How to prepare the proper promotional meterials - By Bobby Borg
PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS, such as CDs, photographs, biographies and press clipping, help people to get to know you. When these materials are assembled in one package or folder, they are most commonly known as a press kit.
Press kits are most useful when trying to get exposure in newspapers, magazines, and Websites. They are also helpful when trying to get booked in clubs and in other live performance venues. A press kit may even entice an attorney or personal manager into representing you. Sometimes a press kit may inspire a music library, or music supervisor to place one of your songs in a film, television commercial, or video game.
Press kits are typically not helpful in leading you to a great audition and gig, either. More musicians waste their time, energy, and money sending packages in the mail rather than just getting out there, being heard, and making friends. Keep in mind that the majority of all the work you get will be based on personal relationships that you form and nurture over the years. If anything, building a website and then personally handing out cards that include your URL (uniform resource locator) is by far a more useful way to promote yourself than the press kit.
Now that some of the misconceptions about press kits are out of the way, let’s discuss what your press kit should include.
Compact Disc (CD)
Your press kit should include a *CD highlighting three of your very best songs—with your best song first. If you include too many songs or if you include songs that are too diverse in style, you may send the message that you’re not sure what it is you do. Make sure the songs you’re sending are right for the organization or person you’re sending it to. Sending modern rock songs to a country booker will do you no good. Also be honest as to whether or not your material is the best it can be. The key to your success in the music business begins with great songs first and foremost! If you haven’t developed your songwriting skills to your fullest potential, now’s the time to start!
The production of your songs and CD should also be as high in quality as you can afford. Use modern sounds and drum programs—spend the time capture your best vocal and rhythm track performances. The key is not to leave anything to the imagination of your intended audience. Fortunately, digital equipment has enabled musicians to cut quality recordings right out of their own home. If you don’t own your own recording gear, chances are that you have a friend who has home equipment and will be willing to help. Remember, your first impression may be your last and only impression!
Clearly mark the titles of your songs on both the CD and the CD packaging and indicate the corresponding track numbers—this is important! It’s not necessary to have your CD packaging shrink wrapped since it only gives the person receiving it that much more trouble to get it unwrapped. Remember, people in the industry often listen to hundreds of CDs per week and the last thing they need is to wrestle with your packaging. Keep it simple!
*CDs are still the most popular form for submitting music; above cassettes and MP3 files.
Your press should also include a photograph. People will not only want to hear what you sound like, but what you look like. Give your image and style some serious consideration. Your picture must be consistent with your music—if you’re a hard rock band, then you must look hard rock. If you’re not sure what image you want to portray, review magazines like Rolling Stone and Details to see what other bands are doing. The print size of your photo should be 8×10 inches and should include your band name and contact information at the bottom (phone number, mailing address, e-mail address and Website URL). Keep in mind that photographs are also used for reprinting in newspapers and magazines, so make sure your prints aren’t too dark. Hiring a pro to help you get the best shots is well worth the investment. Ask artists in your home town to make referrals and then compare the quality and pricing.
A biography should be as short as possible (typically 500 words) and written without a lot of flowery adjectives and big words. You should include your career accomplishments and make mention of your work ethic (touring, promotion strategies, etc). If there’s a unique story about how your band formed or about the various members in your group, include it. This gives writers at newspapers and magazines a special twist or hook when writing about your band. If you have any flattering quotes or reviews, include them here as well; but don’t over do it. Including 15 quotes from people no one knows is pointless. Check out other bands’ bios on the web and see what their approach is.
A press kit should also include clippings, known as tear sheets, from newspapers and magazines you’ve collected over the months and years. Clippings help prove you’re established and not just another fly-by-night operation. Again, don’t over-use them.
When mailing out your press kit, include a cover letter that clearly addresses who you are, what you do, and what you want. Be sure to include all of your contact information here as well. It also helps to call the person you’re soliciting to inform them that your package is on the way. Follow up in a few weeks with another call to see if they liked what you’ve sent.