Songwriter’s Monthly Presents

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R A C H E L

Big Picture Media

MILLER

Rachel Miller: Cover Of The Rolling Stone
It had been a long day. I was tired, stressed from self-imposed deadline pressures, and, to be honest, I was thinking the trip to New York had been a mistake. Then, I met Rachel. When I walked up, she was literally beaming like a Price Is Right model! She honestly seemed glad that I’d made it to the event. It mattered to her that I was there, so I felt appreciated. In that instant, I decided that Rachel Miller was either excellent at her job or she was genuinely happy to see me. And it really didn’t matter which — but in my head, it was definitely number two — because she had already managed to change my mood: I was now glad that I’d made the trek to Manhattan. Additionally, I was certain the event was going to be awesome! Skip ahead a few years to when I first found out that Big Picture Media was expanding. Dayna Ghiraldi’s “Innovative Full-Service Public Relations Agency” was opening an office right here in Philadelphia, and none other than Senior Executive Publicist, Rachel Miller, was slated to run the show! Don’t get me wrong, Philly has its share of top-notch publicity folks, but Rachel’s vibrant personality would most certainly be a brilliant splash of neon paint across the otherwise sepia world of hard-boiled

Philly PR. Awesome! I had a million questions for Rachel/Big Picture Media. Luckily for me, as a journalist, people expected me to ask them things. In other words, here’s my interview with Rachel Miller of Big Picture Media . . . Songwriter’s Monthly: Why Philly? Rachel Miller: Great question! I graduated from Drexel University’s Music Industry Program [Philadelphia] and I have a number of friends and peers in the music scene in Philly! When chatting with founder, Dayna Ghiraldi, about expanding Big Picture Media, we decided it made sense for me to return to the “City of Brotherly Love” and reconnect with everyone from years past! Besides, a lot of the bands on my roster were actually Philly based and I was doing press for a several projects that were coming out through Drexel University’s Music Industry Program and student-run record label, MAD Dragon Records (MDR). Also, we felt that opening a branch in Philadelphia was an awesome way to expand our tour press opportunities in the tristate area! SM: In what ways have you seen Big Picture Media change and grow over the years that you have been there? RM: I am going on 5 years working at Big Picture Media and I’m overwhelmed with excitement at seeing how the company has grown so much in such a short amount of time! It was amazing watching us go from a one room office in NYC to a beautiful office overlooking the Empire State Building to additional locations in Los Angeles and Philadelphia! I’m very proud to have been around to witness all the great things that have happened and to know that Big Picture Media will only continue to grow from here! SM: When I’m pitched a Big Picture Media artist, I know it will be a quality artist. What kind of criteria/guidelines do you have for accepting new clients?

RM: First off, thank you for the compliment! Glad you think so! There are a lot of things we look for when accepting new clients . . . and it differs with each band/artist who reaches out to us. The most important thing is if we have a passion for the music. That is the number one criteria for us when deciding to work with a client. We also like to see that the band/artist has worked hard to get to where they are and that they are willing to continue working hard to get their music heard! SM: Has music publicity changed over the years? RM: Music publicity has definitely changed . . . along with the rest of the industry! These days, there are a only a handful of actual print magazines out there for bands to get coverage in. The internet and blogs have really taken over the world of PR. This is not really a bad thing since print magazines will eventually be thrown out, but a feature secured on a website will live on! It has also opened the doors to many unique features such as podcasts, acoustic performance features, etc. Another upside is I send out a lot less physical albums these days then I did just 2-3 years ago. SM: Speaking of albums, a few years ago, I used to get up to 10 requests for coverage per day, but now I can easily get over 100 requests every single day. How do you stand out to a writer/editor/ press outlet amidst all of that? RM: With social media and the access to millions of different blogs/websites/ webzines/etc. in the world today, it’s definitely easier for any publicist to find a contact and reach out to them for coverage. And, the best way to stand out is to just be yourself — just like your mom told you when you were younger ;) The artists we represent, we represent for a reason, and our dedication and

“The most important thing is if we have a passion for the music. That is the number one criteria for us when deciding to work with a client.”

passion shows through our emails! It’s also good for a publicist to actually have an interest in/understanding of the outlet he/she is reaching out to. SM: What makes something newsworthy? In other words, what kind of event or happening does it take to warrant a press release? RM: There are tons of different events or happenings that can be categorized as “newsworthy.” Whether it’s an album/EP release, new tour dates, a CD release show, a new clothing line, coverage on a toptier outlet/TV, addition to the line-up of a festival, etc! Anything that shows a band progressing to the next level is a great moment to write up a press release! SM: Is it better to have a great artist or a great slant/story when pitching for coverage? RM: I would say it’s ideal to have both! We will not work with anyone we do not believe is a great artist. And from there, they usually have a great slant/story we can work with for pitching! SM: Is the phone an important tool any more or are most things done via other methods of communication? RM: The phone is A LOT less important than it was in the past, but using it can show great initiative! After you send that initial email, there are still many outlets/writers who prefer to be followed up with via the phone. Even though, in today’s society, some people will do anything to escape verbal communication, I still enjoy chatting with people on the phone . . . or even in person! SM: Are you a musician? If so, what instrument/s do you play? RM: I would not call myself a “musician,” per say, but I have dabbled in both piano and guitar!

SM: What is your favorite genre of music? RM: Currently, my favorite genre is indie-rock/bluegrass. I do tend to change every few months, though, so I could be rocking out to poppunk, straight up country, or classic rock next time you ask! SM: What is your earliest music related memory? RM: My mom always told me that when I was little, I hit my head on a stereo plug and it left a huge mark on my forehead. From that moment on, she knew I would work in music! I’m not sure I can remember my earliest music related memory. I grew up with my parents who loved music and took me to tons of concerts. Once, when I was probably around 8 (or younger?), we went to visit my parents’ friends in Maine and ended up going to a hole-in-the-wall venue to see Hootie & the Blowfish play. We even got to meet them afterwards. I guess that’s my first music related memory! SM: Are you jaded or do you still get giddy around celebrities? RM: Very interesting question! I have never been one to get giddy around celebrities, really. I remember when I was younger and I was at a Gavin Degraw concert, my friend really wanted an autograph, so I just ran up to the front and got it real fast for her. That being said, there will always be times when I get super excited around people I respect, but in this field it is important to be able to shift into work mode, if needed! You never know what is going to happen at any event/festival “Anything that you’re at and it’s important to be able to shows a band go with the flow! SM: When you see a show for fun, can you ever relax or are you always half in work mode? RM: In other words, am I ever able to go

progressing to the next level is a great moment to write up a press release!”

to a concert as a complete fan or have I been changed by working on the inside? SM: Yes! RM: I can definitely still relax! I love music and going to shows, which is why I am in this field. SM: What is your favorite way to relax? Do you have any hobbies or interests that are not related to music? RM: I love to travel and I love outdoor activities. I try to sail, kayak, camp, etc., as much as possible! I love to do random arts & crafts projects — when I can find the time — and I have discovered a new love for gardening since I’ve moved to a place where I actually have room to do so! I am also constantly struggling to improve my photography skills . . . maybe this year? SM: What is your favorite location (in the world)? RM: I have spent a while sitting here trying to answer this question and I will say there is no answer . . . YET. One of my passions in life is to travel, but I have not been to nearly enough places for me to make a judgement call on my favorite location in the world. I have been to a good portion of Europe, Australia, Israel, and I am going to Iceland at the end of August, but that is only the beginning! To date, I would say that Wales was one of the most beautiful places I have been to. Parts of Sydney were very beautiful, as well. Feel free to ask me again in a few years ;) SM: What is your favorite aspect of your job? RM: There are tons of aspects that I love, but at the top of the list would probably be being able to chat with new artists and hear new music everyday! Not too shabby, if I say so myself =)

SM: What artist would you love to work with? RM: There are TONS that come to mind when reading this question! One band that really paved my path to the music industry was Something Corporate, so one of the top artists I would greatly enjoy working with down the road would be Andrew McMahon. SM: What is your best “I must be dreaming” moment so far? RM: To be honest, it would be having had the pleasure of working with Ben Gibbard at last year’s CMJ Music Marathon. Ben Gibbard and Death Cab for Cutie have been one of my favorite artists/bands for years, and being able to help with the release of his solo album, Former Lives, and with the release show during CMJ was a huge personal milestone for me. I also had the pleasure of meeting Zooey Deschanel [Ed. Note: Okay, now I am officially jealous!] at Sundance Film Festival — I’m a huge fan of her band, She & Him. SM: What has surprised you the most since you have moved to the inner workings of the music industry? RM: What has surprised me the most about the inner workings of the music industry is just how small it really is! Everyone connects with and works with everyone else. It’s just like one big family! SM: What does the future hold for publicity? Do you see it becoming even more vital as more and more people create songs in their bedroom? RM: Publicity is one of the most important parts of the puzzle. A band definitely needs to have that piece in place if they expect to grow. With more and more bands/artists/etc. popping up every day, you need to have a voice so

“Publicity is one of the most important parts of the puzzle. A band definitely needs to have that piece in place if they expect to grow.”

you can be heard! Publicity is VERY time consuming and hard for the band to do themselves. Especially with all of the new press outlets constantly popping up on the internet and in social media. SM: Final question, when you have put in all of your years and are in retirement, what would you like to be able to say was your biggest accomplishment? RM: I always used to say that I wanted to be the first publicist and photographer to have my band on the cover of Rolling Stone . . . with the photo that I shot! Who knows, it could happen! You can reach Rachel, at: rachel@bigpicturemediaonline.com For more information about Big Picture Media, visit: www.BigPictureMediaOnline.com

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