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Developing A Functional Electronic Press Kit

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Cybergrass LearningThis is our second installment of our Cybergrass Education Series on tips for developing promotion packages for artists and those in bluegrass. As a performer, you know that you need a press kit. Every artist and band does -- its their primary marketing tool. Today, there is a myriad of ways to put a press kit together from SonicBids EPKs to fully custom website and/or DVD presentations complete with documents, stage plots, equipment requirements and even diet and beverage preferences. Yesterday's article on photography should be used with this article.

The press kit today is evolving as the speed of the Internet. Because of that, today's press kits can become obsolete at the same speed. What you need is a way to design a press kit that is also easy to keep current and can be released on demand. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep your press kit current! One top band has news that's 4 years old up on their site today. Even a record label has 3 year old "News" on their site. A press kit has to be alive and fresh. You never know when it will be required or by who or for what purpose.

One thing is that you probably don't want is for every fan to access your complete press kit. That isn't what a press kit is for. While it is certainly OK to have some material with fan access, they don't need to know about stage plats, accommodation requirements, etc. The basic information does however need to be readily available for any media or talent buyer to access easily and quickly. Welcome to one of music's Catch-22isms. The balance is not too much and not too little while making it easy to keep current and informative.

Lets start off with what should be in a press kit. Obviously, the press release is should be a reflection of who you are and the image you wish to create -- either individually or as a band. Every press kit should have these elements:

  • Who you are. How did you get started? What brought these specific artists together?
  • What style of music do you do? Genre and alternative genre?
  • Any awards you have recently received
  • Discography -- especially any current chart toppers
  • Important other artists you have collaborated with
  • Important venues you have headlined at
  • Band bio - a paragraph on each member is enough.
  • Individual member bios including instruments played and vocals
  • Current Band Promotional Photo or Photos in high resolution
  • Artist's own web site
  • Artists MySpace and/or Facebook web sites
  • Current Tour Schedule (optional)

Now that the media, talent buyer or other interested party knows all about you, they need to be able to contact you. Many bands have a variety of contacts. One thing that is critical is that these are contacts intended to be used by professionals to get you business, gigs or sales. Make sure that each has somebody who will respond. I once had to contact a band because of some news that crossed my desk that I knew was false. Nobody answered the phone at the manager or record label office numbers and the emails weren't answered either. The next day, the artist had all this false bad press all over the media because nobody was available to address it. The cleanup from this took months and it wouldn't have even happened had one of the primary contacts been able to be contacted. Here is a minimum list that should be in every press kit:

  • Booking Agent
  • Management
  • Publicist
  • Record Label
  • General email (may be to management)

Many times some of these contacts may be the same person but list them multiple times anyway or indicate that the person or firm does the multiple tasks for the artist. Please give all the following for each:

  • Agency or Firm
  • Contact person's name
  • Complete emailing address
  • Complete regular mail address
  • Agency or Firm's web site
  • Agency or Firm's phone number

There are somethings that you definitely do NOT want to make public. Never show your fee or rate! This should be a private matter between your booking agent and the talent buyer. Nobody else ever needs to know. Period! Never give your personal phone number, home address, or personal information either. Having your tour schedule posted and your home address would be a bad combination for obvious reasons.

The press kit should include some review bullets. Having one-liners from Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Profiles, Billboard, USA Today, Wall Street Journal (yes, they do music reviews!), Dirty Linen, and other major news outlets makes it easier for a promoter to market you. Marketing you is what a press kit is all about anyway.

In today's electronic world, there is no reason not to include some audio, video and photos of your recent performances and material. If you have Quality videos on YouTube, include a link to them. Please have a professional promotional photo that is not some fan's snapshot of you during some recent festival. You need a band photo that can be used large or small, color (preferred) or black and white. Be sure you have usable images of all your albums that can also be reused in newsletters, web reviews, newspaper articles, flyers and other promotions. You can put videos up on YouTube or your own web site too. Have everything a talent buyer or promoter could ever want to know in one place.

Never use copyrighted material in your press kit. Articles published in magazines, websites, blogs and such cannot be reused without written permission from the original author. If your band bio is an article from a magazine, it cannot be used in different magazines. Take the time to write your own. Blurbs from others as single line quotes are OK but these should not constitute the bulk of your bio or article about the band.

In addition to your press kit, you should also have supplemental information. Additional documents that your booking agent should be able to make available include (not publicly available):

  • Stage Plot
  • Performance Equipment Needed List (5 mics, spot, etc.)
  • Performance Equipment Interface List (band uses their own special mic, etc.)
  • Any Sound or Lighting requirements
  • Any special accommodation requirements (Vegetarian diet, separate rooms, etc.)
  • Any special travel requirements (one member does not fly)

Now that you have all the requirements for your press kit, how do you package it? You can post it on your web site, make a CD of all the information including videos, music and photos, have text only for mailings and some printed ready to send in envelopes. Once you have assembled all of the above information together, building three or four different models is trivial. You'll have one sheet blub for radio and review promotion sent with preview CDs, one on the web for anybody to access, and the CD version to send to concert, festival and other talent buyers. You're all set and because they are built up as sections, if a band member or agency change takes place, its a simple small task to update all of them.

One final note. If you include PDF files as part of your press kit, be sure you also include a simple document format too. Many people cannot cut & paste from PDFs and they won't take the time to retype in everything themselves. It is OK to include Word docs, HTML and other text formats in your press kit. Avoid all caps or bolding the band name, album name, etc. because many times the people using the information will just have to undo that to fit their own style guidelines. Keep it simple for others to use. Now, go out and get some bookings!

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