1) BETH, OVER THE YEARS YOU HAVE BEEN A PUBLICIST FOR ARTISTS AS DIVERSE AS BEAR MCCREARY AND CLIFF MARTINEZ. WHAT TRENDS CAN YOU SEE IN TERMS OF GETTING ONE’S NAME IN THE PUBLIC EYE?
At the end of the day, content is always king. The key is to create compelling content – and then use whatever social media channels you are comfortable using to magnify it (and learn how to tag people when you do).
In terms of trends – we’re coming off a wave where everyone has been creating cool video EPKs and/or samples of music to offer for coverage at online publications. The market is flooded with that type of content and many of those outlets are turning away from doing it. Memes and gifs are currently en vogue – but they are short-lived.
We had an intern over the summer who had just finished her freshman year in college. At one of our weekly lunches I asked her about how she gets content (mostly discovers things through Buzzfeed and Youtube videos and binge-watches series on a family Netflix account). Then she freaked out the two late 20s-early 30-somethings in my office – who just a few weeks earlier ragged on me for using the phone to *gasp* call people and made fun of me being so active on Facebook (they text and use Twitter/Instagram). Our intern said ‘Twitter is so 2013’ and she and her friends are mostly on Snapchat and to a lesser extent Instagram. If you want to forecast what everyone will be doing in 2-3 years … ask a college student.
2) AS A PUBLICIST, DO ARTISTS COME TO YOU OR DO YOU SEEK OUT TALENT? WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
It’s a little of both. I will prospect upcoming releases (film/TV/games) to see what looks interesting. I check what projects are screening at festivals. I ask agents who they are working with that excite them. I ask friends from outside of the industry to see what they are watching and try to check out new shows to find emerging composers.
I also get ‘cold-called’ frequently via social media or email. I try to always respond personally (ask around – I really do!) even if it is only to make a suggestion, tell them that a publicist is not what they need at that time, or to wish them good luck.
I check out website/wiki page/IMDB pages to see how composers are currently representing themselves and to judge if it looks like they are in a good place to hire a publicist. Then I set up a phone call and/or coffee to discuss what they are looking for. If the campaign resonates with me then I send over a proposal outlining a plan, timeline and costs.
I have to champion my clients to the press, to the industry, and to their peers. I have to believe that they say something fresh or interesting musically – even though they are writing under constraints that third parties put on them. I sometimes have to travel with my composers. What I am looking for is an intangible that makes me want to be on their side – I often say that I ‘platonically fall in love’ with each of my clients.
3) YOU ARE GOING THROUGH SOME CHALLENGING TIMES AFTER BEING DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER. HAS THAT AFFECTED YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE/CAREER?
Without a doubt, how can it not! For those that don’t know – right after Thanksgiving I was diagnosed with breast cancer and am in chemotherapy, in advance of surgery later this summer.
The hardest decision for me was in deciding to be very open and very public with my illness. I have had many family members and friends who have had various forms of cancer. I decided that in their honor, and in some cases their memory, I was going to be open about the process. To show that you can live with, and laugh through it.
It is a very scary thing to do especially when you are self-employed (as most composers are) to peel back the curtain like that. It was a hard decision to make – but the support I’ve received has been unbelievable. I’ve been introduced to incredible resources. I’ve been able to give back to a few people who have reached out to me to use me as a resource.
In terms of my perspective – I’ve learned so many things. First off you have to laugh through it. There isn’t enough time to ‘sweat the small stuff’. You can’t work round the clock without taking breaks to care of yourself. But most of all this has made me appreciate how much of a tight-knit community our business really is, and how many people are rooting for me.
4) HOW IMPORTANT FOR COMPOSERS AND ARTISTS IS BRAND CREATION?
Whenever I work with a composer – particularly those who are starting out, the first thing I tell them is that ‘your name is your brand.’ Every project you do – every credit on your IMDB page goes towards establishing what that brand is.
Brand creation happens naturally, whether you want it to or not. And your brand evolves over time. When starting out you have to take every project you can to build credits, then every fee you can to make money. The important thing is to be aware of your brand so you aren’t stuck as a victim of it.
When I work with a composer I talk with them as well as their agents. I want to make sure that what I am doing to support their brand gels with what how their agent is pitching them. If I’m establishing them as the go-to for horror films, but their agent is only putting them up for rom-coms then I’m establishing a brand that is diametrically opposed to how they are being positioned.
5) YOU HAVE BEEN A SPEAKER/PANELIST IN NUMEROUS COMPOSER EVENTS. CAN YOU SHARE WITH US A MEMORABLE MOMENT OR QUOTE(S) THAT STUCK WITH YOU OVER THE YEARS?
As a publicist, I am privileged to be the first person that my composers see after they’ve won an award – they run to the stage, give their speech, get whisked off stage where they meet me. I love to turn to the first-time winner and say “From now on, you will be known as Emmy-Award winning composer X”. It’s the moment when the enormity of what is in their hand becomes real. They get choked up every time.
While I love speaking on panels, most of the quotes that I live by come from other sources. And there are really 4 that I live by. The first two are from my father and the second two are from the world of baseball.
* My father (who has been known to enjoy a game of cards every now and then) always says “you play the hand you are dealt.” It is so simple but so true.
* In college, I fell in love with DJing on the radio. I decided to switch paths and work in the music business. My father said “always know where the money comes from – if you want to be a DJ understand the business of being a DJ. If you want to be an artist, understand how an artist makes money.”
* This one is incredibly important to the life of a freelancer – “When you come to a fork in the road – take it” (Yogi Berra).
* And lastly…when asked how do you break a batting slump … Keith Hernandez said “Whatever you do, don’t stick your head in the oven.”
Thank you for asking me to do this!!