Music to the PR Ears

Often we find ourselves in complete awe of big-name music artists, such as Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and even Justin Bieber, but do we ever give much thought to how these musicians dominate our culture for years on end? Sure, the outlandish concert productions make for great memories with your friends, but when the costumes come off and the smoke fades, who exactly turns pop culture icons into the driving force they are today?

Unbeknownst to most, a lot more factors into success in the music industry than just having pretty vocals. Tiffany Kerns, community outreach manager at Country Music Association (CMA), spoke to students at The University of Alabama and gave them an inside look on what takes artists from flop to the top.

For those interested in the public relations side of the music industry, have no fear—you are needed and wanted. Kerns stressed the importance of artists seeking publicity from their label and outside sources, too. In fact, most musicians hire an outside publicist whose job includes seeking name promotions in the form of endorsements.

So how does one score the job of being Katy Perry’s right-hand man? Kerns summed it up in three points:

Change. First, you need to know where the industry is changing and how you can help get the company or artist where they need to be. With the overwhelming amount of press platforms, someone needs to constantly monitor and promote their artist. Remember, your musician is only as successful as you are. For this reason, shoot for the stars, and if you miss, then aRolling Stone article or two will do just fine, she said.

Sacrifice. Next, do not sacrifice what you want to do just to be in the industry. Rather than working to fill one’s résumé, seek experiences that will provide you with the necessary skill set, even if they branch away from the music industry. Prior to working for CMA, Kerns had no experience in the music industry but a mixed background in law, athletic entertainment and lobbying. Due to Kerns’ wide-range of experience, she could still confidently voice her capability of filling the role at hand and being an asset to the music industry.

It’s too late to say sorry now. Lastly, be solution-based. In other words, interviewers want you to tell them how you provided a solution to a problem; come to the table knowing what you can offer and how you can be a solution. The music industry is fast-paced and constantly changing; when dealing with an abundance of issues, one must rely on experience and understanding of the problem at hand in order to overcome it. When your artist comes under fire for the latest scandal, you are the one with the fire extinguisher. You need to do a lot better than a simple “sorry.”

The music industry is anything but glamorous, and Tiffany Kerns actually described it as the “most frustrating industry,” yet she still enjoys her work with CMA. In fact, do not be afraid to take a chance and dive into the world of music public relations. Why not take a crazy chance, right?

​-by Maret Montanari, PRSSA General Member

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