Director of Publicity
The director of publicity for a record label oversees the functions of the publicity and press relations staff in support of artists signed to the label. He or she is tasked with developing a publicity campaign for the artist through collaboration with the department staff and artist’s management, and assigns a publicist to specific bands to implement and monitor the campaign.
The director of publicity leads regular meetings with department personnel to track campaigns and review reputation monitoring and press mentions of the artist. This person will have approval over publicity budgets and all expenditures related to the department’s activities, including photo shoots for PR and press materials, press events, and other related costs. In some cases, this person may be assigned to personally work with the label’s top-selling stars. He or she will collaborate with department directors in marketing, advertising, and A&R to design strategies to best support record sales and the growth of the label’s signed acts.
Reports are submitted to the director of publicity from his or her staff detailing pertinent information on the success or failures of each campaign; it is the director’s responsibility to identify areas in which strategies can be augmented and improved to better serve the artist and label. He or she is tasked with condensing the sum of the department’s reports into data delivered to record label executives. In preparation for new campaigns, or in significantly altering existing plans, the director must seek approval from the label executives and will be expected to prepare a prospectus indicating the cost and projected outcome of the strategy.
Skills & Education
This role requires a college education in music business, publicity, marketing, or a related field. Courses in finance, statistics, and journalism are also beneficial in this career. Most of all, to work your way up from the bottom you will need experience in public relations, advertising, or promotions, and you must have a thorough knowledge of the music industry. Familiarity with all genres of music (and the attendant segment of fans and press representatives) is especially helpful.
What to Expect
In the publicity business, sleep is a luxury saved for retirement. Directors of publicity work exhaustively long hours poring over budget reports and trade publications and schmoozing with tastemakers. The music business, like most of the entertainment industry, is a 24-hour gig; the weak and weary get left behind. Of course, being on the higher levels of record label management comes with considerable perks that make the position of the director of publicity desirable: car service, catered meals, generous expense accounts, and sumptuous offices are standard at major labels. Rubbing shoulders with pop stars at industry parties is a necessary component of the job, even if you still get a secret thrill from proximity to celebs. To get the gig, though, you’ll have to put in a number of years making copies and getting coffee for someone else. The most direct path to the position of the director of publicity is to work your way up the ranks of a record label from the mailroom or assistant’s desk. It will not be a quick rise to the top for most people, but talent and perseverance (and solid connections) can get you there if you are passionate and dedicated to your goal.
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