As a band or artist, there are many different ways to promote yourself, one of which being the press kit. Some people say that in this day and age a press kit is unnecessary, as one can book and promote themselves via email and social media. But in my opinion, having a well-built press kit can help immensely in presentability and professional appearance. Many industry professionals, as well as media people, are used to seeing traditional press kits and could very well base their consideration of you solely upon it. Plus, if nothing else, it can’t hurt you to have one on hand even if you never use it, right?
So, what is a press kit and how do we make one? Basically, a press kit is like a resume for your music. A resume and job application. It tells who you are, where your band/music is coming from (influences, style, etc), where you’ve played, includes samples of your music, photos of the band, and reviews from legitimate sources (more than just “my friend Peter said we sound cool”).
First, let’s talk about the music and the photo; they’re the easy part. There are two types of press kits, a traditional one- printed on paper with a cd included (and possibly stickers or other small promotional items), all put neatly into a nice folder and made to look as presentable and professional as possible; and an Electronic Press Kit, or EPK- all the same things mentioned above, music, bio, pictures, etc. but online.
The music should be a three song demo or so (but as well-recorded as possible); basically, whoever you’re sending your press kit to doesn’t have time to listen to every song they receive. If possible, you might even want to make some really short demo mixes that feature parts from a few of your songs to give an idea of what you sound like in general- not because of your skill or talent level, but to give a feel of your style, to see if you could fit into wherever this person could put you. At least in an EPK you can send links to your songs online. DO NOT attach them to emails though. No one wants to download something they received from a stranger online, and it takes up hard drive and inbox space. Also, don’t forget to include FULL song titles and lyrics.
The picture should be high resolution and as professional-looking as possible (everyone understands up-and-coming bands have budget issues). You probably can’t afford to hire a professional photographer, but do the best you can. If you’re taking some photos yourself, try to learn what you can about such photos first (such as your camera’s capabilities, lighting, etc.). If you can, there’s surely some hobbyists in your area who would know more and do their best for you for cheap. If you’re doing an EPK, hopefully you already have a website set up where you already have music, photos, etc, including your band logo and a color scheme that you always stick to.
The band logo is also important- actually it’s half of your press kit; it’s your mark, how you identify yourself and your sound. It can be simple, like Metallica’s name written in a custom font, or it can be quite complex. Just don’t overdo it in an attempt to be artistic. If it’s not easily and instantly recognizable, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your music.
Bio- Make sure you can tell people who you are, where your from (musically as well as geographically), how you got to where you are now, etc. Don’t ramble on though, no one needs every detail of your life, especially in a press kit- a label or even a newspaper who might be looking to write a review for you just needs to be able to identify who you are as a band, and this is the place to tell them.
Reviews- If you have copies of reviews others have done for you (newspapers, magazines, websites that review music, etc.) this is the place to put them. Again, keep it professional; just because Johnny down the street said you sound good doesn’t mean people will listen to you based on that. Email people who are known for reviewing music, and don’t be afraid to reach out- just because you’re in one state and they’re half way across the country doesn’t mean you can’t send them some songs with a polite and professional request for a review. You could even gain a following in their area because of it. However you manage, get these reviews and dedicate a page of your press kit to them.
Calender- Sounds obvious, but it’s one of those things that’s easy to forget. Include any upcoming shows (only ones that are locked in) and any large or successful shows you’ve done in the past. If you played at a friend’s house party two months ago and have been playing the same coffee shop every week for six, you probably shouldn’t include that. I can’t stress enough that professionalism is the key to a successful press kit.
If you are doing an EPK, include your website if you have one, and if you do try to maintain it as if a record exec could happen upon it at any random time. Keep all information relevant and current, make sure links work, have everything listed above easy for someone to find on their own, etc. And don’t forget, the great thing about being online is that you can also include videos if you have them (I’m starting to think that my next post will be about making a band website).
And last but not least (actually one of the most important things, especially if your press kit is physical)- have valid contact info on everything! Things get shuffled around, separated, etc., especially if the person you sent it to happens to have a whole pile of similar packages on their desk from the thousands of other bands nationwide looking for their 15 minutes. Be consistent with your information and treat each part of the press kit as if it’s going alone.
Finally, whether you send all the above information to someone via email or through the post office, include a cover letter. Again, we’re looking to be professional and to stand out from all the others. A cover letter will be brief, stating who the pack is for, what it is, etc. (maybe I’ll do a post about cover letters in the future, but here’s the wiki-how: http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Cover-Letter).
I think that about does it for now. If I missed anything or you’d like to debate/correct any of this, definitely leave a response! 🙂