Music Moguls – a PR masterclass

After having seen an excellent BBC documentary Music Moguls: Masters of Pop, I understood what different roles PR could play in society. I also realised how misunderstood the profession could sometimes be (I definitely do not agree with the comment that PR is ultimately about “telling lies for a living”. It’s much more complex that that, no lies involved). However, the documentary presented me with a well-rounded image of PR in the music industry and took me all the way back to the 60s, where Britain’s music PR story begins…

What do Jimmy Hendrix, Taylor Swift and the Oasis have in common? Great PR, of course! When we think of music, we tend to think first and foremost of artists we like, music genres we prefer and newest gossip. But if you dig deeper, you’ll see that it’s not enough being a great musician, if people don’t know about you. And that’s where PR comes in.

33621556-jpgimage taken from HERE

Music Moguls took me on a wonderful journey of the rise of PR within the music industry, via the eyes of people who lived it. Wild, daring and brave publicity stunts, controversial comments and bald image, are the words I’d use to shortly describe the musical themes of 60s, 70s and 80s.

Although times have changed, the core rules remain somewhat the same. You need to get people to notice you, maintain that attention and put in on the right tracks for future developments. After all, image in the music industry is crucial.

What interested me most in the documentary was a comparison of Taylor Swift to other artists that came before her. The era she is in, is different to the era of Jimmy Hendrix or Oasis mainly due to the social media rise and its importance for PR. They are a maginifier and a shortcut between the artists and their fans, as well as the press. If used wisely, they can be very powerful.

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image taken from HERE

Taylor is definitely a modern PR master, who understands well what social media are, what the differences between various types of channels are and how to use them best. However, what’s most important (and often underestimated by the artists) is the fans, who need special treatment to feel… special. That pays off both for the artists and for fans themselves.

New technologies bring new opportunities. Those who understand it, win. What Swift did, is exactly that. She merged the use of social channels with direct fan contact and created a unique image of herself – a girl who’s friendly and grateful to the fans, who made her who she is today. While others simply broadcast news, she engages people and produces images, videos or news specifically with her fans and audiences in mind. Her best stunts do just that: sending personalised fan gifts or inviting her biggest fans to pre-release album party. This all gives her a unique ticket to be different and allow herself to be bald (just like when she pulled her music off Spotify to openly boycott unfair artist compensation). As a result, she became one of the biggest pop stars of the 21st century, and her fame is still standing strong.

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image taken from HERE

I think that ultimately, British music PR has not changed much since the 60s. It’s always been about telling a great story, engaging people in it and making sure the story is being heard by the right people. Social media are an enabler and a little bit of a game changer (let’s be sceptical about big words here), but they definitely did not change the core of the profession.

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BBC Four: Music Moguls: Masters of Pop. Available from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p039x5f7

The Guardian: Music Moguls: Masters of Pop, the Power Behind the Throne. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/jan/15/music-moguls-masters-of-pop-review

MHP: Is Taylor Swift the Best Person in PR – like, ever? Available from: http://www.mhpc.com/blog/is-taylor-swift-the-best-person-at-pr-like-ever/

Header image: The Guardian

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