Canadian Music PR Prodigy, Jon Asher, Recounts His Rise From a Glum Corporate World to the Founding of Asher Media Relations – Part 2 of 2

[…Continued from August 27th]Asher Media Relations

Taking a look at things from a musician’s perspective Asher advises bands looking for a PR rep to ensure that whomever they choose, they “believe in the band first. The PR guy should be your number one fan. If he’s not your number one fan, in your corner, you’re screwed ‘cause then he’s not pitching the story right, or the band right.” It also doesn’t hurt to do some research and find out, “who has he worked with? A PR rep’s roster can say things to you. Check the press coverage he got for those bands […] simple Google nowadays, or you can always ask the PR guy for his portfolio.” As for a final, and practical piece of advice, he adds that, “you have to find the right PR person that fits your budget. I’ve always believed the more expensive a PR guy is, usually it’s because he’s that good.” Pausing he points out that whether dealing with a PR rep, a manager or anyone else in the business, if as a band you want to prove you’re serious and committed, be prepared to show “what have you done before I’m even in the picture? […] What have you done as a band by yourselves ‘cause that’s going to say these guys will work hard, they’ve worked hard on their own and now they’re on a level that they need help.”

If a band is uncertain if they should be searching for a PR rep Asher’s advice is simple: “If you don’t know what a PR rep is, you don’t need one,” he says and continues, “It is mostly bands who are touring […] and have an album out and are serious. If the band is going to be active, I can keep active. If a band is just going to sit on its ass and do nothing, I can’t push it.” Elaborating he adds, “What bands should know is that when they tour they get the most press coverage ‘cause media guys want to see a live show […] they need the visual, you know, it’s a product [and] bands forget they’re a product.”

A firm believer in both print and online media he says musicians and PR reps should always remember to turn to the web as “another way to get your message out. I’m a fan of social media: Twitter, Facebook, MySpace […] Facebook is my communication tool, honestly. Those news feeds, people don’t think about it, but that can go anywhere.” Online media is especially important for indie acts because “when you start with a band from scratch, they have nothing, websites are the first ones to jump on before the print, radio etc. Online can really get you out there […] people are reading about you and listening to your music. The key is just to get you on as many websites as possible for the image awareness.”

Although Asher admits, “everyone’s punching each other over this one, they’re kicking and screaming, and debating,” he doesn’t see the CD going anywhere when it comes to the business side of things. “I’m a fan of the CD. For me, as a PR guy, it’s my promo tool. Most media people are still like “send me the CD, I don’t want digital,”” he says, but adds that although that may be true, “the digital age is taking over and the business model of the music industry has collapsed. The age of making profit off the CD is less.” However, Asher doesn’t see this as a horrible thing as he’s always been a firm believer of free music. “I honestly strongly believe indie bands should give their music away for free to build that awareness […] you want to be heard, you can’t think about profit. You’ve got to cut your losses and suck it up and say “Hey! OK, here’s my free music, but come to my show, we’re touring.”” Put into simple terms, “Everyone loves free stuff and when they get it they pay attention.”

If you’re considering entering the world of PR, Asher is quick to offer some key advice. There may be many perks, but it takes a lot of commitment and hard work and anyone interested will have to “put a lot of time and effort and believe in it.” The self-professed insomniac says, “I work an average day 11a.m. to 4a.m.” with some help from an intern in Montreal and a rep in Toronto. A trick to staying on top of things is endless amounts of notes, “I have notes on my board, a book agenda, Google calendar, and I even email myself to remind myself what I have to do during the day,” he laughs. Another trick of the trade he reveals is “what it comes down to is […] the storyline, because the media is just looking for a story. People read ‘cause they want to read a story. Surefire Machine is a perfect example with the skydiving tattoo [The band’s guitarist, Zeke Galt, jumped out of a plane at 11,000 ft and got his band’s initials –SFM- tattooed on his forearm while freefalling!]”

No matter how hard or hectic things may get Asher never loses his drive. “I love my job so much that it’s not about money. My favorite part of the job is to go to a band that’s independent and say “Hey, look at this, you’re in this paper or you got this interview or you’re in this mag!” That’s the reward for me and for the band. Especially for independents, with how much is out there and how much everyone is competing, it’s like wow!”

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