It’s no secret that money can be pretty tight for indie artists. I’ve spent the majority of my 25 years plus years in the industry as an indie artist, so I get it. At times I’ve had the money for a publicist, but most of the time, I couldn’t afford one.
Before I give you my secret weapon in today’s episode to help you overcome this little hiccup, let’s briefly discuss what a publicist is and how they can help your career.
A publicist acts as the middleman between you and the media. They have relationships with many different media personalities and contacts throughout the industry. This puts them in a strong position to represent your work and, therefore, increase your publicity opportunities.
But! What happens when you can’t afford one? Or you forgot to budget for one, and you are releasing your music as an indie artist? The job falls in your lap, and if you have no contacts and no prior history or relationships, then you will struggle to get any kind of media attention at all.
So what can you do about that? If you’re about to release your music and you have no publicist, and you need to do it on your own, then, unfortunately, you have your work cut out for you, but if you start now, as in right this minute, then you can start creating the secret little weapon that will not only help you build your music career but give you many opportunities.
So, what is the secret weapon? Well, we all know that networking and relationships are important, right? If you don’t, then you need to know. Unfortunately, talent will only get you so far, and in the end, it does come down to who you know rather than what you know. But aside from building those relationships, the one thing I did was started creating my “little black contact book”. In the age of computers, my little black book is now in the form of a digital spreadsheet.
I have kept one of these spreadsheets for the 3 businesses I have owned. This spreadsheet is where I collect the name of every person I come in contact with that is related to the industry.
I have six categories on the spreadsheet, they are:
When I talk about this out loud, I almost sound like a stalker! But this little black contact book is my secret weapon. When I am releasing music, I look at my list. That contact list is what publicists spend their whole careers building.
I will go as far as sending a birthday email if I have their birthday details. I will do anything I can to build a relationship with the contact. But, the most important thing to remember when doing this is that you have to be genuine. You can’t just suck up to them because you need something, this is very easy to see through, and nobody likes it.
Over time, your contact list will grow. You will foster relationships with the contacts, leading to a more impactful release because you will have the support of the media.
I can’t stress enough how important networking is in the music industry. It’s the one thing that I wish I had been better at. It’s a hard thing to master when you’re an introvert, but it’s a part of the job. I’ve spoken about this in previous episodes. Your career is your business, and you have to wear more than just the creative hat. Networking is a part of your marketing strategy. When people know and trust you in the industry, they will come to you for gigs, festivals, and support opportunities. You don’t have to be the best artist. You just have to be known and respected. Once you build that name for yourself, your career will grow to new heights.
So here is an action step for you!
Go to your computer, or buy an actual notebook and name it “Little Black Contact Book”. Then spend some time brainstorming and going through your emails, looking for all of your contacts. Create the columns I mentioned and start filling them in. If you have been in your career for a while, it may surprise you how many contacts you have already made.
So that’s it, my secret weapon, and while it may sound simple, you’d be very surprised at how many people think to compile that list.
Start now, and in a few years' time, you’ll be a weapon… who knows, maybe you could even become a publicist! Or do it as a side hustle. That list is pure gold, and it’s the secret to your success.
Let me know in the comments if you think you’ve got some contacts you can add to your little black contact book.
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