Music Box Media
“Just think about all the bands in Austin alone – it's hard to stand out,” reasons Melissa Cox, a local publicist.
I met Cox when she was a student at UT, and now she’s running her own PR firm, Music Box Media. She’s always had a passion for music, and began doing publicity for bands before she graduated college. Current and past clients include the Bright Light Social Hour, Wild Child, the Couch, and Trinity Hall. As she notes, Austin's a tough town in which to perform music, so press is one important component of bands getting a leg up in the scene.
“A band's job is to make good – no, great – music that resonates with people. My job is to help them figure out how to get that music into the hands of fans, influencers, and specifically music writers. What's the point if no one hears the music?” asks Cox.
Some bands get hand selected by writers, but the majority get coverage because they have someone pushing their music. That said, it’s hard to know the best way to go about it. For many musical entities, PR sounds like something for the famous. Cox assures IA that’s not the case.
“I've worked with a lot of small bands on first album releases, so just because you're a new band, it doesn't necessarily mean you're not ‘big enough’ to hire a PR person or benefit from one.”
If you’re still scrounging for quarters, you can always engage in some DIY PR. Cox advises getting to know local music journalists, bloggers, and radio personalities. (“Get a feel for what they enjoy and build your own connections.”) She also stresses the importance of a strong social media presence. Of course, it’s a lot easier to make connections through professional PR since they have established relationships, but it’s certainly not impossible to do it yourself.
I’ve been writing about music for some eight years now, and I always pay more attention to how a message is presented rather than who it's from. Professional publicists can send out absolutely boring emails and packages, while bands can be very creative and interesting. If you do end up on the search for a publicist, it’s important to find someone who understands the image and vibe of your band, and can work with it accordingly.
No matter what route you decide to take, reaching out to media is an important part of being in a band. And for those less musically inclined, next week IA looks into breaking into music PR from the business side.