GoGirls Music's Madalyn Sklar, Rainmaker's Rhonda Kelley and Burn In Silence/3000K's Ben Schulkin shatter the cost/time barrier between independent musicians and critically-important media coverage.
Houston, TX and Boston, MA (Billboard Publicity Wire
) May 14, 2007 -- "This is what the new indie looks like," says Jimbo Mathus of Squirrel Nut Zippers.
Finding the right industry media contacts has been the most daunting challenge facing indie musicians: lots of time away from the studio and stage doing research, or lots of money to hire someone to do it.
Today, the indie world has changed dramatically with the launch of The Virtual Publicist (www.thevirtualpublicist.com
), a Web-based service that enables independent musicians to download a current list of over 400 music magazines, zines, blogs and freelance writers; and ready-to-use labels for mailing press kits along with resources such as: writers, web designers, distributors and music coaches.
Madalyn Sklar, founder and CRC (chief rockin' chick) at GoGirlsmusic.com; Rhonda Kelley, founder and publicity guru of Rainmaker Public Relations; and Ben Schulkin, web programmer for 3000K and founding member of Burn In Silence (Prosthetic Records); had a first-hand understanding of the need as music business coach, publicist and musician.
"We're all about supporting and empowering everyone to rock out and perform and be wildly successful," said Sklar, whose GoGirlsmusic.com is the oldest and largest online community devoted to women musicians. "But the harsh reality is that you need to get noticed to create buzz. The Virtual Publicist helps you do that--right down to the mailing labels."
Artists go to the website, purchase the list and get a download of the contacts and labels, which are formatted and ready to use. The Virtual Publicist plans frequent updates to ensure that the list is always current, but at $39.95 per download, the service is affordable even for the artist who wants to update their contacts periodically.
"Anything that empowers musicians to take control of their music careers like The Virtual Publicist does, is always a smart move," says Roy Elkins, founder and CEO of Broadjam.com. "Created by working musicians and working publicists; it gives new meaning to DIY."
"There's nothing worse than putting your heart and soul into writing, recording and producing a CD and then seeing it go flat because you don't have the right contacts," said Kelley, whose PR agency was one of the first agencies devoted to servicing the unsigned artist; it opened over 12 years ago. "With The Virtual Publicist, you can send your press kits with confidence and have more time to make music."
The founders say that the Virtual Publicist reflects the reality of the indie market today: the number of artists vying for attention is exploding; there's an underlying attitude that indie--once the bastion of do-it-yourself, street-level, down-and-dirty promotion--has become commercialized; and there are so many new media outlets--good and bad--that it is hard to figure out which will work and which are junk.
"It's the double-edged techno-sword," says Schulkin, who knows about the rigors of indie publicity first-hand as a member of Burn In Silence. "The technology delivers a lot of new sites and blogs and online music sites, but you really need to be an industry expert to sort them all out. The Virtual Publicist brings both together."