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Unapologetic Fandom - The Hustle of Being a Publicist

By Mitch West

Imagine having a gig where you get to work with your favorite bands and be a part of their journey. That's what being a publicist is all about. One of the reasons we started Gallery Space Media was to connect not only with different artists but also to shed light on all aspects of music, arts, and entertainment including those working within the industry. We hope to talk with venue owners, talent buyers, bookers, agents, managers, publicists, street teams, producers, sound engineers, lighting techs, tour bus drivers, etc. Towards the end of the Summer last year we had the chance to talk shop with Kalie Tomlinson and Becky Kovach of Big Picture Media. BPM was started in 2007 with offices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Boston specializing in "buzz-building services" for bands, festivals, events, soundtracks, films, non-profits, brands, influencers, and clothing brands. Their roster boasts a pretty cool lineup of artists such as 311 , AwolnationInsane Clown PosseThe OffspringSum 41The Mars Volta, and many more. Check out their current artist roster HERE.

For Kalie Tomlinson, the lightbulb moment realizing she wanted to be a music publicist sparked from an unlikely source - a cringe worthy celebrity tabloid. "I was reading an article about One Direction and there was some kind of stunt going on with them," she recalls. "I was like, 'This doesn't add up. Nothing here makes sense. I could do a better job than this.'"

That yearning to do better PR for her beloved musicians set Kalie down an unexpected career path that eventually led her to Big Picture Media.

For both Kalie and Becky, working as publicists fulfills the ultimate dream - getting paid to champion the artists they adore. "Our job is to be our artists' biggest fans," Becky said. "If you don't [have that passion] and you write a pitch or press release, it comes across. Your excitement and enthusiasm is what's going to grab people's attention." This sincere zealotry is just the start for publicists in a uniquely frenetic career consumed by "controlled chaos." With each repping 10-15 clients juggling overlapping album cycles, tours, and initiatives, keeping all the ships steered properly is a monumental organizational challenge.

"I live and die by a to-do list," Becky says. "I have lists upon lists and docs upon docs of everything I need to keep track of on any given day." Kalie agrees: "It's just kind of day-by-day - what's most important, what needs to get done?"

What does get done is a never ending hustle submitting pitches, confirming coverages, and constantly amplifying their clients' latest achievements. "I can send anywhere upwards of 300 emails a day and still have more things to do," Becky says. The biggest key is cutting through the static to get media to pay attention. As Kalie admits, "You have to worry about catching the attention of journalists and cutting through the 500 other emails a day they get. That's really intimidating and scary and not easy whatsoever."

It's a job that is truly 24/7, with little separation between their passionate work and personal lives. "If you get a call from a manager on a Sunday at 6 am, you can't ignore it," Becky says. Their devotion means constantly being on-call to extinguish any crisis or missed opportunity. As Kalie admits, "My work/life balance in my first year here was terrible."

However, the chaos is constantly relieved by pure fandom highs - like when Kalie attended the When We Were Young festival working with bands she idolized since childhood. "These are bands I've been a fan of for years that see me now and they're like 'Kalie we know you!' Just being in the press room and helping them...they're like 2 feet away from me. It felt surreal."

Those career peaks are what makes all the hustle worth it for Becky and Kalie. They know their roles are not just selling music, but amplifying the artists they genuinely revere. "There's nothing I love more than going to one of my clients' shows and absolutely making a fool of myself singing, dancing, and jumping around," Kalie beams. Becky concurs: "People remember how happy you are to be there and how much you love what you do."

That enthusiasm is baked into the publicists' ethos at Big Picture Media. As Becky advises aspiring publicists: "Don't be afraid to show that you're excited about something. At the end of the day, people remember your excitement...we wear our hearts on our sleeves because we care so much about our jobs and clients."

Scoring those dream gigs requires fearless hustle from the start. Kalie's advice? "Put yourself out there, email your local scene, get involved. You never know who you're gonna meet and who's gonna blow up." She personally cold-emailed bands to eventually rep one of her favorite acts after professing her fandom when they opened a show. As Becky says, "You have to be OK going up to someone at a show being like 'Hey, you have no clue who I am, but I know who you are and this is why you should work with us!'"

For Kalie and Becky, being a publicist is a potent mix of passion, persistence, communication skills, strong writing chops, and relentless organizational discipline. It's a career of controlled chaos. But it's driven by an unapologetic love for shouting about the music they adore from any rooftop.

"We all love our jobs, we do," Kalie says definitively. Becky leaves with one final motivational nudge to any aspiring publicist: "You work in music. So many people would kill to be in that position. Please, just enjoy it."


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