The Essentials Of An Effective Music Press Kit – Part 2

QueTheMusic

– Quentin W. Buetow –

– Robi Nickoli –

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The Essentials Of An Effective Music Press Kit – Part 2

Welcome back. In this edition of Que The Music, we’re going to continue with our second part of the series “The Essentials Of An Effective Music Press Kit” and go into greater detail as to what you should include when compiling the standard (or “traditional”) press kits.

What follows is a breakdown of the basic elements of said traditional press kit, so be sure to pay attention to the specifics simply because, by following this advice, you can – and will – get noticed:

TRADITIONAL PRESS KIT:

When putting together a traditional press kit, these next items are crucial to the process of promoting yourself – and your craft – in the best light possible:

  1. A professionally designed cover with your band’s logo or photo;
  2. A cover and a letter of introduction;
  3. An artist / band biography;
  4. A professional 8” x 10” black and white glossy promotional photo;
  5. A professional 8” x 10” color glossy promotional photo;
  6. Media-featured articles and press releases, album reviews, and quote sheet;
  7. A full-length (or extended play) professionally recorded demo c.d.;
  8. A professionally compiled and summarized One Sheet, including a business card and professionally labeled envelope.

In order to package your kit so that it stands out above the rest, you will need the following supplies:

  1. 5-Star Quality heavy-stock paper;
  2. A portfolio cover;
  3. A large envelope;
  4. Professionally printed address labels;
  5. Professionally printed business cards;
  6. 8” x 10” glossy photos (both full color as well as black and white).

Now that you have the preceding supplies available to you, we’re going to go through, step-by-step, putting the traditional press kit together. Again, I want to re-emphasize how crucial it is for you, as an artist, to always – always, always, always – maintain and keep current copies of both types of press kits (tradition as well as electronic).

Think of the press kits as you would a resume or a C.V. Would you want someone handing you a sloppy and stained employment application with outdated information?

No, I didn’t think so.

It is imperative that you keep your press kits up-to-date and current with all of your projects and news, no matter how small or insignificant they might seem at the time.

So, let’s get down to the business at hand, shall we?

  • COVER AND LETTER OF INTRODUCTION: 

Your press kit, regardless if it’s of the traditional variant or the electronic version, should have an impressive, attention-getting cover.  It should include a color photo of the artist (or band), the name of the artist (or band), and contact information for the artist (or band).  When putting kit together, it should also include a letter of introduction.  Keep it concise and brief. It’s not intended to be your resume or your portfolio, rather it’s simply serving as a means of introducing yourself to whomever makes the decision to allow you to move forward. Do not become mired down in details! 

When composing this letter of introduction, you must do your research and make sure that you address it to a specific individual, preferably a decision-maker that can get you beyond the door. Keep it professional at all times, but too, you want to write the letter in such a way that it (and you, too) comes across as mature and noteworthy, yet personable and fun. In doing so, this creates an opportunity for future contact and discussion and conveys the message to the addressee that you feel their media outlet, label, or venue holds importance and significance. 

You must – absolutely must – ensure that, either at the top or the bottom of this letter, you have included your all of your (or your manager, agent, or representative) contact information, including e-mail addresses. The contact information should also be included at the bottom right on every page (an area known as the “footer”) in the press kit. Again, I have to stress the similarities between a press kit and a career professional resume and/or C.V. It is imperative that you present yourself (or your band) in the best light possible as well keeping it concise and to the point.

  • ARTIST / BAND BIOGRAPHY:

The next page – or what would actually be the first informational page of the press kit – would be the ‘Biography / About Me (Us)’ section.  Here you should include a brief history of the artist or band as well as mini-biographies of each member of the band, if applicable.  This entire section should be no longer than one page. Keep it simple, concise, and meaningful.

  • MEDIA AND PRESS:

Immediately following the preceding, should be the pages dedicated to your media and press coverage.  This entails gathering together write-ups, chronicles, accounts, and/or blurbs of any featured articles which you may have received in music industry magazines or newspapers.  Do not go overboard!  You want to focus on features that highlight you as an accomplished artist and performer.  Pick the best five that you have collected and make sure they are professionally reproduced. 

There is nothing more irritating than to receive a hastily thrown-together press kit in which no consideration has been given to detail and neatness. Apathetic sloppiness, inattention to detail, and a general lack of organization seals your fate instantly. Take pride in the quality of your press kit. 

Again, think of this as an all-in-one resume, C.V., and portfolio. The highest level of attention to detail is crucial in making you stand out above the rest of the pack.

[TIP]: Separate each item with a plastic see-through insert so that you can ensure there are no folds, no creases, and no stains.

  • ALBUM / SONG REVIEWS AND QUOTES:

You must include reviews (good reviews only!) of your performances and albums as well as any quotes you have received regarding your performances and body of work.  This page should be professionally assembled (and written) with categorized headings. 

For instance: One category could be labeled as “Album Reviews” while another could be identified as “Quotes”.  Do not forget to put quotation marks before and after each review and quote. You must also attribute the quote to a source. It must be able to be proven and substantiated. Always, always, always cite your references!

  • ARTIST / BAND FULL-LENGTH (OR EXTENDED PLAY) C.D.:

There are a few different ways in which to include your C.D. in your press kit.  If your portfolio has a sleeve in the rear you can (obviously) just slip it in there.  Another method is to use two (small and unobtrusive) Velcro® strips placed on the rear of the C.D. and attached somewhere on the inside of the back cover.  This, however, is not the recommended method, especially if the rear cover of your C.D. has important information printed on it. 

If you are enclosing a full-length record or E.P. (Extended Play) C.D., the hope would be that you have taken the time to release a professional recording worthy of immediate airplay. Including something that was recorded in a bathroom, garage, or karaoke bar is certainly not the best approach if you really want to be taken seriously.

However, if you are using a “demo” C.D., it is extremely important to note the following:

  • You must make sure it is of professional recording quality;
  • You must make sure that the production quality is as professional as possible;
  • You should not include no more than three to four songs of your very best efforts;
  • You should always give due consideration and diligence to highlighting your best efforts first and then work down in ranking order;
  • You should seriously consider professionally created cover art and labeling. Make it stand out and be noticed;
  • You must make sure your contact information is displayed on the demo C.D. label’
  • If in doubt, always have it reviewed and evaluated by one or two professional prior to submitting it. The more eyes, the better. This is not high school, folks. This is your career. Take it seriously.
  • MUSIC INDUSTRY ONE-SHEET:

If you are enclosing a C.D. of a professionally recorded and commercially released full-length (or extended-play) album, then it is a very good idea to attach a music industry one-sheet.  One-Sheets are generally used during the music distribution process, but by enclosing one with your press kit, it gives the recipient more insight on your actual record. 

A One-Sheet always includes a photo of the album cover artwork, the album title, the artist’s name, a brief description of the album, the sequentially ordered track listings, the U.P.C. Code, and the suggested retail price.  Additional notes in the One-Sheet should also include any relevant touring information, current radio play, and a few (attributable and verifiable) quotes. 

It is highly recommend that this document should be professionally written and produced, as it is an item (essentially, a legal document, of sorts) that, generally, is seen, read, and reviewed by highly placed decision makers.

  • ARTIST / BAND PROFESSIONALLY-PRINTED BUSINESS CARD(S), ET. AL.:

If you or your promoter, manager, or representative has a professionally printed business card, this should also be attached to (or included with) the press kit. Once the package is fully assembled, it should be placed in a professional-grade envelope with a 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?” Again, you can do as you so choose and see fit. However, if you truly want (and desire) your craft and passion to be taken seriously, then all of the advice, suggestions, and insights I have provided above should be your guided path to success. 

This may seem very time consuming and you may think,“Why can’t I just write out the recipient’s address?”  Again, you can do as you so choose and see fit.  However, if you truly want (and desire) your craft and passion to be taken seriously, then all of the advice, suggestions, and insights I have provided above should be your guided path to success.   This is your career and livelihood at stake, not mine.  You may choose to call me old-fashioned and be quick to dismiss my advice as over-the-top anal-retentiveness, but the people I’ve helped thus far haven’t come back to me and leveled any criticisms or complaints. 

How seriously do you take your craft?  Do you want to half-ass it or do you want to be successful?  It’s your decision alone. I have no say-so nor do I have any input in those decisions. I have nothing at stake: no time or money invested in your endeavor.  But … I WILL help you get to that next level.

These articles are meant to assist you – the artist, the band, the singer, the performer, the writer – succeed and get to where you desire to be.  They are meant solely to guide you.  My way isn’t the best way nor is the right way.  It is my way only.  It is not meant nor intended to be the definitive, end-all, be-all guide.  It is not a legal representation of how the music industry works.  Mine is an opinion based solely upon my own experiences in the industry.

I am simply one man attempting to help you decipher the intricacies of the music industry.

In the third installment, I shall focus on the creation – and compiling of – the electronic press kit. I hope to see you back here again. I have a lot of useful information to share.

Stay tuned!

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