How To Become a Tour Publicist
What Exactly Does a Tour Publicist Do?
“Some of the most important things a Tour Publicist does would be securing regional interviews, show previews and reviews throughout the artist’s tour,” explains Andrea Faulk, a Tour Publicist with the Mitch Schneider Organization. “They need to make sure the press knows about the show and invite them out to the show to review. A typical day could include sending out a press release announcing a new tour, pitching various outlets based in each city on the tour, putting together a report of everything that’s been done, scheduling interviews, and press lists for each show stop. This would be just the general overview as each day in a Publicist’s life is different!” As part of their daily work, Tour Publicists interact with Music Journalists, Music Bloggers, the artist and his or her record label, and others in their department, such as Publicity Assistants and the department head.
“The most common trajectory would be Intern to PR Assistant to Tour Publicist,” Faulk says. From here, PR professionals can work their way up to a role as Tour Press Director. “If someone would like to move on from tour publicity, the next step would be a Music Publicist, as they have a much broader range of clients and projects they can take on,” she says.
Education & Training
Since writing skills are an essential part of the work, most Tour Publicists have an undergraduate degree in a related field. “I would recommend either a degree in Communications or Journalism or some sort of education/training in Music Industry,” Faulk says. While in college, aspiring Tour Publicists can take advantage of internship opportunities that can help them gain an edge in career experience and hiring decisions, too.
What skills do you need to be a Tour Publicist?
“Experience-wise, the best way to start would be as a Publicity Intern or Assistant at an independent PR company or in the PR department at a label,” Faulk says. “A few skills needed as a Tour Publicist would be both creative and informative writing, research, and music publication knowledge. I’ve also found that having some sort of extra skill such as graphic design, photography or especially social media can put you ahead of the rest. I’ve seen my skills put to use for event flyers and invites, in addition to helping me pick the best press photos for artists.”
If you’re interested in becoming a Tour Publicist, Faulk tells us you should be “friendly and cooperative, as you will be working and connecting with a lot of people, whether it’s with the artist’s staff, TV bookers, or Journalists. Any sort of Publicist must also be easygoing with thick skin as there will be a lot of rejection when pitching artists for coverage. After being rejected, a Tour Publicist should also be determined to keep going and creative to come up with a different route of getting press for a show. A calm and collected person who can smooth over difficult situations would be highly successful.”
Like many music industry careers, Faulk explains, “A Tour Publicist has a set amount of hours we work at the office, but we also need to be available at all hours of the day. ‘Available at all hours’ does not usually equate to ‘working all hours’; it just means if there’s some sort of emergency — such as a Photographer stuck outside of a show — we need to take a minute to work it out. We would also go to all of our clients’ shows (in our area) but that definitely doesn’t feel like work to me!”
To land a job as a Tour Publicist, Faulk advises “the best way would be promoting shows or writing for their school paper or blog while in school. Take an internship at a PR company or at a label. Afterward, they could easily be hired as an Assistant to a Publicist through this route. Although depending on experience and hard work put in at the internships, I’ve seen some people jump right into a Publicist role.”
How Much Does a Tour Publicist make?
On average, Tour Publicists earn approximately $47,100 annually. The average salary range for Tour Publicists runs from $35,000 to $64,000.
In terms of how professionals in her field are compensated, Faulk says, “it really depends on how the Tour Publicist is employed — are they a part of an indie PR company, a label, or freelance? Label Tour Publicists are salaried (Tour Publicists at labels can be rare), indie PR companies could be salaried or paid per client, and freelancers are compensated per artist/project.”
Unions, Groups & Associations
The Public Relations Society of America provides networking and educational opportunities for PR professionals, offering focused Professional Interest Sections such as Entertainment & Sports and New Professionals (for those in the field less than three years).
“I am not aware of any specific online sources geared especially towards Tour Publicists,” Faulk says, “but I still make sure to keep up with general music industry news with Billboard Biz, Music Connection, and Pollstar along with music news in general. On the PR side, I like reading PR Daily for the public relations aspect of this job.”
- “Going to a lot of shows can be a major plus. It helps having a well-rounded, up-to-date knowledge of music.
- Writing for a music blog can cut down the cost of going to shows and gives the writing experience needed.
- Intern in the PR department at a label or with an indie PR company.
- Stay up-to-date with the music world by following music news.”
What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?
“Intern at a PR company or record label. This gives you the knowledge of how things are run, experience, and even the recommendations for future employment. I have seen more and more music companies recommend their best Interns for positions at other companies.”
What’s the #1 mistake people make when trying to get into this career?
“People make the mistake of thinking if they land a job in PR working with an artist they admire, this will ensure they will get close to the artist. Many times you will work with artists and those relationships will develop, but that shouldn’t be why you apply for a job.”
What is the question people should ask about this career but rarely do?
“Why would an artist who already has a Publicist need a Tour Publicist?
Most people just figure the national Publicist can also pitch the daily or weekly papers. If an artist announces an intense fifty date tour, a Tour Publicist can focus on the tour dates, allowing the national Publicist to focus on the bigger picture for the artist.”
What is one thing I should have asked which I didn’t?
“Do you travel with the artist?
When I first got into PR I really thought that a Tour Publicist would be going on tour with the artists to help out with the press. I learned quickly that’s only with major superstars and may be an outdated concept with today’s technology. One exception to this rule is that major festivals do need their Publicists on-site.”
If you could describe in one word what makes you successful, what would it be?
“Efficient. The music industry is a big, fast, ever-changing world. With PR, we have to change or lose relevancy. Sometimes the same local magazines, blogs and even local TV shows won’t be there the next time I come around to pitch an artist. We have to be on it.”
Extra Credit: The Beatles or Rolling Stones?
“Definitely the Stones!”
Andrea Faulk is a Tour Publicist with the Mitch Schneider Organization. She has worked on campaigns for The Mowgli’s, Slash, Babymetal, Korn, Brian Setzer, Yes, PiL, Warped Tour, and the Classic Rock Awards.