How to blow your own trumpet
With 14 years of experience in the music biz, Stacey Piggott has written a book that aims to help bands get their music heard. It dispels a few myths and gives tools to enable the reader get their music out there without handing over cash to a third party. It’s full of stories and experiences from artists from different genres, at different levels, who highlight what moves they have made to get where they are now. Bobby Townsend finds out more:
What do you think is the biggest myth within music industry?
One of them is that you need to employ a third party to make anything happen in your career. You don’t, you can do everything yourself. You just need to pick up the phone, take the time and make it happen.
What was the inspiration behind writing Blow Your Own Trumpet? Was it inspired by mistakes/wrong-turns that you yourself made in the industry, through issues you constantly see when dealing with artists, or something entirely different?
The book was a direct result of the many interactions I have had with grass roots acts who are under the impression they cant do their own PR without paying a whole lot of money to a publicist. I found myself having the same conversations over and over, and I started to pull together a word document to send to them so I didn’t have to write this information over and over again in emails and it got really big! I was chatting to a few of my clients about it and they told me stories about what they had done themselves before hiring any third parties and I thought adding those stories into the document would help illustrate to the readers the many ways they could go about taking the initiative with their careers, and then it got too big so became a book.
I just wanted to give people some ides of how they can do their own PR, to get them to the point where employing a publicist is a financially viable option, rather than a necessity that is going to put them into a fiscal hole. I started with zero industry or publicity experience when I was 21, I have a double degree in Communications and Creative Writing, and was working as a freelance journalist. I worked for a band whose music I adored, I sat on the floor of a newsagent in Bondi with a pad and pen and wrote down names and number from papers and magazines, when back to my home office, started calling people and I worked really, really hard. That is all there I too it. So in my mind, there is no reason why anyone else, artist or music fan, can’t do the same sort of thing.
I also hear a lot of stories from bands who don’t really understand what it is that a publicist or radio plugger actually does. The employ these people without getting a clear indication of what to expect at the end of the campaign, they set no goals, they have no idea of what is being covered or how it is being covered and it is basically a total waste of money and time simply because there was no clarity at the beginning of the process. So I am hoping to give a few ideas to people about what they should ask for at that very early stage, and also how to find the best publicist for their particular needs. At the same time as giving them some ideas of what they can do themselves at that early development stage on their own to save money.
Do you think it’s easier or harder for bands to get noticed in the age of the internet? It’s easier to make music immediately available to a worldwide audience but, subsequently, there are a zillion other bands doing the same thing…
I think it is easier for artists to find a like-minded community and start the conversation. The internet has taken the power away from the major media outlets and handed it to the community, it is empowering for both the musician and the music lover. When I was growing up I was limited to my family and friends, [TV shows] Countdown and Rage, and whatever music the local music shop owner in Coffs Harbour [a coastal city on the north coast of New South Wales] liked to get my musical fill. Lucky for me I had parents with really good taste in music, and they had friends who had really eclectic taste as well, who travelled and bought vinyls and tapes back to Coffs. My folks played LP’s at night while getting dinner ready, Dad would talk through songs and albums, stories of times gone by that related to the songs, the artists history and stuff like that. Mum used to video tape Rage each week and I remember when Live Aid was on TV, she set her alarm and every three hours it went off to remind her to change the VHS tape! But these days, great music is a click away via so many channels. Music fans are rewarded for their time spent searching with audio, video and intimate behind the scenes vignettes into their favourite artists lives.
Yes, there is more to sift through for the music fan, but if the music is good, the music fan will find it, either themselves or via word of mouth from their mates or respected sources. That has, and never will change. Music will always connect with fans if it great, no matter what platform is offered to facilitate that connection.
How did you source people to contribute to Blow Your Own Trumpet? Were they mostly friends/colleagues?
It was inspired by the stories of my own clients, so I started with them and then looked at other people, from various parts of the industry, and genres of music who I thought shared that same passion for fostering a healthy industry and just approached them with the idea.
Did you find the same piece of advice cropping up repeatedly?
The one thing that comes up over and over is the fact that all of these guys just got up and did it. They didn’t sit around waiting for someone else to do it for them. They made great music, had a vision to get it to people and picked up the phone and started calling people. Calling venues for shows, press for coverage, other bands for supports, they just did it.
Do you have a favourite contributor?
I really like what Henry Rollins had to say, he has always been an inspiration to me, so to have his words in anything like this is a really cool thing. An interview or piece written by Gareth Liddiard is always really entertaining to read and Mikey Young from Eddy Current has a really honest and different perspective on everything. All of them are interesting and some are really contradictory which beautifully illustrates the fact that there is no right or wrong way to go about this business.
If you could go back fourteen years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Do everything exactly how you have. Every step you have taken, every choice you have made, has allowed you to live an adult life to date of amazing experiences full of talented, unique and wonderful people from a diverse range of cultures and view points. You have managed to create a career that has delivered you opportunity to travel, pay the rent, choose who you work with as employees and employers, fill your days with fun and excitement and your ears incredible tunes. You will get to the age of 35 and feel really bloody lucky that you can blast Clutch or Slim Harpo as loud as you like Monday to Friday 9 to 5 and no one can tell you not too!
If you’re a musician, band manager or a student of the music industry, then get your hands on a copy of Blow Your Own Trumpet, available November 12 from Two Fish Out Of Water.
Interview by Bobby Townsend