Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Hidden Mysteries of Music Publicity - Solved By A Bundle of Sticks

By: A Bundle of Sticks

A Bundle of Sticks is a busy Bundle of Sticks that wears many hats. There's the most widely known Professional Bundle of Sticks hat, which is like a leather baseball hat - fancy, cool, rugged, but in a "no big deal" kind of way -, then there's the music writer hat, which is like whatever your wildest imaginary imagination can craft it to be, because that's what it is, and lastly there's the music publicist hat, which is like a beat up derby hat that is a size too small and gives the wearer a headache every time they wear it, while also leaving them with the feeling that their average work day basically amounts to taking the derby hat off their head, and putting it back on, and then taking it off, and then putting it back on, forever.

Out of all of its myriad professions, A Bundle of Sticks knows that "music publicist" is the most wildly misunderstood. Between "person who makes plaster molds of labias" and "person who helps bands get their album heard," it seems like an artisanal labia artist would probably make more sense to more people - historically and statistically speaking. Sometimes A Bundle of Sticks logs into its social media platforms and reads things like "yo, homie dude, publicists are wack and just want to steal your virginity souls. DIY is the only way to go, and here's a Kickstarter for my DIY DIY organization because I don't need NO HELP from NO ONE."

A Bundle of Sticks is sick of reading things like this. A Bundle of Sticks believes sentiments like this to be the opposite of correct. A Bundle of Sticks will now walk the Internet through what it means to be a music publicist, and how to properly use the one you have, or plan to get.

1) What is a music publicist?

Simply put, a music publicist is a person who has a lot of contacts in the music/editorial industries, phrases things in an okay way, and gets paid to tell music writers about an album, video, single, or live music show that is coming up in the near or not too distant future.  They do not make artisanal molds of labias, but they would not be surprised if they were asked to do so for some reason.

2) What does a music publicist do during an average work day?

Speaking from my own personal experience as A Bundle of Sticks, an average work day starts off with a hot cup of coffee, and then sitting down in front of a computer that will not be moved away from - other than for food and bathroom breaks - for nine hours. Great care is taken in writing thoughtful, clever, well-placed emails and press releases, sometimes amounting to hundreds a day, with the full, 100% understanding that 99% of them are deleted upon receipt. A Bundle of Sticks has tested this by planting a sentence halfway into a press release or email that says something about its poop, or what sandwich it wants to make that day, and the statements are very rarely addressed in replies, because no one read them, because a rock was only made to roll down a hill of other rocks, breaking larger rocks into smaller rocks, which will trickle and tumble down a hill made of fragments of the rocks that they once were. A Bundle of Sticks knows this.

3) Is it worth it to get a publicist? Can't I (a band) just email music writers myself?

In life, literally almost anything is possible, so the answer to this double question would be ... maybe?
For some bands, the only effort put towards advancing their band endeavors is having one, and yet music writers seek out their music and jump at the chance to write about it while they (the band) work their shifts at the hot dog store. For these bands, yes, they did quite well for themselves without the help of a publicist, because sometimes that just happens, just like sometimes cysts are removed and found to be a clump of hair and teeth with a goo inside. For the most part though, this is not the case. For the most part a band emailing a music writer about their music is like a man going on a first date with someone and telling his date that out of everyone in the world, he personally has the largest penis around. You can't say that about your own penis. It only counts when someone ELSE says it. A band writing a music writer something like "hey I'm this band and we just put out a really great album, you'll love it" is like pressing full blown AIDS into your keyboard at someone. It's cootie town USA.

When I (A Bundle of Sticks) used to work at a magazine and would get emails from bands about their albums I would read them and think "this is precious." You don't want to be precious. And I (A Bundle of Sticks) am a rarity in that I read almost every email I get. Every time I get an email I think "oh, look! It's an email!" and then I read it. Most people just delete emails. Why would you want to live a life knowing that you're sending emails that people are just deleting when you can hire someone to be that person. Right?

Sometimes a band will think something like "I have a publicist and they suck. I wanted my album to be reviewed by the moon and there's no evidence to be found that the moon has even HEARD my album. I could do a better job myself." And to this I (A Bundle of Sticks) would like to say that if you could do it yourself, you'd have been doing it. Before having a publicist you maybe had 15 Twitter followers and one album review under your belt and now you have way more of both. You may not have the write-up on www.themoon.com that you had hoped for, but you have something now. And something being better than nothing is something that everyone can agree on.

3) Okay, so I hired a publicist. What do I do with them?

Hopefully you hired this publicist a good 2-4 months before your album is coming out. A Bundle of Sticks understands that a lot of bands think that a publicist can email a music writer about a thing and have that music writer post an article about said thing that same day, and sometimes this is true! There is ALWAYS a sometimes, but right behind a sometimes is a usually, and usually it takes a music writer a good two weeks to even read the email you sent them, and then another week of emailing them something like "PLEASE WRITE ME BACK" before they say if they want to write about the thing or not. Sometimes they don't ever respond at all and after a few weeks you have to just assume that they died or are in prison. Matters are even more complicated and time sensitve-esque with print magazines. Some magazines print monthly, some print every other month, and some only print once a year. So if you're looking to get an album that comes out in June written about in a print mag you basically need to start pitching it five years ago.

At the tip top of the "this is hard" scale is hiring a publicist for an album that has already come out. The majority of music writers will aggressively not want anything to do with anything that has already been made available to the general (ICK) public. Going this route will severely decrease the easy breeziness of getting your album written about, or your song or video premiered, but it circles back to that whole "something is better than nothing" thing. Even worse than starting publicity for an album after it's out is spending upwards of a year recording an album and just sharing it with your friends on Facebook, or giving away copies at the Yarn Barn. If you have the means to do everything you can, you should.

Another good thing to keep in mind is to tell your publicist about the shows that you're playing. Sometimes A Bundle of Sticks will log into its social networking devices and see that a band it's working with posted an event listing for a show that it would have had no idea about had it not just seen it on Facebook and Twitter. Usually when this happens the show will be that night. If you pay for a publicist, keep reminding yourself that you are paying that publicist to tell people about your music and your shows. Posting about it on Facebook and Twitter is a fantastic thing to do, but your publicist can help try to get it written about on blogs and in local papers, and possibly set up interviews for you at the show, so tell them. Tell them everything! Did you take pictures at the show or make a weirdo video backstage of someone peeing in a mop bucket? Give those things to them as well. The more reasons a publicist has to go to the press with new stuff about you, the better.

4) I should definitely be as rude and weird to my publicist as possible, right?

A Bundle of Sticks has had numerous men in bands call it "chick" (odd, right?) and has also had a person in a band try to pull its girlfriend into a public bathroom for the purpose of sexual relations of some sort. A Bundle of Sticks understands that a lot of people are weird in various ways, and do various weird things, but what it doesn't understand is why a band would pay money to a person for their help, and then take a wet shit on that person. In life, hands down, all around, being nice to someone you want something from is the wisest choice. It'll just work out better for you that way.

5) Publicists just want all my money, right?

A lot of bands have the impression that publicists just hooker themselves out to any old band, and then throw some noodles at the wall in between cashing checks for a few months, and yeah, some publicists do. Some people are turd birds, and some are awesome winners who do everything that they ever attempt in life the most correct way possible. A Bundle of Sticks is one of these Bundles of Sticks. Obviously.

Publicists don't want all of your band money, bands - they just want SOME money. Just a little bit of money to live, pay rent, and buy Ibuprofen. Your publicist hopefully likes and cares for you a whole bunch, and would work your album campaign for free if they could, but then they wouldn't ever have any money and would have to text you "hey, can I borrow $20 to buy some groceries?" sometimes. And that's just awkward. Publicists would also like to continue making just a littttttttle bit more than the music writers they pitch so that every time one of them ignores their clever pitches, or turns them down, they can look over at their numerous home items and various things purchased with money and know. They'll just know. A small victory was won.

DISCLAIMER: What you've just read was meant to be informative and funny, at the same time. This post was not meant to defame A Bundle of Sticks, or monetize on the public image of A Bundle of Sticks in any way. Total Bozo is now, and has always been, a respectful supporter of A Bundle of Sticks.