Anorak London Director Laura Martin recently spoke to Record Of The Day about the music industry, digital trends and 10 years of Anorak. You can read the full text below.
“2013 sees 10 years of Anorak’s existence and over the past decade there have been numerous significant changes in the world of PR: print magazines closing, (others starting), the rise of digital media and therefore publications, introduction of the pay wall, the rise in value of the blogger, and of course from a financial perspective, a significant shift in revenue streams behind the scenes.
Thinking back to 2003/4, we were hired solely by record labels to promote their artists. We were paid a fee to do the work. Slowly over the course of time, this has changed. Over the past five years the independent PR has become something of an A&R resource itself. It has meant sharing tips with scouts, attending buzzy gigs, shoulder barging other PRs to sign up new acts prior to any deal being done. It has become the norm for PR companies to become part of a deal before any record, publishing or live deal is done. Often we are the first port of call for managers.
A few of the acts we worked with prior to them being signed (some even before management) include Foals, Friendly Fires, James Blake, more recently Angel Haze, Michael Kiwanuka and Lianne La Havas. there is of course great value to be had in securing media coverage for an act which then generates leverage for a record deal, or if not a record deal, a financial deal of sorts. However despite the integral nature of what we are doing, PRs are often not paid at this point – various deals are done; backpay, working for free until the band gets signed (which requires loyal and trusting relationships) or working for greatly reduced rates. Whilst it is a positive model for the bands and artists, the fallout is that PR companies are struggling to survive. Couple this trend with the fact record labels are making less money than they used to therefore PR fees have reduced by 50% over the past 5 years, there now exists a problem for the music Pr industry. A handful of excellent, noteworthy PR companies have closed in the past two years as they simply cannot survive on the new model especially when competing with the flux of one-man band Pr people who charge smaller fees and dilute the marketplace.
At Anorak, we have had to diversify. We opened a festival and events department in 2010 which has become a huge success and we now represent five major worldwide music festivals, and seven in the UK. We now (like most) work with brands on their music strategy.
Having won Record Of The Day’s ‘Best Online PR Company’ for the past three years, it’s pertinent to look at the rise of digital over the past 10 years. From a PR perspective, Anorak is fortunate to have witnessed this boom from its infancy to this point. Bill Gates wrote in an essay in 1996, ‘content is king’ and naturally the world took note.
In the music industry, Digital PR does now hold more value to record labels and managers – but it is only over the past five years or so that this has been substantial. it has been a relatively slow transition. the role of digital has become much more international over the past few years, the significance of non-UK relationships such as Pitchfork are integral to uK PR campaigns.
in digital PR ideas are of course paramount - creating engaging content that people want to share is key which leaves people looking to push boundaries in a PR remit. We created a clever viral for Lounge on the Farm music festival – an illustrated, spot the band image with 179 literal representations of artists or bands in it. It went viral and had over 3,000 hits in the first hour. We wanted to get kids and parents aware of The Apple Cart festival so we teamed up with soundcloud to create a national competition looking for ‘young reporters’ to submit demos of them presenting in order to win a chance to become the festival’s own young reporter. We ran the first ever Pinterest tour diary with Neneh Cherry which was so pioneering it was written about in digital tech press. creativity is valuable and paramount to any digital PR campaign – which makes the digital space a stimulating and a fun place to work where exciting things happen in real time.
The importance of digital in today’s markeplace is undeniable not only in the way we consume music, but in the shift in numbers from print to digital consumers. Sadly this is not reflected in digital PR fees yet. It seems the industry is still in a state of flux and is not confident in dedicating equal amounts of a PR budget to digital as it does to print, despite the former’s rapidly growing importance.”
Laura Martin – director, Anorak London