Success With Digital Promos: Earsplit PR

**This is part of a series of interviews that showcase Haulix customers who successfully use digital promos in their day to day operations.**

Earsplit PR
, an independent publicity collective, was spawned accidentally back in 1999 when founding tag team Liz Ciavarella and Dave Brenner worked at Nuclear Blast Records together. What started as a side gig to help promote bands that deserved more recognition turned into a full-fledged husband and wife business venture that represents some of metal’s top tier bands. The company specializes in extreme metal marketing/promotions and helps get bands and their music/tours noticed by consumers both stateside and abroad.

When asked how many artists and what genres of music they deal with, Earsplit had this to say, “Our roster is forever expanding/morphing. We’re always working several dozen highly active bands at any one time. Right now we have over 200 clients; some are active touring bands, others are lower-key studio-type projects (others are simply working on new records and temporarily dormant). We interact with an incredible array of musicians, managers and label folks over the course of a day. EarsplitPR focuses predominantly on the metal realm and other forms of heavy music; everything from classic heavy metal to lo-fi cult black metal, American and Swedish death metal bands who’ve been active for 20-30 years, brand new indie acts, experimental/genre-bending scene forerunners and anything in between.”

When it comes to a typical work day, “[It’s] long and hectic. It’s generally an endless stream of email, phone calls and various forms of communication between labels, bands, management companies and writers. Press releases are written, interviews are scheduled, reviews are logged, speakers are blown… it’s always an adventure at the Earsplit Compound. There’s never a moment where something doesn’t need to be done." 

We asked how strong of an impact written buzz from the media is, before an album is released. "It is one of many factors that go into building an album for release, and definitely an important one. With the incessant flood of music available to metalheads, and music fans in general, these days, it’s integral that a band stay in the spotlight.”

Digital promos were always meant to decrease or eliminate the costs that traditionally came with mailing out physical discs. Earsplit added, “While physical product is always a treat, it’s generally not cost effective to mail 300 – 400 CDs any more nor do you get the same response. Promoting records digitally allows us to reach a far wider audience." Since going digital, their job has literally changed. "Our rates are far more affordable now that manufacturing and mailing costs have generally been eliminated from the equation. A single package containing two CDs to Europe can cost up to $7 each; that adds up quickly when you’re trying to hit even just a handful of editors and writers.”

Has watermarking proved to be a sufficient defense against early leaking? Earsplit responded, “While watermarking isn’t on its own a foolproof method in preventing leaks, it is a major deterrent. On the rare occasion we’ve had a track leak via Haulix, the staff was very on point and immediately traced it to the leaking party.”

In conclusion, we were eager to hear their take on where the music industry is headed, as well as their advice for anyone considering moving to a digital promotion strategy. “Like anything else in life, change is imminent. We are not a record label, but speaking from our perspective — as fans and as publicists —the digital market is definitely taking over. That however doesn’t mean the death of the music industry. It just means a need for different sales strategies. Bands are touring more; they’re selling more merch. Diehard fans are buying vinyl again and though more and more folks are purchasing the digital release, there will always be fans — and we think this goes for metalheads in particular who are generally more “collector” prone — who  appreciate packaging and the sheer excitement of buying a new CD. There are also more properly-promoted indie labels sprouting up and selling more product than ever. [This] creates a bit of a "middle class” in the record sales market, rather than a band being either a major act or an unknown band.“ They continued, ”[As far as their experience moving to digital promotions] just what we said earlier: [benefits are] cost effectiveness, a farther reach and the security in Haulix’ watermark capabilities has really helped us in all our promoting endeavors.“

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.