Music PR practitioners’ advice: combine what you learn and love

Last Tuesday’s UT PRSSA meeting hit all the high notes when Music Box Media founder Melissa Cox and Paper Thin Media owner Brett Cannon spoke to UT PRSSA about public relations in the music industry. Music piqued the interest of the 63 members in attendance as Fun Fun Fun Fest and ACL Festival 2012 approached and the usual energy of the Austin, Texas music scene thrived.

Melissa, a 2011 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin public relations department, was involved in the student-run talent show Texas Revue in college and had a passion for music. What started as a resume booster and admiration for local favorite The Bright Light Social Hour became a real creative service industry, and Music Box Media was born.

Melissa Cox addresses the UT PRSSA chapter one year after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. Photo: Rachael Sperling

 “Joining things like PRSSA are a great way to get started,” said Melissa, a past Alan Scott chapter member. “I had a lot of mentors going through college, like professors and people I’d networked with in Austin that I went to for advice.”

Not everyone encouraged Melissa, however, and often warned the budding entrepreneur of failure.

“It was disheartening, but it gave me more motivation,” Melissa said. “I made everything unique and eye-catching and really played on the band’s personality as well as my own to be as transparent and real as possible.”

It sounds like a success, because The Bright Light Social Hour is in the middle of a national tour. Music Box Media is expanding to fashion and arts and will soon have a website launch.

Paper Thin Media owner Brett Cannon began with roots in music, too. After touring with his band throughout high school, he had a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of music business and touring. Once in college, Brett accidentally found himself in an introduction to PR class and changed his major from psychology to public relations.

After graduating and working at a law firm, Brett took a chance and started working music PR full time. The risks must have been worth it, because his clients have made appearances on 20/20, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and Eastern Sea will be at ACL Festival later this month.

Brett Cannon speaks to the value of out-of-the-classroom experiences. Photo: Rachael Sperling

“Throughout what I’ve done, it’s been focused on what I love,” said Brett, advising the chapter on how to find an exciting career path. “You guys are here because you’re doing something you like. Whatever you’re doing, stick with something that you love and great things will happen.”

To future PR practitioners interested in working in music, Brett credited Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World, with offering plenty of opportunities for anyone who is willing to work.

“This city has become a mecca for all things entertainment,” Brett said. “We have events like SXSW, Austin Film Festival and C3 Presents and all their wonderful festivals to thank for that. Find opportunities and get internships. Work for free as long as you can.”

If you’re interested in the music scene, search for volunteer or internship opportunities at C3 Presents, SXSW, ACL Festival and Fun Fun Fun Fest or publications like Austin Chronicle and Austin360.