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When to Hire a Music PR Company

A good music PR is vital for the marketing and promotion of new releases by solo musicians and bands. Find out how to find the right PR for you and your music, courtesy of those who’ve done it.

Last updated: 01 February 2024

What is a PR in music?

Music PR is typically a form of promotion for an artist’s music or brand that generates public attention. It’s a scenario that will be frustratingly familiar to any grassroots musician operating under their own steam.

“Frustrating is one way to put it,” reflects Massive Wagons frontman Baz Mills, of the years spent before the Lancaster rockers hired music PR company Duff Press to promote their fourth album, Full Nelson. “It can be almost impossible to get coverage on your own, especially from the big players in the industry.”

So, if you’re struggling to get your music noticed, read on to find out how to make the most out of music marketing PR and when to hire a music PR company.

What does a PR do in music?

Most up-and-coming artists will look to hire a music PR to take care of the difficult task of securing media coverage.

The role of a PR or a PR company is to build a musician’s media profile, bringing their clients to the attention of relevant, receptive broadcasters and journalists for worthwhile coverage.

But as Sue Harris of Republic Media points out, a good PR can do far more. “It’s not just about acting as a messenger,” she says. “A publicist can bring ideas and work with you to become the best artist you can be. It’s about experience. It’s knowing what works and doesn’t work.”

“Aside from helping spread the word, whether that’s via press or radio,” adds Geraint Jones of G Promo PR, “from our own perspective, working with a lot of self-released, self-financed artists as we do, in purely logistical terms, it’s often far too time-consuming for a DIY artist to cover all the bases effectively themselves. That’s where the PR comes in.”

How much does music PR cost?

For all the benefits, a common assumption is that a press officer will be beyond the budget of a working band. “Not necessarily.” counters Emily Barker.

“I raised money to employ somebody I met at a show who was doing press for peers of mine. We had a good rapport and her prices were great. She also worked with big artists, but she recognised that people starting out needed to have much smaller budgets and were self-funded. There are still people like that, who are flexible if they fall in love with your music.”

It’s a view echoed by Harriet Simms at Glass Ceiling PR, who has represented everyone from Dolly Parton to upcoming British folk acts.

“Most people I work with don’t have lots of money. I’ve always operated a sliding scale in terms of my fee, based on what sort of set-up is involved. If an artist has the backing of a record company, distributor and manager, I’ll generally charge more than for someone who is doing everything themselves. I’m not aware of an industry standard for charges. I just try to charge what I think is fair – to the client and me. Prices start at £1,000.”

Researching the right PR company for your music

The next step is to undertake some deep research into sourcing the right music PR, whether that’s mainstream or an independent music PR.

“Recommendations are the top of the list for me,” says acclaimed folk-blues slide guitarist, Martin Harley. “You may find that a smaller PR agency better suits what you are doing – and of course, going with a PR agency that has proven success in your genre is an advantage.”

Claire Horton, whose independent PR agency represents Americana and country stars from Willie Nelson to Bonnie Raitt, agrees on the importance of hiring a specialist.

“Choose a publicist who has knowledge and experience in your genre and a good track record. If you hope to target genre-specific and mainstream media, check that they cover both. Look at the artists they represent. This will help you see if there’s a fit with the area of music in which you see yourself.”

Hire a music PR with passion

Just as important for Lauren Tate, singer with garage-rockers Hands Off Gretel, was entrusting new album I Want The World to a publicist with the personal touch.

“We looked for someone who was passionate about our music and wanted to meet in person to chat through our campaign and what we were about. You must spend a decent amount on PR, so making sure it’s someone you feel comfortable with was important for us. Another factor for us was making sure they have a personal relationship with journalists and reviewers.”

Your professional approach to a publicist – which should include a summary of your career to date – may lead to an initial meeting. But before making a commitment, there are key questions to be tabled.

“You should be asking how long they’ve been working in PR,” says Zoe Nichol from indie-folk duo Worry Dolls. “What kind of artists do they represent? List any specific people at radio, magazines, print or online blogs and ask if they have connections. How long would the campaign be? When are they available to start? What would be their suggested time frame? How many singles for radio? Obviously, finance is a part of it, and you must find someone that can work within the budget you have.”

Plan ahead with your music PR campaigns

Be aware that recruiting a PR is not an afterthought. “You’ve got to give PRs time to do a proper job on your behalf,” points out Harriet Simms.

“Do you have a website and various social media channels that represent your music? If you’re interested in getting your singles playlisted, this needs to be factored into the equation – with a video, too. You need great photos, preferably colour, hi-res, portrait and landscape. You need a biog or press release that is well-presented and literate, plus striking album artwork that looks good in big or small print.”

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