Band Etiquette: 3 Unspoken Rules of Working With a Music Publicist

Posted by Amy Sciarretto on Apr 20, 2016 06:00 AM
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If you're at the point in your career where you can enlist and pay a music publicist, then there are a few golden rules you need to adhere to in order to maximize and support the relationship. It may be tough to navigate at first if you're used to always doing everything yourself, but follow these three tenets, and you should foster a long, reciprocal, and effective relationship with your PR agent.

1. Don't be a control freak

Once you hire a publicist, you have to let go of control. Repeat this mantra: "Let go, let publicist." Your PR rep's contact base is larger and more established than yours (which is why you brought this person onto your team in the first place, right?). You need to trust your publicist's knowledge of how to interact with the media, and that he or she will be making the right choices on your behalf. The publicist will work all the proper angles and have all the needed conversations to advance your press profile. Accept that from the outset or it won't work.

You shouldn't be reaching out to the media once you have a publicist. Even if you have pre-existing friends in the press, let your publicist take over. Sure, he or she can CC you on emails, but let him or her initiate contact. Don't take it upon yourself to reach out to the media unless that's a strategy authorized and overseen by your PR rep.

While constantly buzzing your publicist's ear all of the time is not effective, don't be afraid to email, call, or text with ideas if something pops into your head while in the studio or watching TV. If you meet a writer on the road, be sure to let your publicist know, share that person's info, and let the publicist take it from there. Immediately loop your PR person into any press request or situation that lands in your lap before his or hers.

Overall, don't try to micromanage or insert yourself into the process too much. In essence, you'll need to do as you're told. You can certainly ask questions and ask for updates, but let the press campaign run its course smoothly with the publicist steering the ship. If you have a manager, that person should be working most directly on a day-to-day basis with your PR agent. 

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2. Be patient – good press campaigns take time

Don't be a punisher. A watched pot never boils. So understand press initiatives often take time to roll out and unfold.

Your main job is to make great music and play shows. Your publicist's job is to sort and schedule press and to decide what the best course of action is, which may involve declining requests or pitching a piece to an outlet that is out of the box.

3. Pace yourself when you start getting interviews

I've had some acts say, "Schedule all press. I'll do everything." If it's a brand-new band, I say, "Yes, get used to it now, since you're going to do everything that comes your way and everything I pitch." However, if it's an established band, I've tried to advise against that scenario, due to the fact that exhaustion and fatigue can happen.

I've also had the same artist that said he would do all press come to me a month later and say, "Okay, stop! I'm burning out on press." That's when I have to say, "Yes, we'll pull back and not schedule everything. But we're not stopping altogether." I tell my artists to pace themselves with interviews, since they can get rote or be daunting.


The moral of the story? Allow your publicist to set the pace, tone, and schedule. Oh, and two more things that should go without saying: say please and thank you. That goes a long, long way.


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Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.

Topics: ask a publicist, Music Business 101


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