Guest Post by Ron Kadish, veteran musician and publicist
We hear it all the time, from rookie bands and long-established acts alike: “I just finished tracking my new album, and I was offered a great gig for the release that’s only 2 months away. Now I’m going to rush the album out and I need a PR campaign to start RIGHT NOW!”
Hey, congrats on the gig! Now…. take a deep breath and slowly count to 10.
You need to take a clear-headed look at how long it takes to get the word out about your tracks. To calculate the timing, you’ll need to keep in mind the time a publicist will need to embrace your project, to mail out materials (if that’s on the table), to follow up on these materials or on a digital-only offer to journalists, and lastly, for our journalist friends to get a moment to write about you and how awesome you are.
Let’s start with onboarding. Most PR firms need some time to get to know you and your music. At rps, that takes 2-3 weeks. We need to listen, prepare a good list of people we want to reach out to, write a kick-ass press release, and make sure you have all the assets we’ll need to do an amazing job. So now we’re looking at getting started on your campaign 5 weeks before that gig.
All the preliminaries are done. It’s time to get that music into journalists’ hands. We can’t get CDs to anyone any faster than the shipping options allow (unless you have a massive mailing budget). It takes a week for a CD to get from the rps HQ to Los Angeles, for example.
Now we’re down to 4 weeks from the gig. No big deal, right?
But wait. Reviewers and journalists get tons of CDs every day. They need time to listen to yours.
Now we’re down to 3 weeks before the gig. Yikes.
In this day and age of instant digital gratification, it’s hard to remember that print outlets still have weeks- sometimes months- of lead time. Even online-only outlets still need lead time to plan their new release coverage. Because the best coverage is people listening, thinking, hopefully interviewing artists, and then writing something.
Oops, 3 weeks isn’t enough lead time to do all that. Journalists’ calendars are already packed and there’s no room for your project. There go a whole bunch of reviews and event previews.
I think you get the picture- and that scenario doesn’t even take into account what happens when say, the artwork doesn’t come back the way you wanted to see it and you need to send it back to the designer. This timeline will only lead to great press if everything goes magically, impossibly well. That’s not the way life works, of course.
The best PR campaigns that get the ‘big hits’ like NPR and NYT take months of planning. In some cases we’ve started talking to musicians about their new projects months before a note has even been recorded! This gives us an opportunity to whisper in a journalist’s ear “hey, I heard so-and-so is coming out with a new one in a few months” and get their wheels turning.
So don’t rush it. Do your research. Write your tunes. Assemble the musicians, book the studio, and record an amazing album. Hire a graphic designer and make some great cover art and a cool package layout. Find a distributor.
When all that’s done, hire a PR firm and set your release date. Send the package off to the press, let it come back, and give it a good once over to make sure it’s really finished.
THEN book the release gig!
This is your music we’re talking about. It’s important. Yeah, I know you can’t wait for everyone to hear it. We get it! The gig will come and go, but that album’s going to be around forever. Let that album determine your pace, not a one-off show. Wait until your album’s 100% done. Your fans, your publicist, and your sanity will thank you for it.
Ron Kadish's expertise comes from years in music publicity as a musician and as a publicist. With twenty-five years as a nationally touring classical, jazz and rock bass player and with numerous recording credits to his name from singer-songwriters to orchestras, Ron’s music career has been an invaluable contribution to the rock paper scissors mission. Organized and decisive, he provides a sense of calm to his clients and utilizes his background to connect with journalists in new and dynamic ways. His insider perspective and determination make Ron an invaluable publicist to rock paper scissors gamut of talented writers. When not working, he is kayaking, performing shows and walking his dog.