Saturday, June 26, 2010

Artist Press Kit

If every artist, band or group represents it’s own brand, and must be sold as such to the public and to the music industry, then every brand needs to be packaged in a way that will effectively showcase it’s strengths and marketability. By now, most musicians understand the importance of a press kit- it is your brand, your image, it is you in a package and is the key to selling venues and a&r reps from both major and indie labels on the fact that you WILL make them money. But just making a press kit isn’t enough. In an industry with such a low barrier of entry, anyone can make and submit a press kit, decreasing your chance of actually getting recognized by those who matter. So what will you do to make your press kit more remarkable than the rest? 

There are right ways of making a press kit, and of course there are also wrong ways- but with every artist out there making one, you need more than just a ‘proper’ press kit. There are many different things that can be added in and certain techniques that can be used, that will make your press kit shine much brighter than the rest of the pile. 

Basic Types Of Press Kits
  • Traditional, physical press kit
  • Electronic press kit (EPK)
While you may be tempted to just use one or the other, it is very important that you always create a physical press kit. Not only are these more likely to be received by booking agents and a&r reps from record labels, but they can be customized in a way that the EPKs cannot, which is essential to making your press kit as attractive as possible. Not to say that EPKs are bad, because they are still a very helpful tool for promoting your music to bloggers and other online publications. But if you do decide to make one, make sure that it does not completely replace your use of physical press kits.

Currently, the most popular EPK service is SonicBids.

Gathering The Essentials

Besides being a sales pitch for booking agents and A&R reps, a press kit also needs to contain enough factual information about the artist/ band/ group to be able to base an article or review on:

Biography: Although a bio is just that, a Biography of the band (or artist), it is still a place to get creative. An interesting back story, if you have one, is a very marketable thing. All the same though, make it short and sweet- no one wants to read 5 pages of your musical history. If you have nothing special to say, get the bio over as quickly as possible.

CD demo: Bands should include their most recent music, or music that may be recognizable or has become a fan favorite. MAKE SURE IT IS A HIGH QUALITY RECORDING. No one wants to hear a low-fi demo made in a basement. Just remember, you get 30 seconds to make your case. If the person listening doesn’t find what they are looking for in your music after 30 seconds, they will most likely pass.

High Resolution Photo of the Band: An obvious must for every press kit. Not only is it very important to give press a high quality image to be reproduced in magazines, newspapers, blogs etc. but it is also a good way to showcase the look and feel of your band. Remember that no matter what you wear when you are in ‘artist’ mode, whether it’s for a photo shoot or on stage, you are making a statement.

Tour Dates (when applicable): Obviously, the more dates you have, the better it looks. By showing that others find you marketable, and are willing to book you, you will become instantly more appealing to the reps of bigger and better venues- to these people ticket sales are everything.

Past Shows (when applicable): Do yourself a favor, and leave this off the list if all you can say is ‘I played a backyard BBQ for my friends’. This is a good place to show off previous shows of importance, whether it be venues with a large capacity or sold out gigs.

Press Reviews/ Interviews (when applicable): Again, the more high-profile reviews and/or interviews you can include in your press kit, the better off you will be. This is physical proof to booking agents and A&R reps that your brand is worth something, and there is more money to be made by marketing it on a larger scale.

Contact Info: VERY IMPORTANT! Make sure you have multiple ways to be reached by those who are looking to get in touch with you. Give what ever info you would like, but make sure you leave the phone number, address and email address of the one person who represents the band, even if it is a band member. Also, to show that you are serious, create an email that is professional (i.e.

Whether you use a physical press kit or an electronic press kit, the information used should remain fairly similar. However, an electronic press kit does give you some additional options such as videos and website links that may be difficult (though not impossible) to include in a physical press kit. Here is the basic info that is typically seen within an EPK:
  • Biography
  • Music clips (with accompanying lyrics)
  • High resolution press photos
  • Tour dates
  • Promotional videos
  • Website or website links
  • Press reviews and interviews, etc.
  • “RIYL” or “Recommended If You Like” list: a listing of artists of similar styles or genres
  • High resolution photos or images of the band logo, products, etc.
  • Contact information

The Competitive Advantage

Once you have all of these elements ready to go, there are some techniques that can and should be employed in order to make your press kit more appealing then all the others:

Take off the shrink wrap from the CD: This may seem insignificant, but you must look at it through the eyes of those who do look at press kit after press kit. By removing the shrink wrap, you are saving all of those looking at the press kit the headache of having to remove it themselves, keeping them in a good mindset as they listen to the first few seconds of your CD. Do you really think you will stand a chance if the person puts the disk into the player after struggling with the shrink wrapping? No… you wont.

Cover Letter: Just like with a resume, there should be a cover letter in your press kit. A cover letter is a formal and personal introduction to the band and the music.


Put Your Contact Info On Anything and Everything: Just remember, your press kit will most likely be one of many in a pile. Just as school teachers give constant reminders to put your name on all of your work, make sure you put your contact info on everything you can. Pictures get separated, CDs get removed and misplaced from their cases, cover letters get separated from the rest of the press kit, you get my drift? PUT IT ON EVERYTHING!

Proper Packaging

All of the contents of your press kit needs to be put together into one clean and professional package, as it not only reflects how serious you are about the opportunity at hand, but is a sign of respect to those receiving it. A manila folder is most likely the best option, but no matter what kind of folder you do use, make sure you get the band name printed on to it, not drawn, but printed. Again, professionalism is important and will go along way when trying to make a first impression. Also, make sure that everything stays nicely inside the folder- your press kit will be in a pile with others, if something important from your press kit falls out, such as your demo CD, you can kiss that opportunity good-bye.

At this point you have everything you need for creating an effective press kit. Just keep in mind that you represent a brand, and an overall image, and you are attempting to convince a professional that your music is marketable and WILL be profitable if given the opportunity.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Everybody Doesn't Have To Like You


Yes, rejection sucks, but it's all part of the music process. The process of becoming a good or great artist/entertainer.  Or, worse case, part of the reality of knowing you don't have a future as a self supporting artist/entertainer.  Maybe you were meant to be a great writer, producer, road manager, etc.

Becoming a successful INDIE ARTIST entails so many areas, even having a 'little luck' along your journey.  Success, in this blog, is defined as earning a living that pays all your bills without having to work a second job. Yes, music success is a real business that must have your attention 24/7.  I know many artist who believe music success is nothing more than being able to play, sing, and entertain people and fans regardless of income earned for total support. 

Rejection impacts artist in many different ways.  Everything from anger, to hate, to depression, to developing a very thick skin, that propels most to work harder each day to gain more acceptance and fan support.  Which means less negative emotional attitude.  Learning to handle all the downs is but part of this process to reach the next higher level of your music career.  All valleys have hills, sometimes mountains; all valleys change directions many times.  A music career is a job, albeit a demanding and difficult one. But it can become a fulfilling and fun one provided artist remained focused on continuous incremental daily improvements.  Most all artist start with high expectations only to find the road is not always paved and straight.  Realizing all the family and Opry support was great, but, not extremely relevant in the real world of music.  Rather, it more like pushing a heavy rock up to the mountain's top, before you can push it over to a more successful career.  It's been labeled: PAYING YOUR DUES!  In sales and marketing I call rejection a positive opportunity to develop and overcome adversities.  Rejection must be allowed to roll off your shoulders, thereby, making you stronger, more determined, while keeping you moving forward.

Reviews that don't show you the love you expected are nothing more than learning experiences.  I can assure you there will be many more to come.  An artist grows and matures once they realize this is nothing more than a part of the music process.  Today's critics can become tomorrow's biggest supporters or are dismissed by your fans and friends as totally non-credible because their opinions are just that....Their Opinions. 

But, if the criticism is constructive, get over your bruised ego and make changes you think will work.  Most of all, remember you are in the early part of your career and are after fans that support you.  Those True Blue Fans will generate more positive support than any critic or disgruntle fan. Plus, you are looking for the first 100; then the first 1,000; then the first 5,000; then the first 10,000 fans, etc.  If you must have an ego (most all artist and musicians do) try to develop an ego-free filter that processes only what is relevant while disregarding all the other garbage. 

Make an "ANGER" file that will become your best listener with no criticism.  Put one on your laptop or make one where you write with 'bottom' line clarity what you are really feeling....put these writings in your "ANGER" file and move on.  This way you can move forward without the possibility of someone your trusted spreading rumors.  You may even want to name the file: OPPORTUNITIES.  Who knows, somewhere down the road you may write a great song from your ANGER/OPPORTUNITY file.  Great songs do tell stories about real people's real feelings/experiences.

Rejections or being turned down are all part of the music business and part of life.  If you believe in God, as I hope all artist do, mostly likely being rejected or turn down was not part of HIS plan for you.  God always has a "HIGHER CALLING" for all of us...have faith in HIM to lead you in the right direction. He loves you and will never lead you down the wrong path.  No one can ever take away from you what HE has for you.  Sometimes not getting what you wanted, will save you from larger disappointments.  Continue to work harder towards moving forward while pushing that rock up the proverbial mountain.  Make personal time for yourself and look the mountain top is closer than it was yesterday and have faith it will be closer tomorrow.  Thank God for all your successes along this journey and ask HIM to continue with his daily guidance.

Final thought.....It's impossible to please be like a duck that repels water regardless of how hard it's raining.  You belief in your music will become the energy to discover those that feel the same. 

---KleerStreem Entertainment
    Female Artist Development

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Artist Press

Female Artist Development
Positive articles written about you are invaluable for building awareness.  If you can't get articles written about you, at lest try to get quotes about you.  Start locally and continue to move outward from your base.  Asked local DJ's to play your music and to give you one liners. Build up a quote sheet for your press kit and for all your social media sites.  Use these letter and quotes every time you can; if you do there is a great chance of a domino effect....newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and TV...they will think you are incredible!  And, the bottom line, is everything will lead to more fans that will come out to see your shows.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Be Who You Are

Okay, I said  I would talk about how you can build your community in the offline world, by thinking like a music fan. 

It sounds redundant, but it’s not.  These days I see a lot of bands who claim to be passionate about their particular brand of uninspired music; I’ve seen songwriters claim to be able to write whatever genre is selling at the moment; I’ve seen musicians “re-invent their sound” so that it fits more readily with what’s currently “happening.”  All these things are horrifying to me.

Music is a passionate art form, it’s not a way to achieve celebrity.  You, as a musician, have got to believe with all your heart and soul in the art you create, and it needs to be 100% an extension of who you are.  A personal statement that is so infused with your sense of being that it could not have been created by anyone else.  And, conversely, that no matter what you try and do, this sound - and only this sound -  could possibly be the sound that you create.  

Don’t try and guess what “the market” will want, don’t copy what’s already out there, and don’t try to fit your sound into someone elses mold.  In fact, don’t focus on what others are doing at all, focus on what you’re doing, and let the others focus on you.

Believe it, and live it.  All day long, every day.  If you’re making country music, be a country star, all the time.  Don’t just “put it on” before you get on stage.  Punk rocker, metal maniac, rapper, folk singer, indie-rocker, country boy/gal, crooner, whatever.  Please be true to yourself, express your own voice, and mean what you say. 

Because while  you can fool people for a short time, the masses catch on quickly, and the only way to achieve career longevity is to continually provide your fans with something real.