At Get In Her Ears, we’ve been committed to promoting female-identifying and non binary bands and artists for a while now, so we thought it was about time we also focus on those amazing women working hard behind the scenes in the industry!
Following our feature with Alex and Phoebe from Southbank Centre, for the second in our ‘Behind The Scenes’ series, Mari had a chat with Kate Price and Frankie Davison from music PR company Stereo Sanctity. They’re both responsible for sorting the press and spreading the word about all the artists on their incredible roster, and we love working with them on campaigns for so many of our favourites!
Find out about all the hard work they do, and their experience as women working in the music industry, below…
Hi Kate and Frankie, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you each tell us a bit about yourselves and how you got started working at Stereo Sanctity?
Kate: I first got involved in the music biz when I was a teenager and started writing for a few web sites and magazines. Eventually I decided I’d rather work in PR than be a journalist and worked at a couple of different music PR companies before starting Stereo Sanctity in 2012. After six months I started looking for someone to come on board and Frankie was put in touch with me through a family friend. I knew she was the person to hire when she talked excitedly about how much she loves CocoRosie, who I was working with at that time. They are also one of my favourite bands and one who somehow embody a lot of the things I wanted this company to be about. It worked out rather well and Frankie is still here and soon to be an official partner in the company!
Frankie: Hiii, I moved to London after I finished studying at university in Leeds because I knew I wanted to work in music but didn’t know exactly what area of music I wanted to be in. I did an internship at Dummy magazine for a month and then after that I then did another internship at XL Recordings around the time The xx released their second album, which was pretty fun. It was actually my mum who gave me Kate’s email address via a friend of hers who knew someone who ran a music PR company and was looking to employ someone. I then came to London for a little chat with Kate and thankfully she gave me the job and then put up with me for the next six and half years! So thank you mum and thank you Kate.
Can you explain a little about what your job as a music publicist entails?
Kate: A lot of nagging! There are two sides to it really. There’s the setting up of album campaigns and advising on everything from press shots and biographies, to helping choose focus tracks and release schedules. And then there’s the actually going out and getting press – conveying the information to people in an appealing way, pitching coverage ideas that suit the artist, organising interviews and photo shoots, and then collecting all of the results and passing the feedback to the rest of the artist’s team.
Frankie: Haha, indeed a lot of nagging. And patience. And more nagging. On a more serious level, Kate has summarised it pretty well above here, we help with the set up so all the behind the scenes stuff before a campaign starts and then I think one of our main tasks is to figure out the talking points of a record, what makes it stand out to a point where people will want to write about it.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Kate: Music! We’re very lucky to get to work with artists we’re truly passionate about and getting to play a small part in their story is really exciting, especially when it really takes off. I also really love meeting so many different people. PR is a job where you’re talking to everyone – the artist, label, management, agents, promoters and journalists, and that’s something I really enjoy.
Frankie: I love the fact we get to work with so many people and lots of great, talanted people as well. As Kate said we’re in touch with everyone when it comes to releasing a record, the label, the artist, the booking agents, the distributors, the writers and it’s really nice feeling like a core part of all of this. I also feel very lucky as I get to work with some of my favourite artists – bands that I used to put on my playlists before I even started working in the industry – sometimes it feels quite surreal that I’m doing press for them now. It’s also really nice watching an artist’s profile grow and seeing them get bigger and feeling like you’re a part of that growth.
And do you have a least favourite part…?
Kate: It can be very stressful. A large part of the job is managing people’s expectations, and it can be really hard when the people hiring you have certain goals in mind, but the people at those publications aren’t interested. We can’t force anyone to write about our bands, we can only do our best to get the music and information to people who are likely to appreciate it. It’s hard not to take it personally when a press campaign isn’t going as well as everyone would like, but experience has taught me how to handle those situations and know that doing my best is enough.
Frankie: Sometimes a record we’re working on might not get the attention it deserves simply down to something like the time of year or week it comes out so this can be pretty stressful. I guess the key for us is to be persistent but not annoying. Sometimes it takes a little longer to build a response and it can be a little frustrating when that’s down to matters that are out of our hands.
Stereo Sanctity is home to some of our favourite bands and artists (including Noga Erez, Chastity Belt, Tacocat, Skating Polly, Jenny Hval… I could go on!). How do you normally go about choosing who to promote? Do you get in touch with them, or would they normally approach you?
Kate: Most of our artists come to us through the managers and record labels who we have a relationship with. We’re lucky that some people with great taste like working with us and come back to us regularly with the artists they’ve taken on. We both listen to everything we get sent and make a decision based on whether we like the music, how it works alongside the other artists we represent and if we feel that they’ll be of interest to writers.
Frankie: Yeah, as Kate said, we’re really fortunate in that we work with some really great people and some of our favourite labels who offer us work. If we do really like an artist, we’ll also reach out to them to see if they have a press agent already but most of the time, I’d say it’s normally people approaching us.
It is also noticeable that a great percentage of the artists on your roster are female-identifying/non binary, which obviously we’re super pleased about! Is this a conscious decision on your part, or does it simply work out that way by chance?
Kate: It’s not a conscious thing, but I guess it’s just the artists we’re drawn to, and the artists that are drawn to working with us! We don’t make decisions based on gender, but it just seems that lots of the artists we’re most excited about are women and non-binary artists.
Frankie: Yeah this isn’t a conscious decision but just happens to be the case. In terms of choosing who we work with, we largely base it on whether we like and believe in the music – I feel we’re quite lucky in that we can choose what we work on so we’ll only take on something we genuinely like it.
As mentioned, you’ve worked with some pretty amazing bands and artists since we’ve known you, has there been a particular highlight/favourite client of your career so far?
Kate: Ahh that’s really difficult, there are so many and I hate to pick favourites, but getting to work with heroes of mine like Babes In Toyland, John Carpenter, Wire, Bauhaus and Goblin has been truly amazing. Getting those calls or emails asking if you’d be interested in working with someone of that influence is truly exciting and humbling.
Frankie: I honestly would find it really hard to choose one or a few favourites out of all the people I’ve worked with. We started working with Italians Do It Better last year so have been doing press for Chromatics, Desire, Glass Candy and all their other artists which felt like a real dream come true. Other than that, I’d say working with people like Zola Jesus, Gold Panda, Jenny Hval, Hilary Woods, L.A. Witch & Orville Peck has been super exciting. Honestly, I could go on naming people, but I will stop here!
And is there a particular band/artist that you haven’t worked with yet, that would be top of your wish list to promote in future?
Kate: Haha, wellllll the company name is a Sonic Youth song… I did actually get to work with them a little, back when I was starting out and interning. But yeah, their various projects are obviously top of the list for me – especially Free Kitten (if they ever do another record). There are so many artists I’d love to work with really. PJ Harvey, Bikini Kill, Nick Cave… Robyn, Beyoncé… This could go on for a long time!
Frankie: Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Rihanna. I really love pop music and would love to do press for any of these three but I feel like whoever is doing their press at the moment is doing a pretty good job already, so they probably don’t need a new publicist, haha!
How have you found being a womxn in the music industry? Are there any obstacles you’ve come across because of your gender?
Kate: Yeah, it’s something I’ve been aware of my whole career. It definitely feels like it’s got a lot better in recent years, but even so, being a woman, especially one who looks young, can make it much harder to get people to take you seriously. Being talked over in meetings, being patronised, other people taking credit for your work, people trying it on inappropriately, finding out male peers are being paid more for the same work, hearing people say that a publicist should be replaced because she’s had a baby so won’t be any good at the job anymore… I’ve experienced or witnessed all of these things and it’s bullshit. In my experience, it was more prevalent in the more business-based side of the industry, so a part of my decision to set up Stereo Sanctity was to get away from that. We’re very happy to work with lots of incredible labels, managers and others who are genuine music fans and, regardless of gender (theirs or ours), treat us with the utmost respect and care and never make us feel like we’re “just women”. I’ve only experienced a sexist attitude once in recent years, and I quit the project before the record was even announced.
Frankie: There’s only been a few times where I’ve felt I’ve been treated differently for being a woman and it’s just been a case of having to stand my ground a bit more. I think we’re quite lucky in that the area of music we work in, and the people we work with are not the type of people who would speak any differently to us based on our gender, but I imagine in some other parts of the industry it may be different.
And what advice would you give to other people wanting to get into music PR?
Kate: I would say get as much experience as you can – both by writing for blogs and web sites, and by doing work experience placements. If you go to loads of gigs, get involved in the music scene, make yourself known to people who work in the industry, show that you’re passionate and proactive, then opportunities will come to you. The music industry and PR especially is very much about personal connections, and you don’t need to be employed to start making those connections.
Frankie: It’s all about experience and connections – I’d say get out there and meet people, go to gigs and make yourself known. Figure out what area of music you’d like to work in and apply for the jobs. A lot of people I know have had to intern before landing a full time job in music, so just keep an eye out for what opportunities there are and then be persistent.
As well as promoting some already quite established names, Stereo Sanctity seems to do a lot for newer/upcoming bands and artists – are there any in particular you’d recommend our readers check out?
Kate: I’m really excited about a producer from Mumbai we’ve just started working with called Sandunes, and a Polish producer called Zamilska. We’ve also just started working with Katie Gately, who is known for producing serpentwithfeet’s records – I’m a huge fan of her last record so really excited that we’re going to be involved with the next one. Also, our no.1 cowboy Orville Peck who is on his way to taking over the world. And an LA punk band we’re working with called The Paranoyds. Loads!
Frankie: So many. Orville Peck is definitely worth checking out – 100% my favourite cowboy and just ridiculously talented. BABii is a Margate-based artist we work with who is really god and just released her debut album. Then we’ve got a new London-based artist called Hinako Omori we’re about to start working with who is also very good – expect lots of synth goodness. Also, Sea Change is a Norwegian electronic artist we’re working with at the moment, who is releasing a new album this November and worth listening to. There’s SO many!
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Kate: Just that we love working with Get In Her Ears – you ladies do an incredible job and we really appreciate all the work you put into supporting up and coming musicians. Thank you!!
Frankie: Yes, thanks so much for having us and for supporting the artists we work with. We feel very lucky to get to work with and communicate with people like you ❤
Huge thanks to Kate and Frankie for answering our questions and taking part in our ‘Behind The Scenes’ feature! Find out more about Stereo Sanctity and their amazing roster here.
Photo Credit: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto