‘The Business of Music’: What it’s really like working in music PR

Bandwagon Press's Beth Parnell shares her career journey so far.

Beth Parnell, who runs the music PR agency Bandwagon Press, is speaking on ‘The Business of Music’ panel at The Lowry in Salford on Monday (February 5). Hosted by NME #Lifehacks and University of Salford, the panel has been set up to help young people learn about jobs in the music industry that they might not know very much about.

Beth’s PR career spans more than 17 years, during which she’s spearheaded campaigns for the likes of Calvin Harris, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Courteeners and Hurts. Ahead of the panel, she gives us an insight into her career journey so far.

How would you describe your role within the music industry? What do you do day-to-day?
“I’m a music PR and run my own PR agency, Bandwagon Press. My day-to-day job involves pitching to media outlets to secure digital and print coverage for my clients, writing press releases, choosing press imagery, liaising with management and artists, and attending meetings, interviews and photoshoots. Music PR plays an integral role in an artist’s marketing campaign and a good PR campaign can make all the difference.”

How did you get into PR?
“I studied Journalism at Sheffield University and originally wanted to be a music journalist – for the NME! After graduating, I saw a job advertised at Manchester music promoters SJM Concerts for a Press & Marketing Manager. I thought it sounded really interesting so applied and got the job. And the rest, as they say, is history…

“But after three years at SJM, I decided I’d like to move to London and was headhunted by Sony Music and worked there, largely for the RCA Records label, as a Press Officer for five years. I was then approached by a leading independent PR agency, Purple, to take on the role of Senior Press Officer and worked there for four years before setting up my own company, Bandwagon Press. The company is five years old this year and I’m now based back in Manchester.”

What’s the hardest part of working in music PR?
“Firstly, music PR is a really fun and interesting career. But while I do really enjoy my job, I would say that the long hours and not being able to switch off is sometimes hard. On shoot days or days with lots of meetings, you can get behind with work and that means long evenings. Gigs are obviously a perk of the job and one of the most fun parts, but they can also mean busy days that sometimes don’t finish until the early hours.

“And as a music PR, you get so involved with an artist’s campaign and care a lot about your clients. This can make it difficult to switch off on holiday because you want to make sure everything is running smoothly, especially when you’re not there.”

 

What advice would you give to a young person who’s interested in PR as a career?
“I’d say that contacts are one of the key parts of the job and also something that really helps you get into music PR in the first place. Who you know often creates opportunities in the music industry, so you should never underestimate the power of making a great contact at a gig or festival, in a bar, or through a friend. And when you get those contacts, keep in touch as you never know when they’ll come in handy and you might be able to help one another.”

What made you want to join this Lifehacks panel, and which music industry issues are you looking forward to discussing on the day?
“I just think it’s great to give something back and teach the next generation of talent in the music industry. I think Lifehacks run inspired events and I’ll be interested to find out what attendees are interested in learning more about on the day, and what they’d like to know about my job!”

‘The Business of Music’ panel takes place Monday, February 5 in The Compass Room at The Lowry in Salford. Check back on NME.com afterwards for edited content from the event.

#LifeHacks is on tour with University of Salford. After bringing The Business of Music event to The Lowry in Salford, we’ll be hosting further events in different cities around the UK, all aimed at helping young people to pursue careers in the creative industries. For further information about NME #Lifehacks in partnership with University of Salford, visit NME.com/Lifehacks.