prior to the show via event calendars, event previews and hype pieces can help with attendance and early perception and excitement towards your music. If media attends the event, then the promise of post-show features with photos provides even more coverage potential and shareable content for your social media. This stuff adds up, and imagine if you’re doing this with multiple tour dates on your schedule.
More press - Yes, getting X amount of press can typically lead to even more press. Sometimes it happens without an effort, and most often you use your existing press as a “hey, I’m credible” calling card when pitching moving forward. Not too long ago I had one of my clients featured on a major entertainment publication online, and no kidding, within a day or two 45 other features went live without any additional work on my part. While this type of organic press on a mass level happens with celebrities, I can assure you this person was not a Kardashian.
The usual strategy is to let your contacts know within a pitch that you have been featured in other notable sources such as X, Y and Z. Don’t forget to hyperlink those sources just in case they actually want to check. Sometimes if this contact wants to feature you, they may refer to another feature you sent them to brush up on why you are important. The goal here is to let them know you are credible, and to make their lives as easy as possible if they have interest in you.
...And that's all the time we have for our guest speaker, Mr. Bob Bradley. But if you want to get all the info, you can find his new book at Amazon by clicking here. Bradley himself may be contacted at his PR Firm, BradleyPublicity.com. Thanks for reading! For more tips, click here for everything a DIY music artist needs now!