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Tips for self-managed artists!

Tip Published Monday 8 November 2021

As self-managed artists we sometimes need to wear many hats: publicity, promo and marketing, and of course management. Teresa Patterson (MMF) and Paula Yeoman (NikNak Media) provided us with their extensive knowledge in these fields for our latest online hui. Here are a few takeaways and helpful tips! APRA members, keep an eye on your emails for future huis.


Top tips

  • The process of applying for funding is very helpful whether you are successful or not. This can help you get together assets and know what criteria you need when approaching bookers, publicists, or managers. A great opportunity to add some structure to what can be a wild ride of self-management!
  • Interviews can be nerve-racking! Sometimes, the interviewer will provide you with questions beforehand, if they don’t there’s no harm in asking what they are wanting to cover. This also gives you the opportunity to let them know what you would like to/not like to talk about. Always go in with notes prepared: musical references, name drops, details about your live shows etc.
  • Clear, concise, polite communication is key to building great relationships in the industry.

Dealing with venues/booking agents

  • Finding a venue that will take you requires a bit of research and can be tricky especially in this new climate. Look for similar bands and where they have played to see what venues you should approach, booking these bands on your line up will help get your foot in the door too!
  • Always look at the venue’s website or Facebook for specs before contacting: capacity, venue hire fee, security costs, backline. If they do not have this info, you can politely ask for these details in your first contact.
  • When contacting a venue, provide all possible dates. These can chop and change a lot so it’s good to cast the net wide to save you and the booker a long back and forth.
  • When a venue gives you a “second pencil” on a date you have asked for this means another artist has asked for this date but hasn’t confirmed yet (first pencil). The venue will challenge this date with said artist and get back to you if they can give you this date or not.
  • Venues are a business and need to take into account how many punters the performer will bring in. If you are new to the stage, do not be disheartened if a venue turns you down. The bands you book play a huge part in whether a venue will take you on. Think strategically!
  • Follow up after 4 – 7 days
  • You can ask the venue booker for recommendations for local backline suppliers if they don’t provide any.
  • You can ask the venue for advice on marketing and promo, they know their business and where their audiences pick up information: local media, iwi and student radio, street posters, even doing café poster runs.

PR and promotion

  • Tie in your music release with a live show or tour! You are more likely to get coverage or interview opportunities if there is something more readers/listeners can engage in.
  • There is no right way to plan a timeline of your releases but it is important to put your strategic planning cap on! Think about who your audience is and what will keep them interested.
  • Media/venues/promoters receive hundreds of emails a day. Have your assets ready in the form of a Dropbox folder which is SHAREABLE. This should include: press photos, bios short and long, links to released music/videos and social media, press releases, album artwork. This makes the recipients job much easier as they don’t have to go digging for information about you, therefore they are more likely to open and respond to your message!
  • Send music to radio programmers not only to get airplay, but to get advice on where your music could fit. If you don’t quite fit their demographic, they may be able to direct you somewhere that you would.
  • Try out the publicity game before you hire one. Building relationships with local and mainstream radio is very beneficial. Radio/media appreciate the direct contact with the artist, as long as that communication is well researched and clear.
  • The benefit of employing a publicist is they have existing relationships with media, making it a bit easier to get placements. But it is entirely possible to do it yourself with a bit of research! Publicity isn’t cheap so choose your timing wisely of when you employ one.
  • When contacting media, be shameless about your achievements! List them clearly and concisely, they want to know you’re an active, known artist.
  • Social media is your best tool for promo and marketing. Get your head around the IG/FB/TikTok game!
  • Getting on editorial or DSP playlists is great for streaming results. Releasing music through DRM NZ (a local digital music distributor) is helpful as they pitch to playlists across multiple platforms and have existing relationships in this territory.

Upskilling