August 16, 2010
Press Kits - Who, What, When, Where, and How?
(Photo via smart went crazy)
Press Kits can be amazing. They can also be amazingly bad, or amazingly useless. To ensure you don't fall into the two latter categories, I thought I would share some basic information and advice.
Everyone from an individual acoustic artist, to a 49-piece orchestra, to a live event promoter, to a record label should develop a press kit to aid their promotional efforts and business deals.
There are many different elements you can add to a music press kit. Not all of them will be needed for every occasion, some will be situation specific. As Bob Baker says, "your goal should be to send only what is necessary and needed to accomplish your promotion objectives."
Break your content down into these four areas:
• Text : Biography, Discography, Press Releases, Fact Sheet, Tour Dates, Song List, Equipment List, Famous Quotes / Endorsements, and more.
• Images : Professional Photos, Live Performance Photos, Press Clippings, and more. Images should all be hi- and lo-res, for either print or web.
• Audio : CD albums, Limited edition 7-inch coloured vinyl, Low bitrate mp3s for quick streaming, High bitrate audio files for download, and more.
• Video : DVDs, Music Video, Live Performance Video, Behind The Scenes Footage, Interview Footage, and more.
• Additional Inserts : USB Flash drives, T-shirts, coffee mugs, candy bars, pop-up storybook, or other RELATED items.
Having an inventive theme to your press kit and promotional material is a way to make it unique and stand out. A style or gimmick that suits the artist's music and image won't hurt at all, as long as any theme is related and appropriate! A record label for kids music? Think colourful, jack-in-the-box, cartoon animation, and Hello Kitty bubblegum style decoration. Chicago goth-metal band? Think stormy, unicolour city skyline images, sharp fonts, and blood-stains across your bio. Do not try and fuse the two.
Press kits can be used for a number of reasons, such as, to promote a new CD release to radio / press, to secure a paying gig at a club, to let the local media know you were just covered in a national magazine, to promote a fund-raising event for a charity, and much more. However, the media will not want to know about every little thing that happens, so choose your timing wisely, and give yourself a Unique Selling Point (USP) to avoid being tossed aside in the "just another band/label" pile.
Mail or Online?
Electronic Press Kits take all the manufacturing and duplication costs out of the equation. For a relatively new artist, in this digital age, this is certainly the way forward. Maybe when you are more established, with a marketing budget with plenty of zeros, and really want to offer something in return for key national exposure, you can ply them with all kinds of physical goodies, but for now, think digital. There is no reason why you cannot re-create an amazing press kit, such as the Hunter S. Thompson theme above, in digital form. Websites, emails and zip files can easily contain all the text, images, audio and video necessary to compile an effective kit.
You need a good creative writer focusing on selling the benefits, not the musical facts - only other musician geeks want to read about harmonies, timbre etc. Magazine editors want to hear about fresh ideas, quirky band stories, and USPs that will amuse and entertain their key audiences.
A professional photographer / camera-person / graphic artist can create fantastic images that will speak volumes. If you are strapped on the budget, consider reaching out to your fan-base for assistance.
Ideally, you would have multiple elements, but not all of them would be sent to each contact - you are pitching a different thing to a radio show host than you are a venue booker, and different again if you are selling music to a fan, so none if it should be the same copy and paste from a (fan based) website.
Packaging all of the elements into a website, email or zip file is simple enough. If you are looking at a physical kit, the packaging can also be part of your theme, but think about the size, cost, and impact. DVD case in an envelope? Easy. Pizza box? Very cool, if a little more expensive to mail.
So, next time you start sending emails shouting "GIMME A GIG / JOB / ROLLING STONE COVER FEATURE", at least back it up with a professional and unique Press Kit to show that you are serious about your career in music.
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