Good publicity can make or break a career. There is an intimate relationship between the brand you’ve built, the way you’ve built it, and the way it is shared with your audience. Before we go more in depth about what makes good publicity, let’s define what “publicity” is. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, publicity is “an act or device designed to attract public interest.” In the music industry, this is important because it helps to build your fan base and strengthen your brand.

Publicity and unintended collaboration with David Guetta recharged Sia’s musical career and brought her out of retirement in 2011. “Titanium” was originally written for Alicia Keys, but when it was sent to Guetta he decided to include Sia’s original vocals and released it as a single. Although she had a notable career as a vocalist for several bands and was a successful songwriter, the release of “Titanium” elevated her to a new level of fame as it peaked as a top five record charting in the U.S, Australia, and Europe. So what do you do if you don’t have access to David Guetta? How do you use the tools you have to put your name out there?    

  1. Connect with fans. This is essential for musicians with a variety of experience, but especially for new ones building their fanbase. Shout outs via social media and personalized messages go a long way in showing someone how much you appreciate them. Fans are also more likely to share those experiences with friends and family, who may turn into fans as well. After the release of the Punch Brother’s latest album, The Phosphorescent Blues, fans who bought concert tickets were pleasantly surprised with a free digital copy of the album.

  2. Prep your script. When you deal with the press, you will be asked a lot of the same questions by different journalists. This means that you have to work on giving fresh answers to the same questions. Amy Meyer, who owns Meyer PR in New York City, said that preparing for interviews was important because, “The most common problem is not thinking through their response and not having a genuinely thoughtful answer. I try to make artists realize that their words will extend beyond the conversation they’re having with a writer and it’s important to consider the question before responding.” Rick Goetz, "Music 101"

  3. Be patient! Many publicists remind their clients that PR is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long term investment into your future that requires care and patience. Although immediate media success in many outlets is ideal, it’s important to spread your name so that it is recognizable now, or six months from now.

  4. Put together a press kit. Even in the age of digital everything, a press kit is important to have. It is an easy package that describes you, what you’ve done in your musical career, and why you are newsworthy to any media outlet or venue you try to work with. A press kit contains some of the following items: biography, photos, articles, and copies of your songs.

  • Biography: This should be short, but chock full of interesting information about you, how you started your music career, band members (if relevant), and a brief sketch of your professional work.
  • Professional Photos: Matt Busby, manager of local venue/coffee shop The Camp House, believes that artists must have professional photos to stand a chance at being booked at his venue. These provide media outlets with images to tie their articles with, and if well done, can be used in advertisements for your shows.
  • Articles: We already know how much your grandma loves your latest EP. That is exactly why it is important to have 3rd parties unrelated to you give feedback on your music. Having these quotes and articles will show distributors and media outlets that you are getting the public’s attention and are worth talking to/about.
  • Tour/Gig Schedule: People like to know what you are up to, and that you’re still creating content for them to listen to.
  • Digital or Hard Copies of Your Music: You’ll want to make it easy for people to hear your music. For an EPK (electronic press kit) this means digital downloads of your songs. For a physical press kit, this means having a hard copy of your music available. For an example of a good EPK by a local artist, take a look at soCro’s here. He does a great job of explaining who he is and gives the audience easy access to online content such as music videos, photos, and social media accounts.


This advice is important no matter what stage your career is in, but at what point should you invest in a publicist? Many industry professionals narrow it down to two things: when an artist can afford a publicist, and when they are doing something newsworthy.

  • When You Can Afford One: The price of a publicist will depend on how much coverage you want for your product, and for how long you want your campaign to last. While basic media coverage, servicing tour dates, and a press release may be a few hundred dollars a month, extensive work may cost up to four figures each month. According to Laura Goldfarb, the owner of several music public relations companies in Los Angeles and New York, “Campaigns require elbow grease, education, and repeat follow ups. That requires time and effort, and a PR person’s time and efforts. If there are basic placements and some online buzz serving as the goal, then some PR people will do an intro campaign for a pretty affordable rate and see where it goes. But nothing is dirt cheap.”

  • When You Do Something Newsworthy: Having good content, and a lot of it, will give your publicist more material to work with and increase your chances of getting coverage. It also helps to time media releases with other big projects such as an EP release date, or an upcoming tour. You want the media exposure to not only increase your fan base, but also help drive sales.

Publicity is more complicated than going on a news outlet to talk about your band and your music, but with these tips that we’ve shared hopefully it’s easier to understand. It is all about organizing your material so it is easily accessible and easy to share with others.