If you are interested in the business end of the music industry, you might want to consider a career in Music PR. But what qualities do you need to work in this sector? And how do you get there? Linda Coogan Byrne of Good Seed PR explains to us exactly how she did it. Rising from a small PR company to working with international artists.
► What is your name?
Linda Jean Coogan Byrne.
► What do you do/what company do you work for?
I work for Good Seed PR, which I also own and run. It’s a Music/Media PR & Marketing company based in Co Meath, Ireland. Good Seed PR caters for promotion within all areas of the entertainment industry. Music promotion includes: Single/EP/Album & Live DVD release promotion via aligning Radio, Press & TV publicity. Online PR involves building up a buzz about an event or music release by raising a clients profile through online reviews, features and mentions. We work publicity for TV and Film companies, Brands, Websites, Charities and many more. We have a Creative Art & Design Team who are dedicated to providing artwork and brand designs for Web design, Brand Identity & Promotional materials; eCards, booklets, invitations etc.
► Can you tell us about some of your recent jobs/projects?
Sure, I had the pleasure of working with RTE & Religion Music on the Eurovision pre qualifying rounds where the general public chose 1 from a possible 5 contestants to represent Ireland in the Eurovision. I worked in particular with Aimée; a stunning 18 year old singer. I also recently worked new music releases from Marilyn Manson, Ron Sexsmith and Eleanor McEvoy to name a few. Working with The Saw Doctors on their 25 year anniversary was also a hoot. They are such an amazing band to work with. I am also working with Irish band, Friends of Emmet, on their new album, publishing and syncing where they have been placed in MTV, Channel 4 and BBC. It’s great for an unsigned artist to get their music out there on large platforms. They are definitely a band to watch.
► How did you get into this line of work?
I started out learning guitar and can now play over 10 instruments. I later joined a few school bands and after my leaving cert exams I trained as a Luthier in Galway, which is the construction and design of Renaissance stringed instruments (Harps, Lutes, Guitars, Violins etc). Even though I loved that job, I gravitated more to playing music in different bands and over time I built up industry contacts within the media. As the years passed I wanted to learn more about the business side as opposed to continuing performing and so I bought some books on PR and Marketing and self taught on the subject. I then decided to officially launch a company in Feb of 2008. Within 2 years I was one of the leading PR companies and had taken over from most of my initial rivals and now work with the likes of Leading Record labels such as Red Bull & Cooking Vinyl. I have also worked with many other Major labels and Distribution companys. It is such a privilege to also maintain long time working relationships with Eleanor McEvoy & The Saw Doctors and to see how they constantly reinvent themselves and their music. I take pride in continuing to work with new and unsigned bands along with well-known international acts and bands. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing a new band on National Radio or in National Press.
► What would a typical day consist of?
6am rise… Check papers and online sites for client mentions, features and reviews. Check in with Nielson Music Control for radio plays on clients I am currently working with to see who has been playing their music on what radio stations and what times. This helps to gauge the demographic audience reach on the campaign. Check emails and follow up on media tours, radio, press and tv sessions and interviews for clients. And also pitch for the previous too! Meet up with media and attend events and gigs. It’s a long day!
► Working hours/patterns of work?
To be honest it is a 24/7 job, especially if you work with international clients who are on a different time zone to you. Music is not a 9-5. So you must be aware of the job eating into personal time. Festivals and Events can be week day or weekend.
► What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Being your own boss and being in control of the business. I will not lie, I have petted a cat while sitting in the office chair like Doctor Evil from Austin Powers.
► Tell us something annoying about your job?
When you are passionate about a band and they receive a negative review, it’s not a good feeling. But perhaps I am too involved with my acts. They are like extensions of my family! So that is the annoying part. It rarely happens though as my acts are kick ass.
► Is there any particular thing you are proud of doing?
I am a proud woman; I came from nothing and built possibly the only PR company that is solely about the artist, rooting for the artist and underdog. I work with some of the most well know Indie labels worldwide who also began with a shared vision of breaking new music. It’s not about personal gain or keeping overheads covered. I choose who I work with and I push them to the utmost edge of where I can go with them. To get unknown Independent bands and artists on a National media platform is why I get up and do this job. I feel immensely proud of being apart of their journey onto bigger and better things.
► Have you any exciting projects lined up for the future?
I just took over management with Friends of Emmet, an Irish band who I absolutely adore. I am writing a book and I am putting on my first Art Exhibition this year. I am getting more and more involved with Music Publishing and Music Supervision, an area I love to work in. I am working with Alison Moyet this year. Last year I worked with Marilyn Manson and Duran Duran. The year before I worked with Grove Armada, Underworld and The Prodigy. Life is bloody good.
► What kind of characteristics (personality) do you need to do a job like yours?
You must like people. You must not be shy. You must be confident. Music will become your life, get used to that and know your shit about music history. You must be a general go getter and have a neck like a jockeys….. Intelligence also will do you many favours.
► What skills are needed for this job?
See above. The rest can be learnt.
► Are there any qualifications needed for your job?
Self-taught. I read books on PR and marketing and studied online courses in social media. Being stubborn helps also. I learnt from the best as I progressed. I had so many opportunities to work with amazing labels and management teams. Surround yourself by great people and it will catch on.
► Have you any advice for anyone looking to get into this area?
It will take over your life, but if you have passion you will love it. Do NOT listen to nay sayers; haters gonna hate. Stick to your goal and go hell for leather towards it. Work hard and rewards will follow.
► Have you any tips for bands dealing with a PR agent?
Have realistic ambitions and goals and meet as many PR companys until you feel you have the right team behind you. Be patient.
► What do you look for in a band you are considering to PR?
Charm and good personalities. Obviously they will be fabulous musicians if I am going to give them the time of day, so that goes without saying. Just be aware that Rome was not built in a day and that everything takes time.