Sarah Chipman is the head publicist and managing director of independent PR company Title Track. Currently working with bands such as Sticky Fingers, Half Moon Run, Saskwatch, Cub Sport and recently overseeing the incredibly successful A Festival Called Panama doesn’t leave a lot of down time for this wonderful woman. In between the craziness of last week, she sat down to give us deep insight into life as a busy PR professional!
I am the managing director and head publicist of independent PR company Title Track. I work with a roster of approximately 20 artists, usually with 5 on cycle at any one time. I cover everything from sourcing artists and bands, to negotiating campaigns, to planning timelines, picking singles, overseeing photo shoots, pitching to radio and other media, providing therapy, liaising with other teams (international and national), sourcing interviews, writing press releases… and everything in between.
On the weekend I broke my toe at a gig, so I am working from home today partly to stop myself from walking too much, and partly because I have to go have X-rays around mid-day. Stupidest injury ever.
The night before, I was at the birthday celebration for everybody’s favourite front man Jeremy Neale, but reluctantly I wake up at about 8am and start tackling the weekend’s emails. I download the final mixes of an album I’m really excited to work on later in the year, give it a few spins and send the band some feedback. I get X-rays. I take a nap.
I wake to a lengthy email chain between several international teams working on an UK release, and try to catch up with the plan amongst the back and forth. I send the plan for AUS that fits into their timeline. I send myself about 10 email reminders for the next day when I’m in the office. I get an invite for dinner at a friend’s place and go eat their food, take pain killers, and watch Workaholics.
My housemate drives me to work, because hobbling isn’t my favourite way to get around. Coffee. Emails. I have a package of promo albums on my desk, which I push to the side for now – doing a mail-out can wait ’til the end of the week. I have the usual Tuesday morning meeting with Stephen (who owns and runs SGC) about the coming week and what we have planned for the next month. It’s part a checklist that we have everything covered, as well as a brainstorm session, and a little bit of a post-weekend catch up.
I send some cool results to bands to share on socials, and come up with a pretty bizarre way to invite people to a gig. I await the artist to laugh at me or agree to the plan. A band from Adelaide I have been speaking to send me 2 tracks to give feedback on, so I listen about 5 times and send back a brain splurge of thoughts and feelings about the track. They also ask me some general questions about where I think they will sit in the industry and on my roster. It’s fun to think about them in this context and come up with some cool ideas.
I buy tickets to Violent Soho, DZ Deathrays, and Dune Rats shows because they added more shows, and gave scalpers the finger at the same time – money well spent. More coffee. I approve some media passes, schedule some press releases, check some radio plays for my clients, and try to negotiate some interview times between media and the band. I plan all the things I need to pitch this week.
I start setting up a press release for PANAMA festival because it has sold out. I try calling Paddy from Sticky Fingers but it rings out, I text him to call me back. Today is International Women’s Day, so I listen to a lot of Triple J because they have put together a great day of hosts and guests. Stephen asks me (as the only woman in the office) if I want to celebrate in any way. I ask how, he says, “Drink beers?” We agree!
I come to work at the ridiculous time of 7.30 am, partly to avoid rain, partly because I passed out the night before halfway through an episode of a crime show at around 10pm. Coffee. I arrange to chat with the band from Adelaide at lunch time, and prep some things we need to cover over the phone.
Sticky Fingers posted a picture of an “altercation” with the police so I have several phone calls and emails from media asking for further comments from the band – we decide not to comment. It’s not as big of a deal as it seems to be in the picture. I send a press release announcing PANAMA Festival has sold out. I don’t expect any results, but it’s good for people know the success of such a small festival in Tasmania.
I spend a couple of hours pitching things for two bands currently on tour. I follow up some things bands haven’t sent to me when they should have. I try to pull together everything I need for two press releases going out while I am away at Panama Festival this weekend – so I can write them, prep them, and schedule them to go out automatically. I get some more things to listen to – this time the rough mixes from a Perth band’s debut album. I have a couple of listens while I work, and send some feedback on which are the stronger songs, plus some mixing notes, when they start getting to the nitty gritty’s. I eat a chicken salad sandwich. I spend a bunch of time looking at Community radio shows that would suit a certain artist for airplay/interviews. Then I spend a bunch of time googling super regional newspapers for a massive tour I’m working on.
I spend the day clearing the inbox and making sure I have everything sorted before I am out of office for 4 days. I re-write some press releases and make some changes. International teams keep changing details, so we go back and forth until everyone is happy. I chat to a band on the phone and we are locking in their service date – they are going to a festival this weekend too, so we decide to talk when we get back and have recovered. I leave early and go home to pack.
Today is a little hectic, as I have an album announcement from Swedish band Peter Bjorn and John, as well as a new video/single from UK’s Cat’s Eyes. All this is to be sent this morning, before I catch a flight to Tasmania for PANAMA Festival, where I have no phone reception. I scramble to get the assets together and hit go.
Time to head to the airport. I drink a beer. I speak with Sticky Fingers’ manager last minute and plan their next release. I do a final check of emails and board my plane. It’s late afternoon when I land in Tasmania, and we jump on the transport bus to the festival site – I’m joined by the guys from Superfeather, Adrian (Machine Age) and Holy Holy manager/all round legend Jess Beston. By the time we get to the site it’s quite dark, but we drop off our bags at the beautifully set up tents and head in to check out some of the pre-party action. Rolls Bayce are spectacular. DJ Black Amex blows our minds. We dance til our legs hurt, and crash at about 3am.
PANAMA officially begins. I wake up fairly spritely, considering the night before, and grab coffee for our camp squad. Not everyone is as energetic as I am at this stage. We grab some fresh juice and a breakfast pie (this thing had beans and mushrooms and chorizo and spinach and eggs all baked into an open top pie with relish… you have NO IDEA).
Machine Age is opening the festival and blows my mind. I’ve seen Adrian play several times, but this was something special. He belongs on a big stage. The rest of the day and the next is spent drinking beers, seeing a bunch of live music – highlights: The Creases, Marlon Williams, Slum Sociable, Rolls Bayce, CW Stoneking, The Harpoons – and lots of hanging with pals old and new. Shout out to the guys in The Creases (close contender of drunkest band), Rolls Bayce, Slum Sociable (winner of drunkest band), Superfeather, Nick Miles from Sailor Jerry, and Shannon from Jet Black Cat Music). I get home Monday with a bunch of amazing memories, sore legs, a warm shower, and a righteous flu.
I got to hear a lot of new upcoming albums this week. Even though sometimes they’re rough mixes or unmastered mixes, the excitement of hearing new amazing music always gives me a buzz.
Probably the accumulative number of hours I spent working or checking emails on my phone – even when I’m at home it’s hard to find downtime. Oh and getting sick after Panama festival – changing climates always gets me.
Words Of Wisdom
Do it because you LOVE music and music excites you. I always say that PR is exactly like when you hear a great song or album and you can’t wait to tell your friends about it… except that you are telling the world about it. You will have to work hard. Not everything is easy, and it might take some time, but if you love the music then it will always find its way there in the end.