So my roommate Jonny came up to me today and asked me, “My band has $650 to throw around, what do we spend it on?” This is a common situation bands are in – a situation that a lot of us have to deal with with our own bands and embrace piece by bloody piece. Of course, my response was immediate and final – “PR dude” There is no greater investment that you need to make for your band other than PR. You can pay for a consultant or a manager or whatever, but all they are going to tell you is to invest in PR. It’s the one thing that will get your name out there and make people more likely to come to your shows and make it easy for people to access your music and want to attend your shows. People forget that PR is where they need to be investing, not gear or merch, because if no one knows about you then why would they bother to do anything around your band.
Now don’t get me wrong – part of why I told Jonny to invest in PR is that I know his band has their shit on lock overall. They have a decent amount of merch, their van is in good repair and they have solid gear (Although at low labels gear should probably be a personal investment) What Jonny’s band doesn’t have is any sort of serious media presence – and that’s why he needs to invest into PR. His band has started to make a name for themselves in the New York scene and has toured the South pretty thoroughly but for a lot of people there isn’t anything tangible about his band because it’s not really on any major media outlets. People have a hard time convincing promoters and stuff to get them on major shows or big labels because the PR game isn’t quite there. I know that sounds a little weird but that’s where we are at in the industry in 2016.
You definitely need to have the basic logistics for your band in place as close to 100% of the time as possible. You need to be aware of what your band is going to need and make sure that that is inline with your objectives. For example if you are only really playing shows within a 100 mile radius of your home odd are you don’t need a van, you can probably make do with your own cars, or maybe someone in the van owns a station wagon. You also need to make sure you have a practice space worked out too, but again odds are you aren’t using band money for that. And of course you need to be able to afford recording. Jonny, I should have mentioned, is sitting on a totally finished full length, so the time is now for him to do PR around a new record. Like I said, his band has everything else pretty much figured out. So once you have those logistics figured out you know that you can go forth and invest in PR without worrying about it being a waste of time.
Of course it could still be a waste of money. Even if your band is ready for PR there are countless companies out there who are going to rip you off. If you don’t pay enough for PR either then you are just going to end up wasting your money on someone who gets you like 3 reviews in shitty publications. That’s a stupid thing to get caught up on and I don’t like seeing perfectly good bands wasting their money on shit that ultimately hurts them. This is why you always need to be talking to the bands in your scene who have done well with PR. Ask who did good for them and go from there. See why they chose who they did and realize that if it worked for them odds are you too can figure it out. Investing in PR is a big step for a lot of band because it’s going to take you to a place where thousands of people start listening to your music if it’s done right but it could also be a pointless investment that just makes you look amateurish and dumb.
It’s the same as with some other key factors in the music industry like labels and managers. If you get a good one – you are going to look cool, professional and together. If you get a bad one… well shit. A lot of the time you don’t totally know what you’re getting until you’re in too deep. The issue is that every band has a different situation and so what might work wonders for one act is going to have a possibility of totally screwing another act over. You need to be aware of that and try to be careful when you dive into anything because you don’t want to accidentally fuck yourself over. The entire industry is so fickle and case by case that any single piece of advice you get as per any company or situation is going to possibly screw you over. That being said, the general lines, IE, getting a manager, a PR company and all that other good stuff is generally true and important. It’s a key way to move forward and figure out a logical path.
So go out and invest in PR. It’s one of the most important things your band will ever do and it’s going to get people far more interested in your band then you might ever expect. It’s the logical next step and the best way to attract the attention of labels, managers and booking agents as well as all those other important industry people we love to talk about on this blog. PR is a vital step in any bands career and if you want people to to take your seriously then you are going to have to do it -even before you start touring. Seriously – who wants to go see a band they have never heard of? And how do you get heard of if you don’t get people to talk about you? Seems like paying for PR is the way to go!