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What is a press kit you ask, and why do I need to have one? A press kit or promo pack is something to send out to labels, radio stations, newspapers, and anyone else who can help you with your music career. The kit generally includes information about your band and music and a CD, and should all contain a few basic items.

First off, you want a folder or container of some sort. It is key to make the folder look professional and eye catching. This is the first impression the receiver will get of you and it may be the deciding factor for the person to find out more or toss the pack into the garbage. At the very least, use a good quality folder with pockets and have a band photo pasted to the front. If time, money, and talent allow, be more creative; don’t use just a plain folder, but find or make something more unique.

Upon opening the package, the reader should first come upon a cover letter. This is just a simple letter, addressed to the individual (of whom you should have a name for), which tells the purpose of your sending the kit. Keep it short and to the point, three paragraphs is a good length. Always end with some sort of call to action (e.g. “Contact me if you’d like to work on scheduling a story for your paper.”)

The bio is probably the most important aspect of your press kit. The biography tells about your band and your music. Find a writer, whether it be yourself, a friend, or professional, with an interesting writing style. It should keep the readers attention and highlight the important aspects of your band. The bio should give a rundown of the history of the band, any fun or interesting facts about the artists, and should focus on the band’s current album or accomplishments. Make sure to include a description of the music and make your music sound groundbreaking and new (but without hype)!

Include a photo with the press kit. It should generally be an 8x10 black and white glossy photo of good quality. Hiring a professional photographer will definitely get you the most artistic and best quality photo, but if you’re on a tight budget, try to at least find a friend with a good eye (or preferably two). Be sure to have the photo coordinate with the message of the music (e.g. if your songs are about life in the country, don’t take a picture next to a skyscraper). The photos taken could potentially end up in a lot of places (such as on your website, in newspapers and on posters for concerts), so make them something worth publicizing.

A fact sheet or a one sheet is one page filled with bullet points and easy-to-read information. This is used a lot for interviewers and DJs who just want a quick outline about the band to say something intelligent on the fly. Include labeled categories such as band name, genre, name of album, release date, hometown, members and instruments in the band. For labels and record stores, it might be good to add a barcode number and the number of albums sold to date. Also include a quick music description and a quick artist description (something brief and interesting).

Keep all printed media about your band so you can have press clippings or a tear sheet. Choose among the best articles and neatly photocopy them with the best article being first. Be sure to include the publication (preferably the banner head of the newspaper) and date on the same page with the article. If your best articles only feature your name for a couple of lines, still include the article and simply highlight your name where it appears.

If you still don’t have a lot of written press about your band, a good way to get your name out here is to write a press release. A press release is something a newspaper can publish exactly what you have written right away and can be about anything remotely exciting happening in your band, like a new album, upcoming shows, new member in the band, etc. Whatever you send in should answer the questions who, what, when, where, why and how and should include some sort of contact information. Try to follow a standard format for press releases by including “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” at the top of the page along with the date and the contact person with phone number and e-mail.

And of course, don’t forget to include a good sounding CD of your most recent album or demo that you’re promoting. The better and more finished it sounds, the better chance you have of getting a positive response from it. And again, the better and more finished the CD looks, the better chance of it being heard. Even if you just send a demo, try to create some sort of artwork to make it look like you care about your music.

Optional items include a lyric sheet, a trinket, and a floppy or CD-R of pictures and info about the band. The lyric sheet is good if the lyrics are an integral part of your music or if you are trying to sell your songs, not necessarily your musicianship. Include a trinket only if it’s clever. Most stickers and buttons will be discarded but if you can find something that will stand out or can be useful for the receiver, go ahead and send it. Sending a floppy disk or mini-CD with useful files on it is good for media. Include an image file of a band picture for press and your press release so the person can simply copy and paste, making their job easier and you more likely to get your name in print. Also include on the mini-CD text files of your biography and a music description.

After getting everything written, printed, and neatly pieced together, take the time to send it to the right people. Verify addresses and names of who you’re sending the packs to and then follow up after sending it to make sure the person received your package.

Now that you’ve had a primer on press kit basics, take the time to create your own press kit. There are plenty of books out there that will give you more information on press kits and promoting your music. Go out and learn more, take initiative and be successful!

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