Stacey Piggot’s new book, Blow Your Own Trumpet, A Musician’s Guide to Publicity & Airplay is a book for self-managed artists, budding music managers and music industry students. It was written to dispel myths and provide a collection of tools to help the reader promote their own music or that of the bands they are representing, without handing over cash to a third party. It’s a book of ideas, guidelines, philosophies and stories telling the many pathways one can choose to create a media presence in Australia.
Stacey Piggot, you’re originally a Coffs girl? We like this …
My family moved to Coffs Harbour when I was four, and I stayed until I finished high school. I love it; I get back whenever I can. My dad is still there and a lot of my closest friends have moved back to raise their families. I think it will always be my home, as long as all of those people are still around.
It is a place to exhale and escape from the craziness of the big smoke; walking along Boambee Beach without another soul on it is my kind of heaven. I find it really grounding to go home; I feel like a kid again when I land. I am proud of my correlation to Coffs – growing up with that strong sense of community has served me well in city like Sydney that is notoriously about the individual.
Tell us about your career …
I started working in music by accident. I was working as a freelance journalist and waitressing at a friend’s restaurant in Bondi on the weekends, and I met Donna Simpson from The Waifs, who was also a waitress.At that point, they were taking care of their own booking, management, distribution and publicity and they had a new record and tour coming up. Donna suggested I do some publicity for them.
So I went and sat in the newsagency with pen and pad and wrote down names and phone numbers out of magazines and papers, went home and started calling people. That was at the very brink of a major shift in the music industry; the notion of an independent artist crossing over to the mainstream was pretty foreign at that time.
The fact that I was totally clueless and had no industry experience was a blessing, because I had no expectations and therefore no limitations. I still work with The Waifs today; it has been a long and fruitful relationship. They have since gone on to win a couple of ARIAs, collected a number of platinum records, sold out national tour after national tour and played on stage with Bob Dylan, all while remaining 100% self funded. Working with them attracted more independent artists who needed help with their publicity, and eventually there were so many on my books, being a publicist suddenly became a full-time job. I have been lucky enough over the years to work with some of my favourite artists like Clutch, Bon Iver, Neil Finn, Augie March, Henry Rollins, The Drones, The Jezabels, The Mark Of Cain, and loads more.
Every New Year, I get to go down to Lorne on the Great Ocean Road and watch eight or so months of work blossom, when amazing local and international acts blow people’s minds at The Falls Festival. I have small team of amazing staff who work with me, and we get to blast great music in the office all day while we talk about it. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my life, to be honest.
Music is one of those things that just keeps on giving; it’s a universal language that doesn’t care about age, gender, religion or geography. There is nothing that gives me the feeling I get when I listen to music or see an awesome gig. I love it!
What is the motivation behind the book?
I come into contact with grass roots acts, and a lot of them seem really lost with where to start when it comes to media. There are so many platforms to cover with online, print, TV and radio, and it can be really overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.
They also have a this idea that to get anywhere they need to spend a lot of money or have a third party act on their behalf. For young acts, spending outside of their financial means on a publicity campaign can be a futile experience and can leave them with a mass of debt, bad relationships with the people they owe money to and a world of stress. When I have been talking to artists who are starting out, they seem genuinely surprised that they can contact media themselves and also surprised when I give them examples of some of our clients who manage their own careers.
I wanted to provide them with a collection of ideas, experiences, stories and explanations that, I hope, will inspire them to pick up the phone and just start calling people to get things moving, rather than sitting there waiting for the phone to ring. Nothing in life happens unless you get up and make it happen, and we are missing out on some really great music because the makers of it are waiting by the phone.
I also wanted to add in some first hand experiences from artists who have taken things into their own hands to start those balls rolling to highlight the number of pathways musicians can create to make their music a paid career, rather than just a pipe dream.
The stories from the artists are riddled with differing opinions on various aspects and assorted successes and failures as a result of their particular pathways, but the one thing they all share is the drive to make things happen for themselves and the hunger to keep going in search of a break when someone has told them no. It is that kind of tenacity that makes or breaks an artist. Talent is everywhere, but talented acts who are willing to work their butts off are not as common.
I hope that when people finish the book they will feel more confident to forge their own course and more clear on what to ask for and expect back should they get to the point of wanting to engage a third party to help spread the word about their music. I hope it will save them some money and save them some hard lessons by hearing those learned by the artists they admire.
When does the book go on sale?
It is on sale now through www.twofishoutofwater.com/book
Thanks so much for having me!
This article was published in issue 30 of Coffs Coast Focus