Erica D'Aurora has been surrounded by music her entire life and is infatuated with all genres, with an essential love for Italian pop since she's part of a big Italian family. She's worked hand and hand with some of the most renowned PR agencies and labels in Latin music; spearheaded countless PR campaigns for indie artists across genres; and has been published in outlets such as TuneCore, ReverbNation, Soundfly, and Underground Music Collective. Erica is the founder/owner for her own music publication Music Notes Global and most recently, launched her own PR company where she serves as owner/publicist, Gioia Communications. She has a decade of music industry experience and breaks down for us what it's like to work in the world of Music PR. Check out our interview with Erica below!
Bethany: Hi Erica! Thank you so much for interviewing with us today. We always love working with you and your PR company, Gioia Communications. How is everything going with you?
Erica D’Aurora: I’m doing well! Gioia Communications is just wrapping up its first official year and I’m very much looking forward to what 2024 has in store.
Bethany: Along with having Gioia, you also run your own music blog, Musical Notes Global. Can you explain how you got your start with everything?
Erica: Sure! I graduated from college in 2013 with a degree in English, and by 2015 I was still looking for jobs and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had always known that the music industry was where I belonged, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to be involved in it or how to get involved in it in the first place, so I started Musical Notes Global as a way to combine two of my greatest passions–music and writing–and everything just snowballed from there.
Beyond learning more about journalism through the blog, which has proven to be more valuable than I could have ever imagined, I was also exposed to other fields in the industry as I received pitches from independent artists, managers, and publicists. When I learned more about PR, I realized that I had finally found my calling, and today I can honestly say that I absolutely love my job and I’m so grateful for it every day.
Bethany: Have you done any other industry work besides PR and music journalism?
Erica: I haven’t! All of my experience in the music industry has been in journalism and PR.
Bethany: How are you able to balance both your PR company and music blog?
Erica: Right now, it’s kind of a challenge to balance both. My PR agency has to take priority, but I still publish interviews and posts on the blog when I can and I am still very passionate about continuing to grow the platform in years to come. I’m finally taking more steps to expand my team, so I’m excited for the new era of Musical Notes Global.
Bethany: How do you stay motivated when PR business is slow?
Erica: It can be really tough, mostly because I love my job so much that when things get slow I hate not being able to do that job! It fills me with so much genuine joy when I work with artists and bands that when I hit those slow times, it helps fuel my motivation to keep going.
Owning a business is hard, and it comes with a lot of ups and downs, but I have learned–and continue to learn–how to adapt and how to make the most of the slow times, which are the perfect moments for business development and putting in the legwork for future growth. When it’s busy it can be difficult to work on very important things like networking, so when it’s slow, I like to take advantage of that time to make new connections both in the industry and outside of it.
Bethany: A lot of our readers are simply big music fans, but we do have some who are aspiring music industry professionals - maybe with a focus on PR. What advice do you have for someone wanting to break into music PR?
Erica: Music PR is very dependent on your passion for your work. I can’t stress that enough. It’s a really tough area of the music industry, and I had no idea how difficult it could be when I first got started. However, it can also be incredibly exciting, super fun, and extremely rewarding, especially when you come across those clients that you really click with, so it’s important to learn how to cope with the challenges when they come, because getting to work alongside clients you really care about and help them achieve their goals when it comes to publicity makes it all worthwhile.
I started this agency as a way to support and celebrate the amazing people behind one of the most powerful forms of art we have in this world: music. - Erica D'Aurora
Bethany: I believe I have been personally working with you for two years now and I feel like I’ve learned so much from you, but one of the best things I’ve learned from you is how to have excellent communication skills. Your pitches about artists are always so personal, yet professional. How did you learn to approach editors, writers, etc. in the way you do?
Erica: First of all, I have to emphasize how appreciative I am that our paths crossed, and it is always a true pleasure to work with you. I love your passion and it always makes me more excited about my own work.
I’m also so happy to hear that my pitches are resonating with you. I have been on the receiving end of so many pitches because of Musical Notes Global, and so many of them are utterly terrible. Some have too much information, some don’t have enough, others don’t include a direct link to the release the person is inquiring about, and still others aren’t personalized, even from people that I have worked with multiple times.
I think it has been really beneficial to approach pitching from a journalist’s perspective. It helps me to avoid those mistakes that I have so often seen and that, quite honestly, have resulted in me disregarding some of the pitches I receive, as sorry as I am to have to say that.
The music industry is all about forming and maintaining relationships, and the relationships that form between publicists and journalists are crucial to the work and success of both sides involved, so it’s very important to me to not only maintain the relationships that I’ve developed with journalists, but to continue to nurture them as well. Therefore my goal is always first to accurately convey the message of the music I’m pitching while also making sure the person I’m pitching doesn’t just feel like a check mark on my list. I want him or her to feel appreciated and supported because I couldn’t do my job without them!
Bethany: Are there any other aspects of the music industry you’d like to explore that you haven’t yet?
Erica: I think PR will always be my first love, but I wouldn’t rule out exploring booking, or maybe even management, in the future.
Bethany: So I am an introvert - have been very shy and quiet my whole life, but can come out of my shell when I’m comfortable in certain environments. Creating Song & Fury, partaking in some internships, networking, etc. has made me put myself out there like I would have never imagined. Did you ever struggle with any of that early in your career?
Erica: I’m an introvert too, so I totally understand where you’re coming from! And similarly, when I’m comfortable in certain environments, or I’m around certain people, I can come out of my shell.
Starting MNG was incredibly hard because I was putting my writing out there for anyone to see, and it made me feel really vulnerable in the beginning, but I got used to it over time.
Networking was something that was also very hard for me early in my career, and it still is (especially in person because I’m very shy!), but I think what helped back then was that I was able to do so much of it over the internet. It’s so much easier than doing it in person and it’s a good way to get that experience with relationship building under your belt so that when you do find yourself meeting new people and attending events in person, it makes it a little easier to do.
Bethany: So your job as a publicist is to essentially campaign for artists when they have new releases or are doing shows, going on tour, etc. Can you explain what the process is like from start to finish?
Erica: It all starts with a conversation, whether that’s through email, phone, or zoom, where we talk about the artist’s upcoming music and goals. If the artist decides to proceed, we get a contract signed and then begin putting together the materials for the release–streaming links, cover art, the artist’s bio, etc. We’ll make up an EPK where all of these materials will live and that we can send out to press, and we’ll create a press release to announce the artist’s new single (or album or music video, or whatever we’re promoting) for sending out to journalists.
We begin pitching to press ahead of the release so we can secure the first pieces of coverage with the goal that they be published on or soon after release day. After release day arrives and passes, we wrap up pitching and follow ups.
Throughout the campaign we track coverage posted, and this information will be included in the report we send to the artist at the end of the campaign.
Each campaign is personalized to the artist, so each campaign looks a little different, but what I’ve shared above is a basic overview.
Bethany: Along with being a publicist and music blog owner, there’s also social media and marketing that come into the mix. I’ve noticed with what I’m doing, I’ve sometimes focused on the social media side of things more than the creative side. Where do you stand and how important do you think social media is when it comes to your work?
Erica: Social media is very important for anyone who has a business, and artists and bands are included under that umbrella because they, too, are their own business.
I think when it comes to social media, it’s important to recognize where to focus your efforts, because it can get very overwhelming very fast. That’s where analytics come in: they’re there for a reason! You can see the content that’s performing better and that can help you make informed decisions about what to post going forward.
Since social media has become so important for business, it can also be very easy to focus more on creating social media content than on your actual work, so it’s important to strike a balance.
Any of my clients will probably tell you that I sound like a broken record the way I’m constantly reminding them to post to social media, though. Of course, I understand they’re busy because, as I mentioned, they are their own business and in addition to actually making the music, they are also doing things like booking shows, scheduling tours, and working day jobs. But in the end, my work goes hand in hand with theirs, where in many ways the more they work on their social media and grow their fan base there, the more I’ll be able to do to promote them.
Bethany: What are your goals for working in the industry?
Erica: Right now, my goals are to grow Gioia Communications into a successful, well-established PR agency that artists and bands can trust. The music industry is very competitive, and it is especially demanding on the artist, whose task isn’t only to create incredible music, but to also maintain their social media accounts, plan tours, and keep track of finances. It’s a lot to handle. That’s why I always want to provide my clients with a safe and supportive space where we can work together.
Gioia is the Italian translation for the word joy, and it’s important to me to maintain that essence as a driving force behind my work and to always make the client’s experience a positive one. Hopefully they walk away with more joy for their work and find themselves encouraged to continue doing what they love.
Bethany: Are there any artists you’d like to work with or just have one special project with?
Erica: It’s most important to me to work with artists I’m passionate about, and I’m super lucky to have been able to work with some truly incredible artists and amazing people throughout my career so far.
I also love working with artists across genres–everything from rock to pop to the Latin genres lights me up. I will say, however, that since I’m so connected to my Italian roots, one of my dreams has always been to work with artists from Italy and with any artists who are also very connected to their Italian heritage. The music of Italy holds a very special place in my heart, and I would love to become more involved in that scene at some point.
Bethany: What advice do you have for aspiring music industry professionals?
Erica: Most people who decide to enter the music industry choose to do so for a reason. Many of us can’t imagine working in any other industry. Although it’s a tough industry to build a career in, don’t be discouraged when you hit roadblocks and never lose sight of the reasons why you chose this path. And always hold tight to your passion–it will bring you farther than you think.
Bethany: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us and our readers?
You can find Musical Notes Global at musicalnotesglobal.com and on social media @mngblog!
Bethany: Erica, thank you so much again for interviewing with us. As always, it’s such a pleasure to work and talk with you. We’re so excited to watch you grow and to continue working with you. We hope you have amazing holidays!
Erica: Thank you so much!! Happy New Year!