I can still vividly remember myself sitting on the floor at a renowned German music publisher I worked for over two decades ago, filing and sorting through mountains of press kits. For a young music aficionado this ‘menial’ task proved to be very exciting, getting insight into the inner lives of so many bands I cherished and loved, let aside the photos I was able to drool over (or be horrified by) in the semi-darkness of that often very isolated spot.
Moving on two decades, the novelty of physical press kits has vanished, although this is often debated amongst music professionals and artists alike. I agree that in some instances this might still be the way to go (I’m sure John Peel would’ve loved it!) – truth is that environmental awareness, small budgets and an overwhelmingly amount of new bands emerging by the day and trying to make their mark in the music world, have limited the span of attention of the recipient to merely 15-30 seconds. 15-30 seconds you need to make count!
So what exactly should a great EPK consist of?
Fact or One Sheet
Funnily this is one crucial component missing in many EPKs (or press kits in general). To my utter incomprehension, I have to admit. Especially in an era where time is sparse and the onslaught of artist requests is overwhelming, you want to utilise those 15-30 seconds and give them reason to look further. A fact sheet is a summary of all that summons YOU and tells the person WHY they should look at you a little closer.
Rule of Thumb: keep it to one page, add your best photo, highlight your best songs, list accomplishments and raves about you – summarise pretty much everything that makes you SPECIAL!
Make a statement with great and stylish hi-res shots, preferably not taken by your friend next door (unless he’s a photographer). It’s very important to invest in professional shots, as they are your wild card to press and media. The quality of images added determines how professional and serious you come across to those who consider to listen.
Rule of Thumb: I would add several different photos (vertical vs. horizontal, b&w vs. colour) for the simple reason that each media outlet has different preferences. You want to cover all the bases to ensure you’re getting printed and published. Also don’t forget to include your latest album cover…
The more buzz you have created in the media world, the better. This shows how ‘marketable’ you are in the outside world (and that is what unfortunately counts most for your press kit audience).
Rule of Thumb: create a sheet and list quotes/blurbs from previous media articles, adding a link to the full article. Not everybody (and that is most likely the majority) will have the time to read the full article, but they COULD, if the chance was given. Plus: it gives you credibility.
Although you can include upcoming dates on your fact sheet, it is a good piece of advice to include past tour dates, if you have lots to show.
Rule of Thumb: list any festivals, renowned smaller venues or events worth mentioning (not including a gig at your friend’s Birthday, no matter how many people were there) – this will show how passionate and pro-active you are about your music and also that you’ve been ‘around’ and a pro on stage!
Stating the obvious, don’t forget to include your music, starting with the latest single of your new album, followed by the full-length album, highlighting the strongest tracks. This could either be a zip-file or links to download, preferably from your website.
If you’re deciding to include a songlist or a brief summary on the song’s message, try to keep it short and sweet (couple of sentences) and add a little spice (funny, jaw-dropping facts or capturing in any other ways – I’ll leave this to your imagination).
Rule of Thumb: a great old fav from your repertoire always looks good in your music collection as well and can portray that you’re going from strength to strength.
“The Power of Visual Communication” remains unchallenged and it is worth investing into a couple of great videos.
Rule of Thumb: make sure NOT to add a (possibly also shaky) homemade amateur video – although people like ‘authentic’, it is not the same as ‘professional’. If you don’t have the budget to pay somebody, it’s always worth to check out film schools or courses, which might have an alternative on offer (there’s awesome film students out there).
Remember the gazillion of biographies being sent out each day? So try to distinguish yourself from the rest by being funny, creative or different when telling your story!
Rule of Thumb: again, no novels required here – brevity is the soul of wit! Don’t forget to list all band members and instruments played at the bottom of the sheet. This might seem unnecessary information to you, but when it comes to determining a sound, three guitars always sound better than one! Different versions of your bio (length-wise) also come in handy, so you can easily meet different requirements.
Some final advice: a personal note with your EPK will go a long way!