When it comes to publicity there isn’t anyone that knows it better than Earshot Media founder Mike Cubillos. During Mike’s career he has worked with labels such as Rise Records, Fearless Records, Century Media as well as hundreds of artists. We caught up with Mike to see what goes into promoting a band and some tips for both artists and those aspiring to establish themselves in PR.
For those who don’t know you, give them the Mike elevator pitch.
My name is Mike Cubillos. I’ve been a publicist in the music industry since the Dark Ages (otherwise known as the early-90’s). I worked in house at various labels and eventually ventured out on my own as an indie, starting my own independent PR firm, Earshot Media, around 1997-ish. Earshot works all genres + events etc, but we’ve primarily made a name for ourselves in the punk/pop-punk/indie/emo/post-hardcore/metal worlds.
Was there a single project or relationship that helped catapult you forward?
I would say that Mojo Records, my first client as an indie publicist, kind of laid the groundwork for me establishing myself as a publicist in this scene. With a roster of bands like Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger and others, it led to me taking on other like-minded clients.
How do you get people to pay attention to new bands?
First off I think it’s important that a band have great songs to start. You can’t deny killer tunes and talent. That’s not all it takes though. It takes a lot patience. There’s so much new music out there, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get noticed. It helps if you have different angles to work with. We like to focus on what makes a band special. What makes them stand out. What led them to where they are now and how can we tell their story in a compelling way that will make others want to write/post about them. It also helps if you have a band that wants to work hard. A band that is constantly engaging with fans and cultivating their online presence, playing shows, etc. is always going to stand out over a band that’s just sitting back waiting to be discovered.
What is one of the biggest mistakes you see up and coming bands making?
A lot of bands get ahead of themselves. They want to get signed, get a manager, hire a publicist, tour the world and get on the cover of their favorite magazine right away, but they don’t realize that these things take time and a lot of work. Bands should be willing to put in the time to hone their skills, build their fan base and grow their “brand” and be realistic about the steps that need to be taken to get to that next level. Success doesn’t happen overnight.
What is more important, music or image?
It’s all important to be honest. That’s not to say that a great band with a crappy image can’t be successful, or vice versa—in fact, we’ve all known of bands that seem to succeed on image alone, despite not being that great musically. Ideally though, a band should have both.
What are your 3 top tips for people looking to get into PR?
- Have a thick skin. Be ready for rejection, or worse, no response from media.
- Always be persistent, but not annoying.
- Be a good person (Don’t screw people over. Treat others how you want to be treated. Keep your word…all that stuff your parents taught you.)
What pick of your current artists would you love to give a plug?
So hard to pick just one because I’m really digging all of our clients, but right now I’m especially fond of Telethon, who came out with an amazing record that kind of defies description, short of saying it’s a special guest-filled, 30-track indie/punk rock opera about the internet, relationships and the end of the world. You can download it for free here: https://telethonband.bandcamp.com/album/the-grand-spontanean.