Her Music Club: Meet Brittany Burton, Publicist & Entertainment Journalist
Brittany Burton is an entertainment journalist and editor from the Chicago, metropolitan area. Having entered the business at the age of 19, she is using the power of words, communication, service and love to spread more influence in a positive way.
Fortunate enough to work with the likes of SZA, DJ Drama, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and The Grit Daily to name a few, she is taking her career to new heights, as a rising publicist in the entertainment world. Her hard work finally paid off this year, as she was recently honored for her contributions in the media and music industry in 2019, at the first annual All Purple Gala in Washington D.C. Brittany Burton is looking forward to the best years of her career entering a new decade.
We chatted with Brittany to learn about her early start in the industry, her advice for budding publicists and journalists, what indie artists should look for when hiring a publicist and much more!
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Talk to us a little about you + your journey. How did you start out in music? Who are some of the publications and artists you are currently working with?
I am from the small town of Springfield, Illinois and I am an only child. I always had big dreams and goals in life which prompted me to want to pursue a higher education at Howard University.
At 18 I packed up my life, headed to Washington, DC, and never looked back. I studied Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Graphic Design which was the best decision I have made.
Having a deep passion for music, I tried to figure out how to bridge my passion for music and writing which led me to music journalism.
" Luckily for me, I had the esteemed pleasure of meeting song bird SZA at age 19 which ultimately changed my life. I followed her career and did everything I could to be in front of her which allowed me to see the perspective of the industry from a black woman on her way to stardom."
I have always had a deep love for music but until linking up with SZA, I didn’t feel like I could have a career in music as a professional. I also landed an internship with DJ Drama which showed me how studios are run and operated and how to conduct yourself around mainstream acts. I have been fortunate to garner some industry experience from some of the industry's most influential people.
Some publications that I currently work for include Hip Hop Weekly, Hype Magazine, Dramalikethedj, The Grit Daily, and OnthesceneNY to name a few.
As far as artists go, I am working with rising R&B superstar Journey Montana, Prince NAVON, Tuffy Doee, producer Drumma Boy, Grammy Award Winning producer Riotheyneedahit, Gabrielle Lynn, Producing duo Priority Beats, and many more rising acts to date.
Did your experience in journalism lead you to publicity?
Yes it did. My passion for journalism pushed me to wanting to work more directly with artists. It made perfect sense for me to make that transition because I was already knowledgeable about the PR industry and wanted to be of service to more people.
I am thankful to have made the transition because I am seeing my influence grow in the industry and more people know that i am here to help them take their careers to the next level.
Publicity is all about relationships (and maintaining them!) - what are some key attributes aspiring publicists should be aware of?
Some key attributes aspiring publicists should be aware of are time management, the art of relationship building, knowing your worth as a professional, and being okay with saying no to opportunities that compromise your integrity and moral values.
Another thing that aspiring journalists should be aware of is the lack of support you will receive from peers. The more you level up, the more people will show their true colors and prove to you if they are really for you or not.
Is there any insight you can share for any indie artists looking to hire a publicist? What questions should they ask? What should they be looking for?
The best insight I can give an indie artist looking to hire a publicist is to DO IT ASAP. Once you know the power in the press, you will understand that it is the missing piece in your career that is necessary for you to get to the next level. The press/media is the only way to verify that you are in fact who you say you are.
You should ask what an appropriate budget is to accomplish what you are seeking, what resources they have available for the marketing of your material, and what it would take to break you into the mainstream music market.
How has COVID/quarantine changed your job?
It has actually allowed me to grow my business, brand, and reach more people in a fruitful way. Because of COVID, I have had so many artists tapping in with me wanting press and publicity like never before. It has taught me the power in my gifts and the ways I can creatively impact the world on an infinite level.
We feel it’s especially difficult for those transitioning out of college right now and into the music industry. Do you have any advice for them? Are there any organizations, sites, or other resources that can be beneficial to their job search that you know of?
The best advice I have for someone transitioning into the industry from college is to get a mentor. It is something I didn't do and it would have made a big impact on my life and career.
"Mentorship is so important as you always need someone in the industry to watch over and protect you. NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists) is a great organization for anyone in media to join."
How do you manage your artists expectations as their publicist?
I make sure that respect is given before anything. I manage their expectations by setting up times for us to talk daily and being transparent with them. I make sure to provide lucrative opportunities for my clientele that I know is beneficial to the growth of their career and life.
Sometimes it is impossible to meet all of your artists needs but it’s more important to be transparent, open, and honest about everything pertaining to their business and career. You want to always establish trust with your artists.
Do you believe all press is good press?
No, I do not. When you create a certain narrative in the press it is hard to change that.
Have there been experiences where you’ve been discredited or underestimated because you are a woman? How did you deal with that and is there any advice you’d give to someone starting out in music in order to deal?
Yes, I dealt with that honestly by praying about it because as a black woman I am often looked at as angry or uptight when I do voice my opinion and frustrations in this industry. Sometimes it’s best to take it to God and save face until you are in a position to be heard and respected.
I would tell someone starting off in music to become a student of the game and to research anything and everything you can to be knowledgeable about the industry as it is not an industry designed for the weak to survive.
What is the biggest challenge for you at the moment?
The biggest challenge for me at the moment is finding more opportunities to work with mainstream artists and labels.
Which artists are you excited for this year?
I'm super excited about Journey Montana. I believe that she is the next big R&B star.
Lastly, are there any charities + organizations that you feel more people should be aware of? In or outside of music!
I am not familiar with a lot of charities but I do know that Music Cares is something people should be more aware of. It is a Grammy affiliated organization that has been of service to many acts.