My strapline is, helping musicians and artists get their websites noticed by fans, search engines and the music industry in half the time they could do it on their own and to that end I’ve written Promoting Gigs From Your Website, SEO for Bands and now Press Packs - what should they include?.
I don’t receive many press packs, but I do get lots of email, and I could moan on about the spam ad nauseam. My big bugbear with many of the emails I receive is the totally unbelievable lack of content, there’s no: band name, MySpace address or website address - I got an email the other day that just said “Help” in the Subject bar. So I’m thinking, I bet when these bands send out a press pack it’s the same - Poor Information! Then there are the bands who Do include contact details and loads of blurb about the band - too much blurb in fact. I click on the links, and they’ve got exactly the same tomes of information plastered everywhere. Bored out of my box, I don’t read any of it. So, put yourself in the mind of the receiver; if you were to receive your press pack and a hundred others exactly the same, would you be sorting them into the sorting-bin? Here’s a truth, nobody cares about you or your band (yet).
“Anything interesting in the post today darling?”
“Oh yes. Look at this one love.”
The main thrust and idea of a press pack is to be proactive, meaning - You are aproaching Them, and ‘Them’ are: Gig Promoters, Venues, Labels, Press, Online Radio, DJs and anyone else in the music industry who might employ you! Sending out a hard copy of your press pack is not the same as sending a crappy email that includes your MySpace or website address. The purpose of a press pack is to target and present your band’s information, in the best possible light, towards a specific audience, and they will use the information accordingly! First impressions are always very important, you normally get just one chance to make the hit. Put in as much effort as you can to create a simple and professional looking press pack - quality, not quantity - with easy to read and understand information that is correct (spelling, grammar, punctuation), honest, relevant, current and hits the spot. Keep to industry standard layouts and sizes.
Tip: it’s a good idea to contact the recipient of your press pack first, to find out if they want it!
The Different Versions
You’ve got to ask yourself, “who is the press pack for?” and tailor your press pack at them. You’re a band. Your products are music and performance, and that’s what all of the recipients of your press pack are interested in. For gig promoters and venues, it’s all about how many people you can draw, so who & what you sound like and how you perform is important. On the other hand labels - who will invest in you - want to see a return on their investment, so they are also interested in your future potential and your current achievements. The press are always looking for news, so they are hunting for stories that will attract readers (I wouldn’t make up stuff). Online radio and DJs want new and entertaining music to play to their listeners.
Gig Promoters, Venues, Labels, Press, Online Radio and DJs all want to hear quality music and see your full contact information, if you sound good they will want to contact you because they will all want a slice of the action - they’re in it for the money. As always it’s a good idea to start off locally, both in the real world and online, so if you have already been gigging locally, include the details of where you have been playing - extend this out as you get bigger.
Your Contact Information
This is one of the most important parts of your press pack. Your contact information should be on everything - you could use self-sticking return address labels or self-inking rubber stamps to good effect here. Get yourself a business card for the band.
Include: your name, your band’s name, a couple of telephone numbers, postal address, email address, website URL.
From a website point of view, you could make a short snappy version of your press pack as the opening page with the links pointing to the full versions. Your band’s website Is (or should be) the ultimate press pack. You may want to include how to get the printed version, or a zipped ‘electronic’ version? Fans, friends and family might also be interested in the printed version especially if it includes a free DVD of your latest gig - that might co$t you!
Note: more people are accepting ePress packs, as they take up less office space, however, the same rules apply.
The Covering Letter / The Biography Blurb (one sheet)
It’s called a “one sheet” because it’s on one sheet of paper, but I think if it goes to two sheets, it’s O.K. It should contain your full contact details (on headed paper) that is dated and signed. The opening introductory and closing paragraphs of the letter/biography should be personalised. And K.I.S.S. (keep it short + simple ;) ). Create a strap line that describes your band, something like this: The Flying Footstools are a female fronted indie rock band from Reading, Berkshire (England) - I’m sure you can do better than that. Try to include a couple of short testimonials/reviews (I wouldn’t bother sending photocopies of newspaper clippings) from the music industry, details of your forthcoming gigs and if they’re local, ask them if they want to be on your guestlist.
A high resolution (300+ DPI), preferably B/W (monochromatic) or full colour, 4in x 6in (postcard size - takes up less space) [8in x 10in (magazine cover size) version can be downloaded off the ‘net], portrait orientation, group shot. I would recommend you to use a professional photographer - money well spent. If you really can’t afford to use a professional photographer, use a student photographer or an assistant photographer. A student photographer will/may/should only charge you for materials, but will want to use the photographs for inclusion in their portfolio. An assistant photographer is always looking out for subjects for “test sessions” - everyone involved gives their services free and the photographs are shared around for all to use in their portfolios.
The Live Demo &/or DVD
It’s got to be said, “put your best track first”.
The most common complaint from - Gig Promoters, Venues, Labels, Press, Online Radio and DJs - the people who receive music from bands is: LACK OF INFORMATION. Label CDs with a CD sticker and include: Your Band’s Name, Album’s Name, Track Names & Numbers, Website Address and Contact Information - it is easy to print these out yourself from your PC. Three tracks is normal.
For electronic versions of the press pack Zip three mp3s with artwork, photograph and textual information - Tag mp3s - YourBandName-TrackName.mp3, include website address in ID3. An mp3 size of 192kbps would be O.K. for most purposes.
A well made live DVD shorty would go down extremely well :)
Brown is bad, green is clean, yellow and red are predictable, white and grey are dull and professional, duck egg blue is lovely. Just make it stand out from the others!
Press Pack Check List
include: band name, genre, email address, website URL on everything.
- One Sheet
- Business Card
- Quality Envelope
- Correct Postage
Simple, DON’T include your life story
Please Don’t ask me to create your band’s press pack. I’m not a professional. But, I know a man who is, Martin “GD” of Green Dragon Media (Ed. Martin seems to have a low profile at the moment!). He has over 30 years experience in the music industry, having worked in music management, record label A&R, radio (as a presenter), promotion and publicity - so Martin knows what the industry is looking for. A professionally produced press pack will give your band a big advantage over other bands who have poorly produced press packs. Of course there is a cost, £50 (about US$100) would be a bargain, because once you have assembled your press pack you’ve got to do something with it, and a good professional will have a list of contacts as long as your arm.
Written by Ian Robson
Unsigned Band Promotion help musicians and artists to get their websites noticed by fans, search engines and the music industry in half the time they could do it on their own. Find UBP on Google+ and Twitter. Ian has been working on website promotion techniques since 1994.