PR and Social Media Marketing for Musicians: A local and organic approach with international reach
The good thing about being a communications generalist is that you rarely get stuck in a rut. Every now and then I take on projects outside my usual niche just because I feel like it…because I like the client or the cause or the content.
For the last couple of years I’ve done PR for Jon Durant, a local studio musician who’s made it pretty big as a composer and guitarist. We both played in our high school jazz/rock band way back when and now have kids doing the same at our hometown high school.
In 2011 I wrote a press release and bio for Jon for the release of his 7th album, Dance of the Shadow Planets. Last November I was hired again to help with his latest album: Burnt Belief, a progressive instrumental collaboration with legendary bassist Colin Edwin, best known for his role with the English band Porcupine Tree.
Going local: The benefits of local talent
With a record release date of 12-21-12, timed to coincide with the “end of days,” we had to do things in a hurry. So we divvied up the tasks and quickly formed a team. I contacted a local writer, Dave Bolton, who I’d met in our local pub and then later ran into at a farm stand buying pumpkins. He was wearing a PiL T-shirt (amongst a sea of suburban dads wearing crisp polos) and I had a hunch he’d be a good fit. Turns out he’d done work for a a couple metal bands back in England, amongst other things, and liked Porcupine Tree.
We met with Jon and talked music and brainstormed over coffee. Although the three of us have somewhat divergent tastes, we all share a disdain for Phil Collins — which seemed as good a reason as any to work together. Plus, Jon liked the idea of being able to meet face-t0-face with a local team in between trips to the West Coast and the UK.
The right press release for the right press
So we had Dave take on the writing of the main press release, which involved phone/Skype interviews with Colin (during which he was able to prove his cred, saying that he had stood in the pouring rain for hours at the Download festival in Leicestershire in 2010, listening to “wrist-slashingly cheerful music” while patiently waiting for him to take the stage with Porcupine Tree).
[Read Dave Bolton’s interview on Colin Edwin’s blog here.]
Meanwhile I wrote a second press release, specifically for audio and recording industry blogs and publications, focusing on the unique transatlantic recording process and other “gearhead” details.
Organic social media marketing
Simultaneously, I set up the social media marketing end of things. I created a Facebook page for Burnt Belief and a Facebook fan page for Jon Durant, set up Twitter accounts for both, and then synched the social networks for each. For the next two weeks I posted content and strategically followed artists, bands, labels, producers, publications, journalists and bloggers. I monitored all channels and watched the steady gains and impressive spikes in followers, plus degrees of reach and engagement. Then I trained Jon on how to manage the pages and feeds and keep up the momentum on his own.
Small-town to big-time publicity
With Porcupine Tree’s well-connected publicist in NYC handling press and media placement, the 12-21-12 release made a big splash. Prog Rock Magazine published an exclusive online premiere (see below), and other major publications followed that week. Meanwhile, Jon’s West Coast contact worked the college radio and ambient/post-rock radio circuits, so the album got serious air play. On Echoes Radio, it just reached #5 on the charts for January.
On the local front, our small-town newspaper ran a cover story, which created a lot of buzz:
The only problem now is that supply can’t keep up with demand. Burning Shed, the UK distributor, has been sold out of the CD for weeks, as has Amazon.com. Good thing the musicians stockpiled some CDs along with those cases of Spam in their doomsday bunkers. For now the best way to get your hands on one is to go direct: through the online store at jondurant.com.
With plans underway for a European tour this summer, the duo should see more steady growth in their social media stats and online presence — all of which should drive up CD sales (if they can keep them in stock).
Burnt Belief: In the news
“It is of little surprise to anyone that when you put two musical virtuosos in a studio they cannot escape from that they will, inevitably, conjure up a masterpiece….But if you put Colin Edwin and Jon Durant in the room – you can expect something incredible.”