With independent music at the peak in India, communication and marketing in the music industry has seen a metamorphosis of sorts. Music PR, or Public Relations for music, is the strategic promotion of a new release, tour or other music related news to the public via the media. People who work in PR liaise between labels and/or musicians and the media to try and get album reviews, profiles of the band, reviews of live shows and so on.
Or is it? Following are the 5 trends in Music PR that one needs to be aware of, also check out what VIP Contributor, PR Queen, Prema Sagar had to say on PR in Music.
PR is paperless
Gone are the days where the best part of a musician's life used to be reading a well-written review of their show on Page 5 of The Hindu. With major media houses shutting down their printing operations for their online counterparts, today is the day of online portals, social media, radio, music streaming services, dedicated blogs and constant engagement through the small computing genius called the smartphone that has every Indian's attention. So if you think publicity, think online content, and lots of it!
Information dissemination vs Thought leadership
What does one think of while announcing their music? Album launches? EP releases? Press Releases? Wrong. Today, information dissemination of milestones in music is not enough. The content savvy generation of India expects to be continuously in touch with artists, and one needs to speak about everything. Musicians are a bunch of people that the young look up to, and their opinions, experiences, and stands on social issues are as important as their music.
Musicians are now moving beyond performing and are establishing thought leadership. Their voices are heard through life experiences, struggles, the business of music and much more. Workshops, authored content and speakership platforms are all ways of getting the message out, not just announcing the next show.
Campaigns vs continuous engagement
That brings us to the matter of continuous engagement. PR is about generating news. Is it just enough to do few campaigns a year? Think daily content. Consistency is the key! Think hourly content. With lower attention spans and probably a band for every square kilometer of this country, one needs to continuously engage with the audience, whether it is tutorials, podcasts or even travelogues. Also, it will not hurt to study artists that are completely in touch with the public, there is a lot to be learned from observing.
Having said that, PR still trumps marketing when it comes to credibility. People instinctively trust organic communication as compared to paid marketing content. PR is the greatest tool in building credibility, something that has become quite the daunting currency in recent times. Sure, it takes more effort and thought, still beats communication avenues that are inaccessible to budding musicians working on a shoestring budget.
DIY vs Agencies
Is it time to hire music PR? It's a big decision. After all, agencies are a cost, and the results are never guaranteed.
Most music PR is done on a campaign basis. If a label wants to promote a new release, they may hire a PR company for a set window of time, during which the PR company will try to generate as much press as possible. If the band is touring during the promotional campaign, sometimes the PR firm will also do a round of press for the tour, or sometimes they will charge an extra fee for that (especially in the case of large PR firms/large record labels). At the end of any campaign, the PR company will issue a report with press clippings of all of the coverage the album received.
There are still things that you need to Do-It-Yourself. Hiring PR support becomes a smart decision when there are experts that can take care of major announcements. However, building an image based on one's inspirations and personality is something that is a continuous DIY process.
Also, If you do end up taking the decision to hire professional PR services, these 4 questions will come in handy. Can I afford this? Are my expectations realistic? Are they good? Do I trust them?
Here's Loudest wishing you loads of luck in getting across your musical essence to the public. If you have experiences that have helped you in this field, please do share in the comments section below.