If you’ve grown up dreaming of working in the music industry, then Sacha Taylor-Cox is a name you’re going to want to know.
Rising through the ranks from radio station receptionist to Head of Press at XFM to now running her own music PR company Hush PR, there’s barely any part of the music biz she hasn’t touched – any any band she hasn’t seen live.
Sacha is solid proof that working in music doesn’t mean you have to be a rockstar or a roadie – you can actually carve a great career flexing your skills in other ways, whether that’s in press and promotion or something entirely different.But if you do fancy yourself as a potential PR whizz, here’s how to get started on your journey into the world of music and entertainment, as told by a true pro.
Hi Sacha! So, tell us – what does being a Music Publicist actually involve?
In a nutshell, securing print, online editorial, TV and Radio reviews, interviews and sessions for the artists or festivals that we represent. It’s pretty life consuming as you’re always working to deadlines and if you don’t get information to someone in time, you miss the opportunity for your act, so you have to be really on it, dynamic and organised – and no good PR clocks off at 5pm to go home for their supper!
There are times when you struggle to have a life of your own, but the great thing is the job is interesting and sociable and involves going to lots of gigs and festivals, constantly listening to music and reading or watching the media. You get to know a lot of people in this job and its a real buzz when you get one of your artists on TV or in a magazine.
How did you first get into the industry? Did you go to university to learn your craft?
I did go to uni, but it didn’t really make much difference in terms of learning my craft. This particular job, like many in the media or music industries, you cant really learn, do or explain until you’re immersed in it and it’s something you learn by being hands on over time, gaining experience. You have to think on your feet and react to, or be aware of a situation before it happens.
That’s something you’re always learning and adapting to – you cant go to a lesson and be taught how to do PR.You can have some basic guidance, but you’re always dealing with third parties about many different things and you respond accordingly with common sense. That either comes naturally or doesn’t! But for people wanting to break into this, first and foremost they should have the right basic human skill sets suited to the role, be prepared for long hours and hard work.
I started my career on an internship for a year with a magazine as a features writer, learning how magazines work and how to create engaging stories, angles and write copy, before I went to uni – and whilst there had a part-time job for two years at my local radio station, mainly just on reception, but I got involved whilst I was there on the promotions team and as a show researcher. These two long term internships on my CV meant I could leave college with enough experience to go into a job.
What did you then have to do to really start climbing the career ladder?
A lot of hours. When I started in PR there was no internet, so we were out every night at every event and industry party, networking and engaging with people. Im not a big fan of social media – I’m on Facebook and that’s it really, too many platforms to maintain these days. If I worked all of them properly that would be a full time job in itself, but I guess that’s how the new wave make their contacts and network. It’s a lot faster I guess, but more disposable.
I’m still connected and friends with people I met and spent time with 20 years ago, so can still get e-mails answered by them and call. Most journalists now don’t like taking calls as they’re also too busy, so much of what we do is online and on e-mail, and for others via social media, but it’s definitely TMI overload out there!
What does an average working day look like for you now?
I work for myself so I work from home. I’m not a morning person, so usually I start around 11am and I can still be found working at, but these days – unlike when I was younger and would be working straight through from to whatever time in the early hours I got home or finished – I always take a break to live my life and be healthy in between. I do pilates and yoga regularly every evening, swim a bit and see friends, but I always have to clear and respond to my inbox every day otherwise it’s too stressful!
I get around 300 or more e-mails coming in every day and they all need my attention and to be responded to, whether it’s sending an album or shot to someone, scheduling a promo day of interviews with press for an artist or adding someone to a guest list. Plus I’m also probably sending out twice as many as that pitching our acts to the media to generate the incoming responses! I tend to do this late at night as then I can focus and not be distracted until the replies come in the next day.
I lived in London for 20 years, which is definitely where you need to be when you start out, but now I’m usually down in London on average once every two weeks for a day sometimes an overnight during busy periods, arranging promo days – going to TV studios and radio studios with artists – meeting clients to discuss new campaigns or going to a gig where we have press in to review.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened throughout your career? And the best?
The worst thing was being sued by a previous employer because I left the company and my clients left with me. It was probably one of the most horrific experiences of my life, just being dragged through that process. Legally I can’t say much, but there are definitely no winners in a situation like that and it costs a lot of money to defend yourself against an accusation, whatever the outcome.
On the plus side, there have been so many amazing experiences and great things happen. In my twenties I got to spend most of my summers working in Ibiza on company expense accounts, and working usually involved taking press clubbing and out for nice dinners, staying in amazing hotels. I went to the handover in Hong Kong, which was a pretty magical experience, and so many more press junket and travel related ones. I got to go on a music cruise for a week this year and had the absolute time of my life!
Other moments include getting the entire front cover of The Telegraph newspaper for Creamfields once, which was quite a coup! There have been loads of highlights for coverage, when you get one of the really hard publications like Q or NME to cover something, or land a major TV like Jools Holland or Jonathan Ross or Graham Norton for your act, it’s always a highlight, along with any time you get a cover – that’s always the golden egg!
Do you feel like anything’s ever held you back in your career?
No. Only confidence and self-worth on occasion. I battle with it – despite being outwardly confident we all have our demons! But overall I believe anyone can achieve anything, I have always done everything I’ve ever wanted to do and been everything I’ve ever wanted to be, within physical and financial limitations, you just have to set out to do it and be prepared to graft for it. I like to make things happen for myself and other people!
What piece of career advice has always stuck with you?
I honestly can’t remember having any and I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. I’ve always lived by my own rules, but I would give the advice to many younger people I encounter on their career paths today, who seem to have a real sense of entitlement – and that is that no one owes you anything and no one is going to make things happen for you. We all have choices and you can choose how to live your life and choose who you want to be, and whether you are successful or self destructive, it’s always down to you.
For life in general be kind, be respectful, appreciate other peoples’ time and the opportunities they give you. Its a cliché, but as you get older you realise just how short life is, and there is nothing more important than love, support and friendship.