Thursday, April 22, 2010

Green Light GOals: What Makes a Music PR Firm Tick

We're big on GOals at Green Light Go. GOals, get it? Yeah, I may be stretching the cleverness on that one.

We also like working with smart bands with a clear vision of their future goals, which is why that's often one of the first questions we ask when a potential band approaches us. It's also why the tables get turned and they ask a few questions of their own.

Justin Jahnke of Flame Shark asked me some questions last week which have proven to be some of all my time favorites. So much so, that I'm sharing not only the questions, but the responses with you.

What past and current bands (beyond your client list) do you really enjoy listening to?

Currently I'm listening to Fanfarlo, Frightened Rabbits, Broken Bells, Local Natives, She & Him, Yeasayer, Okkervil River. Some of my all time favorites are Wilco (especially Summer Teeth), Kings of Leon, Tegan & Sara, Ray LaMontagne!, Rachael Yamagata, Old 97's, Metric, Liam Finn, Josh Rouse, Joe Pernice, Iron & Wine, The Frames, Fionn Regan, Elliott Smith, The Dears, David Gray, Catherine Wheel, Brandi Carlile, Bon Iver, Beth Orton, Ben Kweller, Belle Sebastian, The White Stripes, Elbow, Doves, Travis

What are some mistakes bands make after a publicity strategy has been put into play?

Asking me if I've heard from Pitchfork. :-) Just kidding. The biggest mistake is not planning a tour to coincide with the release or having other activity occurring while we are going after reviews. Basically what happens in that case, is the band becomes solely reliant on the reaction of media which can be a fickle beast at best. Also contacting media directly without having an existing relationship or telling me they are doing so. I'm a big believer in acting as a team, so if the band has an existing relationship with the media contact, by all means I'm on board with them contacting directly, because at the end of the day it is about getting results. There are other smaller mistakes that occur-hyped bios etc, but I take the approach of guiding along the way so those don't really make a difference.

What can we do, with our limited resources and time restraints, to maximize your efforts/gains once we agree on the strategy that is best for us?

Be active. Always have something going on with the band, whether it be a tour or some other newsworthy activity. Some examples include videos, covering another band's song (extremely effective for getting press), or other just creative out of the box ideas. Also, bring your ideas to us--whether it's seeing an article that you think would be a good pitch for Flame Shark. For instance, a former band, Canadian Invasion, saw Magnet was covering Philly bands and asked us to pitch. Not only did Magnet bite, they interviewed them and at the end of the year and named the album one of their top of 2009.

How can we follow your work and progress to know our investment is money well spent? 

I write bi-weekly reports that I send to you that shows a log of exactly what is going on. I believe in transparency, so the report shows who we've pitched and how, responses, and coverage. In your case, I'd actually recommend setting up a weekly call where we can go over ideas and make sure you know where everything stands. I also try to stay in contact at least 2-3 times per week via email and send new responses/coverage as they come in.

Can you tell me a bit about your staff, their backgrounds and who would be working with us?

I head the national campaigns, so I would be the one working with you. I run my campaigns a bit differently than other agencies I think, because I also rely on my two other staff members to assist me in what would be their strengths. I do all the pitching and am the main contact for media, Shannon writes all the bios, press releases and most of the blog posts (I write some as well), Kelly assists in coordinating interviews, setting up the media pages, blog posts, fan profiles and basic administrative duties.

My background-I've worked in the industry for 17 years. I have a degree in Music Video and Business from the Art Institute of Seattle and a Bachelors in Journalism from the University of Texas. I started out working at SXSW (5 years) and then worked for BMG Distribution (which became SonyBMG). There I was the Alternative Artist Development Rep for the eastern Mid-west region, so I was responsible for building marketing campaigns for up-and-coming bands that weren't yet on the radar--some of these included David Gray, Ray LaMontagne and Kings of Leon--these are the ones I’m most proud of because nobody knew who they were when we started. I did that for 10 years and then left three years ago to go full time with Green Light Go (I'm the owner). GLG has actually been in business since 2002, but that was when I made the leap without the safety net of BMG.

Shannon has been a journalist since 1999 and has written for major publications like Under the Radar, Venus Magazine and Devil in the Woods. She also worked as a publicist for a small Detroit record company called Gangplank.

Kelly's background is a little different. She is a big music gal and very tied into the Detroit scene. Her background is in the academic world with universities and libraries. Her organization and downright smarts are bar none which is why I brought her on. Plus she loves your sound.

Will you and your team come and rock out at our show if we play Detroit? :) 
Absolutely! I also feel like 1) we won't take on a band if we don’t actually want to see them play 2) it's respect, if you are willing to take a chance on my firm, the least I can do is make time for your show.  The only way it wouldn't happen for any of us is if there's already a scheduling conflict.


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