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Tuesday, December 18

"The Wheels Behind The Scenes - People who keep the show on the Road" Ami Heinrich: Publicist for Tsunami Publicty (Denver, CO)

We know that after forming a name and maybe getting a manager the next thing a band must do is find someone to be their publicist. This job truly must be one of the most paradoxical roles in the music industry.  Their main objective is to get as much information out to the fans and press about a band all the while themselves staying completely unknown to the fan-base at hand.  They are our liaisons to the bands and media.  Without them there would hardly be early bird ticket prices, free merchandise giveaways, and those awesome meet and greets where the fan gets as close to the band as possible.  They are the go between the artists and the media; the band and fan.  For this, our second installment of "People who keep the show on the Road" we are profiling Ami Heinrich, who runs Tsunami Publicity. They represent a long list of our favorite bands from Railroad Earth, EOTO, Split Lip Rayfield, to The Floozies, Papadosio and festivals like Wakarusa and YMSB's Harvest Music Fest, and the recent Hangtown Halloween Ball just to mention a few.  If you wanted to ever know what it takes to get into PR then this interview will shed some light on how a music fan with hard work and determination silently represents some of our favorite bands.

Who: Ami Heinrich
Of: Tsunami Publicty
Job: The Publicist

1.Did you always want to work in publicity?  If so did you know you would be working directly in the music business, as a music publicist?  Is it limited to music and did you consider yourself a "fan" before working directly in the business.

AH:This story is much too long for your interview. The truth is, I have worked in and out of the entertainment industry for most my life. But, I never knew I would work in publicity, or even that the job existed. As a child I was a performer, and was represented by an agency called Kidskits (I think they are still in business), but I didn't know what that meant exactly. In high school I was the entertainment editor of the high school newspaper and always wrote about music. I met Aerosmith and Radiohead before I was 18, but I still didn't know I would end up running Tsunami. I ran off to the redwoods for 10 years and studied herbal medicine, ran an herb store and thought I would be working with plant medicines for the rest of my life. I was always a fan of the music. I traveled the country seeing the Dead as much as I could afford in college before Jerry died. I was always most intrigued that their entire team, all the way down to security, seemed to be ‘on the inside’. That really had a big influence on me. And, then I met Steve Kimock, who ended up becoming my first “music project” and then client. I think in the end, the music industry  picked me and never let me go. And, now 10 years into running Tsunami, I wouldn't have the faintest clue what else to do with my life. There is never a dull moment.

2.Did you go to school for this? Either way- what would you recommend for someone wanting to get into the business of PR for famous musicians?
AH:I didn't go to school for publicity. I went to College for a couple years for mass communications, and never got my degree. I come from a family of marketing professionals, my dad owns a very successful marketing firm ( and he put more weight on running a business than going to school. I am primarily self-taught, and always learning.
3. Do you think it is easier owning and running your own pr outfit, or working for a larger one? Is it easier to maintain personal relationships with the acts you represent when it's a smaller company, or is it the bigger the better? 
AH:Well, it’s always easier working for someone else!! When you run your own shop you have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and invoices to collect. You never leave it at the office, because it is your life in every way. But it’s very rewarding to work for yourself.
As for part two of your question, I am sort of biased because we are a small agency and prefer to keep our client list tight, allowing for more time to devote to our clients. We spend time on each of our clients every single day, and I couldn't imagine having more than 10 at a time. That said, we have integrated some new and exciting technology to help maintain the client load which has dramatically cut down the time it takes to handle tour PR. So, I would hate to say one is better than the other – it all depends on the company organization and what systems they have in place to not only reach out, but track all of your work for each client.

4.What is your favorite project that you've been able to work on?  What is your dream project?
AH:I don’t have any favorites. It seems like there is always something exciting happening for everyone, and that makes my job really fun. My dream project would be to work on a couple European festivals. They go really big in Europe. In fact, I would take out the trash at Tommorowland if I could get a peek into their production.
5.As a publicist what would you say it is your job to do?  What is the goal at the end of the day? 
AH:At the end of the day, our job is to get a band as much media attention as possible. We strive to get as many interviews, radio appearances and ticket giveaways set up in every market a band plays. So essentially you’re contacting thousands of media contacts and writers a week. And, then once you’re done – collecting the media, sifting through press quotes and giving the band everything they need to re-promote themselves either on social media or on their website/press kit.

6. When you are in charge of publicity for a large festival how many hours goes into promoting it, during the festival how long are your feet on the ground? 
AH:How many hours? I couldn't tally it if I tried. Let’s just say, it takes months upon months to promote a festival. But it’s one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever known. To look around and see thousands of fans camping together, making new friends and experiencing something they will remember for the rest of their lives. That is truly one of the best feelings in the world.

7. Do you pick your clients or do they pick you? How does this happen?
AH:It can go both ways. Sometimes a band will reach out to us, and sometimes we will reach out to a band.
8. What is the most creative part of being a publicist?
AH:All of it. You’re always on your toes.

9. What "Behind the Scenes" job would you recommend we profile next?
AH:How about a booking agent?

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