Hugo Simpson from Kartel Music Group shares some insights on PR…

1. How did you get in to music?
I’d always wanted to get into the industry and did as many work experiences places as i could from the age of 16, working at labels, radio stations and PR companies. During a lengthy work experience placement at MBC straight after University a junior role came available, which I interviewed for and got.  I am now Head of PR at Kartel Music Group.

2. Who have you worked with and what have been some of your personal highlights? 
I’m lucky to have worked with a huge range of artists from Madonna, Kasabian and Mark Ronson all the way down to some amazing brand new and upcoming acts. Nothing quite beats the feeling of giving a brand new band you love their first steps. We’ve got a few artists who are set for big things in 2015.

3. What role does PR have especially for young bands and artists and what realistic expectations could a client have if they hired a PR company?
My job is to run all Online PR campaigns at MBC, and i see that role as very important for new bands. The internet is increasingly becoming the quintessential tool for a new bands’ first step, so starting off strong is very important. If you hire a PR company you should expect to get some good results, which give a great platform to greatly increase your chances of being noticed by Radio, Labels and the like, but you shouldn’t expect that service to single-handedly make your career, at least in the short term.

4. A lot of companies offer PR packages for bands, how beneficial is this by itself or is it necessary to have a product to centre it around?
The most important product you need is a good song. This is more important than anything else. A number of artists just post one song and do nothing else, and this is sometimes enough to get them noticed alone.

5. Everyone seems to have an opinion of “what you should do to make your band work” i.e. you should email Jools Holland, Glastonbury, the Guardian – can you just explain how these things work?!
It’s very hard work to get to the top of the game, increasingly so nowadays, so everyone needs to work very hard to get there, and every little helps. If you have a manager, PR, radio plugger all in place then their job is to contact these people for you, but it can’t hurt to put in the leg work yourself too. At the end of the day you are in a team with these people and everyone is working for the success of your career, so you can only help that. Hard working bands will always stand a better chance. If you are brand new, send your music to as many music blogs as you can. Think of it like a band CV, the better results you get, the more you have to boast about.

6. What can new artists do to help themselves if they can’t afford PR at this stage?
If you are unsigned/penniless and looking for someone to help you out you should do your research on PR companies that you think might suit you and email them music, message them on Twitter etc etc. If the music is great you will likely find that PRs will offer to take you under their wing for free if they see a positive future.

7. What are some of the common pitfalls you see in new bands from a PR perspective?
The biggest one would probably be bands and artists trying to emulate other artists. This is a big no no. To stand out you have something unique and different to offer. If we get sent music that sounds identical to an already well known band it is, 99% of the time, an immediate no.

8. What do you like most about what you do? What advice would you have for anyone looking to get in to music PR?
Working in music is very special, because i am and always have been a huge fan of music. To get into the industry, try every available avenue and meet as many people as you can. You never know when an opportunity will arise. Get a good bed of things to put on your CV and set up a meeting with one of the good creative recruitment companies. Once you’re in it be prepared to work very hard, on very long hours and not be paid a lot, especially for the first few years. Totally worth it though.