In Conversation With :
Rebecca Mason is the founder of Manchester-based online music blog One Great Song and landed her first full time job in the music industry in early 2020 as a music publicist for Sonic PR, who have run press campaigns for the likes of Mac DeMarco, Bruce Springsteen, LCD Soundsystem and Aerial East. We caught up with Rebecca to hear how she landed her job in the industry without going to university.
Firstly, tell us what a music publicist is.
The main role as a music publicist is to promote musicians and their releases through the press. We’re the connection between an artist and their team and journalists, working closely with both sides to arrange various forms of coverage for various releases. From printed and online album reviews and interview features through to digital sessions, social media takeovers etc.
How did you get started in the music industry?
I started out in ‘journalism’! I had little to no experience of the industry, just a real desire to get involved so I started my own music blog (www.onegreatsong.co.uk) as a way of immersing myself amongst new artists and their managers, PRs etc and worked upwards from there.
How did you land your current role at Sonic PR?
After completing a brief college course on music business, I decided that the university route wasn’t for me and instead decided to take a hands on approach to involving myself in the industry. I basically emailed every industry related company in the North offering to help out with any work that needed doing in order to gain experience, a couple of places offered me a role but I decided to go with Sonic.
So I started out as an intern back in 2017 and gradually worked my way through an assistant role learning as I went, I then became a full time PR in early 2020 and haven’t looked back!
What does your typical day-to-day look like?
My day tends to start with a catch up on emails and a quick scan online for any press coverage which may have popped up for the campaigns I’m working on. I then spend the majority of the day working on campaigns - whether it be pitching to journalists, writing press releases/copy or doing research on contacts and potential press placements for the releases I’m working on.
Most days also tend to include a meeting with new clients or the managers/teams behind our artists, whether it be a quick phone call or a Zoom catch up. Obviously the majority of what we do is remote as of late but as things become slightly more ‘normal’ there’s the odd in person meeting, and fingers crossed I’ll get to get back to attending some of our artists’ shows some time soon!
What are some skills people who are interested in working in music PR should have?
Admin experience and good grammar definitely go a long way. Being able to write a good press release, keep on top of your coverage and who you have/haven’t pitched to and effectively plan a campaign is a key part of the job – and being confident in both yourself and your networking skills can mean the difference between one piece of coverage and ten.
Most importantly though I think you just need to be really passionate about music and open to learning. You really learn on the job, and have to understand that working in the industry isn’t this rock’n roll lifestyle where you hang out with artists and go to gigs every day - there’s a lot of admin work that goes into it and you really have to work hard and prove yourself before you get to enjoy the perks of the job.
How can someone looking to get into this line of work get started? What will impress a potential employer?
Be hardworking, be humble and be prepared to work hard. The industry is so competitive and there will always be somebody ready to step into your place. If you’re determined and in it for the right reasons people will see that and help you progress.
If the roles you’re looking for aren’t advertised, be cheeky! Contact people and ask - most jobs aren’t advertised and taking the initiative is a good way of showing how passionate you are. If you’re unsure of something, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
What change would you like to see in your area of the music industry?
Some kind of support for people working in PR (and I’m sure other parts of the industry would say the same) would be good. I think most of us would agree that it’s a high pressure job and it’s really easy to beat yourself up over minor inconveniences which often aren’t your fault - having some kind of reassurance there that other people are experiencing the same thing can make a huge difference to your mindset.
It’d also be nice for more things to happen outside of London, being up North you often miss out on networking opportunities and big shows if you’ve not got the time to travel into London.
What’s been some of your proudest moments to date?
I think just progressing to a full time PR role was a big one! But really there’s just little moments every day when you pull off a strong piece for a campaign, when your clients tell you you’re making a difference to the artist’s progression or when one of your clients recommends you for another artist.
It’s always flattering to do things like this as well; being invited to talk on panels, give advice on breaking into the industry etc. I’m still very much new to the industry and learning every day, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when somebody acknowledges the work that I’m doing.
What are some of the positive changes you can see emerging in the industry for young people post-Covid?
People being forced to work from home seems to have opened up a lot of opportunity. It’s no secret that the industry is based in London and for those outside of it it can be really difficult to catch a break - working remotely seems to have made more roles available and mean that young people can get those entry level roles without having to splash out on travel or relocate.
Also, people in general are just nicer to each other and more helpful! We’ve all experienced this incredibly stressful period together, one which I think most people would agree is even more stressful as a part of this industry. Everyone seems a bit more willing to chat and offer advice, which is really great in such an intimidating environment.