Do you know what the role of a music publicist entails? Before you answer that think of the times you’ve seen the people that are close to the celebrities but always in the background. The ones who are at every press release, record launch, concert, film premier, backstage, side of stage or front of house being the answer to everyone’s question and the solver to all problems big and small. Whilst their surroundings may be doused by the strappings of glamour, parties, celebrity and fashion, it is within those surroundings the publicist really comes into their own, making the impossible possible with the utmost of ease and profession. At least that’s how Petrina Convey; Director of Xposed Media always appears to the naked eye!
Convey is without a doubt one of Australia’s most respected, innovative, passionate and focussed music / entertainment industry publicists that continues to steer the urban music genre to nationally accredited heights with her tireless efforts to put the music, lifestyle, artist and message of urban music on the nations forefront, taking it from street press level media to the broader range of television, radio and print media spanned around the world. Not bad for a quiet gal hailing from Brisbane, QLD, who enjoys the private life and doesn’t seem to think that what she does for Hip Hop in this country is much to baulk at. Sans ego but showered in shine, Convey has mastered the game of manoeuvring some of hip hop’s biggest names into the greater Australian peripheral and is changing the game in how our country and community views, understands and above all accepts the genre of hip hop as a necessity to our nation’s musical diet as a whole. She is fearless when it comes to the promotion and support of our local hip hop community having mentored and managed numerous DJ’s, artists and managers to date, imparting her ground roots words of wisdom on those fortunate enough to be under her tutelage. Her Xposed Media company, which she co-owns together with her Melbourne-based business partner and Dance Music aficionado Angie Young, is a powerhouse media force behind sell out festivals like SupaFest and Stereosonic, reaching thousands of music fans with their unique style of branding, promoting and elevating music and it’s creative to a higher level. Convey’s artist resume reads like a coveted dossier of the most celebrated hip hop artists to tour our shores, such as: Wiz Khalifah, The Game, Boys II Men, Eminem, Wu Tang Clan & The Jackson 5 to name a few, with that list and clientele continuing to grow with praise and success.
It takes steel determination and a thick skin to survive in the world of publicity – add the ego and often negative public critique of a genre like hip hop to the job and the ante is automatically upped. Only the strong survive and those that are true to themselves, believe in their clients and the music and ultimately push harder to help others succeed, then you have the bare bones of what it takes to make a solid foundation of a good publicist. Petrina possess all the attributes of a publicist with a higher purpose. Her love of urban music from Hip Hop to Soul, RnB to Reggae shows in the diversity of local and international artists and clients she works with, their success proof in the pudding that she trusts her instincts and works with unwavering passion and dedication to make the dream of acknowledgement by industry and public come true for her clients. I am most humbled that she has given me this opportunity to share her journey thus far with my readers for she is someone I continue to learn from every day, whom I admire and am grateful to call a peer and a great friend. I hope this interview shines light on her tireless work supporting our burgeoning urban music industry to greater heights and to give thanks to a woman who continues to stay on her grind for Hip Hop long after the final curtain falls!
(Petrina Convey with Jackie & Jermaine Jackson – Jackson 5 Tribute Tour 2013)
Hey Petrina, thanks so much for your time to do this interview with me – I know how busy you are. How has life been for you the last few years growing your business and brand of Xposed Media?
Thanks for talking to me! The last 6 years have been a crazy but very exciting and rewarding whirlwind!
You are undoubtedly one of Australia’s hardest working publicists juggling countless projects and clients all at once. What do you think is the key to achieving the perfect level of balance, professionalism and fun to the role of a publicist?
At the end of the day, it comes down to passion and extremely hard work. I absolutely LOVE what I do and I wake up every morning excited about what I’m going to work on. I know that might sound crazy to some people, but its true. We work on amazing projects, and with amazing artists and clients, so most days are a lot of fun. Professionalism is absolutely key. Although it’s the entertainment industry, we have a job to do first and foremost. While everyone else is having a great time at the show, we are running around checking the photographers to make sure they are getting good pics, making sure media and VIP guests are looked after, hoping the reviews are going well, assisting the promoter and artists etc. But I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world.
Xposed Media is a two-armed publicity powerhouse that looks after the Dance and Urban Music, lifestyle and culture branding and is overseen by yourself and your business partner Angie Young. How did the idea for Xposed Media come about and what experience and knowledge between the pair of you has been forged to make this company the success story it is?
I’ve worked in the music industry my whole life. I know nothing else. I went straight out of high school and travelled for a year to London where I discovered dance and hip-hop music and my life changed. I was 18 and we went to raves and warehouse parties in Brixton. It was a crazy time! And then I came back and got a job doing work experience at Sony in Brisbane where I did basic junior office work, and at nights I would work one night a week at B105, the local radio station assisting the producer. I loved dance and hip-hop music and when Wild FM started in Brisbane, I got a job working with them at night, because I was passionate about the music, and during the day I worked for HMV as a dance and hip-hop music buyer. Then that led to a job as the buyer at Central Station Records in Sydney, which is where I met Angie who was the Publicist at the record label Central Station Records. I worked my butt off at Central Station and from there I got offered a job working at the record label Universal Music as a Marketing Assistant. I learnt quite quickly that I didn’t particularly like politics or the corporate lifestyle but I stuck at it for 6 years and moved my way up to Product Manager. While I was in that role, I started to see there was a big disconnect between hip-hop artists and the record labels and media in Australia (for many different reasons and through no fault of either), and one of my strengths was that I could communicate efficiently with all parties and get great results. So I decided to turn that into my own business! Angie was ready to go out on her own as well, so we joined forces and went for it. We both have the same core values – honesty, hard work, positivity and integrity, so that was the foundation for our business. Our very first client was Sony Music and our first tour was Boyz II Men, and we’ve been working with both ever since!
You represent the urban music and culture side of your company and have looked after some of the biggest tours and projects in Hip Hop this country has seen to date. What is it about Hip Hop music, its culture and overall message that inspires you to work on the tours and shows you do and what has the genre itself brought to your life’s journey thus far?
To be honest, I could have chosen an “easier” genre to work on in this country. By this I mean a genre of music that gets more media coverage, or is played on radio a little more, but that would be too easy and I do like a challenge J To me there is nothing more satisfying then getting a rapper on the front cover of a paper for something positive, or getting them a full page article in the paper, or introducing the wider public to an artist they wouldn’t traditionally get to hear or see in Australia. I also like being able to prepare both parties and have both the artist and the journalist have a great experience together. It’s truly what I’m passionate about and strive for every day. Working in this genre has honestly taught me so many things about life, allowed me to travel and make friends all over the world and allowed me to experience and learn about different cultures and religions. I’ve also learnt something’s that are probably a little too deep to discuss in this interview, but something I hope to talk about at a later date.
What would you say is the biggest delusion or misconception about your job and the role of a music publicist to the general public?
That all we do is party! Unfortunately, its not the case. People generally only see us out with artists and musicians, or backstage at concerts and festivals. The majority of our very long days are spent in front of a computer or on the phone! And then when we are backstage or out with artists, while everyone else is partying, we are constantly working… yes even in nightclubs.
Your background Petrina is and always has been music. From working with international record labels like Universal Music, to management to consultation between artists and labels. What is it about the publicity game that keeps you grounded and focussed in an industry that can be very fickle and at times horribly competitive?
At the end of the day, Angie and myself, and Steph and Adiza that work with us, are just very positive, happy people. We have no interest in negativity or politics or competition, we just focus on what we have to do and doing the best possible job for the people we work with. I will always offer help and advise to people that are coming up or ask for it, and I just try to be a good person in general. I am so focused on the job at hand, that I don’t really have time to worry about anything else. I also think, if you’re good to other people and work hard, that it will come back to you. That’s how I try to live my life.
Any favourite artists you’ve worked with or one your dream list to work with that serve as your muse / inspirations?
To be honest I have pretty much worked with everyone on my bucket list! One of my last on the list was Eminem who I get to work with in 2 weeks! I have worked with loads of great people but some standouts for various reasons would be, firstly Wu-Tang Clan. We’re talking about a group that have 20 years of history so touring with them was fascinating to watch – the intricacies of their personalities on and off stage, the way they interact, the individual’s place within the group…. That was amazing. PLUS, when I worked with them I was still eating chicken, but no red meat. A couple of the guys were vegans and they got me to stop eating chicken so that was a lifestyle change for me. I liked working on the Kendrick Lamar Tour in 2012. There was so much hype surrounding the show and the positive energy he had, and bought to the stage was infectious. I always love working with Boyz II Men, just because I’ve worked with them a lot and I know the inns and outs of getting good interviews with them. I like people with good energy so Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean and Travie McCoy were great. Supafest 2011 was a great show – we made worldwide press and every night Busta Ryhmes, Game, Fat Joe, Nelly and T-Pain would join Snoop onstage and the energy was incredible. I liked working with Bobby Brown, he was a really nice person. Working with The Jacksons was fun. DMX shows were crazy. Loved working with Slaughterhouse – they are hilarious guys. I liked working with Salt n Pepa – I know their history from working with them so often I can answer questions from media before they do! Honestly, I could go on and on! I’ve really worked with some great people.
Something that you can share about yourself that would surprise people?
I have an obsession with Bob Marley and am really passionate about animal rights.
What is your motto or mission statement in life, that keeps you grounded and successfully consistent in your career and life in general?
Be a good person! Everything starts and ends there. Keep an open mind and try not to judge others – as long as someone’s not hurting anybody else, why would you care what they choose to do with their lives? And lastly, never let anyone tell you, that you can’t! Find a way. Just because something hasn’t been done before in this country, it doesn’t mean it not possible. Many people have said over the years, oh that artist would never work, or you could never get them on TV, or the newspaper would never cover that. I refuse to believe that… find a way to do things differently and go out and get it done. Don’t be bitter, keep a positive attitude, and go out and change things.
For more information on Petrina and Xposed Media please visit: www.xposedmedia.com.au
Always Hip Hop,