How is Music PR adapting to the digital age?

With the digital age in full swing, there are a multitude of ways in which music industry professionals can utilise digital platforms to their advantage. From promoting to forming vital industry relationships, I compare some of the traditional PR methods with their digital alternatives to ensure artists and industry professionals get the best out of the ever-evolving digital landscape.

– Quick, Free and Easy: Traditional promotion methods Vs. Digital promotion

Prior to the digital age promotion was a slow moving process. To get their music heard bands would have to personally hand out copies of their single, in the hope that word of mouth would spread, and their intended audience would visit their local record store and pick up a full copy of the album. Not only was it time consuming, 9 times out of 10 it was unsuccessful. But in todays digital age artists can promote their music from the comfort of their own homes, reaching mass audiences and extending their digital reach. Nowadays, digital “technology is shaking the industry to its core“, and to say the digital age has revolutionised how artists promote their music would be an understatement.


(Image Via St Lewis Public Radio)

Promotion is now way more than simply getting audiences to listen to your music. The digital age has meant online communities have been built surrounding artists and bands are able to create two-way relationships with their fans. All these digital forms of PR are user-generated-content, and are created solely by the artist or users of the social media sites. Gone are the days where the success of a band is solely in the hands of the media, as digital PR has allowed artists to take control of the two-way communications they have with their audiences.

Deirdre Breakenridge author of PR 2.0 explains:

“In years past, you may have solely relied on media relations and the third party endorsement. However, when it comes to DIY PR today, you can create effortless outreach to the right people who will talk about you, recommend you, and create one of the most valuable forms of endorsement, word of mouth.”


(Image Via BrianSolis)

Originally MySpace was the go-to platform for artists to interact with their audiences, although back then it was only the tech savvy who really knew how to use digital platforms to successfully promote their music. However, labels have often been ahead of the game, with XL Recordings first hearing 3 of Adele’s singles on MySpace back in 2006 and giving her a record deal. Since then, Adele has turned into a music phenomenon, with two top 5 singles and two top 5 albums in the same week under her belt (something only The Beatles have achieved), she’s a prime example of how digital platforms can successfully promote an artist. As the digital landscape has evolved sites such as Twitter and Facebook have stormed onto the scene, allowing artists to successfully promote not only their music but also their brand, at a fraction of the cost of traditional forms of PR.

One of the major problems discussed surrounding music PR in the digital age is the issue of transparency, but I’m yet to believe this is a bad thing. Nowadays, “artists hold all the power and labels don’t have the control they once did“, meaning when you have a client such as Kanye West who continuously posts controversial tweets, you could find yourself with a tricky media back-lash to overcome. However, that sounds about right on paper, but in practice is that really the case? As some critics say, there is “no such thing as bad PR“, and an artist such as Kanye West is the prime example of this. Have any of his controversial tweets ruined his career? No. Certainly not, and as every gossip magazine worldwide continues to print story after story about his every move, he patiently sits back with dollar signs in his eyes thinking of the next negative PR stunt he can pull to keep the media buzz going. After all, if it gets people talking, and the media printing stories, the chances are any PR is good PR. Artists should embrace the ability to promote digitally with arms wide open, it’s quick, free and easy – a winning combination.

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(Image Via @KanyeWest)

–  Not just ‘publics’ but ‘professionals’ too: Traditional conferences Vs. Building online relationships

As a PR executive, relationships are at the forefront of our priorities. With the right people and platforms you can ensure your client/artist receives the right exposure, leading to successful campaigns and important media buzz. But how do we make these all important relationships? With some critics claiming conferences to be “a waste of time, money and effort” , artists and their publicists are looking  for other ways to ensure they create the right relationships, after all as the saying goes, it’s who you know not what you know. As the digital age rapidly gains more credibility, the ability to form valuable industry relationships online is slowly but surely growing in popularity. Not only does meeting online save the awkward face-to-face introductions, it costs next to nothing and requires virtually no effort, something in todays busy lifestyle we naturally gravitate towards. On a professional level, LinkedIn is perfect for leasing with the likes of journalists and editors, allowing you to create your go-to contact list whenever trying to gain media coverage for clients or inviting important journalists on press trips to a bands next gig.

On a personal level, social media is perfect for connecting with other artists in the industry. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook allow artists to communicate and share opinions online, establishing themselves within the industry and creating an online presence that is noticed and respected by fans and industry professionals alike. Now I’m not saying we should all leave face-to-face interaction behind, as there is only so much personality you can show through a computer, but we should definitely use the digital age to our advantage when initially reaching out to those all important industry professionals, after all your contact list can never be too long.

(Please Note: All Italics are links)



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