How did you get started doing pr work?
I went to college in Toronto at York University for English and Mass Communications. I worked for the campus newspaper, the radio station and I knew from an early age that playing music wasn’t my specialty. But, I loved music so much that the day after I graduated; I started a record label which turned into a booking agency then finally it became a public relations company.
I always loved the media and I knew it was all about having a story. You have to find a way to tell a great story about the band.
For a couple of years, I worked for a lot of venues that were popular among the Toronto Music scene and one day, a small label in Toronto contacted me that had 30 releases and one of the bands was Nickelback. We switched to a distributor named Koch and the President approached me and said “How would you like to work for 6,000 bands instead of 3?”
What’s a Typical Day for you?
Hmm. Looking at release schedules and tour dates. So much of my time is taking up doing pr work, publicity and pitching to the media based on a band’s tour schedule.
In the beginning we could sell a lot of records just by having a new release available to the various media layouts which was basically just radio and a papers. My day was spent trying to get reviews, features stories, and photo opportunities and letting the media know why they should be writing about this band.
The last couple of years it changed from that to making sure when a band tours in Canada, that they have the promotions and publicity to sell out the shows and sell their record at the same time.
So much of the media now is based on current events. If you’re not touring in this market or if you don’t have a strong radio single it’s tough to try to crack through the other 5,000 bands that releases their record on that day or even put a video up on YouTube.
Why have you decided to stay in Canada?
I was getting offers a lot from our U.S. labels, but I just found that its very big and vast. I did some work at the Philadelphia Music Conference which is basically like SXSW, but I like being able to know everybody in my country. My Canadian media database is relatively small in comparison to my U.S. database which has over 1 million contacts.
It’s so big you never feel like your job is done in America because there is always so much to do. You couldn’t work America with one person you would need multiple people for every region. For ten years, I would do all the radio, press, TV and internet. We just now have started to hire radio because that’s so specialized. I love Canada and I never wanted to live anywhere else. I love the diversity of our Canadian music scene and all the great bands that have come from here.
What’s the most exciting part about what you do?
I love working for a act whose music I loved before I started working with them. I have worked with some of the greatest artists that ever lived Sinead Occonor, Ringo Starr and Ray Charles.
It’s a lot of history and the fact that I can work with so many people in one day is mind-boggling to me. I love being able to call on the media and say we are working these great artists that I grew up listening to. It also makes my job a lot easier. Also, It makes me want to work harder because I want to help continue their legacy.
What are some of the highlights of you career?
Working with a children band’s like The Wiggles and watching them go from kind of big to huge. Working with Ray Charles on his ‘Genius’ album which was his last album. The time I got to spend with him an talk with him about his career and all the old stories. It doesn’t get better than that.
What type of pr advice would you give a new artist?
Your competition isn’t that band in your own city anymore. Your competition is every band in the entire world. You have to be great and you have to be more professional then anyone else because no one has heard about you.
You could make a YouTube video and if it’s really great it will spread virally. Fans are hungry for greatness and they don’t need someone like me to help them to get 1 million views on YouTube. They just need to create great music that people will want to share.
You don’t need the best bio or press release ever the people that are successful now are releasing it to their immediate fan base and if it’s really good it will spread. Don’t worry about having a distributor, just work on getting your music available for I-Tunes and the other digital music outlets where people can buy it globally. When things start to pick up where you are getting so many press inquiries that you can’t handle then you can start looking at hiring someone.
Create as much content as possible and engage with your fans whether its releasing singles or taking pictures with your fans and posting them on your Facebook page.Google+