Grandstand Media's Jen Appel discusses how publicity works.
You’ve made your music. Now what? That’s where Jen Appel comes in. She conceives and organizes campaigns that promote new releases, tours, and any updates her artists need to share with their audiences. Without her, all the work they’ve done could be just another drop in the bucket. In this Q+A stemming from our last Co.Lab event in Los Angeles, she guides us through all the ways your publicist makes certain you’re heard.
Spotify for Artists: What’s your role at Grandstand? And what was the career arc that led you here?
Jen Appel: The day-to-day varies depending on what the projects are and if there are any problems to solve immediately. One of the things that I like the most about this job is the fact that every day is a new adventure, and you’re rarely stuck on the hamster wheel of repetition and boredom.
The career arc that led me here was simply being a music fan— I was actually interested in music journalism, but I had an opportunity to do an internship between my high school junior and senior year at a music PR firm that gave me an incredible, more artist-centric look at the media process. I loved it immediately.
What’s the full scope of what a publicist might touch in working with a musician?
We weigh in on anything public-facing depending on the artist’s needs—we handle interviews, photo shoots, album reviews, TV bookings, any PR opportunities, etc. We’ll also advise on the overall narrative and messaging for the artist or project, which could include social media, imaging-anything that helps develop their aesthetic world.
How do you see your role fitting within a broader team?
It’s my job to work seamlessly with the manager, the agent, the label, and the artist to bring a myriad of goals to fruition. Every department is looking to achieve something different. I definitely see my role as one that supports the endeavors of other team members along with my own, which is to put the artist out in public in a way that feels most authentic to who they are and what they’ve created.
On a practical level, what have you found to be the best way for an artist to communicate with their teams? Does this involve frequent meetings? Group threads?
It ultimately depends on the artist and how they best like to communicate. One of my artists only uses text, another sends long emails, another only wants to do phone calls. I personally find calls the most useful because they create actual dialogue, but not every artist wants to communicate that way.
What kind of qualities and traits do you recommend artists look for in potential partners?
The most important thing any artist should look for in a team member is a belief in who you are and what you’ve created. If a person doesn’t connect on a larger level to your music and isn’t willing to go to the mat for it, then why would you want that person on your team? Legitimate care goes a very long way. Obviously good organization and being solution-oriented are helpful qualities as well.
What advice do you have for an up-and-coming musician looking to publicize their initial efforts?
Timing is everything. You can only get certain pieces at certain points in your career, so bringing a publicist on board at the right time is as important as who you bring on. Also, a lot of the artists I’ve worked with made organic connections with local media before I was brought on, and that definitely helped make them feel like they were part of a real place or moment in a city’s musical scene.
Are there ways of publicizing one’s work that you actually recommend against?
I recommend against anything that feels out of line with an artist’s core values, aesthetic, and heart. That can take a variety of shapes and forms, but it’s really anything an artist ends up regretting—that didn’t feel truly in line with who they are.
-Spotify For Artists