Behind the bands with Mike Cubillos
Mike Cubillos is a music publicist and the founder of long-running independent PR company Earshot Media, based out of Los Angeles. Over the years he’s worked with a wide range of clients including The Wonder Years, Of Mice & Men, Reel Big Fish, Vans Warped Tour, All-American Rejects, Avenged Sevenfold, Plain White T’s, All Time Low and many more.
Photo: Alex Bemis
How did you get into your role?
I started like a lot of people do—as an intern, while in college, working for free at a few different record companies (MCA Records, BMG). After my second internship was up, I was hired on as an assistant in the publicity department at a small label that was part of the BMG family at the time, eventually working my way up to Director of Publicity. From there I made way over to a few other labels, eventually landing at Mercury Records where I was part of the West Coast PR team. After a huge round of layoffs which saw our office pretty much decimated, I decided to strike out on my own and start my own company. Thus, Earshot Media was born.
Can you walk us through a day in the life of a publicist?
Every day is different, but it usually starts with a lot of coffee and checking emails. From there, my day consists of pitching writers and editors, tv bookers, podcasts etc on our artists– coming up with different angles that might click with media. On any given day, I’m also writing up press releases, on conference calls/Zoom meetings, consulting with labels, managers and the artists themselves. When the world goes back to normal, many afternoons and evenings will again be spent meeting colleagues for lunch, drinks, pre-show dinners and at clubs/venues when bands start touring again.
“PR is all about relationships so establishing those connections with the key players is super important.”
What’s a good starting point for anyone reading this hoping to get into PR?
Internships are a great way to learn the ropes, but it’s not the only way in. I’d say just get out there and get as much experience as you can. Immerse yourself in your local scene- get to know the bands, the promoters, the people who work at the venues, the writers and editors at the local papers and blogs. Keep up on music trends and happenings on and then maybe offer your services to smaller bands or labels that might be at the level where they need that extra push that a publicist can provide. PR is all about relationships so establishing those connections with the key players is super important.
How exactly does a press campaign work – can you talk us through it from start to finish?
It usually would start by asking a band and their team what they hope to accomplish with a press campaign. It’s different for every client and it can change with each release and phase of an artist’s career. How can you tell the artist’s story in a compelling way that will resonate with media types and consumers? Another aspect is gathering assets, helping to get a bio done, photos, etc. and then pitching media to secure press looks that will help the artist and their team achieve those goals they set at the start of the campaign.
Out of all the campaigns you’ve ever worked on, was there one that stood out as your favourite?
While the projects that take off right out of the gate are always exciting, sometimes the slower building ones are the most satisfying. Taking a smaller emerging artist that no one knows about and working with them over a long period of time and then eventually watching that persistence pay off and said artist begins to connect with audiences and media- that’s the best feeling in the world. That said, some of the most fun I’ve had on projects was working on big events like Vans Warped Tour, It’s Not Dead Festival, Taste of Chaos Tour, Music Tastes Good Festival, Punk Rock Bowling etc.
If you could grab a drink with five people who’s either inspired you or who you’d consider a muse, who would it be?
That’s tough, but I’d probably go with some of my musical heroes:
Black Francis (Pixies), Paul Weller (The Jam, Style Council), Terry Hall (The Specials) and if I could go back in time when they were still with us Joe Strummer (The Clash) and Joey Ramone.
Any other tips?
Just be kind, and treat people well. Don’t get caught up in the B.S., stay grounded and try not to take anything personally.
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