Rachel Sellick is the Founder of Scarlet River PR, a renowned promotions company specialising in modern country and americana music. Scarlet River PR provides a full suite of promotional services to benefit artists from the UK and abroad.
Since 2020, Scarlet River have worked with award-winning unsigned and record label artists internationally, and its name is now widely known throughout the industry thanks to the diligence, persistence and hard work of its founder, Rachel Sellick. Rachel and her business have been nominated multiple times for the Fair Play Country Awards, as well as receiving nominations from Indie Star Radio, Woods Music Norway and the International Singer-Songwriters Association (ISSA).
Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?
My name is Rachel! I am a third year PhD student in Neuroscience and the founder of music public relations firm, Scarlet River PR.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
I grew up surrounded by music, sport, and science. Regardless of the mood I was in or the situations I was going through, I’d listen to music! In 2012, I went to the first Country2Country festival in London and since that year, I’ve been to almost every one since. In 2017 – whilst studying for my degree – I went to Country2Country and ended up making some great friends who were also musicians looking to release country music! I didn’t really know that there was a UK country music scene in all honesty – I just knew that it was massive in the USA. But, I jumped at the chance to be involved. One of the skills that scientists have, and that musicians hate doing, is sending emails and being involved in the admin of a business.
I started sending emails to promote this artist’s releases and organising some gigs. Now, Danny McMahon has toured all over the UK and the United States, has numerous number 1 country singles, and has been nominated and awarded multiple British and UK Country Music Awards. Whilst I really enjoyed the experience of touring and being a part of developing an artist, I quickly found that artist management wasn’t for me. During the 2020 lockdown, I began speaking to various artists, all with a similar view of the situation, “We can’t release any music because we can’t tour”. That got me thinking – they were right that they couldn’t tour, but it definitely didn’t mean they couldn’t release music. It was all about adapting to a different way of living and promoting. I quickly jumped on board with the idea of helping to promote artists while they released during this period, by finding a multitude of online avenues for promotion. This included online magazines, interviews via Zoom, and live streaming. I loved it! I loved the idea of being involved in a project that I was passionate about and that the artist was willing to invest in. Over the last two years, I’ve revamped the company, started building a small team, and working with artists all over the UK and US.
Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?
Originally I was an independent artist manager who didn’t know an awful lot about what I was doing. This meant that I also had no boundaries. I’d got into the mentality that as a manager, I was expected to do all the organising, write all the press releases, find all the contacts, book all the shows, and do all the promotion, which to a degree wasn’t necessarily wrong. But, what I hadn’t really realised was that the artist was probably meant to also do that! In 2019, I went to a conference as part of the Artist Management Forum and one of the managers (worked with artists like Coldplay) said something that I have never forgotten. He said that as an artist manager, you come on board to be a second pair of hands so that the momentum that the artist has already created can be multiplied by you both working together. At that point, I knew that I needed to create boundaries. In my business today, I have different packages that artists can choose from, and they build their own PR campaign with all the offerings we provide but, it now gives me, and the artists, a clear vision on what is and is not included. That way, when things get too far, I have the capacity to say no. This has been so helpful!
Have you ever had a mentor? If so, how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?
I have, and I love it! I have worked with a couple of professional mentors that have really given me guidance on my business, and how to keep afloat when things get crazy. I think it’s so important to have impartial individuals in your life that want to support you. Whilst they can be a really great listening ear, they are also there to ensure that I continue to work the best way for me, and help me to enhance my business potential.
What outlets do you use for marketing?
I recently hired an SEO expert who has been invaluable to the marketing of my company. They have helped me to identify keywords that I can use in my google campaigns and as a result, my website traffic has sky-rocketed. I also recently invested in MuckRack, which is a fantastic company for PR companies looking to expand their contacts.
What or Who has inspired you most recently?
I have a friend in Uni called Emma. She’s a senior lecturer and award-winning professional for her science communication and public outreach work. Although she is potentially the busiest person on the planet, she always makes time to encourage others and put a smile on people’s faces. She reminds me to keep positive and to always look for the good in people! That is inspiring.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?
When things get tough, it can be easier to get overwhelmed and to lose sight of why you started your business in the first place, and what your goals are. Having frequently been overwhelmed by all the happenings of my PhD and running my business, I’ve often started to complete tasks to check off boxes rather than enjoying the process. ENJOY THE PROCESS. What an awesome thing we get to do every day, in connecting with people, providing a great service and being self-employed. Don’t lose sight of that!
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
Funnily enough, I was listening to a podcast on this exact topic this morning, and it really stuck with me. I’ve always found it difficult to balance my busy lifestyle and my social/personal life, but in the podcast, it encouraged the listener to think about the seasons of life, and the balance for that particular season. I think this made me feel more comfortable with the idea that I can control how I balance my work and my personal experiences based on what season of life I am in. I hope that if I do this regularly, it’ll help me to work proactively, effectively, and productively.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
That is a GOOD question.
Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?
I really admire The Female Creative. Hannah Roper is a small business development coach and mentor that has build an incredible community of like-minded women looking to set solid business foundations and maximise audiences to increase income.
How do you define your own success?
That is a great question and one I often neglect to ask myself often. In my business, I take every new client and every finished project as a success. The majority of the time, if the client is happy then I am happy! But, in 2023, I want to start working with bigger clients, with bigger profiles and subsequently be able to get artists featured in bigger profile outlets. That would be my 2023 success!
Finally, what can we expect from you next?
I am really working hard to expand my team and am hosting a couple of live events in 2023. I am also collaborating with a number of US artists who will be touring in the UK, so I am very excited about that.