Ask Us Anything: Should my band pay $10k for a publicity campaign?

Thursday, 25 Jan 2018

The music industry can be a hectic, exciting, and oftentimes confusing place, and our Writer Services Reps are there on the other end of the phone, live chat, and email to try to make it all a little bit more manageable. 

In a new semi-regular feature that we're calling Ask Us Anything we'll take a specific member query and source an industry expert to help answer it.

First up? A query about publicity campaigns for Queensland Writer Services Rep Kellie Lloyd. Kellie has a wealth of industry knowledge thanks to her experience as a solo artist, bassist for Screamfeeder, and as an instructor at QUT and JMC Academy.

Hi Kellie,

I am the lead singer-songwriter in the Sydney-based group Bares. We recently self-released an EP and were contacted via Facebook Messenger by a company that specialises in music promotion/publicity/marketing. They said they could create a single campaign for us and I was quoted $10,000, which included servicing our track to triple j and handling PR. Is this a typical rate for a promotional campaign? We want to get our music out there, but $10k is beyond our budget. Can you help with any advice?

Thank you!
Ella from Bares

I'm here to help, Ella, and glad you came to us with this. I've asked for insight from Natalie Files, who has managed campaigns for SIA, Gang of Youths and heaps more as the director of independent Sydney publicity company The PR Files. She generously shared her expertise in a Q & A for us. 

KELLIE: What should a self-managed musician or their manager consider when engaging a publicist for a promotional campaign early in their career?


  1. The first question you need to ask is, can you do it yourself? Bands can speak direct to their fans these days with social media formats and also with radio platforms like triple j unearthed and AMRAP. A lot of emerging artists aren't aware of the difference between promotions and advertising. A PR company cannot guarantee press and exposure, you are paying for the service of a PR team and their experience and knowledge of the industry. Advertising is guaranteed, as you paid the media outlet direct for placement of content, and is part of your overall marketing. Be realistic about your goal and what your band wants from working with the PR company.
  2. What tools can you provide the publicist to work with? The more newsworthy content/assets you can give the publicist to work with, the better the chance they will have to get results. 
  3. Transparency is really important with your publicist. You need to have an honest dialogue with your publicist so they can relay media feedback.

KELLIE: Can you advise on a typical fee for a single campaign? What services can the client expect?

NATALIE: $10,000 is an extraordinary amount to be quoted for a single campaign. A good PR company should be able to structure a campaign based on the client's genre and goals. You should be able to get a single campaign under $2,000, running for about 4-6 weeks, however prices vary depending on the PR company and who they are targeting.

KELLIE: As a publicist who works across campaigns with artists at different stages in their career, what are indicators that a musician is ready to invest in a campaign with a PR professional?

NATALIE: A good time to start speaking to a publicist is when your band has done all you can do to create a buzz on your own, but no longer has the time or the contacts to run it. Full-time PR companies are speaking with media everyday, so they will have the time that you might not if you are holding down a full-time job, writing music or touring. We worked with many artists like Lime Cordiale, Blondebears, Huntly, Estere, The VANNSGabriela Cohen, Future Jr. and Lupa J on the developing stages of their releases. 

It's important that you allow plenty of time pre-release before you contact a publicist as they will need time to plan your release. Every artist is different so allowing enough time for the publicist to get to know your band, your story, and music is crucial.

KELLIE: What will be the most in-demand publicity/promo/marketing services in 2018?

NATALIE: A lot of bands are looking for pitching to DSP services, like iTunes and Spotify, to be included into their campaigns. As these services are growing in listeners' demand, artists see the urgency for their music to be included and spotlighted on these platforms.

Also, we are seeing that very targeted and short turnaround campaigns are also a priority for artists, as they are aware that the industry moves quickly and there is a short window for their tracks to be heard and recognised.

Natalie Files is director of independent Sydney-based promotions and publicity company The PR Files, and has worked on campaigns for the 2017 ARIA Awards, Adele, SIA, Gang Of Youths, Leon Bridges, Passenger, Lupa J, Lime Cordiale, and many more. Prior to setting up The PR Files, Natalie worked at Inertia and Shock Records.

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