I’m in the process of updating the Solveig & Stevie EPK (electronic press kit) for our new album release. I also have several friends and clients who have just released albums or EPs, and are sending them out for review or airplay consideration. As usual, I thought perhaps you, my dear readers and fellow musicians, might benefit from my learning process. I’ve also included links to more resources at the bottom of this post.
What’s An EPK ?
An EPK is an online, electronic version of the physical, paper information folder that was sent out in the old days by managers (now often by artists and bands themselves) to
- Venues and festival bookers
- Reviewers and reporters
- Radio stations or podcasters
Business Purpose of An EPK
The business purpose of a press kit, whether paper or electronic, is to get a person to book your band, review your new album, interview or write an article about your band, or play your music on their terrestrial or internet radio station.
[Tweet “Don’t forget the business purpose of your artist EPK”]
The reason I mention business purpose up front is because I think that too often, bands forget that the press kit has a business purpose. If your band doesn’t need any of those things listed in the paragraph above, don’t bother creating press kit. That said, most solo artists and bands should have one. And, chances are, you are the one pulling it together (not a manager or PR agent).
If you are ever unsure about what items to create for or include in your press kit, or how to position or choose or write something – just put yourself in the shoes of the person who will be reading it. If they wouldn’t find it interesting and newsworthy, or useful for writing their article or playing your music, don’t include it or rewrite it.
The purpose of your press kit may evolve and shift over time, too. It’s important to periodically review and update it. You may have new music with new album art, new reviews, new quotes, or a new band bio (even new band members). Trust me, nothing is more awkward than having a reporter write a glowing story about your band listing a band member you fired a year ago.
Putting Your Press Kit Online
As I reviewed the usual information sources online (my go-to sources of information are usually the CD Baby DIY Musician blog and Music Think Tank), I realized that even in the past year or two things have changed so much.
Online storage in the cloud is now staggeringly cheap (Dropbox Pro now gives you an amazing terabyte of space for just $9.99 a month). I use Dropbox not only for collaborating with other artists long distance, but also for hosting my EPK. There are a variety of other options for hosting large files in the cloud – the point is that if you haven’t considered the cloud for your EPK, it may be time to do so.
[Tweet “You can use cloud services like Dropbox for your band EPK”]
Creating a website isn’t tough nowadays. Band website platforms like Bandzoogle and Hostbaby also have EPKs built into their website creation platforms, and sites like ReverbNation and Soncibids have had easy-to-use EPK options for a while.
Where To Host Your Band EPK: Website, Cloud or Music Service
Dropbox or Other Cloud File Storage
This is an easy answer – I would do all three. I love the simplicity and control of a Dropbox folder with sub-folders for downloading an entire album’s worth of high-quality MP3s (320 kbps) or even .wav files. Music files are large, and in the past, the only way to get them to a radio station was on physical CD.
For radio stations, it’s now easy to Dropbox the host or DJ a private link via email to the entire album, complete with all the relevant elements of the EPK (see below). I like that I can give some individuals permission to some folders, and others not. I would put the superset of everything you can possibly think of that you might want people to have access to on a cloud service like Dropbox.
Here’s the other very cool thing about Dropbox – I can do all of this remotely via mobile. I can easily modify folder contents and permissions from my smart phone, even if I am away from home.
Your Band Website
Put a subset version of your EPK on your own website. You can make it a public page but not link directly from your website, or you can make it publicly visible behind a tab called “EPK”. Or you can make it private and it can be password protected. Making it public and obvious on your website makes information easy to find for any press person who comes across your website – even someone who has not contacted you ahead of time.
Sending people to a link on your website instead of Dropbox also has the added advantage of driving traffic numbers up for your website.
Also, if you have a “Video” tab on your website, it’s easier for someone to find your music videos if they are already right there on your website looking at your EPK. Video is an important part of how people get information about your band these days. Bookers will want to see live video of your band performing so they can judge your live performance skill and crowd response.
Of course, if you or someone in your band do not have control over adding menu items or content to your website because you are beholden to someone else who manages it, then you might consider the Dropbox option or just use ReverbNation and/or Sonicbids.
Own The Ability To Update Your Website Content
On a side note, I encourage all my peers and clients to wrest the ability to update content on their band websites away from a consultant or webmaster. Whether it is built on Bandzoogle, Hostbaby, WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix, there are some incredibly easy platforms for website creation, and you don’t have to know any HTM. If you are stuck waiting for someone to make changes to your website for days or weeks, or if you are paying someone a “retainer” of hundreds of dollars a month to be the gatekeeper of your website, that’s something you may want to reconsider.
I can even modify content on my website in an emergency. I can also write an entire blog post on my smart phone via the WordPress mobile interface, although I don’t recommend it. It is swkward using your thumbs to type 2000 words and typos are more frequent. But at least I can fix the typos all by myself if I have to, I am thinking on getting the Best Audio Interface to make the quality better.
Oh, and please, get rid of the Flash “Enter Website” main page, if you still have one. And please do not autoplay your music. That is two whole other blog posts, which thankfully Dave Cool and Chris Robley have already written, so I don’t have to.
But I digress.
Music Services Like ReverbNation and Sonicbids EPKs
Since most festivals, venues, and many other opportunities for exposure now use ReverbNation and Sonicbids, I recommend also having a band profile on one or both of those services. It’s super easy to set an EPK up on either. They will, by design, be a subset of your more comprehensive EPKs in the cloud and on your website (for example, you will have to choose your best tracks). One thing that’s a nice part of the ReverbNation EPK is that it automatically pulls updated info and stats from your profile for fan demographics and show dates.
What To Include In Your EPK Folder
- Band bio (pdf) – There are lots of articles online on how to write a good one.
- Album cover art (several resolutions) (jpg/png/bmp) – I like having bmp files that include the words 200×200 or 1400×1400 in the filenames so it’s obvious what resolution they are.
- Band pictures (high res bmp) – Include a few different versions including vertical and horizontall oriented shots, and B&W. Pick only a few of the good ones, don’t post your entire band photoshoot, but make sure they are professional looking. Give the files intuitive text names – not things like pic123968 – like Mybandname In Field or George Guitarplayer Stageshot. Include your band logo, if you have one.
- [Update] Promo video – Ari Herstand wrote a great post on his excellent music marketing blog about having a short band Promo Video as well, and what should be included in the video itself, called How To Make A Killer Promo Video.
[Tweet “Give EPK files intutive text names”]
- Folder with high-quality downloadable MP3s (make sure your metadata is complete and correct) – For radio stations and reviewers, have the entire album in a separate folder. I include 320 kbps Mp3s (128 kbps is equivalent to what you hear on the radio) downloadable audio files in a separate folder. Personally, I don’t view it as a big deal to make my entire album available for free to anyone willing to commit to closely listening to it. Some people are more concerned than I am about piracy. While you may choose to only post snippets of your songs on platforms like iTunes or Amazon, stream your music on Soundcloud, or select only your three best tracks for ReverbNation, Sonicbids or your website, I would have the whole album available in a password-protected Dropbox file for radio stations and reviewers.
- Press release (pdf) – This is particularly important for new album releases. You have probably already written one if you are using an electronic press release distribution service like MusicSubmit or Mi2N, or if you are working directly with a publicist. There is an art to writing a good press release, including understanding what makes for a compelling news “hook” and headline that will draw someone in to write about your band. Several links at the end of this article may be helpful if you are writing your own press release. I do recommend considering hiring a professional publicist to either write or at least edit your press release. It’s very hard to write your own objectively – at least that’s my own personal experience
- Press quote sheet (pdf) – One page filled with only 1-2 sentence “pull quotes” with links back to the articles or full reviews online. Choose your best quotes carefully for their colorful, descriptive language and influential or authoritative-sounding names of the reviewer. Use your best three in your one-sheet (see below).
- Genre, tagline and contact info – This is not a separate document, but this information should be prominently featured in your band bio and/or press release
- RIYL – Recommended If You Like list, also known as “sounds like [artist-name].” Like genre and tagline, this is also not a separate document, but information included in some other element like your one-sheet or band bio. I recommend listing no more than three artists (more is confusing), and make sure they are not totally obscure. The objective is to easily identify a reference framework for your music. Please do not use the “If FamousBandnameOne and FamousBandnameTwo had a baby…” phrase.
EPK Nice-To-Haves If You Have Time On Your Hands To Create Them
- One-sheet (pdf) – A one-sheet is a compact piece that incorporates a subset of several of the elements of your press kit on a single-sided 8 ½ x 11 size document. This is the best piece to have and print out when you can only give someone one thing. See this great example of an on-website EPK by Lucy Kalantari, along with her downloadable one-sheet in the bottom right. I think hers is just a super example of both a great EPK and one-sheet.
- Album track listing (pdf) – Include writing credits if you are not creating a separate doc with lyrics and credits. Album track listing is critical for radio stations.
- Lyrics (pdf) – Include lyrics for the entire album in one document, with the track listing at the top and writing credits. You could also create a separate lyrics folder and separate pdf files for each song with the song title as the filename. This is handy to have if you are using your EPK to shop your music to publishers. Here’s a link to Shane Adams’ Lyrics Formatting Guidelines which I have found helpful.
- Band Q&A (pdf) – Thanks to Jon Ostrow for this idea. A Q & A could include quirky facts about the band, songs, or band members, or perhaps short vignettes (stories) from the road or recording studio
- Album insert/booklet/sleeve art (pdf) – You probably either paid someone to create this artwork and layout, or spent a lot of time on it yourself. Why not keep it around in electronic form?
- Cover letter (pdf) – This is a pre-written “boilerplate” one page letter you might want to have available in Dropbox so you can download it from the road, customize it, and print it out and include with a one-sheet and CD when giving to a radio station or some other influential person who is listening to your music
- Places your music has been played/placed/cut by another artist/film or commercial credits (pdf) – Remember, you want to think like the person you want to impress with your press kit, so any time you can, show how you’ve already achieved success with your music
- Video files – I think the video files are not needed in an EPK press kit if you have a link to videos up on YouTube from your website, otherwise, yes. Video files take up a ton of space – that’s what YouTube and Vimeo are for!
- Show poster art – As with your album sleeve and booklet art, you probably spent some boucoup time creating these. If they have a theme or are original artwork, include a few.
- Anything else creative that a press person might use in a review or story that will help your band stand out – Have you written an e-book about guitar-playing techniques? Did you win any special songwriting awards and do you have a .bmp of the award logo or artwork? Include it!
You Can Always Print A Physical Press Kit On Demand
I really don’t think you need to have physical press kits lying around anymore, although Jon Ostrow recommended that in his blog post from a few years ago on Music Think Tank (below).
Here’s the thing: most towns have a Kinko’s/Fedex, Walgreens or Target that has a print kiosk where you can make high quality printouts on demand of any of the things listed above from a portable thumb drive or from the internet, pop them in a nice-looking folder along with a physical CD, and send the package out to someone who has requested it. Some radio station people still like physical CDs, so if you are giving them a physical CD, don’t miss the opportunity to give them a (reasonably-sized) press kit or at minimum your one-sheet.
I hope this was helpful, please feel free to add anything I’ve forgotten or argue my points in the comments section below.
Links To More Resources
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April 19, 2010
Writing a Cover Letter and Submitting a Press Kit
By David Lowry
Writing a Cover Letter and Submitting a Press Kit
Before you write a cover letter to someone in the entertainment industry, please make sure you research the company to learn all you can. This will give you a solid understanding of what they do. The information will help you decide whether or not you actually need the services they offer. Your letter should explain why you would be a good fit for their company. In previous blogs I have written, I have given details in which an artist can determine if they would need management at the particular point they are at in their career. An artist should try to figure out through research and phone calls if they are truly ready, or in need of the types of services they are inquiring about.
When writing a cover letter to someone in the entertainment industry, you must first understand a few things about what you bring to the table for them to consider you. The idea behind the cover letter and press kit you are submitting is to make it as easy as possible for them to review the information about you or your band and to give them the “WOW” factor. If they have to dig around to find information and if your press kit isn’t attention grabbing and compelling, then they are more likely to pass on it and throw it away.
Your cover letter should be professional and list your strengths. Ask yourself a few questions: Why do you think you are ready for their services? What is it about you that is unique? What do YOU have to offer that would make you be worth the investment of time, energy and hard work? Be truthful and positive about what you bring to the table. The artists represented by the company are a direct reflection on that company, so they want to make sure the artists they work with are professional and understand the business part of the entertainment industry. Make your letter short, to the point and friendly. Talk about your experience, fan base, reviews, touring experience and number of upcoming shows. Go through your material with a fine-tooth comb and be as accurate and professional as possible.
Image is everything and that goes for your press kit! So make sure it’s professional, complete with a professional CD, photos, one-page bio and other materials listed in my blog titled “The Promotional Kit” http://wp.me/pu8Se-v
Good luck on achieving your dream!
This entry was posted on Monday, April 19th, 2010 at 9:16 pm and tagged with Acting, Artist Management, Band, Booking Agents, Branding, Commericials, Cover Letter, Entertainers, indie Musicians, management, Media, Music, Music Business, PR, Press Kits, Social Media, The Lowry Agency, Voice Acting, Voice Over, Voice Talent, Voiceover and posted in Entertainment, Music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.