If you go by what it says on Motormouthmedia’s website, Judy Miller Silverman is the “Chief Chick” of the LA- (and now NY-) based PR firm. The boutique company boasts a roster that shines with the brightness of indie music’s greatest proponents, currently containing impressive names such as Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Yeasayer and Flying Lotus. Miller Silverman has been in the game long enough to go about things the right way (Motormouth booked over 15 national TV appearances for its bands in 2010) and now looking back, she tells CMJ that she initially got into the music publicity game as she was looking to combine her passion for writing and music. “I did a lot of music journalism back in college and realized it was no way to pay the bills,” Miller Silverman explains. “PR was a logical move.”
What’s your worst ever true life industry story (naming names not necessary)?
Back in the late 1990s one of my clients signed to a major. This was a band I really sweat over and for whom I had built a really solid and glowing profile. The band and manager said, “Oh you are coming with us, we will take care of you.” I had a meeting with the A&R guy who signed them who said, “Do not worry, you are taken care of and you are going to be on the team.” Weeks go by and I I never ever heard from the band, the manager, the label or the A&R again. EVER. Two weeks ago the manager friended me on Facebook. I accepted but immediately asked him when we were starting on the band! Needless to say the band is no more and their foray into major label land was a joke.
Why are indie kids so obsessed with cats these days?
Cats are pretty much the rulers of the universe and if you don’t have a cat you are demon spawn. I think cats’ social habits very much mimic indie kids as well: sleep, eat, chase tail.
Best traits for publicists to have:
Likes to deal with all personalities and a REAL sense of humor. I definitely like to spice things up here with humor and if I couldn’t joke around with the people I deal with then things would be pretty staid.
Worst traits for publicists to have:
Does not like to return calls or emails. I hear this about some PR people and I wonder how they succeed. I try and return a very high portion of communications that come my way, even when I have nothing positive or affirmative to say. Also a publicist who does not care about music and is pushing for the paycheck. I know we all can’t choose our work but I think there comes a time when you can’t sell what you don’t believe in. I sort of also mistrust people who get so over the top about their own bands and have no other interests outside their PR world.
The difference between being persistent and annoying is:
Fine line, use humor and def try not to bark up the wrong tree with your bands and your pitch targets (like asking CMJ about a new age record-if you do it once it’s bad, but two times and you are out).
Who has been the most memorable artist you’ve worked with, and why?
This is tough. Animal Collective for the way they do not work by the book, they make their own rules and in doing so I have learned that you can throw the book away sometimes. My favorite album I ever worked was Joanna Newsom’s Ys, that particular album is the most beautiful thing ever created. Deerhunter is memorable because Bradford is an insane genius and Yeasayer are the nicest guys ever. This is tough. I work with great, insane, crazy, fun adjective-laden people.
Worst song to get stuck in your head?
The entire Kanye album has been in my head pretty much every minute of the day for about a month or more now. I love the album, but it’s the worst when you are trying to go to sleep and start hearing these lines in your head out of context. Lots of pussy, dicks and douchebags on my brain from that album.
What’s your best piece of advice for all those young grasshoppers out there?
This is putting me into grandma mode: when I was young, we made calls, we worked so hard, we read everything we could get our hands on… I just think people should be very well versed in the music and media and come to any job without a sense of entitlement.