Working your way up as an independent artist is not easy, and when you start talking about music promotion, things get even more complex. Having someone else – a PR agent – do it for you is often necessary. However, the work of a PR agent is not always understood by artists, and their prices are often the first obstacle to overcome. Therefore, some artists switch to platforms like Groover, HumanHuman, SubmitHub and more, in order to manage their PR themselves. It is a legitimate alternative, but it can be time consuming.
So, how do you effectively promote your music when you are an independent artist ? What is best between a sharing platform and a PR agent ? Well, we have done the work for you by asking questions in this double interview to Dorian Perron, co-founder of the Groover platform, and to Manon L’Huillier, PR agent at Phunk Promotion, a French PR agency.
“In PR, our duty is to support an artist, a festival or an event and to highlight it in the media” – Manon, PR agent at Phunk Promotion.
Manon works at Phunk Promotion, a PR agency that promotes music to all medias : print, web, TV and radio. This agency takes care of the PR of artists like Fhin, Christian Löffler, Sirens of Lesbos or Sabrina Bellaouel, as well as the PR of events such as the Nördik Impact festival or Entente Nocturne. This wide spectrum of artists and events allows them to constantly be in touch with journalists working at all kinds of media and thus maintain lasting relationships with them. But what exactly does their work look like ?
Hi Manon, and thank you for responding to our interview request ! Can you first explain to us what your job consists of ?
On a daily basis, my job mainly consists of living with headphones on my head ! More seriously, in PR, our duty is to support an artist, a festival or an event and to highlight it in the media (press, TV, radio or web depending on our client’s needs) and thus make sure that the public hears of it. Our work ranges from the implementation of a strategy and its schedule, communication and marketing advice, but also the preparation of the press releases, and of course having regular conversations with journalists so that they can write articles about them, interview them, host shows etc. We can work for months or sometimes years until the date of the event or the record’s release.
What type of artists and clients do you work with ?
What I love about my job and especially about the agency I work with is that we work with very diverse artists and events. They range from an artist established abroad who wants to gain visibility on the French territory to a very well known label in France who entrusts us with their new releases. We also work for emerging bands that need to work their way up, and festivals in France and abroad.
Is this the same type of artist you worked with when you were independent? (before working for Phunk Promotion, Manon was self-employed)
Not at all ! When I decided to go freelance I mainly worked with French artists and labels who for the most part had just released one or two EPs. There was a “development” aspect to it.
I now have a delicate but necessary question. How much does a PR agent cost ?
It’s a question that is very complicated to answer because I cannot both speak for everyone and be precise at the same time. The price range is really wide because different criteria come into play. It, first off, depends on whether you decide to work with an agency or with an independent agent. The price also varies according to what the artist will have planned (tour, music videos, album or EP releases…). The price will also be adjusted if the project needs to target all the media scope or only a segment, and then there is the estimated duration of the mission, whether the project is niche or more mainstream etc. The best thing to do as an artist is to present your project with as much detail as possible and with solid elements to a PR agent. It will therefore be much easier to talk about the estimate. (I speak on behalf of the majority who do not have fixed prices).
Even though it is difficult to give an estimate, are the prices the same when you are a freelance PR agent ?
They can be a little lower because the costs are sometimes less substantial than for an agency.
How much time do you spend on average on an artist’s campaign ?
It really varies according to their release plans which for some are very dense and for some others are very sparse. It also depends on the potential reach of the project, whether it is closer to the mainstream music than to the so-called “niche” projects, which does not reach the same amount of media.
What is the average response rate that you get on a campaign ?
Just like I said previously, and it is often the case in this profession, it varies enormously. The famous sentence “we have an obligation of means rather than one of result” that is used by PR agents summarizes the “response rate”. For me, the success rate is not to be found in the number of clicks in a newsletter but rather on the articles I obtain in the medias I was initially targeting. My goal is to obtain a logical and quality “mesh” that corresponds to what the project should get. This is when I judge whether this is a good “rate” or not !
What role do you think you play in the development of an artist’s career ?
In this industry, there are so many people an artist can work with that can help them in the development of their career. Without managers, bookers, publishers etc. we cannot be efficient. My role is to see the big picture on a schedule that can go up to months. Then, I have to know how to use this time intelligently from a media point of view, while being as close as possible to the artist, to listen to them, to adapt to their needs and rethink strategies if necessary. Especially during a health crisis like the one we are experiencing.
What do you recommend to an independent artist who is now looking for a PR agent ?
Choose wisely and carefully, it’s essential. You’ll be working as a team so if you’re not clear and precise with your work and wants you may end up making errors. It’s always difficult to catch up on mistakes.
And according to you, is having a PR agent the best option to promote your music ?
It is always possible to use platforms that put you in touch with medias for a fee, but these choices remain limited (although very practical). On the other hand, it will be necessary to hire a PR agent to reach national media or to reach some that are not on those platforms. A PR agent has the expertise and a database that will make all the difference.
“We wanted them to no longer have the impression of sending bottles into the sea and never get an answer. We wanted to finally break the “wall of the first listen”” – Dorian, co-founder of Groover.
Groover is a platform that has existed since 2018. It is a platform that connects artists (or their managers) with “influencers”, as they call them, who are in fact media, labels or “mentors” – mostly managers and music professionals. This platform gathers members of the music industry from all over the world, and has the slogan “Music Promotion With Results”.
How was Groover founded ?
Romain, Rafaël, Jonas and I (Dorian) met in California in September 2017. Jonas and Romain had released albums and were struggling to make themselves known. On my side, I created the webzine Indeflagration in 2013 and I received hundreds of emails a day from artists who wanted me to write about their music. Yet, I did not have the time to even read their emails.
We had already realized that artists needed help and that it is really difficult to be heard when more than 40,000 new songs are released on Spotify every day. We called over 200 musicians and music professionals and understood that the most difficult thing to do was promotion. And promotion is what happens after the song is created, recorded, mixed / mastered and distributed. The barriers to production have already been completely lowered with production software, and those of distribution have been lowered too thanks to online listening platforms and independent digital music distributors. Our goal since the very beginning is to help artists stand out thanks to more influential people. We wanted to guarantee that their tracks would be heard and that they would receive feedback. We wanted them to no longer have the impression of sending bottles into the sea and never get an answer. We wanted to finally break the “wall of the first listen”.
Can you quickly explain to us how an artist can use the platform to promote their music ?
On Groover, it is pretty simple. The artists or their representatives pay 2 Grooviz (= 2 €) per selected influencer. They choose whoever they want to contact from a growing list of more than 850 media, radio stations, and labels. They are then guaranteed that the media / pro will listen to the song and write at least a feedback. The artist also knows that whatever their decision is, they will be paid 1 Grooviz (= 1 €). If a media / pro does not respond within 7 days, the artist gets 2 Grooviz back per unanswered response and can resubmit it elsewhere.
Screenshot of Groover’s platform
With this system, artists and their representatives are finally sure to get answers from the media / pros they contact for an affordable budget. The response rate is currently over 85%, the acceptance rate (article, addition to playlist, sharing, radio broadcast, meeting request etc.) is around 20%, 80,000 shares have taken place since Groover’s early age and more than 100 signatures in label, edition, tour, and management.
What types of media can they reach ?
So there is more than just medias on Groover. Artists will find three types of influencers :
- Those who can give visibility to the artist (70%) : webzines (for example Novorama, Le Canal Auditif, Merseyside) but also paper magazines (for example Longueur d’Ondes, FrancoFans), journalists, FM radio stations (Radio NEO, Radio FMR, Fréquence Verte etc.) and online (Tsugi Radio, Radio Krimi …), but also Youtube channels like Électro Posé and more and more independent playlists on Spotify
- Potential future partners for the band/ musicians (20%) : independent labels, publishers, managers, bookers, music supervisors. There are more and more of them including Lisbon Lux, La Suite, Requiem Pour Un Twister, Jeune à Jamais, Z Tapes etc.
- Coaches / mentors (10%) : who will be able to give detailed feedback to artists on their production, their strategy. We are talking about managers and artistic coaches, owners of studios and producers, such as Majeur / Mineur (producer of Lord Esperanza)
On a worldwide level : nearly 350 out of the 850-900 influencers that are currently active on the platform are French, but there are also many Canadians, Belgians, Italians, Brazilians, but also Germans, British, Americans and Australians. Artists / musicians choose who they want to contact and are helped by research filters, but can also seek advice from the Groover team directly.
Can you tell us how much an artist spends on average on one promotional campaign on Groover ?
The average number of selected influencers per campaign on Groover for a release is around 25-30 (or 50-60 € invested on a campaign), but it can be less or more. It depends on the music genre, on your targets, and it depends on the influencers who are available on Groover and that correspond to you.
What is the average response rate on Groover ?
Right now it is between 85 and 90%. And the acceptance rate among these responses is around 20%. This means that on average if you contact 20 people on Groover, you will receive at the end of the 7 days of the campaign 17 or 18 returns, including 3 or 4 acceptances (shares via article / playlist / radio, entry into contact etc. ), and get back some of the credits to make 2 to 3 new uploads.
In reality, the acceptance rate varies greatly from one project to another, some high-quality pieces which have a particular resonance with the media that are on Groover can receive an 80-90% acceptance rate, and make a real press kit with 50-100 € invested in the promotional campaign.
How is Groover different from a PR agent ?
In lots of ways!
First of all, we see ourselves as a complementary platform to PR agents. The strength of PR agents is the network of contacts they have built up, especially with larger media and radio stations (Les Inrocks, France Inter, Mouv, Booska-P, Libération etc.) which have a very well established influence. The time spent working on these targets is considerable. They often do not have time to spend on the smaller online media / webzines. However, they are very relevant when it comes to reaching niche audiences. Also, the focus on Groover is generally on a song, when press officers are often hired for an EP or album release.
On Groover, we will mainly focus on online media. The proof that there is a complementarity between Groover & PR agents is that many important independent labels (Un Plan Simple, Because, 7ième Ciel, Pain Surprises, Chinese Man Records to name a few) hire press officers and use Groover for all their releases.
Then, Groover allows artists to contact independent playlists and Youtube channels, platforms that are often ignored by press officers and that are increasingly important. Likewise, it is not their role to get in touch with structures such as labels, publishers, managers.
Another major difference is that Groover guarantees a response from the media / radio stations / professionals that have been contacted. The artist controls his budget and the influencers they chose, and they receive feedback that can help them evolve.
Finally, the price. A Groover campaign will generally cost between 50 and 100 € (even if it can start at 10 €). In comparison, a mission with a PR agent will very rarely start below 10 times this price, more likely between 20 to 50 times this price. Their fee is justified, the considerable work carried out with larger media is very time-consuming, and they follow-up targeted contacts. In addition, PR agents cannot possibly work on all the projects presented to them (I have often heard that around 9 out of 10 projects proposed to them are not taken). Groover allows bands which are at an earlier stage in their career to gain visibility with the media / radio / pros.
I want to follow up with the fact that you are not just a sharing platform, you have also set up a radio station as well as a publishing structure. Can you tell us more about it ?
Since the beginning, we have had this desire to help artists get their music discovered. We started to create our own content quite naturally :
- We have a blog, the Groover Blog, which gives advice to artists on their projects and career development. It is supported by Groover Tips, which is a podcast that is associated with Gimmic / Le Poste Général. They invite a hip hop artist and a young music professional to discuss a subject, but they also host live workshops on Instagram on various themes (digital distribution, how to prepare your release, how to enter a Spotify playlist, etc.)
- Groover Radio is our online radio station. We also have playlists like the Hot 10 that we update every month. It showcases the most talented artists of the platform and the songs that have had the best results on Groover. We also have organized more than ten Groover Showcase with artists who applied directly on the platform and for free. We are proud to discover these artists and to be able to highlight them!
Groover Radio’s program for the week of November 23rd to November 29th.
What’s next for Groover ?
We are really pushing our international development right now in specific places such as Brazil, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Germany, Australia. We do so with a network of highly motivated local ambassadors like Pietro in Italy, Thiago in Brazil and Alex in Australia for example. In fact, we are recruiting ambassadors in some countries right now. The songs that are shared on the platform now go to over 50% of countries other than France, and over 70% of available influencers are British, Canadian, Brazilian, Italian etc.
We are also going to upload new filters & tags, and we will upload the first version of our recommendation system in order to help artists and professionals make their contact choices more easily. It’s a big challenge for the development of Groover.
When an artist is doing well on the platform, do you support them ?
To begin with, it is important to know that we are always available to help an artist to use Groover at best, to guide them, particularly through a 24-hour chat interface on the platform. As soon as we can give advice on other things, we do so (notably via the Groover Blog).
Regarding the most talented artists spotted on the platform, we collaborate with some of the biggest French radio stations such as FIP, RFI and well-known labels to present to them the projects that have had the best results and correspond to their editorial line. Also, we will soon launch our Groover Obsessions, our artist accelerator that will showcase and help fifteen talented artists spotted on Groover to develop their careers and their potential. We will unveil more very soon.
What would you say to an independent artist who wants to promote their music tomorrow ?
When you release a track, don’t think the job is done ! You have to build an artistic project, an image, maybe a message. Today with social media, with the impact of Instagram, people who listen to your music want to “connect” with you and / or your world.
If you can make sure that people remember your music and your project, you’ve won, because they’ll always come back to your next releases. The idea is to have someone listen to your music and say ‘I’m going to listen to whatever they do’.
Influencers like media, radio, playlists, labels in a way are important. Groover can help to make you more visible, to contact them, to plant the first seed, but you will have to nurture these relationships with these music enthusiasts, give them meaning, to give your music the full extent it deserves.
So, what should we keep in mind ?
There are a thousand and one ways to promote your music as an artist. There are a lot of PR agents and agencies out there, and a lot of platforms like Groover that give you access to a lot of media and contacts. It can be disorienting in either case.
Hiring a PR agent or using a networking platform like Groover are two very different approaches when it comes to music promotion. Yet, they are both relevant at different times in a career, and as Dorian points out, they are often complementary. Whatever your choice is, both Manon and Dorian have left us with good advice that goes well beyond the choice of a promotional strategy: we are talking about career development.
Things to keep in mind :
• Manon : “Choose wisely and carefully, it’s essential. You’ll be working as a team so if you’re not clear and precise with your work and wants you may end up making errors. […] It is always possible to use platforms that put you in touch with medias for a fee, but [their] choices remain limited (although very practical). On the other hand, it will be necessary to hire a PR agent to reach national media or to reach some that are not on those platforms. A PR agent has the expertise and a database that will make all the difference.“
• Dorian : “When you release a track, don’t think the job is done ! You have to build an artistic project, an image, maybe a message. Today with social media, with the impact of Instagram, people who listen to your music want to “connect” with you and / or your world. […] Groover can help to make you more visible, to contact them, to plant the first seed, but you will have to nurture these relationships with these music enthusiasts, give them meaning, to give your music the full extent it deserves.”
Phunk Promotion is to be found on the internet as well as on Facebook and Instagram. Groover, on the other hand, is to be found on their website, Instagram, Facebook and their other media (blog, radio).