What a music publicist does and doesn’t do

If you’ve just dropped a killer new track, and are wondering how you can best promote it, you might be considering hiring a publicist – but do you actually know what a publicist does for an artist? Here, Angela Mastrogiacomo clarifies.

Guest post by Angela Mastrogiacomo of Soundfly’s Flypaper

So, you just released a brand new song and you’re thinking you’d like to get the word out; some blog write ups, reviews, maybe spots on various playlists. In other words, you’re looking for a little boost of publicity to drum up excitement for the new release.

You’ve heard the words “PR” and “publicist” thrown around a lot but if you’re honest, you’re not really sure what that means or what they did. Well, you’re not alone. Actually, most people have no idea what this means — including my parents for the first two years after I became a publicist myself (shrugs).

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Here’s What a Publicist Does:

1. They build excitement around your new release.

In a nutshell, this is a publicist’s main job. They exist to make sure that your release doesn’t land on deaf ears, and that people actually get to know you and your music. They do this through getting you features on blogs, playlists, and sometimes other avenues like TV, newspaper, or radio (though radio is usually a separate hire).

So you know when you see your favorite band on your favorite blog, or playing The Tonight Show or on a podcast? That’s usually the work of their publicist.

2. They help craft, curate, and tell your unique story.

When you work with a publicist, they’ll help you find and craft your unique story. This means sending over a Q&A to get to know you and the things that matter most to you as individuals and a collective band, as well as getting to know unique facts, angles, etc, so they can create a story compelling enough to tell the media in their pitch.

For instance, if you have no idea what is unique or interesting about you as a band, a publicist would come in, chat with you and get to know you, and by the end of it you’d have a clearer idea of how to market yourself through your story.

This story will also serve as a way for you to better connect with your own audience of fans through things like social media posts.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “Are You Making a Record No One Will Hear?”

3. They help poise you to get in front of new fans and industry players.

Simply put, the more times you show up on blogs, playlists, podcasts, etc, the more opportunities for people to get to know you, and to tell their friends about you. A publicist gets you these opportunities and helps get them in front of the right people, consistently, so your career can keep growing.

4. Bio writing, press releases, and sometimes social media and branding help.

In addition to full campaigns like we talked about above, publicists are also the people you turn to when you want:

  • A bio
  • A press release
  • Social media help (this depends on the publicist, but most offer it)
  • Branding consultation/messaging help 

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Here’s What They Don’t Do:

1. Get you more sales, followers, or streams.

PR and marketing often get confused. Marketing is meant to get you more sales, followers, and streams, PR is not. In an ideal world, the two work together. PR helps you build the anticipation and excitement of your new release, while you can then use that excitement to build off through marketing.

If you try to market something that hasn’t yet developed a solid brand, story, or following of some kind, however small, it won’t work as well. You really need the two working together side by side for the biggest impact.

There you have it; the Cliff’s Notes version of what a publicist does. What do you think? Is hiring a publicist something your band might benefit from, or are you thinking you’d rather develop a campaign yourself?

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1 Comment

  1. I am currently reading Donald S passman book about the music business. I want to thank you for your definition of what a publicist does… my band is in an interesting place right now and I have a hell of a background. Can we please chat?

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