When did you first become aware that the World Wide Web was going to play a part in artist promotion?

One of our clients is the respected international music publishing company peermusic. CEO Ralph Peer II was attracted to the Web years ago. Back in 1995, before most other companies had any presence on the Internet, he established a Web site and, as part of our ongoing campaign for them, we publicize peermusic.com. Peermusic then launched one of the first business to business sites, synchsite.com.

Working with other music publishers, peermusic made it possible to license songs on the Web. So it was thanks to their activities that I had the Internet on my radar relatively early. Now we are involved in literally every aspect of new media from e-commerce to wireless lifestyle devices.

The Internet has very rapidly become part of every campaign. Another example is our client Ramp Records (founded by Michael McDonald, Jeff Bridges and Chris Polonis). They’re using traditional distribution along with a strong Internet campaign to make their CDs available to the public and we’re involved in all aspects of this effort.

Has the Web made the publicist’s job easier?

The Internet has made the job simultaneously easier and more difficult. Our company has a very strong reputation for our ability to strategize and position our clients. This requires advance planning and some control over the message we want to deliver.

News on the Web is instantaneous and can be delivered by anyone. We’re finding that it’s more challenging to control the message, image and final impact.

For example, recently, we decided to see if it would be possible for Brian Wilson to do a symphony tour performing Pet Sounds. [Talent agency] ICM made a few exploratory calls and before anyone ever had a firm commitment, one of the people answering phones at a venue made an announcement on the Internet.

The rumors started and word must have reached thousands of people before we even knew if the tour would become reality. It’s not that the result is bad, it’s just disorganized and requires a great deal of time and effort to “clean up.”

We still have not announced the final itinerary but we spend a lot of time answering questions from eager fans and dealing with issues that would not exist if we had been able to control the news and simply make the announcement when everything was in place.

We work closely with editors and talent coordinators all the time. Part of our job is to consider their varied deadlines. It’s difficult to guarantee a monthly, weekly or even a daily outlet that their story or interview will have the excitement of fresh or breaking news. Just about everything is “old” once it’s been on the Internet. And we have no way of preventing people from putting news on the Web. If I leave a message for someone, I have to wonder if it’s about to appear on the Internet.

On the other hand, we take advantage of the instantaneous nature and enormous power and outreach of the Web. When we have information that we have to get into people’s hands, we can e-mail directly to media, to fans, reviewers, etc., and within seconds, the news is where we want it to be. Our database is enormous (and growing) and so is our outreach. Additionally, the ability to send photos or stream audio and video is terrific.

I don’t think it’s bad or good. It’s just quick. We now integrate the immediacy of the Internet into our more traditional way of doing business.

Stay tuned to Pollstar.com for more Q&A with Ronnie Lippin.