Not to sound patronising but… do artists — and musicians in general —really understand the difference between music blogging (and curation), publicity and marketing? Simple answer, most don’t. This state of affairs is quite saddening, considering that content distribution is fast surpassing content quality as the most important driver of success in this fast-changing industry. That a well promoted song with average quality travels faster than a better quality song with average promotion, is, thus but an obvious statement. Still, I often encounter an inexcusable lack of knowledge among many artists around the issue of content promotion. So, it is important to understand what music blogging, publicity and marketing each entail.
- Music bloggers, just like other curators (e.g podcasters or playlist-ers on streaming services such as Boomplay, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc) are people who are passionate and/or knowledgeable about music and so, they use their respective platforms to share the songs they like with their friends and audience/readers. A blogger could simply be based on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram or, they could build their own websites, like aipate.com. With advancement of streaming, playlists have become a bigger tool for music discovery and so, even mainstream players are creating them so as to keep up with new listener trends. In a nutshell, bloggers and curators help shape the taste of their audience and build a culture around music consumption.
- Publicists, in the context of music industry, are, however, those who work with artists on a per-client basis. They do this at a fee, of course and this means they have to guarantee the artist some element of success in getting music out there. Their work includes creating, coordinating and dissemination press information about an artist, song, album or tour. Publicists write press releases, manage the musician’s press kit and send these to music bloggers and other media outlets. They also manage their client’s public image, although the extent of such an engagement depends on the set contractual terms. Anyiko PR is one of the top publicity agencies in Kenya and they represent big brands like Sauti Sol and Coke Studio Africa.
- Music marketers, on the other hand, are those individuals or entities that are engaged by the artist to drive sales (or traffic) to the retail or distribution platforms where music is being sold. An example is when a musician pays a marketer an agreed amount to increase album or ticket sales to an upcoming show. So, whereas publicists are tasked with improving awareness about an artist or a particular release, marketers are supposed to directly boost sales.
Now that there is some clarity on what each of these industry practitioners do, it is important for musicians to properly consider their desired goals before engaging any of them.
As a rule of the thumb, anyone who requests money from the musician for ‘promotion’ is not a blogger but either a publicist, a marketer… or simply a crook and the artist needs to properly assess their professional profile.
Normally, real music bloggers have ways of ethically monetizing their websites. At least, that forms part of our ethos here at Aipate — we only post music we like, not those we are enticed to share.