Chris Maric is one of the best in the biz - that's a fact.
A keen metal-head with a platinum work ethic and a heart made of gold, Chris is widely recognised as one of the best freelance music PRs Australia has got to offer, with over decades of industry experience under his belt.
From international metal titans like Pantera, Metallica and Motörhead through to Aussie mainstays like Sia and Killing Heidi, Chris Maric’s portfolio reads like a who’s-who of the biggest names in contemporary music – but that’s not to say he’s only here to help out the big guns.
As part of his own venture Maric Media, Chris is also responsible for launching some of the brightest up-and-coming local and international bands today, lining them up with all the most relevant magazines and outlets to give their musical careers the kickstart they deserve.
To find out more about what’s involved in the life of a music marketing mogul, we caught up with Chris to chat all things PR, how to market yourself as an indie artist, and how he envisions the post-COVID gigging landscape to be in the years to come.
Hi Chris! Welcome to our pages – can you please give our readers a brief introduction of exactly what you do?
Thanks guys! There really isn’t a brief way to do it… I guess you could break it down into main parts and say that I’m the bridge between the Artist and the Media, or between a Label and the Media. I make sure a band’s music, videos, tour dates or anything else like that gets delivered to the appropriate media so they can cover the bands in a timely way.
This also involves sending out albums for review and arranging interviews for the bands. There is a million other things that have to be managed too: everything from making sure ads and marketing run on time to reporting back to clients, problem-solving – the list goes on.
Your vast experience in PR includes stints at Channel 10 and Sony. What made you decide to go solo with Maric Media?
It was an ever-evolving thing. The entertainment industry isn’t known for its longevity when it comes to job security, and I found that the more I did, the more people came to me.
In 2013, I had so many different companies, indie acts, tour promoters etc coming to me that it all just sort of happened. I began to offer my services to a variety of clients, rather than stay within one company, which is awesome because I get to spread my wings creatively – one day it’s death metal, the next it’s some old ’60s act your Grandma grew up with
How do you view singles versus EPs and demos? It seems the modern world has a shorter attention span, and singles are prioritised more than ever before. Is a band better off to get one single, one clip and push the hell out of it and hope for the best – and if that fails, just do another one?
The industry has come full circle. In the early days of recorded music, it was all about singles! The album concept really only existed to fit the format it was on, that’s why the LP is known as a Long Player. It could hold a certain amount of data (like a CD) so it was filled. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s filled with good music though! How many albums do you own that are all killer, no filler?
With today’s age of instant gratification, audiences tend to have an extremely short attention span due to the sheer volume of stuff out there. Remember, you’re not just competing against other music – there’s games, TV, social media and other outlets that are all vying for your time – so throwing one song out at a time is a really strategic way to maximise all possible attention on that one thing, before everyone gets distracted and moves off. Then, come back with new content sooner.
I’d rather a band deliver one song a month over ten months than a ten-track album every two years, and I’m sure a lot of their fans would too!
What can you do for a new band who are ready to record their first Demo/EP and hit the stage? How hard it is to get people to take notice of the unknown bands?
So many bands make the mistake of thinking that they are ready for PR when they most certainly aren’t.
Going back to the previous question about just how much noise there is out there – if you’re a new band with one song, a few hundred socials fans and no followers on your streaming platforms, the media isn’t going to be able to do much for you. Think of it this way: if you are flipping through a magazine or scrolling a feed and it’s all bands you know and then one you don’t, do you stop and check them out? Very rarely!
The press is there to more or less advise you on what’s happening with the bands you’re already somewhat aware of. My focus on emerging bands, especially since lockdown, has been getting them to work on building an organic fanbase. Don’t try and appeal to everyone who is into your genre; that’s the old spray and pray strategy and it’s a waste of energy.
Instead, learn how to identify, target and nurture a small but loyal following, who will then do the heavy lifting for you and spread your good word. The aim is to get a rumble happening on your own through these strategies, and then start to look at hitting up the press and show them what you’ve done on your own. Your music is only part of your overall story.
What about a more established band looking to take it a step further?
Ha! I’ve more or less told established bands that are looking for my help that they need to still learn from the consults I offer the newbies. You’d be surprised how many bands with miles under their belts still don’t really understand how the audience-fan connection works or why it’s so important – especially if they have relied on their label or representation to do all ‘that stuff’ for them up until now.
There’s a reason the biggest bands still connect on a personal level with their fans. It works! It creates a loyalty that converts a ‘listener’ to a ‘fan’ and one that will likely stay with you on your journey. Get that part right and my job, telling your story from a PR perspective, almost takes care of itself!
Please let us know a bit about the Bike Ride Fundraiser you are involved with (even in isolation)?
Every year a bunch of rag-tag industry veterans known as The Heavy Metal Truants cycle pushbikes from London to the UK’s Download Festival for charity. It’s a distance of around 300km over two and a half days and is as brutal as it is life changing.
First of all, raising money for children in need via four important charities is something very important to me and I’ve managed to meet my target every year I’ve done it (2020’s Heavy Metal Truants VIII – The Eighth Of Spades was my fourth time!).
Second, it gets me over to the UK every year to ride with my Truant brothers and sisters, people I’ve known for a very long time. Truants is headed up by former Metal Hammer editor Alex Milas and Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood, who always puts me to shame as he is 30 years older than me and continues to smash me on every leg of the ride and give me a hard time while doing it, haha!
It’s a fantastic experience and something that is simultaneously a team event but very much so an individual one – no one else is going to turn those pedals for you. That being said, that first beer when we arrive at the Download Finish Line is so sooo good!
Maiden or Priest?
Maiden! I love Priest for sure but Maiden wormed their way into my DNA long ago and never let go.
What’s the best show you’ve ever seen?
Last year I was witness to Warduna (how do you describe them? Norway’s Viking house band? Not Amon Amarth style, more Heilung) play in the pouring rain in a 2000 year old Roman Amphitheatre in a tiny town in Switzerland. It was otherworldly! There’s way too many to list. My Top 10 would have 50 shows in it!
I guess seeing Motley Crue at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in 1990 on the Dr. Feelgood tour when I was 13 was the catalyst for my career and the band responsible for it all, so yeah, let’s go with that!
Do you think live music will return to normal after the crippling effects of being shut down for so long?
It has to. Humans have been singing, dancing and praising the Gods via music since the dawn of time. It’s our nature to do so and so we will continue.
In however many years time, this period will be looked upon like any other hiccup the world faced. Plagues, wars, crusades etc – they are all part of history, and while I’m sure it sucked to be part of it, they didn’t end the world. Neither will this. \m/
Thanks for your time Chris – the final words are all yours!
Thank you! Final words? I always get the last word in haha. Be excellent to each other, especially now!
Find out more about Chris and get in touch with him over at Maric Media.