A good publicist is one who’s well connected, a good communicator, and knows how to craft a pitch that’s appropriate to the recipient. Today we introduce to you music publicist Caryl De’Niece Quashie who is no stranger to the music industry. In this Q&A she answers a few questions and gives us some insight into the world of music PR. Please Share!
Q. MRCPROMO: What is a Publicist?
A. CARYLQUASHIE: A Publicist is a “Hype” Person of sorts. They are well-educated and great communicators. They make sure that their client, whether it is a Celebrity, Restaurant, or Brand, etc. are portrayed in the best light. There is also the aspect of damage control. Being a Publicist is not as easy as it looks.
Q. MRCPROMO: How did you get started in the business?
A. CARYLQUASHIE: I started as an Intern at Arista Records in the late ‘80’s. I worked with the like of Carly Simon, Whodini, Aretha Franklin, as well as the late, great Whitney Houston. I moved on to take a job at the Indie Record Label, Next Plateau Records. I worked as an Assistant to the President of the Company, Eddie O’Loughlin. I was then promoted to Publicist, overseeing acts like, Salt –N- Pepa, Sybil, Ultramagnetics and Kool DJ Red Alert. In 1993, I moved to Jamaica, W.I. and was the Label Publicist for Shabba Ranks, Mad Cobra, Patra, Bounty Killer and many more.
Q. MRCPROMO: Your Ideal client?
A. CARYLQUASHIE: My ideal client understands what a Publicist does, and is willing to work with me to achieve the ultimate goal. And that is working on becoming a house-hold name and/or Brand. The more people that know about you, the more opportunities will come your way.
Q. MRCPROMO: Where should an Artist look to find the right Publicist?
A. CARYLQUASHIE: Referrals and “word-of-mouth” are the best way, but there should be a mutual connection from jump. It is difficult working with a client that does not understand or realize their own vision. The Artist MUST have a Budget that supports that vision. Publicity is not an exact science. However, if all of the elements are in place and they work together as a team, sky’s the limit.
Q. MRCPROMO: What should artists have before contacting a Publicist?
A. CARYLQUASHIE: Again, you have to come with a Budget, and they must be prepared to spend it. You have to learn to trust your Publicist, and that is where that connect comes in. You have to find a Publicist that understands your music and/or your Brand. Sit down, have meetings, and discuss the goal. An Artist and/or his or her Publicist must be a cohesive unit.
Q. MRCPROMO: In your opinion what makes a good Publicist?
A. CARYLQUASHIE: A good Publicist is resourceful. He/She must have established relationships with Media, Bloggers, TV and Radio Talent Bookers and more. The Publicist must understand their client, and be willing to go the extra mile to get the job done well. The Publicist also has to know how EACH department at the Record Label operates, and who the Players are. Together, the ultimate goal is taking the Artist to the next level and above.
Q. MRCPROMO: What is an average rate should an Artist expect to pay? How does this process usually work? Is it per campaign, monthly or do some charge per contract?
A. CARYLQUASHIE: There are levels to Publicity and what is charged. Most campaigns have a three (3) to six (6) month MINIMUM contract. Monthly budgets for Publicity can be as low at $1,500 per month for an unknown Artist, to $10,000 or more per month for an established Artist. There are Publicists and Publicity Firms that rake in $25,000 per month (think Michael Jackson or The Kardashians). It all depends.
How long is a typical campaign? Is there a time limit when an artist should see results? Thoughts?
There is no “typical” campaign. Each one is different. There are Artists that have their Publicists for a lifetime. There are some that only use them for the minimum term of the Agreement, and then jump over to someone else. That is a wack scenario, but it happens. Again, results are not scientific.
As a Publicist, you may pitch your Artist, and the medium you are pitching is not ready for what you are “selling”. Or, maybe they just ran, published or broadcasted something similar to what you are pitching to them. A Publicist has to be savvy and courteous, but they have to know when to press up, and when to fall back. Generally speaking, three (3) months is enough time to see Press start to brew on your Client. As an “Old School Publicist”, I remember when there was a three (3) month lag in magazine publication. You could do a piece in January, and the article not come out until March or April. However, with Social Media, there is that whole new factor of “immediate”. Of course, it depends on who and what you are pitching.
Q. MRCPROMO: Most memorable moment working with a Client? Biggest success story to date?
A. CARYLQUASHIE: I’ve worked with SO many Artists it is hard to single out just one. Real talk. I spent my whole Adult Life working in the Record Industry. However, I was asked to do Publicity for a four (4) store Restaurant chainlet, here in Atlanta. As a self-proclaimed Music Publicist, I did not know if I should accept the project. I talked to God, and asked Him to direct this project. The money was great, and they were great people to work with. God said, “Yes!!!” It became my biggest success BECAUSE it was outside of my wheelhouse, which is Music, Fashion, Film and Television. I have always had successful Music projects, so that was not to be compared, since I was doing something quite different. Once a Publicist, ALWAYS a Publicist.
Q. MRCPROMO: Any new projects you are working on now?
A. CARYLQUASHIE: Currently, I am working with Grammy-Nominated, Platinum Producer, Fantom from the dope Brooklyn-Based Production Unit, “Fantom of the Beat”. I’ve scaled down a lot, but I do a few “A La Carte’” Clients. Publicity has been great to me, and I am excited to see where the next steps take me in my Career.
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