I was recently emailing with an artist who had hired at least 10 different companies to promote her music over the years, but hadn't seen any results.
Frustrated, she wrote me back, "I'm just done spending any money whatsoever on PR, Radio, Placement, Management, etc."
I get it.
The music business isn't easy.
I asked her which firms she had hired...and sadly, I'd only heard of one of them.
But, that doesn't usually matter. It's okay to hire a small company if they are HUNGRY and are really going to HUSTLE for you!
In fact, I've heard dozens of stories over the years from artists who've hired a big name PR company to represent them, an indie artist/band. They seem surprised when that "big name" PR company doesn't do anything for them.
A few things...
1. It doesn't matter how much money you have or who you hire. If your music isn't connecting with people, first your friends and family, but then, more importantly, the fans, the general public and also critics/the industry, you're going to be disappointed no matter what.
I know that is hard to hear....but back when U2 and Bruce Springsteen were at their peaks, before the web became a thing, the only way to get fans was a slow and steady process of writing and recording songs and, more importantly, touring to get the music out there. And that first album or two didn't always connect. It didn't sell a million copies the first week.
If you're not seeing a response from songs that you are actively promoting on Soundcloud and YouTube, maybe you just haven't hit the nail on the head. Rome wasn't built in a day and a hit song, or just a great song, doesn't come along every day. Or every month or every year. One hit wonders exist because it’s hard enough to write one good song much less two hit singles, or an entire album's worth.
2. A company that has a huge roster of artists, especially known artists, is likely spending all of their time marketing and promoting those acts. Let's use this as an example. Let's pretend I just signed Coldplay as a client. Say I'm doing press for them. I am going to spend 900 hours a day just fielding inquiries from the media, all wanting their attention. Now, while you may not be hiring Coldplay's publicist or manager, even a small act that is moderately successful is going to garner almost all of your attention whether you're a publicist, radio promoter, manager, etc. Now imagine I'm working this little band and you come along and need help. How much of my time on any given day can I devote to you if I'm working with Coldplay? Or a handful of moderately successful acts? The answer is: not much! That's why I always encourage indie artists to hire someone small who truly love their music who will go to bat for them no matter what!
3. Let's not forget the magical power of luck and timing! No matter who you hire, you have to have the right song at the right time. I just saw a video of an artist who released a video and single about Transgender Equality. Talk about timely! That is a song that is going to get media attention and shares because the topic is so timely. If you wrote a song and made a video that was about a current trend or event, I bet it would get some attention.
I'm not saying you need to use a gimmick to become successful. But if you want your music to get noticed, to grab the industry and public's attention, doing something that is timely would certainly help. And there is a magic to having a song that truly connects with people. That's why songs about love stand out a lot. It's like that James Arthur song that was released just in time for wedding season. It's so poignant and true and honest. Write a song like that and I guarantee people will take notice: youtube.com/watch?v=0yW7w8F2TVA.
Write from the heart and write something naked and honest. If you're open and honest I guarantee others will related to the lyrics and feeling your song evokes.
4. It is entirely possible that your music is great and timely and you've simply hired the wrong firm or person to represent you. This happens 99% of the time. It is the most likely reason you're not seeing results!
It's not rocket science to be a great manager, publicist or promoter. But it also isn't easy. It requires years of dedication, drive, persistence, passion and most of all connections. The best thing you can do is to check references and do your research on a company before you hire them or decide to work with them. When I was starting out 20 years ago, I literally had to beg and plead and hustle to convince my first band to let me work with them. After that, the contacts grew and clients starting finding me. But that first one? It wasn't easy. I really had to prove to them that I was the right person for the job.
Trust your gut. Check references. Don't just believe what people tell you, because, after all, it's the music business and people will lie to get business. But if you do your homework and are a good judge of character, you'll likely find the right firm and person to represent you and your amazing tunes!
JENNIFER YEKO is a 20-year music veteran who currently owns and operates True Talent PR, truetalentpr.com. Her specialty is film/tv promotion, music licensing, artist management and public relations. See truetalentpr.com. And check out her music blog with over 100 articles of free advice: truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com.