With over 20 years of experience, Al Shaw has worked as a booking and tour agent, manager, publicist and promoter. He is currently a Public Relations Specialist and Management Consultant. Shaw is also a partner in Machinewerk, with offices in Los Angeles and London. His current clients include up-and-coming artists, DJs, producers, songwriters, record labels and sound engineers.
How did the Internet change what you do?
It changed the game. Now there are many more areas to consider. You have public relations, branding, marketing and SEO (search engine optimization). And you have to combine all of them into a strategy.
Why is branding so important?
It establishes what people think of you. It encompasses everything: Who you are, your goals and your story. It’s way more than just the music. It’s how you connect and relate with people.
How do you create a brand?
You have to think beyond the music. It’s about your personality, your point of view, your message. Actually, music takes a backseat to personality. Why are you doing what you’re doing, what is your point of view and how does that relate with other people?
How do management and PR work together to develop a brand?
Public relations and management share skill sets. Management helps to guide a campaign while PR executes it. Often those functions overlap, and PR reps end up acting like managers. In fact, a lot of managers come from the public relations field.
Is there a formula that artists can follow to establish their brand?
Too many artists simply release a song and hope for the best. That will not get you the results you want. You need to do an advance notice––one to two months––prior to the release to create awareness and a demand. That’s where publicity comes in. You need a compelling story that is publicized before you release your music. If you don’t do that, you’re going to be disappointed, and won’t get the attention you want.
How important is image regarding your brand?
Today, it’s super-important. It’s all about videos now. It’s also a big mechanism for A&R who are searching for new artists. You must have videos that accompany your songs. Most people go to YouTube to check out new artists.
Can artists do all that themselves?
Sure they can, but it takes a lot of time and work. If you have the time and inclination to do the necessary research to find the right media platforms, you can create awareness and demand for your music. The advantage to hiring professionals is that they already have the relationships and contacts. That saves a lot of time and effort.
How can artists work best with industry pros?
If an artist has already got the process going, they can bring in a professional to maintain the momentum and help create a bigger impact. •