Originally published December 27th 2015:
The music scene is a noisy place, and with more access to connection between bands and music lovers than ever before, everyone is screaming out to be noticed, to greater or lesser degrees. Traditionally, the role of PR agent involved managing communication between an artist and their public, via press and radio, allowing them to concentrate on creating their art. New media has somewhat transformed that function to delivering as loud as possible a voice within the potential fans’ own digital space. With a new shouting contest in full swing, you can imagine how important the handling of a band’s message can be in making sure they show their individual character in the best light. What are the benefits of going it alone, or seeking help?
Outside of the music industry, yet claiming some connection in culture, Brewdog have been through the ringer a little recently, fighting for a positive position in public opinion, not least of all in their approach of trying to maintain a genuine persona as a brand. In relation to our subject matter, some online users have been digging into Brewdog for the apparent duplicity in stating that PR is unnecessary, while simultaneously announcing their new PR deal with agency The Romans. It could be argued that this is perfect example of the need for professional PR, but surely that doesn’t mean it is an absolute imperative.
Naturally, there are certain points in a musician or band’s development at which such assistance is more viable than at others. While the first ever rehearsal with a new collective of musicians may be very exciting, it’s pretty much a given that it isn’t the time to fork out for a full-blown public relations project. You will, at the very least, need some product for people to get into to make it worth your while. Then again, just because you do have a release to plug, doesn’t necessarily mean you should be setting up a deal with a PR company. As has rightfully been pointed out in the past by the likes of Lisa Coverdale of Hold Tight PR, you have to have a fairly serious outlook as well.
So, if not securing the services of PR company, then what? A lot of what needs done can be done by the musician themselves, if they have the time and the knowledge to make it work. Just as the purpose of PR has been modified by the influence of new technology, so has access to the means to achieve it. Not something every artist will find a natural environment, though, so the answers seems to remain a complex one.
Of course, as with most of the issues we get stuck into here at Underground In Prydain, there is an abundance of advice available on the web for those who are just starting to delve into running their own PR, and many of them, such as this quick-list from Cyber PR provide a snappy introduction. It’s a good place to start, but these guides do tend to be broad and non-specific. Here’s where a bit of investigation comes in handy. In the next article, UIP picks the brains of Stampede Press owner, Rob Town.