Music publicist, Kari Zalik, explains how to grow your fanbase using an 8-step public relations campaign formula.
The struggle to develop and grow a fanbase is never-ending, but I’m going to show you how to get more fans as an artist in 8 steps using a public relations campaign formula. Music publicity plays a large role in promoting your music. It’s all about getting your music into the hands of traditional and non-traditional media. Great publicity leads to opportunities like television appearances and performances, reviews in newspapers, music premieres online, and more.
All of this helps get your upcoming and recent releases top-notch exposure in the market you’re targeting. Publicity can also help you book television and radio appearances in the cities you’re touring through, which can drive up last-minute ticket sales.
Developing a public relations (PR) strategy requires planning, and it can sometimes take a while to see the results of your work. However, the attention that a quality PR campaign brings to your artist brand can grow your fanbase far faster than what a social media campaign is capable of on its own.
A music publicist, like myself, is someone who has strong relationships with the media. They know who to send your music to and how to get your music the coverage it deserves. Publicity is a critical component of every successful artist project. In this guide, I’ll explain how to build a PR campaign that boosts streaming numbers, drives ticket sales, and converts listeners into fans.
1. Create an Electronic Press Kit (EPK)
An electronic press kit (EPK) is a 1-2 page document that provides journalists, reviewers, and promoters with a brief overview of your artist brand. It should include an up-to-date biography, links to your music, links to your music videos, recent press photos, and potentially tour dates as well.
Treat your EPK like a sales tool, and use it to convince promoters that you’re worth booking. Whether you’re releasing your first single, or 10th album, an EPK is essential. Media outlets love artists with a strong image, so blow their socks off with an EPK that embodies the flavor of your brand.
Want to learn more about developing your artist brand? Read “5 Tips to Build a Better Brand as an Artist.”
2. Develop Your Social Media Presence
There’s a slew of ways for people to discover information about your artist project through social media. Some people will visit your website, or they may prefer to check you out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, or Tik Tok. Everyone has their preferred medium, which means you should have a presence on all of them.
Make sure your social media accounts are active. Consider using a content posting service like MeetEdgar to schedule social media posts in advance on Facebook and Twitter. For Instagram, you can schedule posts ahead of time using a service like Later. Many artists dedicate a little bit of time each week to scheduling social media content for the following week.
Fans want to know what goes on behind the scenes. Backstage footage and footage of your creative process makes for great YouTube and Snapchat content. Get in the habit of documenting your day-to-day activities, whether it be with your phone or a DSLR. People love getting an inside look at the life of their favorite artists.
Tik Tok is still a somewhat new platform, but it shouldn’t be ignored. In April of 2020, Tik Tok had 800 million active users (Datareportal, 2020). 41% of Tik Tok users are aged 16-24 (Globalwebindex, 2019), so if this is your target demographic, Tik Tok is a great way to reach them.
Beyond posting content to Tik Tok, a digital music distribution service like DistroKid (save 7% with this link) can get your music into TikTok’s music catalog. If someone makes a Tik Tok dance using one of your songs, and the video goes viral, your song could blow up overnight.
3. Define What Makes You Unique
Think about all the things you love about your favorite artists and bands. What are the most exciting things about bands and artists that you’ve discovered recently? Does anything other than their music stand out? Is it noteworthy that they, for example, recorded an album in their car? Have they filmed a music video at home? Was one of their band members part of another great band in the past?
Identify what sets you apart and push that narrative. Behind your music, there’s a person that people want to get to know. Maybe you have a “loud” personality that fans find entertaining, or perhaps you have hobbies, like gaming, that people can relate to.
The artist Marc Rebillet is unique because all his live performances are created on-the-fly. His wild popularity stems from his live steams in which viewers suggest random topics, while he improvises songs involving the topics suggested. This leads to a really fun and interactive fan experience. He’s also known for sporting a variety of bathrobes during his live streams, which add to his quirky allure.
4. Make a Media Outlet Contact List
You know more about PR than you think you do. At a base level, you know your local markets’ media outlets, radio stations, and talkshows. There are also probably a few local and national music-related blogs that you follow. The best place to start in PR is with what you already know. Pushing the “local artist” narrative is a PR angle, and most media outlets appreciate a local story. Make a list of the media outlets in your area, find their contact information, and pitch yourself to them using your EPK.
Try to find the first name, last name, email address, and phone number for each contact on the list that you create. You may want to save the person’s job title, along with the company they work for as well.
Email software like Mailbutler allows you to view email read receipts, schedule emails, attach notes and reminders to emails, as well as organize email signatures. When you’re responding to 5-10+ emails per day, an email add-on like Mailbutler helps keep your communications organized.
5. Write Short Emails
Members of the media receive hundreds of pitches every day. Starting with your subject line, you want to make sure that what you’re saying is concise, descriptive, and clear. Keep your email short, and make sure that the most urgent, relevant information is at the top of the pitch
If you’re releasing an album, mention that in the first line. If you’re heading out on tour, specify the location and date you’ll be in the contact’s city within the first two sentences. Also, don’t forget to include your music. People checking emails on their phone won’t be able to download your music, so including a link that lets them stream your music is critical. Make sure to avoid including attachments and, whenever possible, address each contact by name.
A quality email pitch will include:
- A concise subject line
- A quick overview of the content you’ve provided
- The coverage you’re looking for
- Personalized details like the contact’s name and the name of the company they work for
- A link to stream and download your content online
- Your contact information
When you link to your music, you should provide additional resources for interested media outlets within the track’s description. For example, you may want to include the following:
- Release date
- Private download link (for promoters)
- Public download link
- Press release
- Cover art download link
- Press photo download link
- EPK download link
- Website and social media links
Read the description of Virtus’s “Dark Prince Rising” to see how all these different components come together.
The idea is to entice media outlets with a short email containing a link to your music, and then if they like it, provide them with all the information and resources they need to promote the song within the track’s description.
6. Capitalize on Media Coverage While Touring
Tons of music websites will review or publicize your music. In fact, there are so many that it can be overwhelming. Consider all of the places you go to find new music. Whether it’s Rolling Stone or a small music blog in Australia, get in touch with the tastemakers that you turn to, and who may be interested in covering your music. Take time researching these outlets and reach out to their editors.
If you’re heading out on tour, you’ll want to get in contact with local media outlets in the cities you’re touring through and include them in your campaign. They may add your show listing to a local paper, or interview you the day of your show to help boost last-minute ticket sales.
7. Follow Up With Media Outlets
Many outlets are super busy and may have missed your first email. It happens quite often, so don’t take it personally. People who work in media are busy—really busy. You shouldn’t harass them, but you should always gently remind them that you sent your music their way. Consider following up with contacts a week after your initial email.
If you don’t hear back after following up once or twice, it’s probably best to move on. As a last resort, you can call a media outlet during their business hours. Sometimes your emails will unintentionally end up in a contact’s junk inbox.
8. Say “Thank You” and Save Your Coverage
Manners are important. Take a minute to say “thank you” to any outlet that provides you with coverage. Aside from sending an email to say “thanks,” doing things like sharing their coverage on your social media pages and tagging the outlet are great additional way to say “thanks.”
Finally, make sure to take screenshots or save video clips of your coverage. I like to save the coverage my clients receive through each campaign by date. Saving press coverage can be useful for future self-promotion. It’s also a great reminder of your success!
Taking It Further
PR is a multifaceted approach to getting your music into the hands of traditional and non-traditional media. It leads to incredibly valuable exposure beyond social media and digital marketing.
Start by putting together an EPK and getting your social media pages firing on all cylinders. You’ll want to make sure all your ducks are in a row before you start reaching out to the media.
Define what makes you unique and push that angle when pitching yourself. Create an extensive media outlet contact list and send each contact a short, personalized promo email. Start with the outlets you know, typically your local media, and expand your pitches from there. While on tour, make sure to capitalize on media coverage as well.
Keep your emails short and to the point, and if you don’t hear back from the outlets you reached out to, there’s no harm in trying again. Finally, be sure to thank the writers and outlets that cover your music, as well as save your coverage for future self-promotion.
Kari Zalik is a publicist at Bad Parade, a full-service, music publicity company that specializes in creating custom publicity campaigns for musical artists. She helps them secure maximum exposure across television, print, radio, and digital media outlets. To contact Kari for a publicity campaign quote, visit www.badparade.com or email her at email@example.com.