RIGHT PRESS, RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME.
“Our job is to make it easy for the press to write about our artists so we get great coverage in the right places at the right time for our clients."
Gordon Duncan, Founder, APB
Despite all the changes in the media over the last few years, there are hundreds of writers all over the country who want to fill their print, online and app pages with great music content. APB knows who and where they are, what they need to turn their readers on and how to convert that into album and ticket sales.
APB started in Gordon’s shared flat in Southfields, south west London in March 1998, after he had worked for the in-house press departments of Arista and Polydor since moving to London in 1992. “There were a couple of agencies specialising in Regional Press at the time, but I thought I could do it better,” he says. “I didn’t want Regional to be treated as an afterthought by labels, or as secondary to National Press. Just about every band I worked with toured at some point and I thought they deserved proper representation outside London. I also felt strongly that the bigger acts should be speaking more to the Regional media, which would make it easier to get coverage on the newer acts on the back of it. That’s still my philosophy today. If someone’s writing about music, we should support them and they should be writing about our acts.”
A retainer with Polydor got things going, which included working with Ian Brown on his first solo album. “Ian called me on day one, just as I was thinking ‘what on earth have I done’ and said ‘Good luck G, I’m with you’, which was pretty mind-blowing.”
A call from Virgin Records followed a month later. “I had put the feelers out to see if they’d give me a couple of acts to work, but they ended up asking me to do the whole label. That included the Spice Girls, Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers and loads of other great stuff. Polydor and then Virgin took a chance on me and I set out to show them that they were right to do so. The experience I got from working such big acts right from the start was invaluable.”
Another key client for APB has been Mercury Records, now part of VirginEMI, who wanted to consolidate all their Regional Press under one deal, having used 3 different companies previously. "That was a huge moment," says Gordon now. "We pitched against our competitiors and got the gig, which is still in place today. We've been able to build great relationships with our long-term clients that allows us to really get involved in campaigns and have our ideas taken seriously, not just within our own area of promotion."
Over the years, APB has worked with a huge variety of star names in rock, pop, electronic and indie music, whether from the start of their careers or at the height of their fame. Radiohead, Supergrass, Snow Patrol, the aforementioned Spice Girls, Blue, Atomic Kitten, Billie Piper, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, KT Tunstall, Maverick Sabre, Chase & Status, Sub Focus, Elton John, Olly Murs, Amy Macdonald, Shane Filan, Jake Bugg, Placebo and Emeli Sande are all part of APB’s story.
“There have been a lot of big names on our roster over the years and there still are,” says Gordon, “but you’re only as good as your next successful act. I’m happiest when I’m working a new act that’s just starting to get going, with a full tour sheet in front of them and some great music that no-one’s even heard yet. Then I can really get my teeth into it and make a difference to their careers.”
“Alongside the established acts, we’re currently working with up-and-coming artists like The Family Rain, The Strypes, Nina Nesbitt, The Struts, Foxes, The Vamps and Ryan Keen. Hopefully, when we update this section in a few months time, some of them will be as big as Jake and Emeli, who were in the ‘new artist’ category only a couple of years ago. That’s what we’re after and what we live for as music PRs.”
2013 saw APB get directly involved with festival PR, through a partnership with The Zeitgeist Agency, working on Reading and Leeds, Kendal Calling, Liverpool Sound City, Live from Jodrell Bank and more. “Doing the festivals this year with Zeitgeist has been really beneficial all round,” explains Gordon. “Our acts have got more press out of the summer shows they’ve been doing and the festivals have had some great talent on hand from our roster to help them sell tickets. Reading sold out two weeks earlier this year than in 2012 and Leeds sales were up 13%, so hopefully we contributed to that.”
To find out more about The Zeitgeist Agency and their market-leading festival and event work go to www.thezeitgeistagency.co.uk
APB has developed a custom web application called Starfile which allows simple and effective communication with journalists, delivery of content and news and much more. "I'm very keen for APB to stay ahead on ways to organise and manage our campaigns using the latest technology available," Gordon explains. "Starfile is all about the journalists being able to get what they need on our acts at short notice, or when it's convenient for them, even when we're not available to send the assets or respond immediately.
Journalists can request their review tickets and photopasses without having to worry if their emails have been received or logged, they get the latest news on our acts delivered daily to their inbox and they can download photos and info whenever they need it. We get real time reports of content use and we never have to search for a ticket or photopass request. Elements of Starfile can also be integrated into your own PR website, so your content is always up to date without having to update on multiple platforms - our own site uses the system and it works brilliantly."
"We've now opened Starfile up for other PRs to use and I think it could become a really useful tool to help with the nuts and bolts of campaigns, not just for our own clients or even just for music."
Please get in touch for a free trial or go to www.starfile.co.uk to request an account.
If you'd like to find out more about how APB can help your artists get the most out of the UK's Regional Press, please get in touch via the Contact page.