Mike Cubillos is the founder of Earshot Media, an independent music/lifestyle PR and web marketing company that was founded in 1997. Over the years, Earshot Media has built a reputation as one of the most trusted and effective grass-roots PR firms in the music business.
Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
My name is Mike Cubillos and I run Earshot Media, a independent PR company. I've been doing publicity since the early 90's and have been running Earshot since 1998.
What drove you to choose your career path?
An early obsession with music and musicians and a love of writing.
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
I went to college majoring in Radio-TV-Film. I originally planned to go into TV production or programming but an internship with a major record company lead me to pursue opportunities in the music business.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
Emails, phone calls and follow-up emails and phone calls. Ha!
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
That it's easy and that anyone can do it. It's true, PR is a skill that can be learned and is not exactly rocket science, but it does require a lot hard work, long hours, dedication, creativity and patience.
What are your average work hours?
While I strive to have some sort of work/life balance, my job is pretty much never-ending. Even when I'm not "working", I'm working (ie. checking/answering emails, putting out fires, dealing with writers/editors on deadlines.) Let's just say, waking up at 3am in a panic about some sort of work-related issue is not uncommon. Ha.
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
Technology has helped make my job easier in many ways. The ability to service music digitally and track who is listening and how often is very convenient. Staying organized and keeping prioritized to-do lists helps too.
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
I like to think my years of experience in the field working all sorts of genres and projects, and my long standing relationships with members of the media, help me in what I do.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
It helps if they have all the basic assets we would need to launch a successful campaign, including photos, cover art, a website, updated social media sites, a realistic and clear vision of what they hope to achieve.
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
The long hours can be brutal at times, and sometimes I think it would be nice to take a break from the emails and social media, but that's very difficult (or nearly impossible) to do in this line of work.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
Working closely with artists, labels and managers that I respect. Working with writers and editors. Crafting creative pitches and seeking out unique opportunities for my clients.
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
It varies. Starting out, young publicists can't expect to make a ton of money, but with experience the pay goes up. A veteran publicist can make a very comfortable living. It also depends on how many projects you are working, if you work in house for a label or agency or if you are independent. Marketing budgets at most labels are shrinking so sometimes it feels as if publicists are now expected to work twice as hard as they used to for the same amount of (or less) money.
How do you move up in your field?
Hard work pays off. If you do something long enough and do it well, people will notice and opportunities will come up.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Don't expect anything to be handed to you. Be professional. Be patient. Stay up on what's going on in the music business. Seek out opportunities to get early experience in your own local scene.