Guest Blogger: Joshua Fisher of Future Gods
As TikTok and other social media platforms have reshaped how artists get discovered, the role of music PR has likewise shifted. For instance, 75% of TikTok users say they discover new artists on the platform, while Spotify users have spent over 2.3 Billion hours streaming ‘Discover Weekly’ playlists since 2015. I worked as an A&R and artist manager in the heyday of the ‘blogosphere.’ This was a time when outlets such as Pitchfork, Stereogum, and Gorilla VS Bear could change the trajectory of an artist's career overnight. Nowadays, the power of influence has shifted – streaming platforms and social media have become the dominant space for artists to expand their audience. Over the past five years, I have consulted for various artists, covering anything from digital strategy and marketing to press and playlisting. Many of these artists have prior experience hiring a publicist, and most have shared that they walked away feeling a bit burned. Hiring a publicist can be costly and is a huge investment for emerging artists.
This shifting ecosystem in music raises a couple of questions.
First, should artists continue to place importance on traditional publicity?
When working with any artist, I always tell them that music is half the battle. The other half is breaking through the noise with your narrative and your visual identity to build a connection with your fanbase. There is no denying the power that Spotify and TikTok have when it comes to music discovery. Yet when it comes to these platforms, there seems to be a huge lack of context around who an artist is. This is why blogs and editorial outlets are still relevant–they help artists tell their story and ultimately form a connection with would-be fans. Moreover, these outlets offer a certain amount of validation for all the time and energy you put into your craft. This is also why Tellie was built–to give you the tools to tell your story, express your visual identity, build a connection with your fans, and give them a place to come back to over and over again.
Is it worth investing money toward seeking out editorial coverage?
This question doesn’t have such a straightforward answer. Yes, I do think it is important to invest in editorial support around releases. Is hiring a publicist the right move in getting that support? I truly believe this is a case-by-case basis. I also strongly believe that publicists need to reduce what they charge for their services. It isn’t 2012 anymore, and although blogs will help tell your narrative as an artist, none of them pack the punch they once did.
Luckily, technology has blessed us with alternatives to traditional PR campaigns. There are now platforms that have made it easy for artists to reach out directly, not just to blogs but to third-party playlists, influencers, and in some cases, record labels. Most importantly, this is being offered at a very reasonable price point. Tellie has partnered with two such platforms, Groover & PYTCH, which empower artists to take the reins on getting editorial around releases at accessible entry points.
Groover's main goal is to help artists get their music heard. Through an innovative web platform, Groover allows artists to connect with a vast selection of blogs, radio stations, playlist curators, labels, and industry pros, who in return are seeking out emerging artists. With Groover, you’re guaranteed to receive feedback or your credits are returned. One of the many things we like about this platform is the extremely high rate of reply (about 90%). Of those responses, about 20% of curators share the artist’s music. In the PR landscape, if one out of every five outlets is covering your music, that is pretty darn good. Groover is an International company with teams in multiple countries. Because of this, they offer an extremely wide-reaching community of curators and professionals around the world. If you want to give Groover a try, all Tellie users can now receive 10% off their first campaign by punching in code GROOVERTELLIEVIP during your “Campaign Recap.”
PYTCH is a brand new platform we are also very excited about. It differs from other platforms out there, as they aim to help artists pitch their projects to the media with the help of a team of experts. PYTCH is focused on delivering your music and story to top journalists and publications that matter to you most. As a curated and invite-only platform, Pytch redefines how artists are heard. With four pricing tiers, they have taken on the work of running traditional PR campaigns while educating artists in the process. One of the things we really like about PYTCH is its unique access to top-tier journalists. PYTCH was founded by a veteran publicist with the goal of making PR campaigns accessible in both pricing and the process, and we think they have succeeded. Another unique offering from PYTCH is access to opportunities within the sync and branding worlds (they currently are running a contest to get your song placed in a Patagonia promotional video). If you want to give PYTCH a try, all Tellie users will receive 15% off their first month using promo code TELLIE at checkout.
Tellie and these platforms aligned to help you make a living from your creativity – and optimize for the ever-changing music landscape. We had the founders of each company answers a few Questions below:
In the current musical landscape it seems like most discovery is happening on both streaming & social platforms, mainly Spotify and Tik Tok.
Why do you think press is still relevant for artists these days?
Xavier Abraham, President & CMO, Pytch:
While artists have a lot more tools at their disposal and numerous social channels to market their music, press brings validation and credibility. PR can push your message — it's a marketing tool that can tell your story.
Dorian Perron, Co-Founder, Groover:
The influence power of the press is decreasing, it's not a mystery to anyone. However, I still see three different reasons why press and radio are still relevant for emerging artists to get their music heard to more and more different people:
- There's a huge difference between music discovery and consumption. Most music consumption indeed happens on streaming platforms, but a lot of studies show that discovery is much more spread out. You can discover a track by listening to it on the radio in your car, in a store (Shazam!), by watching a TV series, or through an online blog article showing up in your Facebook feed. The channels of communication used by music curators are very varied and so are the ways a track can come to the ears of listeners. Blog articles and radio shows still have engaged audiences which, even if niche, can then become ambassadors of cool tracks they've discovered through them.
- Many blogs and magazines have built influential channels on Youtube, social media and Spotify. Getting support from the press is sometimes also the guarantee to have your song included in a super influential playlist that these outlets have built out.
- Blog articles also bring legitimacy to an artist, while establishing a growth path: getting your music featured in small niche blogs can also help you rise the popularity ladder and get featured by more and more channels, playlists, blogs, radio stations etc. This starts a snowball effect, that hopefully continues to grow over time.
Why is a platform such as yours more beneficial for emerging artists than going the traditional route and hiring a publicist?
What do you offer as a platform that a publicist might not be able to offer?
The traditional route is an old model, it's expensive and a financial risk for emerging artists. The numbers are against you. Even with a great relationship and a solid pitch, PR is simply one of those services that's hard to predict. There's no guarantees, so artists are taking a gamble on short-term campaigns due to their budget. I always say that PR is a long game — you have to be persistent and keep working on your story, and pitch. With Pytch, I believe that we're solving these issues. Artists aren't breaking the bank to do press, which dissolves the financial risk. And with our subscription model, artists can always have a press team in their back pocket.
First of all, both using Groover and hiring a publicist are not contradictory at all. We've had numerous artists who had publicists and were still using Groover, We also have many publicists also using Groover on behalf of their artists. The value of Groover lies in multiple factors:
- The guarantee to have your music listened to and to receive feedback [which publicists are not always able to do], otherwise you get credits back to get in touch with other curators. The current answer rate on Groover is at 90%.
- Publicists often don't focus on Spotify playlisters or new kinds of curators and influential channels. Also, their mission is usually limited to a specific territory and a specific timing (usually 2-3 months). Groover helps you get in touch with the music curators and professionals of your choice all around the world.
- Groover can help you get in touch with record labels, publishers, managers, sound engineers. It's not limited to just promotion around your release.
- The difference also lies in the price and the budget of course. To get great results we often advocate to get in touch with at least 50 curators (roughly €90-100 investment) but you can start with as low as €10 [more information here]. On the contrary, hiring a publicist is rarely under $1,000 and it can grow to 10 times this amount.
There are a number similar services out there, what sets your platform apart?
I would break this answer down as follows:
- We are an invite only platform, curating the artists that use our software is important. Quality over quantity, always.
- While we're a software company, there's a human element to Pytch. A team of experts to help artists tell their story and effectively tailor the outreach to journalists.
- Operating as a cost-effective subscription model, our goal is to help artists pitch to the publications and music blogs that can move the needle with a well-crafted story. Beyond that, we also offer sync/branding opportunities that a lot of other platforms can’t bring to the table.
There are indeed many services which try to address the issue of helping artists get their music heard, but not many which do it with as much effort and/or with the same model as Groover. Our main differences lie in:
- Our business model: artists send their track to music curators for €2 by contact selected (so approx. €60 for 30 curators for instance), the curators are paid €1 by piece of feedback given whatever their decision is, so they keep their editorial independence. We control the quality of feedback on a daily basis. If the curators haven't listened to their track after 7 days, artists get Grooviz (our tokens) back to get in touch with new curators. So there's really a guarantee that the curators contacted will listen to your music.
- We have a country by country approach, building real communities of curators and artists and bringing them together in cities and countries in which we're present, such as Paris, NYC, Milan, Quebec, Rio and more. We also organize shows - more than 20 already - and free call for applicants on Groover to offer more opportunities to emerging artists to showcase their projects and talents.
- We focus on bringing high quality curators, real people in the music industry who are engaged locally in their scenes and want to connect with emerging artists.
What is one thing your team is working on now that might benefit artists on your platform in the near the future?
I’m going to have to say two things have me very excited. We are focusing on a data-driven dashboard for our artists, which is going to shift on how the work can be viewed with KPI's and metrics. There's also a creative department in the works, helping artists with their branding and design for a low monthly subscription. Our goal here is to challenge how the work can be done.
Developing Groover Obsessions, our artist accelerator program. We select the best performing artists on Groover, ‘our crushes’, and bring them more tailored services to their projects in order for them to grow their visibility. This includes special opportunities and connections to help take their career in the right direction. We already support 30 artists from France, Canada, the UK, the US, Switzerland and intend to support many more before the end of 2022.