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Women in Music: An interview with Anastasia Connor, PR Manager and former journalist

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** The National Student's 'Women in Music' content series makes space for the incredible, important women that work behind the scenes in some of the toughest and most rewarding roles in the industry. To celebrate International Women's Day, we're hearing their stories. **

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We speak to former journalist and prominent PR manager, Anastasia Connor, who reflects on the current state of the music press and discusses how the industry is adapting in response to technology.

Image courtesy of Anastasia Connor

We discuss why Connor decided to make the change from journalism to PR. She’s very upfront about her reasoning – simply writing about music is no longer lucrative, “Only a few dozen actually make a living out of it when it comes to music journalism […] I occasionally write press releases, but I usually use copywriters nowadays.”

These days Connor promotes festivals, particularly on the continent, “I work for Eurosonic […] it’s kind of like a European South by Southwest.” A festival, which takes place in January in Groningen in The Netherlands, has the same showcase ethos as events such as The Great Escape, but much, much bigger. Connor is reticent to talk about specific bands she works with, but she does mention that she is quite discerning when it comes to which artists she collaborates with, “I do pick people because I like them […] I see something special in what they do”. Specificity is important; with Eursosonic “the idea is very particular. It’s almost like a micro event, with a very strong USP”.

So, what does make a good music festival in the current climate? Connor answers, “It’s all about creating a small community. That’s what festivals should be about. I work with smaller bands. I'm not necessarily working with the most commercially big acts/events. They’re very well known within their niche and are very often in the press. It’s those kinds of events that the journalists love […] they [the artists] keep a very high proportion of the ticket sales. Ticket prices are kept down. There is kind of an ideological aspect behind it”.

Connor hasn’t always been in PR, before making her move to promotion she made headway as a music journalist. And before that, she had a career as an academic, where she was working towards a PhD in philosophy. There's definitely a connection between her university studies and her later journalism: “Do yourself a favour and get a degree in English or philosophy. I value that […] Although I think you also get kind of different reactions. Such as, why not music studies? Don’t do something with a too narrow a focus. Music is very, very practical. There are lots of ways to get involved, as long as you’re not expecting to get paid”.

How the music industry functioned when Connor first started out, compared to how it looks now, has changed massively, “The key thing is that music is an industry obviously linked to technology […] There’s now a sort of synergy between music and ideas. Not just the personalities but socially. There’s also a dwindling number of music outlets”.

The publications writing specifically about music have become fewer, but they are also becoming more specific. Connor adds, “I don’t believe that really big websites and magazines can sustain themselves”. Connor remains optimistic, however, and references several Scottish independent music magazines including Gold Flake Paint as cause to remain upbeat; “new magazines are actually doing quite well […] They’re selling across the UK. Even abroad. The Quietus are very discerning people."

"I was reading an article by somebody I’d worked with about this new metal station and new metal channels. Metal’s always been an interesting case – Kerrang is still going. All the genre press still exists and is doing well. The big sites like, and I’m not going to name any names, those powerful sites. If they survive, they’ll just become marketing platforms, not journalism”.

Connor also acknowledges the fact that PR is a largely female-dominated industry, “which is also sexist”. She adds, “I know plenty of men as well. Don’t get me wrong. It’s also hard work, a hell of a lot of hard work. Not that many people survive […] I don’t think it’s changing [in terms of gender balance]”.

Anastasia works for Global Publicity promoting European music festivals and freelances for independent artists and labels. Now taking upwards of 10 trips to the continent per year, she's a shining example of how hard work, a wide perspective and pursuing a path you love, is the key to success. 

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