Music Promotion

Designing the “Perfect” Press Kit

The “perfect” press kit can get your gigs, radio airplay, media mentions and more! But what makes a “perfect” press kit? Here are the basic dos and don’ts for making your kit the best it can be:

DO make your kit adaptable. The kit you send to the local clubs’ booking agents may not be the same kit you should send to a major commercial radio station. Pieces of your kit should be interchangeable, so you can add and remove pieces when you want to.

DO keep the packaging generic. Your name, logo, and contact information are more than enough. Don’t include photos that might become outdated too quickly or anything relating to a specific album. This way, you can get better printing prices by printing in bulk, and keep the packaging consistent from one album release to the next, with only the interior items changing.

DO include a cover letter, and make sure it’s addressed to the correct person!

DO include your contact info on everything. That includes the packaging, CD case, CD face, and anything inserted into the kit.

DO include a well-written bio. A full bio should be no shorter than a half of a page. Always describe your music first. People don’t want to wait until the end of your bio to get a hint about what you sound like.

DO include a photo. An 8″x10″ glossy is best. Some media outlets prefer black & white for printing, so you should keep some available, and always ask before you send your kit.

DO include positive press quotes if you have them. You don’t need to include full articles – it’s actually usually preferable if you don’t. Just pull the best quotes.

DO include a business card! It makes it easy for them to staple it to a rolodex or keep it in their card file.

DO include a list of your equipment, when you’re targeting a venue for a gig.

DO include a quality CD of at least 4 tracks. Anything less than that probably isn’t worth media attention. Also be sure to highlight the one track that you most want them to listen to. Larger venues and media outlets only have time to listen to one, and if you don’t tell them exactly which one to listen to, by marking it on the CD packaging and the CD itself, they’ll choose whichever track they want. It might not be the one you want presenting your first impression.

DON’T include a demo CD that’s hand-written. It’s just unprofessional.

DON’T send out a kit to a generic address. If you don’t have a specific contact name, call first and get one!!!

DON’T include ANYTHING that doesn’t have your full contact information on it.

DON’T print a photo on regular copy paper. It won’t scan well enough to be used by websites, newspaper or magazines.

DON’T make your kit too extravagant. Your kit needs to be professional, so that it doesn’t drag your image down. But, it can’t make your image on it’s own. You need to let your music speak. I’ve received incredible-looking kits that were entirely original, but whose recordings sounded like crap. Guess how far it’ll get you. At most, you’ll just pay far too much for postage.

DON’T just shove a CD and a sheet of paper in an envelope and call it a press kit.

DON’T include quotes from fans. The person receiving the kit doesn’t know if the “fan” is your girlfriend or your best friend. They’re not going to care what an anonymous person has to say. If you don’t have quotes or reviews from professionals, don’t include any!

DON’T say, in your bio, that you’re “unique,” or that you’re unlike anything out there. You’re really not. Every band thinks they are. But in reality you do sound at least a little bit like something else out there. By explaining how your music is like a combination of two genres very different from each other, you’ll get their attention. By showing that you pull together the best of several major artists, you’ll get their attention. By saying you’re completely unique, in their mind you’re saying that no one’s been interested in your style before, so you’re unmarketable.

Your press kit is like your calling card. An unprofessional kit will find it’s way to a trash can before you CD is ever even listened to. A professional kit, whether flashy or not, included with a quality demo may just be your ticket to that great gig, interview, or deal!

Jenn Mattern is a professional writer and PR consultant, formerly specializing in music PR for indie artists. She owns 3 Beat Media, the parent company of AudioXposure. While AudioXposure is retired, you can still find Jenn at her other web properties including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, and NakedPR.

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