In a word, yes.
If you want paying gigs, if you want radio play if you want to get noticed by industry players, if you want to generate word of mouth, if you want to play local or regional festivals, club dates, concerts, special events, parties, weddings, chamber of commerce events, corporate sales meetings or in-home concerts, you need a press kit.
Okay what’s a press kit?
A press kit is the packet or electronic folder of information you give to media people and promoters to help them “sell” you. You’ll also want to give it directly to club owners and anyone else who may hire you.
EPK stands for Electronic Press Kit. This is what you’ll use most often, although publicists still use printed versions, often including the printed information when they send out a CD for review.
Press kit components.
• Band biography/history. Keep this to one or two pages (approx 400-750 words). Write in the third person (he, she, they). Treat it like a news story. If you do a good job, you may find a publication or blog will pick it up almost verbatim. Be sure to include band members /instruments played, particular strengths, awards and high-profile gigs and the type of music you play. If you have limited experience, stress your strengths and add a human interest angle, if you can. i.e. your band recently worked at a Habitat For Humanity build or performed for a local charity.
• Band leader bio. Again, write in third person. Share your musical background, talents. You can include where you studied, where you grew up, family mentions, musical and personal influences. Try to keep it to a singe page (approx. 400 – 500 words).
• Band members bio sheet. One or two pages total (approx. 50 – 300 words for each player, depending on the experience of your band members). If you’ve got a ten-piece band, don’t worry if it’s longer! Some bands use a pool of backup musicians. You may choose to include these, or not.
• Press clippings. If you’ve had press coverage, chances are the editor or writer can supply you with an electronic file of the article. Ask for a .pdf file. Or, if the publication archives its articles, online, you can copy it yourself and save it as a .pdf.
Another option is to scan the printed article and save it as a .pdf file.
• Fact sheet. This is something not often included in musicians’ press kits, but it’s a great opportunity to add something that didn’t fit easily into your bio. Do it with bullet points. Make it simple. It’s a good place to list home towns and pertinent family information; tidbits about the band, i.e. Together the five-piece band plays 27 instruments or The lead guitarist often has as many as six guitars on stage at once or John Doe’s mother taught him to play slide guitar with a butter knife. A musician I know once taught Brandon Lee to play guitar – for his final film as it turned out. This is the sort of item you want to include here.
• Discography. Use your judgment. If you’re at the beginning of your career and have just produced your first homemade CD, include it in your band bio instead. Once you have a few recordings, you may want to include a discography sheet with title, year and label, maybe an image of the cover. If you have a long list, the image may not be practical.
• Technical requirements/capabilities. Depending on where you are in your career, most of you will bring your own equipment. It’s a good idea to have a sheet that lists your equipment along with your technical requirements. Club owners will appreciate the heads up.
• Professional band photo. This is something that bands seem to resist, but you need a current, professional-quality photograph of your band. Bite the bullet and do it. Have the photographer give you color, black & white, high resolution ( 8 x 10, 300 dpi, .tif) and low resolution (5 x7, 72 dpi, .tif). If you find yourself emailing a photo to an editor, you’ll probably have to adjust the size and format, but these sizes are fine for download from your site and for a CD. If your photographer wants a photo credit, be sure to include it with the photo. The photographer may embed it in the corner of the image so editors are sure to see it. NOTE: If your photo includes a band member who’s no longer with the group, it’s not current anymore. You need a new one!
• Band leader photo. Same as above. (If your group doesn’t have a specific leader, you’re off the hook for this one and the band leader bio!)
• Performance photo/s. This/These can be color, both high and low resolution. This image should be dramatic, can be one or more players. Use just one or two shots in your press kit.
• Band logo file. High and low resolution. .tif or .jpg.
• MP3. A representative tune or two, so they can hear how you sound. Choose this carefully. If you play mostly originals, but your press kit tune is a cover, that’s what folks will expect. Maybe you should have one of each.
Note that these written items are all separate documents, not one long piece. Be consistent with your headline fonts and type sizes. They should be the same for each one. Don’t make the type smaller just because the document is longer. You want them the same from one to the next.
Another tip, the paragraph is your friend. Don’t write one long block of copy. It’s too hard to read like that!
And finally, be sure you have included your contact information: contact person; phone number; email address; website, if you have one; MySpace address (you should be on MySpace); Twitter (you should be on Twitter, too!)
Now you have a press kit. What do you do with it?
• Burn it to a CD. Keep a couple safe and marked Master Copy/EPK with the date. Then burn ten or 20 more so you have them ready. Create labels for them There are templates at avery.com. You just fill in the copy (i.e. Press Kit, band name, contact name, telephone number and email address), upload a photo or logo if you want and choose a background color or design.
• Have your Webmaster put it in a downloadable zip file on your website in a section marked Media or Press or News. You or your Webmaster may have to adjust the sizes of your images.
If you don’t have a website, consider setting up a blog. Look into WordPress.com or Blogger.com. You may have to post your press kit items as separate elements. In that case, you could name a category Press Kit and post the components as individual blog posts within your Press Kit category. You would post the photos in an application such as Flickr (Some WordPress themes offer Flickr as a plugin) and your tunes in a music player. A drawback to using a blog is that your photos will not be large high resolution images. You’ll wind up emailing them (which, you’ll do when you send out press releases and notices about your gig. But that’s a blog post for another day!)
• Be generous with your EPKs. They won’t do you any good sitting on the dashboard of your car.