Camille Storm is famous in the music business. In this interview, she shares some invaluable insight on PR and Marketing Strategy for young creatives.
Our guest on WeTalkSessions today is Camille Storm. She is a music journalist, publicist and A&R who runs her own entertainment company: Camille & Co. She’s affiliated with brands such as Apple Music, The Fader, Okay Africa & Boiler Room. She curates the new African music culture & shines the spotlight on emerging stars.
Hello Camille! We’re super-excited to have this conversation with you today. Hope you’re doing good, and keeping safe?
Heyyy, I’m doing great, thanks. Hope you are too? Excited to do this as well.
Our focus area for this conversation is around Marketing & PR Strategy for emerging creatives. But before we go in-depth, how did you come to be focused on the Creative Industry? Especially given your background is in core tech – Computer Science.
Well, yeah I always loved music especially from around 11 years old when I became a major Hip-hop head ( thank you Lupe Fiasco). As a pre-teen, I started dabbling into blogging and writing which I was pretty good at. I had built up such a great taste in music by the time I was 15 that I decided to combine my love for both music and writing and start a music blog. t
The blog got a healthy readership in Nairobi – where I’m from – and soon people cared more and more about my opinion on music – especially upcoming artists. Later, I decided to take music journalism a bit more seriously. I have to thank @KevinEGPerry for being one of the main people who inspired and encouraged me to do that. Also. to @TAMBIN0 for being the best editor anyone could ask for.
Around 3 yrs ago though, I decided to learn more about the music business side of things – so here I am.
That’s an interesting journey. We’re grateful for you and all you’ve been able to pull off in the industry. Starting with A&R, do emerging artists need A&R? If they do, how can they structure compensation/payment for A&Rs if they’re on lean budgets?
Yes, they do need A&R. I mean who wouldn’t want some guidance in this very unpredictable industry we are in? About compensation, I mean I’d say it’s easier to enter an agreement where the A&R gets a percentage of your (the artist’s) earnings from what you’re working on – whether it’s a single or an album.
After the creation process, artists would need to create a PR/Marketing Strategy for rolling out the music. Is there a difference between PR and Marketing? And how should artists approach both if they’re different?
There’s a huge difference. How I see it is – marketing is simply promotions and creating awareness about a product. But PR (Public Relations) is maintaining a positive image and brand as well. In a way, PR is all about stories – what do you want the public to know about you?
PR involves getting people interested in your brand as a whole and keeping them interested – so you can set yourself apart from everyone else. It’s about how you’re perceived – not just about promoting a particular product.
Focusing more on PR now, when an artist is designing/crafting a PR strategy, what are the key elements it should contain? What needs to be put into consideration?
You should know your target audience and give them a story.
Budget – or the lack of one – is definitely one of the biggest hurdles creatives have. How does one execute an optimized PR strategy on a lean budget?
There are many PR tasks artists can do on their own. Get a good EPK, have a professional email for work, be active on social media, build your presence & engagement with good content. Try and build a mailing list that you can send emails to when u have a new release.
And put in the work too. Pitch and follow up with journalists/curators as gently as you can. These people don’t know you, so you might face a lot of rejection, but even one successful placement could do a lot for you.
Also, how does one decide which channels to focus on, and which to focus less on? Does data come in here?
Data goes a long way especially for artists that have been at it for a while. Use data to guide your strategy – for example, if your song is doing well in Uganda, maybe you should look into telling that audience a little more about your music.
How do you measure the success of a PR campaign? What are the metrics that tell you how well your campaign is doing? Also, how do you measure the return on money invested in PR?
Metrics like: number of press clippings that are mentioning you or your music, social media mentions and engagement – have these increased since the beginning of the campaign?
Quantity matters but quality is also important – are you getting covered by bigger media outlets? Compare coverage between 2 campaigns to see if there’s growth – there’s actually many ways to measure this but most importantly – is the buzz ultimately leading to new fans ?
Could you please go a little further in explaining what an EPK is?
This is an Electronic Press Kit. Pretty much like a simple resume with your bio, high resolution pictures, achievements and the like. Basically, what makes you special and why we should care about you and your product (music)?
Speaking about pitching to media platforms, how should an artist properly present themselves? What determines what e-mails you open/respond to and which ones you don’t? What catches your eye and makes you interested in a pitch e-mail?
For me specifically because I’m also a journalist, the whole “Please listen to my music” thing is rather uninspiring. If it’s gonna catch my eye, it’s gotta be original and detailed but straight to the point as well. Have the pictures attached, social pages, the links to the music, and every other relevant detail.
Note: spammers get blocked.
A lot of artists have asked about playlisting, of course. How do emerging artists get their songs on major playlists? What do you look out for in songs you pitch for playlisting?
The song should be new – not older than 2 weeks preferably. If it’s an older song and it’s doing well on the streets, then it’s good too. Performance matters but if the song is undeniably good then there isn’t really much to it. Personally, I don’t wanna playlist music I don’t like – but generally, performance matters.
If you aren’t on editorial playlists, try and get on popular curator playlists. Again, pitch and gently follow up with curators – if you know who they are – and hope for the best.
Also, do you think playlisting is the master key, as many emerging artists seem to think? How important should playlisting be in the holistic promotion strategy of an emerging artist in 2020?
It’s important, but don’t ignore the other things you should be doing! There’s all kinds of other promotions an artist should be doing for a song to be a hit. But definitely, try and maximize efforts in all areas including playlisting.
For newbies that want to get into music journalism/PR, what advice do you have regarding navigating the waters? What are some critical things you’ve learnt from building your own company and working with some of the biggest brands as clients?
Be aggressive as hell. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive, take risks and trust your instincts. You will get rejected a lot but it will build your muscle for this kinda work. Network and research a lot.
How do you select artists you want to work with? Are you open to working with everyone, or it’s an exclusive service?Also, are you open to taking interns at Camille and Co? A lot of people want to know this.
With most of the artists I work with right now, it’s happened kinda organically which I think is the best way. Obviously, I genuinely have to love their music and be passionate about them. My company is boutique so the team is small and also we only take on what we are passionate about, but if I hear something good, I will definitely respond or reach out.
As far as everyone should know publicly, Camille and Co works with a select number of artists and projects at a time. We can’t take on everyone and we don’t want to. It’s not about money either. On the interning bit, email me – with a cover letter.
Do you think artists should create music in line with new trends in digital consumption? E.g shorter songs, TikTok & Triller-type songs? How much should an artist pander to what’s popular vs being original?
Don’t get distracted by trends – do you. Don’t change your style because of what may seem to be popping right now. Keep perfecting your craft. You don’t have to do what everyone’s doing, practice independence of thought, please. But if those trends are aligned with what you’re trying to sell or promote then definitely make use of them.
Finally, any last words or pieces of advice for artists and the creative industry in general?
Read your contracts – with a lawyer. Be patient, don’t get distracted or discouraged by what’s going on around you, focus on your lane. Keep perfecting your craft, build a solid team, fuck with yourself heavy. Success is around the corner.
You can follow Camille on Twitter here.