Words by Alana Mitchelson
Photography by Anne Moffat
With so many artists self-managing these days, Viceroyalty director Zac Abroms believes publicity tends to be one of the only aspects of the music industry that remains a collaboration.
“We’re in a new era of the music industry now where being independent is becoming the norm, but publicity still seems to be one of those things musicians deputise onto somebody else,” Abroms says.
Born in Connecticut, USA, Abroms moved to Australia at age 9. A trip to London inspired him to initiate a monthly club night in Melbourne for which he assumed a promotional role. His natural flair for the gig eventually led to a stint as an assistant manager at Forum 5 Management & Recordings where he began talent scouting, marketing, managing artists and releasing records independently.
After three and a half years experience and having developed working relationships with well-known artists, Abroms wished to maintain the appealing independent model for his solo boutique venture, Viceroyalty.
“I think there’s a lot to be gained from being independent. Creatively, you can do whatever you like, whereas other labels might be steering their bands in a more commercial direction. I was adamant that I would always place art before business.”
Artist publicity appears to be progressively shifting to the online sphere, which is fortunately more cost effective and holds the potential for reaching an international audience. Abroms believes publicity is one of the most important things for emerging artists to consider. He maintains that there is little point expending so much time, money and effort in perfecting your sound if no one is going to even hear your music.
Abroms revealed there is positively a great camaraderie forming among industry figures. Increasingly, there is more knowledge sharing taking place between likeminded publicists in contrast to most other facets of the Australian music industry which are not so forthcoming and highly competitive.
While Viceroyalty receives up to 20 publicity requests each month, Abroms often sources his own artists. He keeps a close eye on what the media is covering, observes growth in popularity of social media pages and reads local music blogs. After all, it’s sites such as The Ripe, Pilerats and Sound Doctrine who discover and champion new bands and artists before anybody else has even heard of them.
A vital resource in the publicity business is building a solid database of industry contacts. Abroms recommends The Hype Machine and the Australian Music Directory as good starting points for publicists and musicians alike.
For someone starting out in the publicity business, he recommends gaining some experience working as an intern or casual employee and indicates that he himself is open to mentoring assistants.
While he spends much of his time behind a computer screen sending emails, Abroms stresses that networking in person at gigs and conferences is equally as important.
“You have to just go out there and give it a crack and learn from your mistakes. Knock on doors and be prepared to have some of them slammed in your face, but slowly make connections and get your name out there.”
Viceroyalty take a holistic approach to publicity where the focus is not about single sales or record sales so much as it is about raising the artist’s profile on the whole.
Four years on Viceroyalty is bringing at least one artist to the international stage each year and has worked with the likes of Japanese Wallpaper, Hopium and Montaigne.
Abroms hopes to continue to follow the artists he has worked with for a long period of time. He plans to take a more hands-on approach to international publicity with Australian artists, as well as overseas networking with a view towards assisting in the Australian music landscape.
For more information on Viceroyalty, visit www.viceroyalty.com.au