Indie Music Monday Interviews

Articles from Indie Music Bus

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting Started With Indie Music PR & Marketing ~ An interview with Janet Hanson of Scout66

We will start a bit of information about Janet Hanson of

I've worked in music almost 28 years now. During that time I've been in-house PR for 7 years and a free lancer for nearly 21 years. I have 3 Grammy award-winning campaigns to my credit and contributions to the legacies of two of history's most popular songs. I've been very blessed working with legendary musicians...mostly guitarists.

What is the Scout66 definition of Music PR? provides the working class musician with an invaluable PR tool. The live music review helps artists further their careers by letting venues know what fans think of the concert experience. For years, the music review was the most coveted article in an artist's press kit. These days media cannot afford to devote time/space to reviews except for big ticket concerts. No one needs help more than the working class musician to get the best quality gigs available. Who better than the ticket buying public to make the recommendations for future gigs?

Why is Music PR so important?

Without marketing/PR there is no market! It's that simple. With the absolute saturation in the music landscape, PR helps an artist stand above the crowd. One of the most critical messages an artist can craft is why their music is important. Just about everyone has the capacity to make music. However, defining why the music is important draws attention. Marketing music is about selling emotion. What emotional value does a certain artist's music provide? Selling the emotion and the story behind the music is what audiences are interested in.

What can your services you do for say an independent Hip-Hop artist?

This is a very broad question. I go through a series of steps to determine what can help any artist with an audit of their career. By defining the strengths and weaknesses of any career we can then set out to build on the strengths and diminish weak areas. Many people do not understand the significance of hip-hop. It's about rhyme, meter, and a message (most generally) from a certain neighborhood or city. Defining what message the hip-hop artist wants to convey setting them apart from the myriad artists in an overarching genre is absolutely paramount to developing the indie hip-hop artist's audience. Defining the message from the street and the significance of that message creates a network of different sources PR/marketing tap into, expanding the base for participation.

So, Music PR for a Metal Band differs from that of a Hip-Hop artist?

Broadly speaking, different genres envelop different lifestyles and different interests. There are commonalities, but speaking to the lifestyle and interests broaden the range and the network of possibilities for PR. As mentioned earlier, hip-hop speaks to what is happening in the streets. Metal is more universal in appeal and has an historic element due largely to the length of time the genre has been around.

Do you have any independent labels you work with or do they do their own music PR?

I have always worked with indie artists who own their own labels. Over the past few years, the "free era" has diminished funds for PR. When the music is free, there is no need and no budget to market free music. The trend has swung back to selling music either as a single or as a CD. Most artists do not have the background to effectively market themselves, therefore, hiring a publicist or marketing specialist is essential to giving higher visibility to new music.

A band is about to start recording their latest work, when should the music PR begin?

Ideally, if a band has a budget for PR, the publicist should be brought in at the beginning of the recording process. It adds to the story of the band and the new work if the publicist is made aware of the whole process. Also, if there are problem areas to smooth over or highlights in the process of recording, the publicist can address those and create buzz in certain situations. At a very minimum, a band should have all their materials in place ready to give to the publicist 8 weeks prior to the release date of a new CD. To get previews, reviews and interviews, lead time is critical. Bloggers, writers, journalists, DJs and television producers are very busy and need to plan ahead to include appearances, interviews, etc. Too few artists care enough about the schedules of those who can help them to plan this far out, but it is very important.

What do you think makes your company different?
Because I've worked in music so long, I have a unique perspective on the old school model vs. what is happening with the 2.0 music model. Blending the strengths of the two allows me to create the best possible campaigns for clients based on the uniqueness of each project. Using only old school methods is ineffective, and using only cyber PR is ineffective. For years I've said that nothing can happen inside cyberspace without a "boots on the ground" strategy and deliberate action.
Most promoters, regardless of their specialty, won't work with an artist if they don't like the music. Music, as we all know, is subjective. I don't have to like the music to work with an artist. What I need to see is potential for the marketability within the scope of the project. If sufficient angles exist with ways and means to market the project efficiently, my opinion about the music is irrelevant.

In closing, what advice can you give in general to the independent community?

Being an independent musician really means you are the head of a record label. Many many things go into developing a successful business model. Staying true to yourself and your music is important. However there are many critical details from the old label model that will help you succeed. Hiring a publicist or marketing person to handle this aspect of your career for the long term is invaluable. The music biz is a multi-billion dollar industry and very competitive. To give yourself an edge, you seriously need to figure out a way to pay professionals to assist in the various capacities necessary so you can focus on your ultimate job: creating exceptional music. Exceptional music will take you to the ultimate destination in your career. Those you hire to help get you there are truly priceless in terms of their services, professional experience and abilities; and ultimately their relationship to your success.


"Getting Started With Indie Music PR & Marketing"
"Essential Indie PR & Music Marketing Tips"
"For The Record: Music PR & Marketing, You Gotta Have It"