As a struggling independent musician in a highly competitive over-crowded market it should be left unsaid that you need to stand out from the crowd. There are many ways to do this. There is music publicity, radio promotion, extensive tour presence, and the almighty music marketing and music promotion. You need to get your message out there period.
Getting your music marketing message out there is one thing but getting the right message out there is another. Your professional image as an independent artist is of the utmost importance in order to rise above the sea of competition. Most independent bands and independent artists have some sort of a music press kit or music promotion kit that they use for promotional purposes. Generally, musicians will use either a traditional print music media kit, a digital press kit (DPK), or an online EPK (Electronic Press Kit). But just how professional and convincing are they?
A frequently asked question that I get all the time from my independent artists and musicians is which type of press kit should we put together? Which kind of music press kit works best and is most impressive and effective? The answer to that question depends on a few things.
What I mean by this is that I recommend creating and maintaining two types of press kits — either a print or digital music press kit, and an electronic press kit. The reason for this is simple. Certain media outlets, labels, venues, music management companies, etc. prefer a print press kit or digital press kit with your full blown CD so it can be listened too on high efficiency stereo equipment to get the full effect of your music and its production qualities. Others prefer not to have their office congested with piles of press kits, and their preferred method is just reviewing your music online.
For the reasons just noted, we recommend you do a print or digital press kit and have one online as well. There’s really nothing to creating an online EPK so why not have it available. There are a few very good EPK services out there and they cost just a few dollars per month. But I am putting an emphasis on the fact that an EPK (Electronic press kit online) is not enough. You still must have the traditional print or digital press kit in your music promotion arsenal.
It is notable to mention that your Music press kit is probably your most valuable promotional tool and it needs to be taken very seriously. Other than your CD and live performance it is usually the first impression of you as an artist that labels, venues, and other music media outlets will receive. There are many graphic art firms that specialize in the preparation of media promotion kits that you may want to consider if your budget permits. If not, for a few dollars, a little creativity, and time and effort, you can do it yourself. Here are the basic elements of a print press kit and Electronic press kit, and the professional means by which to go about it.
In your traditional print music press kit version the elements to include are a professionally designed cover with your logo or photo, a cover letter of introduction, Band or Artist biography, a professional 8” x 10” black and white glossy promotional photo, media feature articles and press releases, album reviews and quote sheet, your full length – extended play, or professionally recorded demo CD, an industry CD-one sheet, a business card and professionally labeled envelope. The supplies needed are heavy stock paper, portfolio cover, large envelope, address labels, business cards, and your 8” x 10” glossy photo. Now here’s how to go about putting the print press kit together.
COVER AND LETTER OF INTRODUCTION:
Your professional music press kit should have an impressive cover. This should include a photo of the artist, artist’s name, and artist’s contact information. Sort of like the cover of a book. You should also include a cover letter of introduction. This should introduce you as the artist stating briefly a little about yourself. Don’t get too specific in this letter you can leave that for the bio and other media which you will include. Make sure you address the letter to one specific person – – being personal is important. It gives the appearance of a non-cookie cutter look and that you feel this media outlet, label, venue, or music agent has significance. Make sure that either at the top or the bottom of this letter you have included your full contact information or your artist’s representative’s contact information. The cover letter should be inserted just inside the kit’s cover prior to any other information. The contact information should also be included at the bottom right on every page in the music promo kit.
Artist or Band Biography:
The next page or what would actually be the first informational page of the music media kit would be your artist biography page. Here you should include a brief history of the artist or band, a little about each member if it’s a full band. This should be no longer than one page and should not be a long drawn out history of the band but just a brief synopsis of what you have accomplished and where you plan to go. More importantly, you should include things like significant shows or tours, contests won, radio play, or any achievements that you feel are noteworthy and may raise you above others in terms of popularity and development. Keep it simple, concise, and meaningful. If there are no writers among you or your friends than we highly recommend having your band bio written for you by a professional music copywriter. It’s so important and it must be professional.
Media and Press Section:
The following pages in your music promotion kit should be media and press. These are basically significant clips of any feature articles you may have received in music industry magazines, or newspapers. Don’t go overboard. Include only media clips that really highlight you as an artist. Pick the best five clips you have and make sure they are professionally reproduced. Noting irritates a person receiving these kits more that sloppy crooked copies of media. Take pride in the quality of the kit. Plastic see-through partitions should be used for each individual item.
Album Reviews and Quote sheets:
You may want to consider including good reviews of your CD and quotes you have received regarding the CD or your performance. This page should be professionally laid out with categorized headings. One should be “Album Reviews and the other should be Quotes. Don’t forget to put quotation marks before and after each review and quote.
CD: Either a Full Length Album, EP, or Professionally Recorded Demo:
There are a few different ways to attach your CD to your music press kit. If your portfolio has a sleeve in the rear you can just slip it in there. Another method is to use Velcro strips placed on the rear of the CD and attached somewhere on the inside of the back cover. This however is not the recommended method. Especially if the rear cover of your CD has important information printed on it. If you are enclosing a full length record or EP (Extended Play) the hope would be that you have taken the time to release a professional recording so its professionalism is up to snuff. However if you are only using a demo CD it is extremely important to note the following:
- Make sure it is of professional recording quality (No basement stuff)
- Make sure the production quality is as professional as possible
- Include no more than 3 songs, maybe four of your very best
- Place them in a sequence of best
- Do some semblance of professional cover art and labeling
- Make sure your contact information is displayed on the demo
- If you really want to make sure, have it evaluated by a professional
CD- Music Industry One-Sheet:
If you are enclosing a CD of a professionally recorded and commercially released full length album or EP than it’s a good idea to attach a music industry one sheet. One-Sheets are generally used during the music distribution process but by enclosing one it gives the recipient of your press kit more insight on your actual record. A one sheet usually includes a photo of the album cover, album title, artist’s name, brief description of the record, track listings, UPC code, price point and a few other things. Notes in the one sheet should include touring information, radio play, some quotes, and a few other things. The one sheet should be professionally written and produced as it is an item that generally can get into the hands of very important people.
Business Card and Professional Envelope and Labeling:
If you or your representative has a business card that should also be attached to the folder somewhere. Once the package is fully assembled it should be placed in a professional envelope with printed address and return address labeling. This may seem very time consuming and you may think, why can’t I just write out the recipient’s address. Well, that looks sloppy and unprofessional and remember what we said about sloppy. A lot of people won’t even open a package if it looks unprofessional on the outside. Some may call us anal-retentive, but we get results by utilizing these professional methods.
Some important notes to help you make the most of your print music press kit.
One thing you need to remember is that things are constantly changing with you as an artist. New feature articles, new national tour, new more updated image/photos, etc. Therefore once you get the first version of your music press kit finished, you are never finished. Keep updating it with new materials and new photos for future mailings. Remember when it comes to your music press kit, you are never done. It’s a work in progress.
Once you have sent your press kit to someone it does not end there. FOLLOW UP a couple weeks or so later with a phone call, email, or correspondence. Labels, media, and venues receive hundreds of press kits weekly. Don’t let yours get lost in the shuffle. Make sure to bring it to their attention and to the forefront of the barrage of music press kits they receive.
The Digital Music Press Kit (DPK):
The Digital Press Kit generally contains the same information as the traditional print music press kit, although it has the ability to allow you to actually add more without being overcrowded. Basically all your information, your bio, media articles, music, quotes, etc. are housed on a CD Rom as files. The DPK, because of certain expertise involved in programming, graphic arts, etc., should however probably be professionally done. Unless of course you, another band member, or someone you know, is proficient in doing this. The benefits of a DPK are pretty obviously. They take no paper, no portfolios, no paper photos, or any print media. Everything is digital. The DPK is usually housed in a DVD Case which has professional artwork. So there is still the element of graphic artwork involved on the cover and CD stamp. Overall, the DPK is a good alternative to the print music press kit.
Electronic Press Kit (EPK):
The Electronic Press Kit, better known as the EPK is basically an online version of your promotional materials — sort of like a website but not quite. It’s similar to the DPK only in that all the files and graphics are digital. You basically create an EPK like you would create a website. However there are a few good services out there that provide template based WYSIWYG editors that basically give you the opportunity to simply upload your files. There is usually a section for your biography, your photos, your press, your music, your videos, and your backline requirements. The EPK is something that you should use in addition to your print or digital music press kit.
Whatever kind of press kit you decide to use, please remember it must be professionally reproduced and prepared. This is your first impression so you must make it a good one.