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A Guide to Hiring a Music Publicist

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If you’re releasing music and want it to make as great an impact as possible, you will want to hire a publicist. They will get your music into the hands of people and organizations that are not immediately available to you. But this is a stressful endeavor. Chances are you’ve heard stories from other artists about a publicist they hired who didn’t come through, or straight up swindled them. This could be a demoralizing, and possibly career-ending event for you. Even if they do a good job with the best intentions, you and the publicist may not see eye to eye on what your PR campaign needs, which will result in friction and possibly failure all the same. Here are some things you should consider before hiring a publicist.


Ask around before signing a deal with a music PR firm. Chances are somebody in your circle will have an opinion one way or the other, or an experience with them. Talk to your producer, as they will have had experiences with lots of different artists and projects and will have probably had some direct contact with the firm you are looking at. These first-hand accounts will help elucidate certain details that may otherwise be hidden in the fine print.

Is it a Good Fit?

Even if a music pr firm is ethically and competently run, if their roster and their strengths lie mostly in a different genre, they might not be able to do you much good. For example, if you’re a jazz-influenced singer, you might be hard-pressed to find success with a firm that mostly caters to scrappy indie-rock bands. Their contacts might not overlap with the avenues you need to travel to succeed.

Don’t Be Fooled By “Guarantees”

Music Publicity is a speculative endeavor, meaning it has no promise of success. The best a publicist can do is promise that they will reach out to certain people and publications to the best of their ability. The rest is in the hands of those people. So if a publicist starts promising that you’ll be on the cover of this and have a five page interview in that, take this as a red flag. The best publicists will know that their work is speculative and will level with you truthfully.

How Deep is Their Current Roster?

Ask how many people are currently on their roster and how many people will work for you. This lets you know how much time they can give directly to your project.

If they have TOO many people on their roster and not enough people working it clearly let’s you know they are doing it for the love of the money and not for the love of the job which isn’t the best choice.

Publicists get paid whether you make it or not, so it can be economically beneficial for them to have a stacked roster while not consistently delivering a whole lot of results. Even if the firm has good intentions, you run the risk of getting neglected due to being overstretched.

Do They Get Results?

Make sure that the firm you are considering hiring can actually potentially deliver results. Keeping in mind that their work is speculative, check their track record. Have they landed their clients in the publications that you want to appear in? Are they forthcoming with their contacts and professional relationships? Do your homework.

Size Matters

Another important thing to consider is the level at which other artists they represent are at. If they’re mostly representing artists booking huge shows and covers of Rolling Stone, they might not be able to do much for a fledgling band stumbling out of a basement. Plus, they’ll cost way more than you can afford. Or, if you’re an established band looking for a new publicist, make sure the firm you go with is at your level. A firm isn’t going to do much good for a buzz-band if their main relationships lie with smaller blogs and regional publications.


Often firms will post positive testimonials from their clients on their website. These will most likely be very cookie-cutter “so-and-so was great to work with and got us a ton of coverage” that will be very manicured by the firm itself. Not that it isn’t necessarily true, it’s just a very small window into a complicated scene. Seek third-party, unbiased feedback. This will reveal a much more accurate picture of how a firm operates. You can even go as far as to reach out to other artists that the firm has represented. Artists mostly look after each other, and will warn you of any people or organizations to avoid.


Most firms will be very aware, comfortable and willing to correspond with you through regular reports. They will let you know who they have talked to, the contents of the exchange and their thoughts concerning any developments. These will usually be organized into weekly reports. Make sure, before going into business with a firm, that they are willing to do this, and that they understand the importance of client communication. After all, if you’re going to be paying them your hard-earned cash, you should make sure they’re actually working for you.

Trust Your Gut

First impressions are crucial. When you meet, call, or Zoom with a potential publicist, be conscious as to how they seem as people, and the way they treat you. You want to be going into business with someone that you respect, trust and are comfortable with. This is hugely important with a music PR firm, as they will be representing you and your brand. If they go and treat their professional contacts like garbage, that’s all going to reflect back on you and could seriously hurt your chances at a career. Moreover, you want to be in business with someone that you are going to want to be in contact with. If you feel intimidated, or are treated like an inconvenience it’s going to make you apathetic about the whole process.

Also ask yourself, “do they get me?” With music, you can fall back on a shared knowledge of artists, genres, albums. Do they get where you’re coming from? What you’re channeling? Who you want to be? Publicists are in the music business, so they should get excited about music the same way you do. If they don’t, they might just get excited by the business.


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  • 8 months later...

Thanks, interesting read.

I especially liked the part where you wrote that sometimes a bad publicist may sabotage your progress or even worse. I guess it's important to find one that fits good to your needs, maybe a label can do that for you the best as they have experience with this kind of people. I like the advice of asking your producer as well.

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