Artists, managers, and record labels face a daunting task: staying true to their music in the media whirlwind. The challenge? Balancing artistic integrity with the need for constant online presence.
The following comes from v13 Media, a company DMN is proud to be partnering with.
It’s a tightrope.
Every post, every release, every interaction – it’s about making an impact, not just an appearance. The key to visibility isn’t that it’s just relentless – it needs to be meaningful and professional.
In this dynamic, authenticity often takes a back seat where social media is concerned. Artists and their labels and managers are caught in a cycle of content creation, risking their unique voice for fleeting trends or playing it safe, believing this to be ‘what works.’
But there’s a better way.
Strategic publicity and press placements are more than just noise—they’re the secret to lasting buzz. It’s not enough to produce consistent content alone; things really level up when multiple channels unite behind the same message.
Christopher Gonda founded V13 Media (formerly PureGrainAudio) over 18 years ago and continues to lead the company as its Publisher & CEO. Through my involvement in the Toronto DIY hardcore punk scene, playing in various bands and hosting a radio show called The Hard Stuff, I eventually found myself being introduced to Chris back in 2015. I’ve been writing for them ever since.
As a writer working with V13 Media, my experience spans the spectrum from captivating promotions to head-scratching efforts. Chris and I recognized gaps in artist development, having both been immersed in Toronto’s underground music communities. We launched V13 Promotions in January of this year with the goal of filling this need.
The addition of Doug Chong as V13 Promotions’ third partner and Director of Sales & Marketing in March strengthened our 360-degree perspective immensely. His success managing marketing, digital strategies and client relations at Warner Music Group stems from over a decade of extensive industry experience.
In July, we were thrilled to bring Erin Browne on board as our Marketing & Publicity Intern. Erin lends her versatile skills cultivated from roles in the marketing sector, combined with her education in music business, digital marketing and social media strategy. Both Doug and Erin’s specialized backgrounds have proven invaluable as we continue growing the V13 Promotions team and expanding our service offerings to better support our roster of artists.
We’ve evolved into an artist development agency that specializes in marketing, promotions, and consulting, focusing on personalized and innovative solutions that respect each artist’s unique vision and voice. More than ever, independent artists lack focus on the fundamentals. While social media offers quick wins, overreliance leaves them lost when asked for basics like EPKs or quotes. But with strategy and consistency, any indie act can thrive.
In this article, I’ll show you how blending traditional and digital outreach with polished images and strategic releases can revolutionize your career. It’s about leveraging platforms effectively to truly connect audiences to your music.
Let’s redefine success in today’s digital landscape.
What is Publicity?
Publicity is the act of gaining public visibility or awareness through the media. It differs from advertising in that it’s not paid for directly (more on that later) and usually comes in the form of media coverage such as news stories, articles, interviews, or reviews. It’s about getting your music and story featured in various media outlets.
Key Elements of Publicity:
- Media Coverage: This includes features in media outlets across the spectrum, whether it’s print, digital, TV, or radio. (Industry slang alert: every time you score a spot on one of these, it’s known as a ‘placement’). The unspoken goal of publicity is to maximize both the quality and quantity of these as much as possible.
- Press Releases: Official statements issued to media offering news related to your music. These are sent out by a publicist’s distribution list or ‘newswire’. How many they have is entirely down to the needs and requirements of each individual publicist. Any brother and their dog can download the Indie Bible – it’s about how they use it that counts – that’s where this next part comes in.
- Media Relations: Building relationships with journalists, bloggers, and influencers. We scratch each other’s backs in this industry, and we’re always on the lookout to see who we can do a favor, in the hopes of getting one in return.
- Social Media Presence: Using platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to build a fanbase and interact with the audience. It wouldn’t be terribly helpful if it was just the artist doing this – ideally, they collaborate with publicists, media outlets and websites, and other creators to generate visibility and reach.
The Real Game Changer: Campaigns
Launching a single is when the magic happens. One release can spark a wave of placements, but you need to leverage everything in your toolkit to do this. Quality and strategy are your best friends here.
What you’re looking for is the snowball effect.
One mention leads to another. FOMO kicks in among publications. What was once ignored is now hot property. Your name starts buzzing everywhere.
Interviews, podcasts, radio spots – they all start lining up. This is how you get bigger shows, grow your fanbase, land those dream gigs. A&Rs, labels, sync opportunities – they all start noticing you. It’s about streaming, selling, and shining in the industry spotlight.
This is where things get real. It’s an exhilarating ride, full of potential.
And as long as you stay honest, hardworking, and true to your roots, you can navigate this period that’s ripe for opportunity.
The foundation you lay now paves the way to your success.
With that said, let’s lay the groundwork.
Time to Go Pro
Once recording is done and the tracks are getting mixed and mastered, this should be the next steps:
1) Craft a Compelling Narrative: Develop your unique story and background. This narrative should captivate your audience and inform the content of all your publicity materials. This is more than just a bio, though it should encompass that. It should consider your purpose. It should creatively evoke why you said “hell yeah” to this project. It should be original, authentic, and daring. And above all, explains why you got into this in the first place.
2) Invest in Visual Content: Begin with high-quality cover art and photos. These form the foundation of your visual identity and are essential for attracting attention in the visually-driven music industry. Most modern iPhones and Samsung smartphones are capable of taking high-resolution photos that meet or exceed Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels).
3) Create a Comprehensive Press Kit:
- Professional Biography: A detailed bio outlining your musical journey and artistry. Have different lengths for different purposes (eg, press releases, website, etc).
- High-Resolution Photos: Professional images, including headshots, band photos, and live performance shots. Make sure to have landscape and profile options.
- Music Samples: Links or files of your music, showcasing your range and quality. These can be on SoundCloud, YouTube, or Bandcamp, but whichever platform you choose, make sure it’s set to private while you’re getting ready to share your release.
- Press Releases: Announcements for new releases, events, or milestones.
- Press Clippings: Previous media coverage or articles featuring you.
- Contact Information: Your and your representative’s contact details.
- Social Media Links: Your profiles on various platforms.
- Promotional Blurbs: Short, engaging descriptions of your music. This is where previous press becomes so helpful.
- Logo and Branding Elements: For consistent visual branding.
- Quotes: Most outlets like having quotes from the artist because it makes it seem as though they managed to speak with the artist directly. Help them out by frontloading some options for them. Treat these like you would a ‘Track-by-Track’ feature, where you give insight on one aspect of the record or release.
(*For an example of the kinds we create for our artists, check out this Media Kit for East LA grunge revivalists Lone Kodiak)
4) Build, Maintain, and Utilize a Strong Online Presence, Especially Streaming Platforms: Establish and regularly update your profiles on digital and streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Ensure your presence is cohesive across all platforms and engage actively with your audience. Optimize your profiles by using high-quality images, updating your bio, and curating playlists to increase visibility and listener engagement on these platforms. Regular activity and updates can help improve your placement on algorithm-driven recommendations and playlists, expanding your reach to new audiences.
5) Engage with Media, Build Relationships, and Develop a Solid Network: Reach out to journalists and bloggers with your EPK and press releases, while building a contact list of industry professionals. Personalize your communication to establish meaningful connections.
Paying attention to all of these fundamentals lays the groundwork for any successful music release. Reaching out with a well-crafted EPK and compelling story & visuals to a network you’ve fostered and forged relationships with? It’s the surefire method that any publicist will tell you is how you start the ball rolling on a campaign that can amplify your music’s reach.
But what comes next is equally vital.
The effectiveness of these steps only shines because of what you do in the strategic pre-release phase.
Build The Hype
Promoting after release? A major artist mistake. Pre-release planning is crucial to avoid a campaign ‘dead on arrival.’
Listener resistance to new music is real. Overcoming it demands not just effort, but a strategic approach with quality appearances.
Enter the V13 Promo Release Strategy. It’s not just about visibility; it’s about consistent, impactful engagement. With our team’s fifty years of industry experience, high-quality, genre-spanning content, and label insights from a decade at Warner, we’re uniquely equipped.
Prepare for a comprehensive checklist of steps artists should take before releasing new music:
- Identify what your ideal fan is to define target demographic and promotional style
- Schedule a professional photoshoot
- Create high quality artwork, videos, and visual assets
- Update bios, EPKs, and other marketing materials
- Draft and refine press releases
- Launch pre-save campaigns on streaming platforms
- Develop playlist pitching strategy and begin outreach
- Reach out to blogs, media sites and radio for coverage opportunities
- Intensify relationship building with tastemakers and curators
- Finalize and distribute all press materials
- Ramp up social media and email promotional campaigns
- Share behind-the-scenes content to build fan excitement
- Hold live events like Q&As or streams to engage fans
- Ensure all assets reflect and appeal to target demographic
- Launch release across all streaming and digital platforms
- Monitor and engage with fans on release day response
- Share any press coverage or positive feedback post-release
- Continue live performances and promotional efforts
Navigating the music industry requires a blend of authenticity and strategic planning. As artists, the challenge lies in balancing your unique voice with effective release strategies and publicity. But by leveraging traditional publicity, engaging media, and creating compelling narratives, you can connect deeply with your audience. Remember that your story, if told with authenticity and intent, can and will impact other people’s lives – your story can impact others’ stories. A narrative rippling out into the universe.
This is why every step, from crafting your narrative to planning your release, is crucial in defining your success. If you’re looking to make your next release stand out, consider partnering with V13 Promotions. Our expertise can help elevate your music, ensuring it resonates with your audience and leaves a lasting impact.
Interested in working with us? Get in touch at [email protected] for your next release.