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Q&A: Is It Time To hire A Publicist?
By Michael Allison - 08/05/2002 - 08:51 PM EDT

Hiring a publicist is not too great an undertaking, but it can be pretty frustrating and tedious. Publicists are not cheap, and many of them are not worth what you pay them. I've been dealing with publicists for some time now, and most of them are very unorganized. I closed down The Global Muse over a year ago, and I am still getting packages addressed to the magazine. Poor record keeping is only the beginning of this problem. Most of them never bother to follow up, send out thank you letters, or even acknowledge the writers work. That's just not good for future business. not only do the publicists suffer from this, but the artists they represent do as well. They also have a problem with sending the right styles of music to the right music press. I don't care to review folk music, hip hop and electronica, but I am constantly getting loads of this crap from the publicists who have me on their press list. That's why most CD's from publicists go untouched by many music reviewers. Now those are just a few examples of the problems publicists cause for musicians, but it's also NOT to say that ALL Publicists are that way!! The truth is, more are than not. That's my experience.

A good publicist can get your music to the people. That is why they are important. You don't want to just hire any old publicist. You need one with good contacts that range form internet to local press. A publicist can open doors for you that you yourself may not be able to. That is all depending on their contacts. Their job is to shine a bright light on you and your music, and get the public to want to check you out. The more a publicist can do for you, the more you should benefit. Not all bands can be helped though. It may not always be the publicist's fault if you're not getting anywhere. Some bands are missing something that the press will be turned off with. An honest publicist will tell you that.

There are a few reasons why I do not like recommending publicists. I get asked all of the time, and the main reason is, you need to meet these people face to face. I don't recommend hiring anyone that you haven't seen face to face. Also, many publicists have too much on their plate. It's very difficult to take care of one or two bands, much less more than 50 or 60 bands. Publicists with too much on their plate will have less time to focus on you. That is the biggest thing to consider. The next thing to consider is whether or not you can trust them. As much as I hate to say it, I've heard way too many stories of publicists ripping off their clientel by not doing what they promised to do. I would also ask to take a look at their press list. The bigger the press list, the more contacts they have. You want a good balance of internet based press as well as local and larger print publications, as well as local media such as radio. Many are mainly internet based press. While this will get you a lot of reviews and help to get the word out around the globe, it won't help to fill your gigs. Local press is very important in that matter.

Now for the big question. Do you need a publicist? Well that depends on you. Can you handle the work of the band, and still do the publicity work on your own? Are you making enough money to pay the publicist? Is the band ready for the extra attention? Basic questions like that are what you need to ask yourself. I can't answer them for you. Only you and your band members can really decide whether or not you need a publicist. This is something that you and the band need to sit down and really discuss. It effects all of them, even if you are the only one doing all of the publicity work at the moment. A publicist can help your band greatly, or they can just cost you money and waste your time. That's why you should take your time and a lot of hard thought before you make a final decision. Like mama always said, "You better shop around!"


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