In a recent visit to Raleigh studios, publicist Brian Bumbery spoke with students about starting his own agency, BB Gun Press, and about what it takes to make it in the music business. Bumbery started out working at music business trade magazine in the early years of his career, before joining a record label as someone’s assistant. He “grew up in the business” and as Bumbery likes to say, opening his first agency when he was 22. Over the years Bumbery went back and forth with record labels, learning more about his craft and making connections with artists. He now has his own company and says every step of the way he has learned something that he has applied to where he is now.
Students: What are key roles as a publicist?
Bumbery: I think the most important part is when you take an artist and you sit with them and you help them articulate their story and the points they want to get across and then broadcast them out world wide. Thats the most important role I play as a publicist.
Who are some of the music artists your agency represents?
We represent all kinds of music: The Band Perry, Metallica, Green Day, Muse…. We even do corporate events publicity for Citibank and Pandora. We have worked with Tony Hawk on his Stand Up for Skate Park event benefit. Anything that moves us: a book, an artist, fine artist. If you love it and are passionate about it, I’d work with it.
What is your journalist pet peeve?
When they don’t answer my phone calls or emails, but they are busy posting on their social media and tweeting all day.
What are some things you do to prepare your clients before an interview?
As a publicist it is my job to really prepare the artist and let them know who the journalist is and what they have covered.
What are some things journalists should look out for from a publicist?
When they commit their clients into doing a feature without asking [the client] first. For example, the journalist saved that space for the interview and then the client says artist is passing.
If you weren’t a publicist what would you be?
I have flown all over the world and have met all kinds of people. I would love to be in the secret service or work in the state department and be stationed over-seas.
Why did you decide to do your business in LA and not where you grow up in New York?
Since I was a little kid something always told me to move to California and I did, years ago.
Who is your biggest role model?
My biggest role model is Lorraine [Ali from LA Times.] I remember I had to write something and Lorraine just said to me ‘write what you feel.’ That to me was the ultimate because in PR you write pitch letters to people in hopes of them listening to music or watching a film so writing what you are able to feel can help the [reader] feel the sincerity and honest.
How proud of yourself are you?
I feel like I can always do better. Am I proud of myself? Yes. But there is room for improvement.
What is the worst thing to have happen in your career as a publicist?
Suicide would definitely be a hard one.
What kind of mentality have you to adopted while working in this industry?
You have to have thick skin. You are going to get told no a lot more times than you are going to get told yes. Do not take things personally.